The co-founders of Our Fabulous Variety Show talk about their new two-woman comedy show, being inspired by Cirque du Soleil and the importance of arts education.
The two of you return in the September 28thtwo-woman comedy show, “Shut Up and Laugh,” at Guild Hall. What can theatergoers expect from this new Our Fabulous Variety Show performance?
Kasia: There is going to be lots of comedy. We actually have these “Hamptons Monologues” that we wrote several years ago. They include a bunch of different types of characters that you might meet or find in the Hamptons, and a few new characters for this show. We will also be doing some improv with the Our Fabulous Variety Show improv crew, which includes myself, Anita, Joe Pallister and Kristen Lee Curcie.
Anita: Some of the monologues are about what it is like to work out here, what it is like to visit here, what it is like to be a celebrity here. So, they represent all different kinds of viewpoints. We even do one that is a raging liberal artist — not based on us at all — and a hard and fast, staunch Trump supporter conservative. That was the most fun I think in terms of writing and rehearsing it because we tried to write it so they are basically saying the exact same thing. It kind of shows you when you’re too far on any one side it ends up not really being a line as much as a circle.
The two of you have an amazing chemistry, which is evident on stage. Was your friendship immediate when you met? Did you know you would work together towards a larger vision of creating arts programming on the East End?
Anita: We met doing a show at the Cultural Center in Southampton. Kasia was really quiet and I was brand new to the East End and didn’t know anyone. I was basically this obnoxious person from Ohio and really eager to jump in, latch on and say, “Okay, we are going to be best friends forever and let’s do everything together — Let’s put on a show and do a marathon and do our nails and talk.”
Kasia: I think we definitely became close, good friends during that production of “Cabaret,” and then even more so when we ran a half-marathon together and started the shows together. I think I was attracted to Anita’s energy because it kind of matches my energy and we have similar perspectives on life and similar interests. There is just a good bond between the two of us.
Last weekend, you held auditions for your new show, “Cirque du Fabuleux,” which will stage in December at Guild Hall. What was the inspiration behind this new Our Fabulous Variety Show?
Anita: One of the things Kasia and I have done throughout our friendship is go to shows for Christmas or our birthdays instead of getting each other presents. I think we have seen six Cirque du Soleil shows together and we always loved that experience of immersing yourself in the spectacle of a show like that. For the past seven years, we have done a holiday-themed show and this year we felt like it was time to do something different. We are channeling our circus energy and giving people a brand new show.
You have cultivated a group of performers, young and older, throughout the life of Our Fabulous Variety Show. It must be amazing to watch some of the younger performers grow through the program and present their own ideas to you through auditions. What was Sunday like for you both?
Kasia: It was so magical. We didn’t have a September show this year, so we really didn’t get to see the kids all summer. Sometimes when I meet kids at age five or 10, they are kind of forever in that age, but some of the kids this weekend have grown so much in their talent, their dance skills, their technique and their acting. I was finally able to see some of them as young adults. I just had tears in my eyes. We were both getting very emotional — it is just too wonderful to watch someone grow up and see them evolve as a human being.
Anita: And to see them grow in their confidence too …
Access to arts programming is not always affordable or something all families have the budget for, especially on the South Fork where the cost of living is tremendously high. Our Fabulous Variety Show attempts to augment that reality through your scholarship program. Can you explain a little bit about that program and what students are eligible this year?
Kasia: We started this in 2013 and developed a performing arts scholarship for local high school seniors. They can have a background in the performing arts, or they can plan on pursuing the performing arts, although they don’t have to plan on that for their undergraduate degree. We have an application available on our website, ourfabulousvarietyshow.org … The application is due November 15 and we will announce the winner during our final “Cirque du Fabuleux” show on December 2. An anonymous committee will select the winner since Anita and I understand many of our own students may be applying, so we want to ensure it is not biased.
As leaders in the nonprofit sector, how important is arts education for children and teens?
Anita: It is so important. I cannot tell you how many stories and how many comments we get from parents of our theater members, in all ages. We have a mom who tells us every single show, “Thank you so much for giving my kid a place where they can just be themselves” and know that that’s great — that it is not just okay, but that they are celebrated.” We have had other parents, with children experiencing depression, say this was an outlet for their children to express themselves and find themselves. Children gain confidence in school — they are taking what they learn on the stage and applying it to all aspects of their lives and that is not just true of our students, it is true for me too.
Our Fabulous Variety Show “Shut Up and Laugh” will stage at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton, on Friday, September 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit ourfabulousvarietyshow.org.