Halifax playwright Katie Clarke brings their latest work to the Halifax Fringe with a staged reading of When Will You Be Well Again?, an absurdist play that explores experiences of navigating the medical system as trans and diversely chronically ill people, as well as the nature of work, productivity, exhaustion, and isolation.
As our healthcare systems across the country are in crisis, and trans people’s rights are under attack, this play is a show that I feel will resonate with many, whether or not they’ve had these specific experiences.
We learn more in this Q&A with Clarke.
This interview has been edited.
Tell us about When Will You Be Well Again? What can audiences expect?
When Will You Be Well Again? is a staged reading of a new play in development by local playwright Katie Clarke.
Audiences can expect an absurd and intimate journey into the impossible world of 9 to 5 work as it plays out for two chronically ill trans people, brought to life by talented local actors Lara Lewis, Lou Campbell, Laura Spencer, and Shelley Thompson.
What inspired When Will You Be Well Again?
My own experience navigating the medical industrial complex as a trans masculine person with endometriosis and post-concussion syndrome, and experiences working in the sometimes surprisingly similar environments of corporate and non-profit work while managing chronic pain.
I’m interested in the ways we think about and productivize “healing” under capitalism as something that will make us more “whole” in order to perform better for the systems that are hurting us in the first place. Knowing that I will never be “well again” in the way that a 9 to 5 job wants me to be, I want to think about more liberating alternate realities for chronically ill and trans people.
Why this particular show now?
As our healthcare systems across the country are in crisis, and trans people’s rights are under attack, this play is a show that I feel will resonate with many, whether or not they’ve had these specific experiences. It’s a show that asks for tenderness, care, and attention, not because it’s perfect, but because it offers a critical and humorous commentary on the realities of capitalism and the medical industrial complex and how these two intertwined systems fail all of us, no matter who we are or where we come from.
What do you hope audiences leave When Will You Be Well Again? talking about?
I hope people talk about how their jobs and the medical system have either failed them or supported them and why that might be the case for them. I hope they leave talking about the power of t4t (trans for trans) love and the importance of softness and stillness amid the constant motion of our lives.
Why should someone come to see When Will You Be Well Again?
It’s funny, silly, and heartfelt, and it makes fun of the absurdity of workplace rules. It’s also a love story. You might see yourself in some of the conversations that unfold, even if you’re not trans or chronically ill. There’s a poem in it if you like poems, but if you don’t like poems, it’s only one poem. The actors are very talented.
The Halifax Fringe Festival returns from August 31 through September 10, with more than 60 productions taking place at venues across the city.