by Charlotte Karp
VANCOUVER – When Tai Amy Grauman was 15 years old, she lost her best friend, Faith, in a car accident. Faith was 28kg at the time and in the throes of a severe eating disorder that was never taken too seriously in the years leading up to her death.
Fast-forward a few years and Grauman has turned her story into an honest and intimate theatre piece that delves deeply in to the world of eating disorders, co-dependence, unconditional love, and the treatment of young women with mental illness in society today.
“I have countless women in my life (including myself) who still struggle with past or present eating disorders,” admits Grauman. “It baffles me that while so many of us struggle, there are hardly any resources for help within our health care system. The struggles encountered by the characters in Her Name Was Mary… affect women everywhere, every minute of every day. It breaks my heart.”
Grauman says she feels as though hers and Faith’s eating disorders were never treated as serious issues, and wrote this piece to raise awareness of the fact that her story isn’t particularly unique. “Stories like these ones are told occasionally and almost always in a fictional setting,” she says. “But I wanted everyone to know that this happened — it happened to me and it could happen to anyone.”
While she originally wrote and performed Her Name Was Mary… in high school, Grauman says it’s a constant work in progress and has undergone numerous rewrites in the years following. “While the last three versions of this play have been driven by anger, this version is driven by forgiveness,” she says. “I want women to watch this play and quit self-loathing in front of the mirror. It cost my best friend her life and I truly believe it’s not worth it.”
Her Name Was Mary… runs from September 8 – 17 at Studio 16.Studio 16, Vancouver Fringe Festival