Edinburgh Fringe: Sara Juli (Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis), interview

Using humour, movement, song and the audience, Sara Juli reveals all that is awesome and all that sucks when it comes to being a mother. Tense Vagina is a show about the beauty, challenges, isolation and influence motherhood has on the human experience. Focusing on the taboo aspects of motherhood: loneliness, tears and dildos, the hilarious narrative is anchored in the physical therapy Juli received at the Pelvic Floor Rehab Center of New England for urinary incontinence.

AAA caught up with Sara for a chat in between shows.

How has your Fringe been so far?

Wow. Just wow. I had no idea what to expect. It’s been thrilling and wonderful, challenging and exhausting all at the same time. Such an incredible opportunity, and a tremendous learning experience. Talking about performing 22 shows in a row and actually performing 22 shows in a row are two very different things. My body is tired, but I am also so thrilled to have the opportunity to perform my show for the international audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe for an entire month. It is an experience I will cherish forever.

Tell us a bit about the show you’re in?

Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis is a comedic solo performance about motherhood that will make you laugh so hard you’ll pee in your pants – and then learn about how to fix your urinary incontinence!

This is not a classical motherhood dance that pulls from traditional themes around the beauty of being a mother, but rather focuses on the parts of motherhood that are taboo and therefore NOT discussed such as: loss of bladder control, the copious tears, extreme loneliness, and the monotony to name a few. I share my experiences as a mother of two children, using abstract movement, sounds, songs, audience interaction and a “garden of dildos” – the show connects with anyone who has a mother.  The narrative is anchored in sharing the physical therapy I received at The Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Centre of New England as I shed light and humour on my treatment of post-childbirth urinary incontinence.

What’s the audience reaction been so far?

Audiences have been warm and loving. Except for the large stag party that came pissed to the show. I wouldn’t call them warm at all, but they were certainly fun! There have also been lots of giggles at the scenes with dildos. I’ve received lots of comments from women after the shows sharing stories about their own vaginas. One woman told me, that based on her own experience, I was guaranteed to have plenty of vagina material to keep making shows for the rest of my life!

Do you read your reviews? Do negative ones bother you?

I do read reviews of my work. I have received two negative reviews at the Fringe, which is new for me! They were interesting as they commented on being a bit confused by the piece, but also praised me for being a strong performer.

There’s thousands of shows on – why should Fringe-goers fork out to see yours?

Tense Vagina is an intimate, funny and authentic experience. The piece is an hour long giving audiences an opportunity to think about something both private and taboo. What might your body need to heal? Can you get past the embarrassment and seek help? My show uses humour to pull a layer back and explore a deeper topic around the female body. It’s a strong, feminist piece where you both learn and laugh. I also give away free snacks!! You can’t go wrong!!

Are there any other shows on this year you’d recommend?

I’ve seen a bunch of great shows. I really enjoyed Trashed, Butt Kapinski and Wild Bore, to name a few.

What’s on your hit list to see?

Trying to squeeze in Heart of Sea, which I’ve heard so many great things about along with Flight at the International Festival.

What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?

I LOVE Edinburgh! I’ve been being a tourist with my kids (Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura, Dynamic Earth, etc.) Shopping on Princes street, walking around Stockbridge, eating scones. This city is incredible.

Do you agree with those who say the Fringe has become too big?

It’s my first time here so it’s hard for me to say. It is VERY big which is certainly part of its fabulousness, but as a solo show amongst thousands, it’s also easy for me to feel a bit dwarfed by the magnitude.

Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?

The Outsider is lovely.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in Edinburgh this year? 

Butt Kapinski was definitely strange, but in the most wonderful of strange. It felt truly original.

Sara Juli: Tense Vagina (An Actual Diagnosis), Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61), 4.10pm, until 27 August, ​www.edfringe.com

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