Artistic Fraud grapples with aging body and mid-life anxiety

Artistic Fraud will livestream an original work called Everybody Just C@lm the F#ck Down on Wednesday, Nov. 10. The production deals with aging bodies, mid-life anxiety – and the intersection of the two.

Sarah Antle

Robert Chafe, Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud, based in St. John's, NL.
Robert Chafe poses while discussing the upcoming broadcast of Artistic Fraud’s show. Tickets are on sale at the LSPU Hall on Victoria Street, which premieres Nov. 10. Photo by Sarah Antle.

Robert Chafe, a playwright and artistic director of Artistic Fraud, wrote and stars in the one-man show Everyone Just C@lm the F#ck Down.

Although the show is premiering during second year of a pandemic, it was conceived long before COVID-19.

Workshopped at the 2019 St. John’s Short Play Festival, Chafe’s work focuses on his personal experience with physical and mental health.

In searching for answers to his medical issues, paired with losing a friend suddenly, Chafe was inspired to write the monologue-style show. 

“(M)y way of being in the world had become just a reflex of ‘I’m fine, everything is fine, I’m fine.’ And clearly, I was not fine, mentally or physically.”

Representing adult anxiety on stage

Kate Stenson, a theatre technician and production manager for more than a decade, said popular media has misrepresented adult anxiety.

“We rarely see adult characters living and coping with anxiety on a daily basis,” Stenson said.

Kate Stenson, Theatre Technician and Production Manager.
Kate Stenson discusses mental health representation on stage. Stenson has been following the production of Everybody Just C@lm the F#ck Down since its 2019 Shorts premiere. Photo by Sarah Antle.

Stenson said the latest Artistic Fraud show highlights important conversations that should be represented on stage.

“As a self-described hypochondriac, there was, in fact, something very calming about listening to another grown-up adult share the same concerns that I do on a daily basis,” Stenson said, laughing.

Examining anxiety, uncertainty and a lack of control

But Chafe said that he did not write the show to say something important about adult anxiety. He lamented that it started as a reflection of his own health experience and his need to find answers. 

“Once we landed there, I thought, yeah, I think people can use this discussion now,” Chafe said.

“The show became this kind of examination of uncertainty and this examination of lack of control, trying to live your life in the face [of] having no certainty and having no control over the outcome,” Chafe said.

He elaborated that this show looks at the question, “Am I anxious about being sick or am I sick about being anxious?”

COVID-19 restrictions prevent regular attendance in theatre venues during the original run of Everybody Just C@lm the F#ck Down. Because of this, Artistic Fraud is producing a livestream that will include a session in which viewers can ask questions of Chafe, director Sarah Garton Stanley and theatre artist Lois Brown on Nov. 10.

“You can watch the show, send questions, and listen to us talk about the production – how it came to be and what it’s about.”

Tickets to the livestream of Everybody Just C@lm the F#ck Down are on sale at the LSPU Hall Box Office at 3 Victoria Street or through their website. The show will begin at 8 p.m.

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