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Finding your unique voice

Loosely based on stories from Jim Loucks' childhood, Booger Red is the story of someone finding their unique voice, resisting the pressures of society's ideas of who they should be, and forging their way.

Solo performer and playwright Jim Loucks brings his Southern storytelling style to the Halifax Fringe Festival with his one-man show Booger Red.
Solo performer and playwright Jim Loucks brings his Southern storytelling style to the Halifax Fringe Festival with his one-man show Booger Red.

Loosely based on stories from Jim Loucks’ childhood, Booger Red is the story of someone finding their unique voice, resisting the pressures of society’s ideas of who they should be, and forging their way.

With Southern storytelling and songs, I take the audience on a dramatic journey with a few smiles along the way.

We learn more in this Q&A with creator and performer Jim Loucks.

Booger Red plays at the Bus Stop Theatre on September 1-4. Visit tickethalifax.com for tickets and information.

This interview has been edited.

Tell us about Booger Red. What can audiences expect?

Booger Red survives a rough childhood to become a renowned hellfire and brimstone Southern Baptist preacher. So how can Preacher’s Kid Jimmy find a way out from under Booger Red’s larger-than-life shadow as he grows up and finds his voice? If you’ve ever had a dream or a daddy, Loucks’ gritty and passionate solo performance is for you.

Loosely based on stories from Loucks’ childhood, Booger Red is the story of someone finding their unique voice, resisting the pressures of society’s ideas of who they should be, and forging their way.

What was the inspiration for Booger Red?

Growing up in South Georgia, the son of a hellfire and brimstone Southern Baptist preacher, I was blessed to witness some of the best performances anyone has laid eyes on. Not only my father’s mercurial, “jumpin’-up-on-the- front-pew-and-wavin’-his-Bible” style, but also the laid-back Appalachian nasality of Alton Mash, and the earnest, pleading sermons of Rastus Salters. Even their names were enough to get your attention. And yes, they were slicked back on top and sometimes decked out in plaid suits and two-toned shoes. And yes, they scared and probably damaged me for life, but I got something from them: not religion, but the feeling that comes with expressing yourself and sharing in front of an audience.

Booger Red was developed as part of an artist residency with Mahr Park Arboretum and the City of Madisonville, Kentucky and premiered at their Bacon, Blues and Big Stories Festival. As part of the Artist Residency, Director Lisa Chess and I worked with local storytellers, helping them to find their voices and eventually to perform their own stories in front of an audience, some for the first time. Booger Red was partially inspired by this experience, reminding me of my journey, and hopefully, it will inspire audiences to follow their paths and find their voices.

Why this particular show now?

With the world so divided right now, I feel like talking about my differences with my father and our beliefs and yet still being able to love and appreciate the things we have in common can be very important. Trying to bridge the gap with people you don’t always agree with and finding some things that we do agree on can help put us on a better path forward.

What do you hope audiences leave Booger Red talking about?

I feel like the show is inspirational in its tone and theme. It also brings people together, and even though Booger Red was a fundamentalist preacher and we certainly differ religiously, I found that he passed along some wonderful things, such as his performance style and energy. He was a true believer, and I can appreciate that and can relate it to my true belief in what I do with my storytelling and theatre. Hopefully, it will inspire others to get out there and tell their own stories and let their voices be heard.

Why should someone come to see Booger Red?

The show is also a lot of fun. With Southern storytelling and songs, I take the audience on a dramatic journey with a few smiles along the way.

Booger Red plays at the Bus Stop Theatre on September 14. Visit tickethalifax.com for tickets and information.

The Halifax Fringe Festival returns to live in-person performances from September 1 through September 11, with more than 55 productions taking place at venues across the downtown and North End neighbourhoods.

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