Kirsten Rasmussen. Photo by Sabrina Reeves
It takes balls to track down your exes and ask them what’s wrong with you. Itinerant actress and comedienne Kirsten Rasmussen has those balls.
In order to assess what makes one unloveable, an idea on which she based the title and subject of her new show debuting at the inaugural SOLOS festival, she tracked down 10 of her exes to ask them about the best and worst parts of dating her.
“They wrote, ‘You’re fierce, strong, ambitious.’ This was the positive side,” she says. “On the negative, it was about me being an emotional person. I’m emotionally intense — I’m not going to be apologetic about it. That’s how I roll — intense.
“No one wanted to get back together,” she adds. “But no one gave me a low blow. They all took the time to answer, which was nice. It means they have a soft spot for me in their hearts still.”
Out of these discussions came the show UnLOVEable, which asks: What makes somebody feel unloveable or unreceptive to love? More specifically, Rasmussen plays an almost 30-year-old woman working in a café with her ex. She has a “nice” boyfriend and an “asshole” potential boyfriend who might also be a vampire.
“It’s inspired by a lot of break-ups I’ve had in the last two years. I had a series of epic fails in relationships.” UnLOVEable is part of a new series called SOLOS, presented by Bloody Underrated and Plein Espace, in which six author-actors each present a one-night-only staging of a one-person show that blends storytelling, theatre and comedy. Each evening, the fest offers two back-to-back performances, one in French and one in English.
On the English side, Andrea Stanford trawls through her own past humiliations in Verbal Diary-ah: Confessions of an Awkward Teenager, Alain Mercieca’s Adopted at Death celebrates mortality and Jeff Gandell’s Danger Unit pits an eight-year-old Jewish kid against all the worst parts of the ’80s.
Rasmussen returns to Montreal after a recent move to Toronto, and she says that the shift challenged her confidence. “Montreal was so magical, especially coming from a small town in the Prairies. Toronto was a grind. I spent the first four months broke, living in a shared basement apartment after living alone in Mile End. I moved with a lot of expectations, and the industry was very competitive. I didn’t feel confident anymore,” she says. “It’s much better now. Getting kicked in the ego was good for me. It was all my own bullshit at the end of the day.
“I’ve gotten to a point in my career and love life as well where I don’t care for any bullshit. I want honesty and I want it pretty quickly,” she says. “Even though I’ve heard feedback that I’m intense, to me that’s knowing what you want and being confident enough to know it will come when it comes and to keep rocking whatever it is that you’re doing.” ■
SOLOS runs at Mainline Theatre (3997 St-Laurent), Nov. 6–9, $15/two shows for $25