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Photo credit @ Ylva Erevall

Interview: Unpacking It All for Camden Fringe

The Camden Fringe Interviews

Christina Morelli unpacks UNPACKED for us

For our latest in our Camden Fringe Interview series, we squeezed into our tightest spandex outfit to join Christina Morelli for a quick chat about her show UNPACKED before it makes its way to Camden People’s Theatre for the festival.

As personal as it is relevant to society today, UNPACKED is inspired by the early days of spandex and tights and the devastating resurgence of low-cut jeans. Christina Morelli’s unfiltered love letter to the cruel voices in her head explores the truths about living with body dysmorphia and aging in Hollywood, while facing the mirror that’s haunted her since her first plié. Join her unpredictable journey from NYC to London to Hollywood, from bullies to Botox to birth control, as she fights, forgives, and lets (most of it) go.

Hi Christina, thanks for finding some time for us, shall we start with some introductions?

Hi! I’m Christina Morelli, and I’m the writer/performer of my new solo show, UNPACKED. Fun fact – this is my first time performing my own work (or performing any work, for that matter!). I’m usually more of a behind-the-scenes gal. The show is directed by Kathryn Gardner, who I met years ago in London when she was an actor in one of my plays. She’s been a delight to work with as a director and has been incredibly patient with me as a newbie actor. 

So what should we expect from UNPACKED

UNPACKED is an autobiographical show told through the eyes of an “Aging Ballerina” who unravels at her Hollywood audition for the role of PERFECT WOMAN. I’d say it’s a healthy mix of comedy, storytelling, and personal anecdotes, that will hopefully make you laugh, possibly make you cry, and just perhaps make you look at yourself in the mirror a tiny bit differently.

 Where are we going to find you for Camden Fringe?

I’m performing four nights at Camden People’s Theatre, from the 1 to 4 August, which I’m very excited about! When I workshopped the show last year, a few colleagues who read or saw it suggested CPT as the perfect venue for the material… I feel very lucky that I got booked there for Fringe and can’t wait to meet the other artists on the bill.

What was the inspiration behind the show, and how long have you been working on it? 

Technically, I’ve been working on this show for about a year. I think in reality, this show has been in me my whole life but I wasn’t brave enough to tell it in my own words. Years ago, when I attended London Film School, a tutor had suggested that I perform my own work but I wasn’t in the right headspace. Or, as we like to say in America, I didn’t have the balls to do it. I moved to LA two weeks before COVID lockdowns, and was finally starting to gain my footing when the strikes hit Hollywood early last year. Like so many other creatives, I felt helpless and frustrated… and the show basically spilled out. Then, a month before I was due to workshop UNPACKED in London another personal tragedy hit, and that experience influenced the material as well. In the midst of a really tough year, writing and performing the show gave me a sense of control while simultaneously helping me find peace amidst the emotional baggage I’d been carrying around for too long. I guess you could say I finally “unpacked” it.  

What do you hope the audience will think after watching UNPACKED? 

Well I hope they don’t think it’s crap, haha! But seriously, it’s a very personal show that explores highly universal themes. If nothing else, I hope they find a piece of themselves in my stories, and walk away knowing they aren’t alone in their experiences. And I hope they enjoy themselves and have a laugh – if there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s that you can’t take yourself too seriously. 

What made you decide to be part of Camden Fringe this year? 

I workshopped a very stripped down version of UNPACKED at Hen & Chickens Theatre last September, and the response was really lovely and positive. Several people suggested I take it to Fringe, which sounded both exciting and terrifying as I’ve never done a Fringe festival before with any of my writing. I’d heard nothing but great things about Camden Fringe and so I said to myself, “what have you got to lose?” (Turns out according to my bank account I have a decent amount to lose, but here we are!) 

Will you be frequenting the bar after your show?

I will absolutely be at the bar after the show! Though I recommend you frequent it up before, I’m much funnier if you have a little buzz going. And honestly, it’s lovely if people have questions but what I really hope is that it inspires them to share something about themselves with me – an anecdote, or a feeling that they experienced during the show. It’s incredibly rewarding as a writer to learn how people see themselves in your work. That’s the beauty of art. How it connects us.

Who is going to play you when your autobiography is snapped up by Hollywood when you’re a world-renowned writer and performer in years to come? 

A friend recently said she thinks Rachel McAdams could play me in a movie, and I will take that.

If budget was not an issue, what’s the one thing you’d love to have in your show? 

I will probably regret this, but I think real mirrors that I could interact and play with would be incredibly cool. And a ballet barre. For old times sake. 

What words of advice and encouragement would you give anyone thinking about doing Camden Fringe next year? 

Start planning early but expect that most things won’t happen until the last minute. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be too proud to accept it. Be authentic in your marketing approach and trust that it will reach the right people who will connect with the material. But most importantly – just do it! 

Any plans for after August – for you or the show? 

Once you see the show you’ll realize my life has never gone according to plan, so I’m going to say in a dream scenario the show continues to grow, evolve and reach bigger audiences, and get programmed somewhere. I’d love to bring on a proper producer and be able to fully realize the visions my director and I have for some of the choreography and special effects as well! 

In reality, I only have a plan up until August, so please feel free to say hi after the show and give my life some direction.

Thank you to Christina for our lovely chat. You will find her and UNPACKED when she plays at Camden People’s Theatre from 1 – 4 August for Camden Fringe. Further information and tickets available here.

You can find out more about Christina on her website here.

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