The VAULT Festival is coming to town! From January 24th to March 18th, over three hundred new shows explode across a festival of festivals in their Waterloo home. With new venues, new bars, new food and plenty of surprises, VAULT 2018 is the biggest, fairest platform in London for artists to present innovative, daring work. Here we catch up with Holly Casey about her wonderful and bizarre creation, Frances Farmer: Zombie Movie Star.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first here- Frances Farmer: Zombie Movie Star does indeed star a zombie, and not just your run of the mill, drooling, undead corpse, but the reanimated and revitalised (to an extent) 1930’s star of Golden Age Hollywood and Broadway, Frances Farmer. It’s gory, it’s glamorous, and it’s all based on Frances Farmer’s real life story, or as much as the actress’s rotting brain will let here remember.
This is a comedy, a horror show, a zombie fairy-tale about the newly resurrected, but it is mostly an imperfect attempt to give back a voice to someone who has had her story blurred, co-opted, and covered up, and it’s all set in a vaguely explained supernatural landscape where the line between the living and dead is blurred. Farmer’s incredible life story from 1913 to 1970 saw her gain notoriety as a teenage atheist, fame as a golden age movie star, and incredible tragedy as an involuntary patient at Washington’s state-run asylum in Steilacoom.
The accounts we have now of Frances Farmer’s life range from trashy tabloid tales of excess to Scientologist anti-psychiatry propaganda. Farmer even died halfway through writing her autobiography, finished and perhaps embellished by a friend trying to option the star’s life story for a movie. Frances Farmer was a strong-willed woman with a temper to be feared who never got a chance to tell her side of things, and this whole production came from the one question, ‘what would Frances say if she got the chance to come back?’
Frances Faremer: Movie Star is running the 17th and 18th of February at 18:00 at the VAULT Theatre in Waterloo. Tickets and more information can be found here.