“I’m travelling, and I wake up suddenly in the silence before dawn in a strange hotel room, in a poor country where my language isn’t spoken, and I’m shaking and shivering. – Why?”
Opening line of The Fever, by Wallace Shawn
The Fever is a one-person play that was originally performed in living rooms rather than in a theatre. Penned by American playwright and actor Wallace Shawn in 1990, it was partly inspired by his visit to strife-torn countries in Latin America in the 1980s. It’s an impassioned appeal that springs from the heart and inquiring mind of an artist asking hard questions about the way of the world through the persona of a curious traveller to who, in the hallucinatory throes of a fever, is brought to a staggering realization.
The audience witnesses the traveller’s experience of this fever in real time, from the minute it strikes to the provocative confession that comes moments after it breaks. In the interim, the traveller, a natural raconteur, struggles to resolve a troubling fascination with “the poor”. It all takes place in the confines of a room in a strange hotel in a poor country where the traveller’s language isn’t spoken, but the window that The Fever opens on the way that the world works is as wide as the world itself, and the view that it offers might just change your life.
The Fever won the Obie Award for best new play after Shawn finally brought it to the stage in 1991. But for months before that, he would only perform it in the living rooms of friends and acquaintances because he felt that in that context, what he wanted to say was less likely to be mistaken for mere entertainment.
Since then, The Fever has been performed by numerous actors on stages and in living rooms all over the world. Now, in the twenty-first century it remains current and urgently compelling. Whether or not it changes your life, you’ll have a hard time not debating its point-of-view with your friends and acquaintances after hearing it.
theatre no. 6 is proud to present Shawn’s 2012 revision of his original script. The Fever was previously produced by theatre no. 6 at Azimuth Theatre‘s Living Room Playhouse in 2014.
For more information about Wallace Shawn and The Fever, Shawn’s 2012 interview in the Paris Review offers an excellent introduction.
A portion of the proceeds generated by a performance of The Fever in your home can be donated to your favourite cause.
The amount donated rises with the proceeds. A modest donation of $20 can be made when proceeds are $120. When admissions exceed $300, as much as 50% or more of the proceeds can be gifted.
As verification that a donation has been made, the host will receive, in their name, a certificate of acknowledgement from the registered charity that is the recipient of their gift.
The Fever (2014): What Critics Said
theatre no. 6 staged a full production of The Feverat the Living Room Playhouse in the spring of 2014. Here’s what critics had to say about it.
It’s challenging, certainly, to confront an audience with, well, itself, especially in a time when theatre seems desperate to shuffle anyone through the doors: but it’s all very skillfully, unflinchingly executed in this theatre no. 6 production.
Thingelstad’s an actress capable of bridging into the emotions necessary to make so much heady, intellectual ruminating affecting, too—and capable of maintaining interest and pace in a 90-minute solo—using an undercurrent of a sense of realization that seems to make us complicit in her thoughts.
Director Ian Leung finds variety in the approach, too: that chair finds quite a few uses, and though the fourth wall never quite breaks, there are moments when Thingelstad will make and hold eye contact. It’s confrontational, and effective.
Contact us for a booking, and either Ian Leung or Melissa Thingelstad (depending on your preference and our availability) will come and perform The Fever in a space of your choosing. NB: Currently, Ian Leung is available for readings.
Can I schedule a performance for any time of day?
Any time between 10:00 am and 2:00 am. But if you need something earlier or later, we’ll do our best to accommodate that.
Can I book for a venue outside my home?
Conference hall. Church basement. Classroom. Fundraiser. You name it. Fees may change depending on the nature of the event and the size of the venue. Contact us and we’ll negotiate something that works for everyone.
How much does it cost?
For living room performances it’s $20 per person, payable in cash. At this time we request a minimum audience of six people, or for audiences of less than six, a minimum fee of $120.
We will also happily consider Pay-What-You-Can performances. Just contact us and we’ll work something out.
A portion of the evening’s proceeds can be donated in the host’s name(s) to a suitable charity of their choice. For more information, scroll up to Raise Money for Your Favourite Cause, or contact us.
Do I need to provide anything?
All you really need to provide is something comfortable on which the performer can sit for the duration of the monologue. If you have an armchair in your living room, you’re set. A seat at your dining room table will also do the trick.
You don’t need to make a stage of any kind, but we do advise that you make sure the chair is placed so that everyone can see the performer’s face, and that they are seated comfortably.
We also request that you ask your guests to turn their cellphones to silent for the duration of the performance.
Beyond that, the only other thing you might provide is a bottle or a tall glass of water for the performer.
How long is The Fever?
The monologue runs roughly two hours.
If you prefer not to have the performer meet and converse with your guests, please also plan for them to arrive at your home at least fifteen minutes before the performance in order to familiarize themselves with the chair and the room in which they’ll be giving the monologue.
That said, the performer will always be delighted to mingle (as his or her self) with you and your guests before and after the reading if you so wish.
Is there an intermission?
No. But you and your guests should feel free to leave the room and come back quietly during the performance if you need to take a break for any reason.
Will I and my guests be able to talk to the performer?
Both before and after the reading, the performer will be very happy to relax as his or her self and chat with you and your guests, or answer any questions people may have. In fact we strongly encourage you to make this kind of interaction part of your event!
How long do I have to book ahead?
If we’re available, we can usually accommodate short-notice bookings. Ask us!
Is The Fever suitable for all ages?
Since it’s inspired in part by Shawn’s reflections on the political situation in certain parts of Latin America in the 1980s, the monologue features a few brief and, on occasion, graphic references to acts of violence. The act of rape is also mentioned. And there is a very little bit of coarse language. It’s recommended primarily for adults, but socially conscious and politically curious mid-to-late-teenagers should also be capable of appreciating it.
Any other questions?
Drop us a line, we’ll be happy to answer! Call us at 780.803.0161 or use the e-mail form below.