A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC
by Minh Ha (Millie) Le (BA '22), Dramaturg for Fun Home
Alison Bechdel’s tragicomic Fun Home is a kaleidoscope of recollections, a true story written in graphic novel form.
The U.S. American cartoonist grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania with two brothers, Christian and John. Their mother, Helen, was an actress and teacher. Their father, Bruce, was a full-time high school English teacher, whilst operating the family funeral home—or “fun home,” as the family called it—part-time. They were a Roman Catholic family.
Bechdel came out as a lesbian at age 19. A few months later, her father, who was gay but not “out,” so to speak, committed suicide. The graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, chronicles her childhood, her coming out, and her complex relationship with her father. It shows some of the hardships that many individuals face when coming out, even or especially to those closest to them. The graphic novel went on to inspire the musical you’ll witness with us.
Bechdel’s sexuality and gender non-conformity are fundamental to some of the core themes she explores. As Bechdel writes, "The secret subversive goal of my work is to show that women, not just lesbians, are regular human beings." In the process of crafting our own production of this true story to represent it as well as possible, our artistry has then of course also been shaped by our own stories and experiences. That concoction—Bechdel’s story staged by us—then travels to you so that we can find out how it resonates with your own stories and the stories of people you love.
As you live for a moment alongside the characters of this musical, we hope you will sit with the fragments of what you understand and hope to understand. Perhaps you may even experience, as Bechdel says, “a rare moment of perfect balance.”