EDINBURGH 2019: Diana Dinerman Q&A
Diana Dinerman is bringing her autobiographical feminist comedy to Edinburgh Fringe Festival. DETOUR: A SHOW ABOUT CHANGING YOUR MIND is just that. Appealing to the head and heart, she tells the tale of finding her true self, among life's twists and turns, and in LA, the fakest city on earth.
Tell us a bit about Detour
When I decided to get a PhD in American History, my life changed in ways I couldn't predict. In the middle of writing my dissertation, I quit and became a comedian. DETOUR is a show about how that happened. It's an introspective comedy that takes you through my personal transformation. Like all my writing, I'm looking for myself. It's a little bit of a detective story in that way, but it's really a story about getting unstuck and finding your life path in a surprising way.
DETOUR shows you what happened when I took the huge risk to leave my academic career and go into entertainment. I made this decision at an unpopular age. In Hollywood, women become more interesting at the exact same time as they age out of mass visibility (because they are no longer the ingénue). That's why there's been such a surge of interest in diverse writing for and about women in the last decade. DETOUR is a part of that surge.
Why did you decide to tell this story?
I wanted to tell this story for two reasons. One, I don't know a single person who hasn't had the DETOUR experience, which is: someone who has come to the conclusion that she made a wrong turn somewhere and can't do it over, so she has to go forward anyway and carve out a new path from old mistakes. And then that wrong turn ends up being the thing that leads to where you need to go. Detours can pay off. That's the core message.
Two, I wanted to talk about what it takes to feel whole in this world. I wanted to do so in a more introspective manner than stand-up comedy. I love jokes, and I spend a lot of time telling them, but a few years ago, a different voice started to emerge in my writing, and I wanted to share it. I wanted to do a one woman show so that I could expand my artistic expression beyond the joke form and in a way that would pull more people into the experience I am having - a woman who is growing into herself and shedding skin she no longer needs.
Feeling stuck in your life can be isolating. Changing your career, your mindset, and your relationship with yourself is hard work. When you make a big life change, you can feel lost and scared, but also like you're going in the right direction. DETOUR captures that experience.
Why bring it to Edinburgh?
I wanted to bring DETOUR to Edinburgh because I've never had more to say as a writer/performer than I do right now. The entertainment industry's obsession with youth means it misses opportunities to see human experiences that are deep, nuanced, and fully developed - this is the kind of work my female peers and I are making. Edinburgh has such a diverse and hungry audience for new stories and voices, it is the place to share a show like DETOUR.
The show has an inspiring and hopeful message, which is what we need right now. Artists are a part of public discourse. We can provide counter-narratives to political cynicism and we are conduits for human connection.
The US and the UK have been in a strange and similar political chaos in the last four years. Between the US government shutdowns, incapable leaders, and Brexit, the US and the UK haven never been closer. Not since July 3rd, 1776. We are countries who have had the privilege of less political strife and violence than many other countries in the world, but in the past four years we've experienced a surge in divisiveness, vitriol, and corruption. I've seen similarities in the political polarization taking place in the US and UK. There's no better time to inject some humour and hope into both populations.
What sets it apart from other shows at the festival?
It is different from any solo show I've seen, in that it's an introspective comedy narrated through the lens of a former dancer-turned history teacher-turned comedian. You know, your typical narrator!
DETOUR is a unique show because you see the writer/performer in all her identities: teacher, student, dancer, seeker, comedian, feminist, and it covers ten years of my life. But, it's not a character show. I tell the story as myself. The various aspects of who I am come out in the storytelling. In my experience, you rarely see the whole person on stage in a solo show - you see slivers of selves, or the version of the self that tells this one story. But, in DETOUR, I am the largest version of myself that I've ever been on stage. It's such a gratifying experience to unfold in front of an audience and reach the state of expansion that I talk about wanting to reach in the show, by performing the show. In that sense, DETOUR is a how-to-model for female expansion and expression.
We also have a beautiful soundscape and visual design, and a strong message, which is that it's ok not to have it all figured out and it's not too late to become what you want to be. It's not too late to create the life you want, even amidst the chaos and disappointment of modern life.
Who would you recommend comes to see it?
If you're someone who has a sense of humor about your mistakes, come to the show.
If you are someone who thought you knew where your life was going and changed your mind, this is a great show to see. If you're a woman and/or a feminist who is looking for or has found your voice, come to the show. If you're an artist and you are trying to break out of a pattern or a block that is holding you back, come to the show.
I haven't talked about this much, but the very Jewish experience of feeling separate and connected to something bigger is also woven throughout the show and I had no idea what a big part of my life experience was influenced by my Jewish identity. I loved digging around in that while writing DETOUR. So, if you're Jewish and you want to feel close to a member of your tribe, come to the show.
Diana Dinerman performs in 'Detour: A Show About Changing Your Mind' at Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 31st July - 26th August (not 13th). Tickets and more information: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/detour-a-show-about-changing-your-mind