Home » Features and Interviews » Interview: Pepa Duarte cooks up a show with Eating Myself

Interview: Pepa Duarte cooks up a show with Eating Myself

A powerful and vulnerable female exploration about food, the kitchen, and the act of nurturing ourselves within the construction of a woman’s identity in Peruvian society.

Quite the quote for Eating Myself, the new show from writer and performer Pepa Duarte, which is heading to the Golden Goose for five nights from 10 November. So good a quote so we wanted to know more. So ahead of the show’s run, we caught up with Pepa to talk cooking, kickstarter and Peruvian cuisine.

That’s quite a show description! Whilst it talks of Peruvian society, is the show just as relevant for a London and UK audience?

The show has Latin American flavours, but it speaks about something every culture has experienced – the relationship between cooking and caring, and the presence or absence of family around the table. 

Are there obvious similarities in how a woman’s identity is perceived in both the UK and Peru?

Yes, definitely. Women all over the world grow up under the pressure of beauty standards and gender stereotypes. Gender inequality is a reality here and everywhere and the show explores how it shapes women’s identity all throughout their lives.

Is food an important part of Peruvian culture?

Peru is extremely proud of its cuisine. It makes us forget everything else, which can be problematic, but it reflects the diversity of our land and traditions. There’s not much international cuisine in the country but there is a lot of fusion with cultures that came to Peru a long time ago; Japanese, Chinese, African. Peruvians are expected to know how to eat and cook. And that wasn’t my case. 

What made you decide to write a show around food and the kitchen?

I have always had a conflictive relationship with food, and I thought my struggle had to do with the sexist society I grew up in. But when I discovered cooking and eating meant so much more than I ever imagined, I realised I needed to write this play. I usually make theatre when I have an idea that I can’t get out of my head. 

Eating Myself was meant to be part of BAC’s Homegrown season in March, but for obvious reasons was cancelled. How did that effect you and the progress of the show?

It was my first time sharing a full length play in London so I was of course, sad and discouraged. But fortunately our rehearsal process was almost finished so all the set, costume, music and other things were ready to go. I’m really glad Golden Goose Theatre has programmed us, and having had the time to settle in our decisions for the show has actually beenpretty helpful.  

Are we right in thinking there will be actual cooking going on during the show?

You are right! It starts with cooking and finishes when the soup is ready!

You initially raised funds for the show via Kickstarter; was that a positive experience that you would consider again? One of the Kickstarter rewards was a cooked meal: did that ever happen or was it cancelled due to lockdown?

I think it was a great way to connect with the people that were interested in the show. Thankfully it happened in January, so we cooked a Peruvian dinner for everyone and got to share our vision for the play with friends and future audience. Me and Sergio Maggiolo (director) ran a workshop about devising for professional actors as part of the campaign too. I don’t think this will be my last fundraising campaign! 

And finally, what do you hope the audience will take away with them from your show?

I really hope the audience will reflect on their own upbringing and the importance of the people they call ‘family’ in their lives. Hopefully our time in the theatre, especially in these times, will be a way for them to remember the ones they love and find ways to reconnect with them.

Thanks to Pepa for taking time out of her preparations to chat to us.

Eating Myself will be cooking on stage at the newly opened Golden Goose Theatre from 10 to 14 November, tickets are available direct from the venue via the button below.

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