Strap on your Fisher Price skates kids, this might be as close to roller derby as you’ll get.
Nancy Kenny’s Roller Derby Saved My Soul is a one-woman action-adventure comedy on wheels. Kenny’s inspiration for the story about Amy, a shy comic book geek, and her bossy sister June (both played by Kenny) navigating the competitive world of roller derby, came from a local newspaper.
“I always wanted to do a one-person show, I’m a big fan of Fringe Festivals,” she says. “I was in a coffee shop and saw on the front of the newspaper that Ottawa was getting its first roller derby team. I read the article and had a light bulb moment. I love what happens with the names, the alter egos and they accept any type of woman, no matter their shape or size – it seemed like such a supportive environment.”
She likens it to an unscripted version of pro wrestling. “Except oddly, I’ve scripted a show around it.”
Kenny is on skates for 75 per cent of the performance, which includes some insider roller derby jokes. “We usually invite the local roller derby team to come, it’s usually one of the best shows, they’re lively and energetic – if you’re in roller derby or a fan of it, you’ll see yourself in that.”
The Ottawa-based writer/performer brought her show to the Victoria Fringe in 2014, and is excited to return, this time to the Metro Theatre.
“A lot has changed since then. … I’m excited to be at the Metro Theatre this time, last time it was in a church hall, the venue was a little further away from the main Fringe area. I’m excited to be right downtown at the Metro, it’s a perfect space for the show.”
A part of Intrepid Theatre’s OUTstages Festival, Kenny says the show is fun and uplifting. “It’s a nice, light-hearted comedy where the character happens to be gay. I’ve been complimented on the fact that it’s not a big deal. It’s about someone who falls in love – it’s so matter of fact. Who cares if she’s gay? Who cares if she falls in love with a woman?”
Although it began as a Fringe performance, Kenny says she has refined the show to the point where it was nominated for Best One Person Show at the Canadian Comedy Awards and is slated for a tour of regional theatres on the East coast later this year.
“I get really diverse crowd, people who have heard of roller derby, or remember it from the 70s, fans of comic books or super heroes or come if you just want to see sports on stage.”