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Ruckus - Jenna Fincken Interview

Jenna Fincken's one-woman thriller Ruckus is heading to the Edinburgh Fringe where it'll play at Summerhall, Cairns Lecture Hall across the month from the 3rd until 28th August (no performances on 15th or 22nd).

Jenna is an actress, a writer and Co-Executive Director of Wildcard Theatre Company. Ahead of the Fringe, I spoke with Jenna about the piece.

Our chat began with Jenna introducing herself and the show in further detail. "Ruckus, my debut play, is a one-woman thriller exploring the suppression and destruction caused by coercive control. The audience follows Lou, a 28-year-old primary school teacher, who’s completely aware the audience are watching her. In fact, she wants them there. She wants to show them the exact moments in her relationship, breaking down the progression of coercive control. And finally, ask the audience, did they see it?"

Inspiration for Ruckus came from a few first-hand experiences "Down to a few personal experiences of seeing people I cared about being in domestic abuse relationships, I felt frustrated that I didn’t understand why these relationships happened and how it got to the point of entrapment."

"In 2018, I saw the one-man show Angry Alan by Penelope Skinner which completely blew my mind. It was the perfect example of how to truly show a side of someone's life story. It gave me that final push I needed to try and start writing for myself."

Speaking to victims of domestic abuse and coercive control was something that was key in the piece's development. Jenna explained to me "Research was a huge part of my journey with Ruckus, which has been ongoing over the last three years. I used reports from leading charities such as SafeLives as well as the work of leading sociologists such as Evan Stark, investigative journalists such as Jess Hill and researchers tackling domestic abuse and coercive control, to create an accurate and experiential play. It was in this research I found a turning point in my questions about the play. It wasn’t “Why doesn’t she leave?” but “Why as a society do we produce perpetrators in the first place?” and “Why coercive control perfectly works in today’s patriarchal society.”"

"When I started to talk openly about Ruckus, I found people naturally wanted to talk about their experiences. I also spoke to police officers and direct services team members that help victims/survivors. These incredible individuals actually really helped me to find the ending to the piece and what they would want to share with the world."

"With all this information, this inspired Ruckus and Lou’s story."

Our chat turned to how important it is to give victims a voice and to not shy away from any element of someone who is being coercively controlled. Jenna said "Great question, with the answer being hugely important. Being a new writer, there have been times where I’ve questioned and doubted myself. But with these victims/survivors cases I've studied and the statistics I’ve learned - it’s given me such a drive to not shy away and put these stories in front of an audience. This play is all about the opportunity to truly showcase what coercive control can be and the devastating effects it can lead to."

For Jenna and what she wants an audience to take away from seeing the show she explained the importance of giving "knowledge of coercive control. We’re simply not taught what is a healthy or toxic relationship. It’s inevitable that we fall into the system of power in our society which enables the actions of perpetrators. So I really do hope that, through telling the story of Ruckus, audiences go back and spot the signs of coercion. Then bring this awareness in their life. Question their personal relationships. And most importantly, know there is help out there."

As ever before our chat wrapped up I asked Jenna what does theatre mean to her, she said "Theatre to me is the opportunity of a live event that helps us to see a different perspective from our own. I truly believe that emotionally connecting to someone's else’s story helps us to develop our own narrative."

Our chat closed on why Jenna thought anyone should come and see Ruckus. She said "I’d recommend for anyone who’d like to see Ruckus to check out our Self Care Guide. This guide has been designed to support audiences seeing Ruckus. It includes further details about content warnings, self-care suggestions and in depth details about the show. "

"I’d encourage anyone to see Ruckus as I truly believe coercive control is such an important social issue that we need to learn about. We must have awareness about what exactly coercive control is, as its fundamental in not only preventing people from entering coercive controlled relationships but is how we’re going to confront this issue as a whole. We also owe it to the victims/survivors who are sharing their stories and trauma in order to make change to help others not be in the same situation."

Ruckus plays at Summerhall, Cairns Lecture Theatre from August 3rd to 28th (not 15th or 22nd). Tickets are available from

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