Womanhood, Sexuality, Longing: Irina Varina on her Fringe show SPECULUM DIARIES

Originally from a film-making background, Irina Varina moved into theater and dance after training with two Grotowski-influenced teachers and studying at Headlong Performance Institute. Her Fringe work, SPECULUM DIARIES, combines dances, theater, performance art, and compelling personal-fictitious narratives of womanhood, sexuality, and longing. Impressive in a recent Fringe preview, Irina tells Phindie more.[1fiftyone gallery + art space, 3312 Kensington Avenue] September 14-24, 2016; fringearts.com/speculum-diaries.

irinavarina_speculumdiaries1

Phindie: Um, what is a speculum again?

Irina Varina: Speculum is Latin for “mirror”. It’s also a medical tool. There are vaginal, anal, nasal, oral speculums. I have a vaginal speculum in my show. Vaginal speculum is inserted into the vagina to dilate it for examination of the vagina and cervix. I don’t do that in the show… Now I am thinking if I am disappointed that I don’t do that, or if you’re disappointed. Hahaha many feels are happening.

Phindie: Oh, it sure sounds swell to be a lady.

Irina Varina: It’s pretty cool. How is it to be a man?

Phindie: We’ll ask around. What did the object represent to you and how did it help form SPECULUM DIARIES?

Irina Varina: Well, it’s really fun to look at and to play with. Are you a penis or a talking mouth or a tool or an art piece? The speculum I have is screwed onto a small wooden stand so it looks like a little sculpture. Why? What’s your story? Simply having it in a room is enjoyable, and raises all sorts of questions.

Phindie: What do you hope to convey with the piece?

Irina Varina: Humanness. Is it a word? Something about self-acceptance or conscious non-acceptance; bringing uncool feelings, bodily wants and conflicting wants into the open; something about being perfect. Also, the need for comfort and joys.

Phindie: How does your background in film inform your theatrical work?

Irina Varina: Mmm I don’t know. A lot of my initial research references are from film or other visuals. Also, I really enjoy (on the level “it feels really really good in my body”) editing part of making a film. So there is that.

Phindie: What do you long for?

Irina Varina: Right this moment – to find anything about German chocolate bar “Fraser” online. Does it exist at all or have I made it up?

Phindie: Other than that?

Irina Varina: For more self-awareness.

Phindie: What Fringe works do you long to see?

Irina Varina: I am hoping to see Nichole Canuso’s Pandaemonium, Dani Solomon and Mason Rosenthal’s One Way Red, and Sincerity Project. I’ve seen it before but if I get a chance I’d see Zornitsa Stoyanova’s Explicit Female again. I long for Zornitsa.

Phindie: Thanks Irina!

SPECULUM DIARIES
Wed Sept 14, 7:00 pm
Sat Sept 17, 5:00 pm
Mon Sept 19, 6:00 pm
Thu Sept 22, 7:00 pm
Fri Sept 23, 6:00 pm
Sat Sept 24, 2:00 pm
Tickets: $10-15
fringearts.com/speculum-diaries
facebook.com/events/864800726983630
irinavarina.com
facebook.com/the1fiftyone/

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.