By Mikala Jamison
The Body Show is a live storytelling show running in the Capital Fringe Festival July 16 to 24, 2022. In live storytelling shows, people take the stage to tell a true story from their lives, typically on a theme. The Body Show will feature stories from local people about their lived experiences in the bodies they call home. Mikala Jamison is the creator and producer of The Body Show. In her own words, she describes what inspired her to create it, her process, and why she feels these stories are so important.
Washington, DC, is a city of more than 700,000 different bodies. Each of us has a distinct experience living in our bodies in this district, moving around within its borders, and experiencing the highs and lows it offers us. Over the past seven years of living and working in and around the city, I’ve thought about my own body a lot—I’ve used it to teach exercise classes in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, to compete in a powerlifting competition at the University of Maryland, to march on the National Mall, to get on stage to tell stories in packed clubs, and to write about the relationship I have to it in my newsletter. My point of view and bodily experience as a white, cisgender, able-bodied woman is only one, though. I was inspired to produce The Body Show so people in all types of bodies can share their own triumphs, frustrations, and realizations.
I pitched to the Capital Fringe Festival, DC’s premier self-produced theater and arts festival, because the spirit of Fringe aligns with my mission for the show: “Connect with adventurous audiences in a stripped-down, unprocessed, organic social environment.” The Body Show storytellers are local people leading everyday lives, bravely taking the stage to share honest, raw stories about personal experiences and thoughts. Fringe is all about connection through art, and I believe audiences can connect with and reach greater understanding of their neighbors through storytelling.
For The Body Show, I invited storytellers I’ve seen perform at other live storytelling shows put on by The Moth (storyteller Rajesh Mirchandani recently took first place at a Moth show), Story District (storyteller Ansa Edim recently performed in Story District’s “Real Hot Girl Sh*t” show), and Smut Slam (storyteller Rebecca Vassy produced and hosted that show, which aims to start up again later this year). I also reached out on the DC Storytelling Facebook group and even found one storyteller, Kelly Mack, from an interview she gave Washington City Paper about wheelchair accessibility in DC. Some storytellers are experienced (you can see storyteller Ronald Young Jr. on the Peacock show True Story With Ed & Randall), some are new to the stage. We’re working together to shape these stories into the hilarious, heartfelt, authentic presentations you’ll hear in July.
The bodies we live in are political, complicated, wonderous things. Many people’s bodies are discriminated against, attacked, scrutinized, and stripped of their rights every day. I’ve invited storytellers living in transgender bodies, Black and brown bodies, fat bodies, and others to share how those bodies shape everyday life. A greater understanding of how other people live is crucial at a time when there are more efforts each day in this country to centralize, prioritize, and protect only some people’s bodies. Audiences at The Body Show will hear stories about reclaiming bodily autonomy by deciding not to have children, or advocating for more accessibility in our transportation services, or simply finding joy and humor by dominating a bubble soccer game with coworkers or playing a dead body in a “vampire play” (trust me, you’ll be in stitches).
My hope with The Body Show is that audiences leave feeling seen, uplifted, enlightened, and simply entertained. I’m so glad that Fringe offers creators all over the DC area the chance to bring their stories, their art, and their labors of love to the stage.
Running Time: 60 minutes.
COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.
Mikala Jamison is a writer and editor living in Arlington, Virginia. She publishes a newsletter called Body Type about eating disorder recovery through strength training, bodily change, and body image. She’s been a storyteller in live storytelling shows with Story District, Smut Slam, Perfect Liar’s Club, and Health’s Angels, and writes freelance articles occasionally for DCist, Washington City Paper, and others. Find her on Twitter @notjameson and on Instagram @_bodytype.
‘Nothing short of a miracle’: Capital Fringe to return in July (news story)