Component Exploration: Estelle’s Art
U n h i n g e d – a one-person play about the pandemic so far” by Estelle Foh
Estelle Foh (she/they) – Artist’s Statement and Reflections
I am a 25-year-old artist from the Toronto area now. I am a writer, a director, an actor sometimes. My previous work includes my debut play, which was called “Prodigal” and it was a 40-minute drama. And, you know, it went great. It was reviewed well so that was exciting for me. I’ve also performed spoken word poetry in the past. I write short stories. I write a lot of poetry. I have a blog with all my poetry up and a recording of the play.
I identify as a queer woman. I have a lovely girlfriend. The light of my life. I am Chinese Canadian, an immigrant. I identify as having a mental health illness. I suffer from suicidal depression, which I’ve been seeing a professional for. Have been making a lot of strides in that area, I think, in healing. Yeah, I wish I had a more concrete sort of answer you know – like a pithy little bio.
So the piece, that I am working on now to submit to Mad Artists is a a 30 to 40 second excerpt of a much longer teleplay. A one woman performance. Which would is to be delivered in the style of a stand up bit about the pandemic. And the 30 to 40 second excerpt from that script I intend to film a part of me performing that. The goal is to satirize our experience – our collective experiences – of this trauma. And also bring to call to attention that it’s not normal what we are going through. We shouldn’t normalize it. And we shouldn’t accept it as fact. The end.
I want it to be like a 10-minute set. Or like a 10-minute performance. But in those 10 minutes, I want it to open as a bunch of jokes and then slowly sort of change into more of a call to action. Like it’s not okay that almost 9,000 people are dead. It’s not okay that doctors are being paid $130 to do a job that nurses were already doing. It’s not okay that you know aisles in Dollarama are like closed but Walmart is still doing great.
So you’ve got like interior concert venue. Night. There are bright lights on stage with a colourful background. There’s a microphone, MIC stand, a bar stool, a bottle of water. And you’ve got the announcer who goes, “please give a warm welcome to”, you know insert comedian named, “Estelle Foh”. Then our actor enters the screen to applause and the camera pulls out to reveal there’s no one in the audience. It’s a completely empty venue. But there’s applause and there’s laughter, which is clearly a laugh track that’s added at appropriate intervals throughout the monologue. The comedian gets on stage, and she goes, “Hey, thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks. Yeah, it’s good to be here. How are you folks doing today. Good? Good. That’s good. Wow. It’s been a tough year for the past 15 months, hasn’t it? Ah yeah… yeah, I don’t think anyone predicted in March last year that we were going to be in a global pandemic. Or that we’d be in lock-down number like 36 under the Ford government. What’s it, what’s it called now? Ontario Wide Emergency … Vehicle. Pull, pull the reins now Johnny. Woah there. Patios. Are finally opening again though. That’s exciting. Yeah, yeah. Doug Ford finally decided we can die happy. He’s like, he’s like Jesus. ‘No Peter, Peter it’s okay. Let’s let the children come to Pickle Barrel.’”
That’s it that’s all.
Why did I pick the pandemic to be the focus? Because I figured it would be most of interest to the Mad Artist’s research team. Especially because it relates to mental health, you know. All of us, I think, have had an declining mental health and wellness during this you know, pandemic. So I figured that would be more interest to the research team.
The takeaway from viewing my art? Doug Ford bad. Capitalism bad. Violence good. I don’t know. I’m kidding. Obviously not. I think the main takeaway that I want people to have after viewing my art is that you’re not alone. And things are not okay. Yeah. It’s not okay. It’s not okay that that we’ve been in lockdown, or in and out of lockdown, or emergency brake locked down, or stay-at-home-order-but-don’t-stay-at-home lockdown. For 15 actual months now. It’s not okay that thousands of people are dead. It’s not okay that any of this is happening. And you’re not alone. You’re not alone. That’s yeah, that’s what I, that’s what I want them to…
I don’t know. I don’t know what I want. Don’t buy crypto. Bitcoin is a lie. No, I don’t know. I’m sorry, what do I want them to know? Thank you. And you’re doing great. You’re doing great honey. I want you to know, you’re doing great honey. You’re doing great, keep going. Keep going. I am there with you.
I hope that in the post pandemic world, if we get there, my hope is that people viewing my art in a post pandemic world will view it like a time capsule of what it was like to live through the pandemic. Do you remember back in March of 2020 we were home for like two weeks, we were like this is lit. Trudeau was here’s free money and then all the fucking celebrities were doing their at home concerts, And the MET – the Louvre whatever – it was doing a virtual tour of all of our shit, you know. And zoos were here’s a live feed of the pandas. It was it was fucking lit. And then it kept going, you know.
How do you capture that loneliness? And that feeling of isolation? And that feeling of oh it’s going to be better, oh it’s gonna – it’s just … we just have to make it through this last bit. We just have to make it through this last bit. We just have to make it to Christmas. We just have to make it to 2021. 2021 arrived and we were like, okay, we just have to make it to March. We just have to make to June, and it kept going, and kept going, you know. How do you capture that sense of like hopelessness? Hopelessness is the word. Yeah, that desperation, you know. Like when is it going to be over. Oh, shit maybe it’s not you know. If we ever get to a post pandemic world, I would like people to view my art and remember what it was like. And what happened when we let a government, that’s so aggressively does not care about its people, have power.