BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

13/02/2016 - 17/02/2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Former National Poetry Slam champion Ali Jacs will be making her Fringe Festival debut in February, with a solo show entitled Jagged Little Pilgrimage. 

The show is an entertaining and enlightening autobiographical glimpse into Ali’s life over the past twenty years since the release of Alanis Morissette’s iconic 1995 album Jagged Little Pill.

“Like so many of my peers, Jagged Little Pill is one of those albums that defines an era for me. It is the soundtrack to not just angsty teenage years, but also the emotional rollercoaster that followed throughout my twenties,” says Jacs.

“I can identify with every song on that album, each one somehow tells a story relevant to my life, so this seemed like a way I could honour what the album has meant to me.”

Predominantly making use of spoken word poetry, with some musical elements, the show follows a chronological sequence through the album with a poetic answer to each song.

Like the album, Jagged Little Pilgrimage is a brutally honest snapshot of life, spanning twenty years. Ali explores themes of anger, frustration, love, sexuality, self-discovery and religion, with her storytelling style of poignant vulnerability and self-deprecating humour. 

“I have a deep respect for Alanis Morissette’s uncompromising approach towards lyrics and song-writing,” says Jacs.

“It’s something that I’ve tried to capture with this show, and an approach that lends itself well to performance poetry.” 

Known also by her given name of Alina Siegfried, Jacs won the New Zealand National Poetry Slam in 2012, after placing 2nd in the inaugural competition the previous year. She competed in the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Minneapolis, and she spoke at TEDxChristchurch that same year. She also founded the popular spoken word series Poetry in Motion, held on the first Wednesday of the month at Meow Café in Wellington.

Jagged Little Pilgrimage is Ali’s first feature length concept-show, and will run for four nights at BATS theatre between 14 – 17th February.

Jagged Little Pilgrimage
Wellington Fringe Festival
BATS Theatre (Propeller Stage)
14 – 17th February,.
6.30pm nightly
Adult $18; Student/Concession $14 (Fringe Addict Cardholders $12) 
Tickets at BATS: http://bats.co.nz/ticket-form/

Theatre , Solo , Performance Poetry ,

A playful, humorous and at times harrowing journey of self-discovery

Review by Henrietta Bollinger 18th Feb 2016

Four years ago Ali Jacs welcomed me into the then small and rapidly growing Wellington slam and spoken word poetry scene: poetry written for performance and, in this context often, deeply personal reflections; a fire fuelled articulation of every member’s experience of ‘the personal is political’. Ali led her monthly evenings of poetry under the banner of Poetry in Motion and succeeded in making them a supportive space for self-expression.

Knowing Ali and the deeply personal nature of her work makes it hard to critique dispassionately. The subject up for discussion – a coming out story – is still a vexed journey for many people despite the sympathetic ears it reached on Tuesday night and evident social change.

Having seen Ali in action on many a slam stage I am excited to see how her witty and open personal poetics will translate to a theatre space. And Jagged Little Pilgrimage offers the highly relatable experience of transposing one’s experience into the music of the day: a clever model for hanging her work together.

Equally I am excited by the scope of the endeavour. Where, in the poetry world, there is pressure to present neatly wrapped three minute packages, I am curious to see what the opportunity of a theatre piece would lend Ali. And lastly I am intrigued by her connection with Alanis Morissette whose 1995 album Jagged Little Pill defined the Zeitgeist of an era for Ali. 

Largely I am rewarded as a viewer. What the piece purports to be and what it is are, on the whole, the same: a playful, humorous and at times harrowing journey of self-discovery in which Ali is generous to her audience as well as to her former selves.

A gifted and charming storyteller, Ali is a joy to watch and her audience stays with her the whole way. Practiced in her art, I cannot fault the content. I will say, however, that the show evidences a performer learning the potential of theatre. There are a few false endings and sound cues that give just small stilled bursts of Alanis. As a performer Ali moves around the stage freely though, for me, the most affecting moments are in her stillness when she states her experience and lets the audience conjure up for themselves the depth of feeling and the breadth of experience.

I would love to see her embrace the multiple selves she plays even further and let us into their world through her mannerisms and flow of words. The way she hints at this are enchanting. I would lastly urge her to have confidence in her own matter-of-fact telling, which does hold weight and meaning. I am disappointed she ends on an Alanis line when the story is uniquely and deeply Ali’s and she has the strength to carry it. 


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