“Fat Pig” to bring body image, acceptance to stage


Kevin Hall

Matt Mattingly and Beka Murphy rehearse their lines in the Tarble Arts Center Monday during the dress rehearsal for the upcoming play Fat Pig.

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The Charleston Community Theater’s will present “Fat Pig,” a dramatic yet humorous play about body image and acceptance, with the first show on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Tarble Arts Center.

Saturday’s show will be at 7:30 p.m., Sunday’s show will be at 2 p.m., while the February 5-7 shows will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Tarble Arts Center.

“Fat Pig” is about a couple, Tom, a normal, 20-something-year-old who is looking for love, and Helen, a plus-sized librarian. According to the press release, Tom must face his own superficiality when forced to explain his new relationship to his friends, co-worker Carter and ex-girlfriend Jeannie.

The play is directed by Tracy Harpster and produced by Richard G. Jones, Jr.

Director Tracy Harpster said she decided to put on “Fat Pig” because it intrigued her.

“I pulled it off the shelf because of the title.” she said. “I wanted to see what it was about.”

Harpster said the play brings up the concept of body image.

“I love Helens’ character,” she said. “(Helen) is happy with who she is, whether or not she fits (peoples ideas) of who she should physically be.”

A big conflict in the play is whether Tom will be in a relationship with Helen despite what his friends say, or if he will break it off.

“Tom goes back and forth. (Should he) follow his heart, or is it too much to take all the criticism everyone else has?” Harpster said.

She said rehearsals have run smoothly.

“There are four actors, (and) I have not worked with them before.” she said. “I’ve done a lot of acting, not a lot of directing. (The actors) were excited about figuring out who their characters are.”

The actors featured are Holly Allen as Helen, Matt Mattingly as Tom, Beka Parker Murphy as Jeannie and Aaron Due as Carter.

To become more understanding of their characters and the themes of the play, the cast talked about society’s expectations of (people’s) looks and weight.

She said the play challenges ideas about body images.

“A year or two ago, there became a focus on supporting all body types, fat, thin, in between,” Harpster said.

She said some of the characters use “harsh words” when talking about Helen.

“(It) reflects reality,” she said. “Some people still have (the characters’) ideas.”

Although Carter and Jeannie criticize and belittle Helen because of her size, she is still a strong character.

“When you leave, (you) realize because she is such a strong character, she can withstand that,” Harpster said. “People will be rooting for Helen and Tom to be together.”

Although the play has more dramatic elements, there are “definitely” humorous parts as well.

“Fat Pig” was met with some hesitation because of the insulting words directed at Helen, but Harpster said the show isn’t meant to make people feel bad about themselves.

“(People) will see how comfortable Helen is, (and she’s) living a wonderful life no matter what,” she said.

Harpster also said the actors looked at the play as a theater company to make sure the play was not going to be insulting.

“When you read it and understand it, (you see) it’s about being accepting of people, not just about their weight, it could apply to people of a different race, gender, (or) sexual orientation.”

Despite the initial hesitation, the play has been met with “a positive response so far.”

“We’ve had a large number of people coming to support (us),” Harpster said.

They have already have a large number of sales so far, and tickets are selling out quickly, with Saturday already sold out.

Anyone interested in tickets can call the Tarble Arts Center for more information.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]