In Her New Play This Actress Offers Insight On How Anorexia Can Pull A Family Apart

Rinse, Repeat is a play that tells the story of a daughter’s return home after spending four months at an inpatient facility battling anorexia. Playwright Domenica Feraud was inspired to write the piece because she was frustrated by the lack of representation of eating disorders in the arts.

“Three in four women report disordered eating behaviors, and yet there is a deafening silence surrounding this issue, a silence I couldn’t bear,” says Feraud who also plays the lead role of Rachel in the production that is currently playing at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Directed by Kate Hopkins, the cast features Feraud, Michael Hayden, Florencia Lozano, Jake Ryan Lozano and Portia.

When it came to also starring in Rinse, Repeat, Feraud considered many elements. “Ultimately, I felt it made me a better writer,” she explains. “There were readings where I did not play Rachel, and my rewrites were not nearly as strong. I learned so much about these characters from being inside the story. Although it was a risky decision and presented challenges, I am incredibly grateful to my director, cast and producers for supporting and trusting me to do both.”

Feraud shared more. 

Jeryl Brunner: What would you like people to know about Rinse, Repeat? 

Domenica Feraud: The play asks many questions. What pressures might assimilated immigrants put themselves under in this country? How overwhelming can the fear of disappointing your parents become? How can we support our loved ones when they are struggling? This is the story of a family trying to do their best. There are no villains or heroes in this piece. Nothing in this play can be neatly wrapped with a bow.

It is also important to me for people to know that Rinse, Repeat is not exhaustive. Eating disorders are complex. It is impossible to address every aspect of this illness in 90 minutes. Rachel’s experience is singular. I don’t want anyone to walk away from this play thinking this is what all eating disorders look like. But I hope it provides an insight into what it means to struggle with food, and makes room for more people to share their stories.   

Brunner: What gave you the courage to tackle such a personal piece? 

Feraud: Pain and anger and a deep hunger to see more stories like Rachel’s and Joan’s being told. Many women in my life have struggled with disordered eating in various forms, including myself. If you look closely enough, it’s everywhere. But we don’t talk about it, which reinforces the notion that this is something to be ashamed of. I am in awe of women who have loving relationships with food and their bodies, because society hasn’t made that easy for us. We are constantly being told we aren’t enough: to stop eating carbs, work out more, rip the hair off our legs, paste fake eyelashes to our eyelids. I have had many women tell me they finally feel “seen” after watching this play. And that is why I did this. And I will continue doing everything I can to get this story out there.

Brunner: What is the best advice someone has given you?

Feraud: My friend Damon Cardasis taught me to always advocate for myself as an artist. He pointed out that no one is going to come knocking on your door, begging to produce your work or act for them. At least not at the beginning of your career. As someone who has wasted far too much time being insecure, hearing that was enormously valuable, and empowering. Things finally began happening in my career once I started standing up for myself. If I didn’t believe in this play and fight for it at every turn, it wouldn’t be happening. That lesson has started to carry over into my personal life, and it’s truly been transformative.  

Brunner: What is one of the first times you performed when you were a kid?

Feraud: I was constantly performing as a kid. I would sing songs from Annie in taxi cabs, elevators, in line to check in at the airport. I even organized a singing competition every Christmas among my relatives. We would commune at my grandparent’s house in Guayaquil and I would force my poor aunts and uncles to take part. I took it very seriously. There are pictures of me at eight-years-old dressed up as Sandy in Grease—blonde wig and all. Looking back, it was very patient and loving of my family to humor my whims. Although there was one year where my little brother beat me in the competition. And to this day I’m still slightly bitter.

Brunner: What is one of the smartest things you have done in your life?

Feraud: Educating myself on feminism and what it means to be a woman of color in this country. Misogyny is passed down to most of us, and it’s finally time to break the mold and say “enough” and stand up for ourselves and our rights. We need to stop twisting ourselves into pretzels for men. It is so tempting to play the game, to keep quiet. But if we do that, things will never change. I made the choice to have 80% of the play’s cast be diverse, to have Rachel and Joan speak Spanish without worrying whether some of the audience might feel left out, to explore what living under the male gaze does to women and their relationships with their bodies. There is a lot more I have to say when it comes to what women have had to put up with and I’m only just getting started!

Brunner: What is trait that you have that still helps you stay successful today?

Feraud: I’m a pretty loyal person. I listen to everyone’s opinion, but I trust my gut when it comes to deciding which to incorporate into my writing. Both these things have led to me cultivating a pretty phenomenal team for this show. It’s been wonderful getting to build this world and these characters with my director and this team of actors for such a long time. The longevity of some of these relationships has made the ultimate product stronger, in my opinion. I now know what it means to create art with a team of true collaborators and look forward to working with everybody again.

Brunner: Can you describe your perfect day off? 

Feraud: My perfect day off starts with me getting up at 11am after sleeping at least nine hours. I am not a morning person. Ideally, I have time to work out, make a delicious breakfast at home, like my favorite oatmeal with peanut butter and poached eggs on toast, spend time with friends and family, but also some quality time by myself. I’ll read, watch television, bake cookies, which relaxes me. And of course, there’s no better way to end my day than by going to see a good show. I’ve done that on many of my days off during this run and it is always a treat.

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Jeryl Brunner profiles people who are guided by a deep and unshakable passion for what they do. Following their joy inspires them to think outside the box, take risks an...