Amy catches up with Jenna Fincken, writer and performer of Ruckus, which is performing at the Edinburgh Fringe 2022. The show focuses on an abusive relationship and coercive control.
Hi Jenna, how are you feeling ahead of the Fringe?
A true mixture of feelings. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. But excitement is currently winning. Edinburgh Fringe Festival has always been on my bucket list and I kindacan’t believe it’s finally here. Watching other artists and dear friends over the years create work and perform at the Fringe has always been joyous and inspirational.
What inspired Ruckus?
I’ve had a few personal experiences of seeing people I cared about being in domestic abuse relationships. With this, I always felt frustrated that I didn’t understand why these relationships happened and why it appeared the victim was trapped.
In 2018, I saw the one man show Angry Alan by Penelope Skinner at Edinburgh Fringe which completely blew my mind. It was the perfect example of how to truly show a side of someone’s life story. It gave me the push I needed to write a one woman show about being in a coercive controlled relationship.
You interviewed many women throughout your research for this show, how did this impact you and the production?
The biggest impact it had was creating this huge drive. Being completely honest here, as a new writer and writing my first play – there have been many times where I’ve doubted myself. But with these victims/survivors’ stories I’ve had the privilege to learn – it’s given me such a drive to not cotton wool the subject matter. To put the stories in front of an audience. This play is all about the opportunity to showcase what coercive control can be and the devastating effects it can lead to.
Why do you think coercive control is an important subject to tackle, and why now?
Coercive control is still not a widely recognised issue. Yet its side-effects kill up to three women every week in the UK. In Scotland, the police receive a call about domestic violence every nine minutes. We’re simply not taught what is a healthy or toxic relationship. It’s inevitable that we fall into the system of power in our society which enables the actions of perpetrators. So, I really do hope that, through telling the story of Ruckus, audiences go back and spot the signs of coercion. Then bring this awareness into their life, question their personal relationships, and most importantly, know that there is help out there.
What shocked you the most during your research?
All the stories and cases I learned shocked me. But what really got to me, was the pattern of behaviours and the repetitive trait this has across society.
Also, learning about humiliated fury in men and the impact this has in coercive control relationships. Humiliated fury is a very dangerous emotional state in which one abuses and blames others in order to protect themselves from feeling shameful and powerless. As Jess Hill, a groundbreakinginvestigative journalist, once put it, “Trauma-based entitlement is very common in people who are abusive. When that entitlement is thwarted, there is this notion of being defied, of being humiliated – of being shamed. This is what has been called “humiliated fury” – when insecurity, toxic shame and entitlement combine.”
This concept then led me to James Gilligan’s work, a psychiatrist and author who has over 35 years of experience working with violent male perpetrators in prisons. He came to the idea that all violence begins with shame. That the very purpose of violence is to banish shame and replace it with pride.
From this, it helped me to develop a deeper understanding of the character Ryan, Lou’s partner in Ruckus. His motivation, his insecurities, and his biggest fears.
Why do you think the Fringe is so important for new work?
It’s the hub of opportunity and inspiration for new work. There are all sorts of amazing shows, experiences and events that we just don’t have in day-to-day theatre across the year. I always feel there is an underlying amount of respect that surrounds Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We all know the effort and great dedication for creating a new piece of theatre to Fringe. It’s like everyone has the same want – of finding amazing new shows.
How have previews been going?
Preview starts 3rd August! So, let’s see!
Theatre has the power to provoke thought and conversation, why do you think this is important, and how have you encouraged it within the show?
It’s important as provoking conversation provides an opportunity to see a different perspective. I truly believe that emotionally connecting to someone’s else’s story helps us to develop our own narrative. That’s why with Ruckus, shying away from the subject matter wasn’t an option. Knowing that I have 60 minutes to connect with an audience about the devastating effects of coercive control is that biggest drive.
Finally, with so many shows to choose from, why should people come to Ruckus?
First all, I’d always encourage anyone wanting to see Ruckus to check out the Self Care Guide. This guide has been designed to support audiences seeing Ruckus. It includes further details about content warnings, self-care suggestions and in-depth details about the show.
People should see Ruckus to learn more about coercive control. An important social issue that we must be aware about, as it’s fundamental in not only preventing people from entering coercive controlled relationships but is how we’re going to confront this issue as a whole.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Ruckus, Summerhall, Cairns Lecture Theatre, 3.30pm, 3-28 August (not 15 or 22)
Booking Link: https://festival.summerhall.co.uk/performances/ruckus-5/