PF-21 ARTIST INTERVIEW – Ella Mock

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A Moment with Ella Mock (of HAUNTOLOGY!)

Why did you choose PortFringe this year? I have been involved with PortFringe in some capacity for 5 years, as an artist and a volunteer. When I moved out of Portland last Fall, I really hoped that PortFringe would keep me tethered to Maine, since there’s always a blend of Mainer and out-of-towners. Thankfully my hope came true! I’ve seen and been part of so many gorgeous and inventive shows through PortFringe, it’s always been fertile soil for new art!

How was your PortFringe show born? I have always been a fan of ghost stories, and have had a ton of paranormal and unexplained experiences. My thesis work for school led me to thinking about exorcisms, and what all an exorcism can be. The Greek root word means “to bind to oath”. Then I read C. Ree and Eve Tuck’s “A Glossary of Haunting” which goes in on how western horror and ghost stories are about defeating a haunting presence, when a haunting presence is often itself the act of justice or retribution. Basically it started really thinky, really academic, and then I was like, “wait, I need to make this personal.”

What about the world *right now* makes your show important? Everyone I know is sitting on some level of trauma or Trauma from the past year+, working with some new or intensified mental health struggles. I think about how in the Olden Days, people who lived with neurodiversity and mental illness may have been accused of being possessed, or cursed, or having angered a spirit or something, and the focus on healing was always, hey we gotta get this person “Normal”. That’s still true in a lot of ways, within the mental health industry, and getting “Normal” just means getting back to being useful to capitalism. We all live with ghosts. Maybe it’s about learning how to live with them, more than it is about being rid of them.

What have you learned as an artist during the last year of pandemic times? BOUNDARIES. Being an artist On Demand, working from home, seeing people react to scarcity by giving 120% and burning out. I am so excited to be a better-boundaried person.

Why is FRINGE important? Capitalism tells us that to be a real (see: successful) Artist, our art has to be useful or valuable to the people in power (AKA the wealthy white cis-hetero-patriarchy). Fringe tells artists, “nah, fuck that, make art for you and your community.”

It’s PortFringe’s 10th Birthday! What do you remember or miss about being ten years old? I grew up in Texas and my cousins down the road had fields of bluebonnets that were so tall, we’d play hide-and-seek in them. I miss looking up at the sky through the bluebonnets.

Have you checked out the other PF21 show listings? Pick one you’re excited to see or learn more about, and tell us why! I feel so lucky to be on the ticket I am! I’ve gotten to see Russell Kaback workshopping Holocaust Storyteller for the past few years, since we met through Theatre Ensemble of Color, and I’ve loved each new iteration! Also, mythical creature stories are next-door neighbors to ghost stories so Selkie has me so pumped.  Khalil LeSaldo (Deepest Regrets) is one of the funniest people I know, and he knows how to really bring an audience member in as a co-conspirator. ALSO I’m very into gender performance and performances about gender, so I’m so curious about The Reveal!

BONUS ROUND:
Write a haiku about your show!

Uh, is that a ghost?

Bro is there a ghost in here?

Bro can you hold me?

SEE HAUNTOLOGY! AT PORTFRINGE 2021!