Deb Filler’s one-woman show, I Lost it in Kiev, begs this question: lost what? With a knowing chuckle, Filler starts off the conversation by saying, “not my keys, or my virginity, and that’s all I’m going to say! You’ll have to come to the show to find out.”
Filler goes on to explain her new show is a collection of true stories and travels. This New Zealander brings to her show the perspective of being an outsider, which Filler feels is a “great place to come from – especially for comedy.” Her show tackles her experience of being a New Zealand-born woman, with European parents, who travels often. Filler states: “We’re all on a journey, whether we like it or not. A journey for laughter, love … a job. Some stuff is ridiculous, and that’s where comedy comes in.”
Like many other New Zealanders, Filler jokingly explains that she, too, travels often, for work and for fun; she also leaves the Canadian winters for a warmer climate and tries to “work on the road to avoid the arctic vortex.” When asked about her style of comedy, Filler describes herself as part of the ‘old-school’ comedy group, wherein it’s not all about getting laughs purely from shock-value, but you’re contriving “comedy from characters, stories, and universal truths that many people understand. (When you) excavate into the truth, many funny things come up along the way.” Filler’s show is filled with travel stories and she ensures you’ll be plenty shocked – mainly by how others behave and by unexpected circumstances.
Filler believes that “characters can say things that you, as a performer, maybe can’t say.” Her characters are universal, and her show discusses losing things, but realizing you’ve had them all along. Getting lost is a universal feeling, but ultimately, Filler says she truly believes, “we have ourselves.”
“Several years changes what we know,” says Filler. “[We] are always learning. Life is a process, but if we laugh along the way and see glass as half full, we have an advantage.”
Filler is currently working at Humber College as a professor, teaching physical theatre, solo theatre and character work to comedy writers, while simultaneously teaching actors in New Zealand at the New Zealand National Theatre School Toi Whakaari. Filler often tells her students, “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.” We will see how she takes her own advice in her show I Lost it in Kiev, where she is inviting us to her living room for an evening of storytelling.
Filler states “you can’t get away from who you are, even if you try,” and she takes stories from her past and brings them into her show – themes of being an outsider from the perspective of an outsider. Some tales stem from her father who survived the Holocaust, specifically Auschwitz, and from her mother whose Jewish family also escaped Nazi Germany at that time. Filler says she feels she is extremely lucky and grateful to be here and she lives life with as much passion and as much intensity as she can, “grabbing life by the cojones and just going for it.”
Filler lives as an outsider everywhere she goes; she is so many things at once, but in every instance she brings a different piece from her background that sets her apart from everyone else. She is a New Zealander in Canada, and while growing up in New Zealand she was one of the only Jewish kids in her school, she is an actor, a comedian, a character artist, and a lesbian and “couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Filler says “we all have an internal compass, and it’s a matter of turning (it on).” When you leave somewhere you came from, you are never really a part of the new place, and when you go back you never really become part of the old place again. This type of internal conflict is a recurring theme in I Lost it in Kiev. Feeling lost, and trying to live life to the fullest. Feelings of being an outsider are universal. Filler wants us to feel them all.
I Lost it in Kiev opens on Nov. 25 at Factory Theatre Studio. For more information, visit http://www.factorytheatre.ca/what-s-on/i-lost-it-in-kiev/.