Arts & CultureCampus & City

Furry friend flies in “Jezebel, at the Still Point”

Ainsley Hillyard's new physical theatre piece continues artistic collaboration with canine companion

What: Jezebel, at the Still Point
Where: The Roxy on Gateway
When: October 11-21, 2018
Tickets: Senior/Student $18, Adult $22

Featuring: Ainsley Hillyard & Jezebel the Dog
Director: Beth Dart
Original Lighting Design: Beth Dart
Sound Design: Beth Dart
Lighting Designer: Elise Jason
Stage Manager: Izzy Berguist
Video/Poster Design: Matt Schurrman
Project Consultant: Denise Clarke

What do time travel, astronauts, and a French bulldog have in common? They’re all part of Ainsley Hillyard’s new physical theatre piece, Jezebel, at the Still Point.

The actor, choreographer, and playwright stars in her show alongside her untrained French bulldog, Jezebel. The dynamic duo have been partners in life for nearly five years, and artistic collaborators for roughy three. Now they’re at The Roxy on Gateway, performing for a live audience as part of Theatre Network’s The Roxy Performance Series.

“I think I saw something special in [Jezebel] right away,” Hillyard says. “She’s a bit of a clown and a weirdo.”

When I interview Jezebel, my opening question “Are you a good girl?” answers itself. I soon realize that Jezebel isn’t just a good girl, but the best girl. Yet Hillyard warns against further inflating her dog’s ego.

Tracy Kolenchuk

“She does whatever she wants,” Hillyard comments. “She might participate in the show, or she might fall asleep.”

The show chronicles the adventures of an astronaut and her dog as they try to travel to the past. Human lives and dog lives are drastically different in length, and perhaps if the astronaut can unlock the secret of time travel and quantum physics, Jezebel can be her co-pilot forever. At its core, Hillyard says the show is about love and heroism.

Hillyard says the most important message of the show is how important relationships with our pets can be. Hillyard claims we should always strive to be compassionate and take care of our pets, because their lives on earth are finite. She also hopes to convert audience members into dog people, even convincing them to get a four-legged companion themselves.

“There’s always reason not to get a dog, just like getting married or having a kid, but my advice is just do it,” Hillyard says. “Dogs are a part of your family.”

Hillyard explains that the idea for the show came to her after participating in a workshop where she was challenged to come up with a show idea. The catch was that the show must be centered around some extreme element, and Hillyard chose outer space. Ideally, she’d build a rocket and perform among the stars.

Tracy Kolenchuk

According to Hillyard, she was worried that doing a show with her dog would be too strange or self-indulgent. Other artists she confided in agreed that it would be but told her to do it anyway.

“The weirder the art, the better,” Hillyard says.

As Jezebel is an unpredictable performer, each show is different. Jezebel has visited audience members in the front row and even walked offstage. But thanks to her easygoing disposition, she may not care so long as she gets her treats and belly-rubs.

“She’s a total diva,” Hillyard says. “She knows people are here to see her, and that she’s the star.”

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