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Actress takes on a weighty role — literally - Metro US

Actress takes on a weighty role — literally

She says it’s the first time in her career that she was “too skinny” for a role.

But instead of putting her efforts into directing, or just forgetting about the play all together, actress Claudia Jurt made the decision to gain 50 pounds.

“Weight is something that women, and especially actresses struggle with all the time, and when I read this play I fell in love with it,” explains Jurt.

“People think I am crazy to have gained all this weight, and some days I think ‘yeah, why did I do this?’ but I think it’s an important play and this was the best way I could do the character justice.”

The character is Helen, a kind, vivacious and plus-sized woman at the centre of Neil Labute’s raw and emotional play, Fat Pig.

When Helen ends up sharing a table with Tom, a handsome and successful man who wanders into a crowded restaurant one afternoon, the duo quickly realize there is a spark between them. But despite his growing romantic feelings for Helen, Tom just can’t seem to ignore the teasing of his shallow co-workers Carter and Jeannie, who don’t understand why anyone would chose to date someone so “fat” and “disgusting.”

Typical of other Labute plays, Fat Pig is a depressingly honest and sometimes vicious look at society and human relationships.

But Jurt maintains there is a lot of humour in it too, and a chance for people to be enlightened about their own tendencies to judge those around them.

“There’s a line in the play when Helen says ‘I’m pretty alright with the way I am now — the trick is getting other people to be OK with it,’ and that sticks out for me,” explains Jurt.

And while she admits carrying the extra pounds has been a challenge, both mentally and physically, and that she’s looking forward to taking the weight off through diet and exercise, Jurt says she will never regret the experience.

“It’s a hard journey to go through. It’s not a costume I can take off after the show is over for the night, but I do think I have learned a lot about myself and gotten over some of my own insecurities.”

Fat Pig co-stars Jared Côté, and Corry Burke and is directed by Michèle Lonsdale Smith. It runs through Saturday at the University of Ottawa’s Studio Léonard Beaulne. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and the show begins at 8 p.m.

kim.mannixvermette@metronews.ca

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