Judy Freed’s one woman show, “Food Fight,” might be compared to a high-wire act performed without a safety net. Though the work is scripted, and sparkles with song, dance, performance and humor, the subject matter is no laughing matter. Her theme is the pathology of food and her struggle to overcome her painful history. She tells her own story, sparing neither herself nor her audience, and if in the end the work celebrates freedom, it asks us to experience the travail.
Judy’s gifts as a performer are on display, her easy and open manner of
self-presentation, the confidence she immediately inspires, and the rapport
she establishes and maintains throughout. There is no place to hide in work
of this kind. Audience and performer alike are brought into the closest
proximity with pain and suffering. Though always acting, one has the sense
that Judy is also always in the present moment with her audience, mindful of
their responses and subtly modulating her deliveries to adjust to the
There is no doubt that her work belongs to the traditions of therapeutic theater and “Food Fight” clearly grows out of her own use of psychodrama, drama therapy and other expressive arts to shape her own story. What makes the piece both riveting and important is how ably she walks the tightrope between self-display and art, using her performative skills to tell a story and her sensitivities as a therapist to calibrate the responses of a live audience for whom her themes may revive deep and disturbing wounds.
“Food Fight” transforms suffering into art. Judy enacts a solitary story, but one that is lived out by many in our society. One person's struggle to overcome her wounds—so honestly presented, so brilliantly performed—becomes an act of community-making and gives hope to those who know the hopelessness of the fight with food.
—Peter Pitzele, Ph.D., trainer, educator, practitioner of psychodrama, poet, author of Our Fathers’ Wells
The title of Ms. Freed’s artfully executed one-woman performance piece embodies the complexities of the topic being explored. When one thinks of a food fight, the first thought is often of kids gone wild in a school cafeteria and with varying degrees of anger and abandon, using the food to rebel against authority and or to assault or humiliate peers with the only weapon that cannot get a student expelled or cause fatal wounds ... food. But even in that basic definition of the term “food fight,” it is difficult to ignore some of the deeper meanings that emerge. “Using food to rebel,” “expressing anger and rage with food as the weapon,” “using food as an alternative that some may think is less serious than a knife or a gun in the harm it can inflict.”
Now imagine watching a theater piece where the standard food fight scene never materializes, but in its place we witness a food fight where the cafeteria has been replaced by a young woman’s body, mind, home, family, and hospital room.
“Food Fight,” which will soon be available on DVD, is a brilliantly crafted piece of theater that incorporates music, poetry, movement, and scenes to explore and explain the inner and outer worlds of a person with an eating disorder. As the piece unfolds, Ms. Freed, who plays herself, deconstructs many of our assumptions about food, body image, and eating disorders while poignantly, and often with humor, educates and enlightens those of us who are privileged to be in the audience.
There is no question that the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of eating disorders are complex subjects; and because each person is unique, each person’s experience is also unique. But there are also many similarities among people who have or know someone who has an eating disorder, and Ms. Freed willingly and engagingly includes us in her journey’s tale. When the piece is over, we feel full: full of feelings, full of thoughts, and full of the knowledge that if there is hope for one woman struggling with her eating disorder, there is hope for many others.