First look: Furry play 'Fursona Non Grata' is the real deal
It's hard enough getting to know your fiancée's family at the best of times, let alone when they're a bunch of animals. Such is the premise of Fursona Non Grata, a two-act play read at Califur IX.
A woman raised by furries, brings her fiance home for Thanksgiving to meet the family for the first time. Fur-larity ensures.
The play was first read in June 2012, and was presented as a radio play at Wild Nights in April. In contrast to Furry Tales – which held a reading at Anthrocon 2007, and left furs amused, but with reservations about the show's grounding – Fursona Non Grata has actual research behind it.
Playwright Jeff Goode created Disney's American Dragon: Jake Long and wrote The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. While demurring to identify as a furry himself, he attended Califur I, and was guest of honor at Rocket City FurMeet 2007 and Oklacon 2008; from this, he's put together a story which is, if fanciful, at least more of an exaggeration of reality than an apologetic for CSI's fursuit fetishists.
Dane and Lisa are all set to get engaged. But when Lisa's grandmother is reported to be sick, she drops everything and heads back home, with Dane in tow. The rest of her family is introduced, with all their quirks. Confusion and hilarity ensues.
That's a simplification, of course. The constant twists and turns are true to the playful, surreal nature of furry roleplay. Lisa's reluctance to reveal her family's secret turns out to conceal a deeper, more touching moment in her past that goes to the heart of why some furs choose to don fur. But to learn it, Dane must interact with Lisa's conflicted brother, acerbic sister, suit-loving father, baking-obsessed mother, raunchy grandmother, and the one ex-boyfriend Lisa didn't mention on the ride over — each of whom has a different spin on what it means to be a furry lifestyler.
It's not perfect. The introduction felt slow, and that's after I missed half of the first scene. The second act lingers in an extended monologue detailing a furry convention. A sexual-orientation subplot followed by an advice session felt more preachy and stereotypical for who delivered it than any of the furry material. (At times, the play resembled a paean to diversity. We get it, people are different; you don't have to hammer it in.)
I also got a great sense of the costuming and roleplaying aspects of furry fandom, but watchers might get the impression that other forms of art have nothing to do with it. Sure, there's no need for badges among family, but I'd have expected Dane to notice a few pieces up on the walls.
But these are minor nit-picks, likely to be resolved well before opening night. The script delivers when it counts, and there are enough one-liners about Granny's war escapades to make the play enjoyable to any audience. Oh, and speaking of Granny: while each cast member delivered their lines admirably, actor Lou Weiss was clearly enjoying her role. I also admit a fondness for Jude Evans's therianthropic Yava, whose dedication to remaining in character, care for his "furry family", and fondness for anti-human epithets were so very familiar from certain quarters of the fandom.
Fursona Non Grata is raising funds on IndieGoGo for "costumes, set design and construction"; so far, they've got… $60, which is unlikely to cover a nose prosthesis, let alone full fursuits. (They might be more successful if they offered something more significant than a poster and program mention to those unable to attend, such as a digital copy; however, I'm told this is unlikely, since they'd have to pay the actors full union scale.) The show is produced by the SkyPilot Theatre Company, part of the LA Stage Alliance.
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a developer, editor and Kai Norn from London, United Kingdom, interested in wikis and computers
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I'm questioning whether or not that image is a copyright violation first.
And then I'm questioning why anyone would make this play.
Fur use? It's certainly transformative . . . and has has been around for a while, if you've not seen it before.
I think the goal was to make an amusing play that communicated something about not judging people by their covers.
Renaissance paintings usually don't much copyright protection to begin with. They kinda hadn't invented it yet. Besides, even if they had, the artist's great-great-great-grandchildren are dead; it's way in the public domain.
The fursuit photos are not in the public domain. Still, it would be hard to get the piece taken down on that basis.
So much for this saving my reply as I logged in. (grumbles)
Anyway. I am wondering if Jeff ran a different version of the play for the Califur audience. When we were planning on performing this at Wild Nights Jeff sent me several versions of the play. I went with the most recent copy considering that to be the most "official" version of the play. Our version was well received and it was given a standing ovation from the audience. How was it received there at Califur?
Very well; the room was only about 1/3 full, however (many were away for Sunday lunch, or otherwise occupied).
Everyone seemed to be getting into the jokes and generally had a good time.
Furry Tales was promising, about 75% there; it's a shame the producers declined to develop it further. The book needed work, but the songs certainly struck an emotional chord, especially "Choose A Tail" and "Furry On the Inside".
I'd love to see someone do something in the style of Christopher Guest and co. (Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman). No need for unrealistic plot twists or one-liners, just collect a group of iconic/archetypal fandom characters and have them interact.
What was Furry Taless? Was this that other Furry play?
Yes. See the links in the third paragraph, below the blockquote.
The reading at CaliFur got a standing ovation as well -- and lot and LOTS of very loud laughter. From the first time poor Dane saw Lisa's mother wearing a zebra tail and said "Uhhhhhh..." we were HOOKED.
I'd really appreciate it if the fandom would consider contributing to this effort. For as little as $25 you can help this play get what it really needs: Real fur-suits!
I am really glad to hear it went this well. I hope to hear others talk about it in the future.
I was at the CaliFur reading (second row, tan baseball cap, blue shirt). I liked the reading very much. I believe this will be a wonderful play. It was funny, it was sad at parts, and always very entertaining. And the audience did give a standing ovation at the end. I was impressed enough to donate. If furs would donate $10 each, we could make this happen.
I loved being a part of this at Wild Nights. When we read it through before going on stage, all of the cast were dying with laughter at one point or another. It is a well-rounded play that not only covers a lot of "furry" issues, but would also serve as a pretty decent intro to the fandom for a non-fur. It also has hilarity in all the right places: everywhere!
First we had this: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fursona-non-grata
Now this shows up: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fursona-non-grata-the-fursuits
Legit or not?
Well, it has that "verified nonprofit" tag. It looks like they've attempted to retarget their promotional campaign to the interests of potential furry benefactors, while remaining within the bounds of their union contract.
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