Sunday, August 6, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "Fire in My Veins: Blazing through Life with Invisible Illness"


Show: 12


By: Allison Broeren

Created by: Allison Broeren

Location: Strike Theater

Summary: A solo storytelling piece about living with an unseen chronic illness.

Highlights: Allison Broeren is one of the founders of Strike Theater, which this year is a serving as a venue for seven independently produced shows. In her very personal solo show, she tells her story of living with an autoimmune disease that you've probably never heard of, unless you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease, or you work in the field. She was diagnosed almost 20 years ago when she was in her early 20s, and shares details of the diagnosis (which took 10 months), treatments (steroids and chemotherapy drugs), and what it feels like (somedays fine, other days not great). I attended one of the special extended performances that was about 75 minutes long, but it didn't feel long at all; it's a thoroughly engaging and compelling show. Allison shares all of the details of her experience, and gives you a glimpse of what it might be like to live with a chronic disease, for those of us lucky enough not to have that experience. She also illustrates the shortcomings in our health care, health insurance, employment, and other systems in terms of giving people with chronic illnesses the support and respect they need and deserve. She talks about tiring easily, using the spoon theory to illustrate spending energy on certain tasks, but in her show Allison is full of energy and spirit, in an ultimately hopeful and positive show about a disease with no cure and treatments that can be toxic. At its best theater can share the experience of people who are different than we are, help us feel connected to them, and engender empathy. This show does that in spades, and is funny, relatable, and moving.