Last Friday Dad’s Garage opened our newest world premiere show: Ad Nauseam. This show is written and directed by Megan Leahy, creator of 2016’s Woman of the Year, a sketch show satirizing the casual sexism women face throughout the year. Ad Nauseam is another step towards shattering the patriarchy, brought to you by the amazing women (and a few dudes) of Dad’s Garage. We took a moment to sit down and chat with Megan Leahy about her inspiration and process for this show.
Can you tell us a little about Ad Nauseam and what to expect from the show?
Ad Nauseam is a comedic look at how gender roles have been defined and reinforced through advertising. The show is set during the golden age of advertising, the early 1960s. During this time period, the civil rights movement and sexual revolution were in their infancy. Ads were written almost exclusively by straight white men and featured predominantly straight white women and men acting as they were “supposed” to—women ran the home and children; men ran the world. In our show, audiences should expect to see this same world but with an important difference: here, women have always been the ruling sex.
What was your inspiration for the show?
I was inspired by the Great American Trash Fire, or as it’s otherwise known, the 2016 presidential election. It’s the best time in American history to be a woman, yet our commander-in-chief implied women are barely more than pussies to grab. It angers me that people aren’t more compassionate and empathetic to the struggles of others, be they women, non-binary, African-American, LGBTQ or anyone wrongly classified as an “other”. We’re all “other” to someone, and there’s no reason why the default should be man.
Is it true that you used to work in advertising?
Yes! I spent a few years as a copywriter at a wonderful agency that, thankfully, is nothing like Reine and Rankle in the show! Just like in any industry, there are people only looking to make a buck and then there are people who are truly creative and want to put out strong work. Luckily, the women and men who I worked for were the latter. It was inspiring to learn from and work with people really committed to the art of advertising.
What has the process been like for this production? What are you most excited about?
It’s been so fun to create this world! During one of our most interesting rehearsals, the men played the women and the women played the men, not so they can do an impersonation of each other, but to see what it would look like if this story was just the story we’re used to seeing. Focusing on the way the opposite sex moves through and considers the world gave the actors a lot to work with. Design-wise, it’s been really fun to meld the beautiful mid-century modern world with entirely new gender roles. Luckily, we have a group of brilliant designers that were up to the challenge. I’m most excited to share this world with our audiences and I truly hope it sparks some conversation about the way that women and all “others” were, and continue to be, treated.
Ad Nauseam runs every Thursday through Saturday night at 8pm though June 1st at Dad’s Garage. Tickets are available here.