The F Word by Keshia Cheesman and Bianca Miranda | Photo: Katy Whitt Photography

The F Word

By Meghan Power

“The journey that we go through in this show is one we went through together,” explains Keshia Cheesman, a Caribbean-Canadian creator, educator, and performer, and Bianca Miranda, a queer, Filipino performer, playwright, and producer (born and raised in the Philippines). Together, these two multidisciplinary artists, based in Mohkinsstsis (Calgary), are working to change the way fat folks are perceived and how they perceive themselves.

“Five and a half years ago, we had a dream to create and perform a show together — one that we connected to, that represented our communities, and that we could fully bring ourselves to. This show is that dream coming to fruition.”


“The world premiere of The F Word has been a goal we have been working toward since we graduated university.” Bianca and Keshia integrate many different modes of storytelling to transport audiences along on their journey. “We use songs, movement, fairy tales, talk shows, lectures, and more, while exploring our friendship as two fat women on a journey to self-acceptance and fat liberation. We confront fatphobia, diet culture, and the intersection of fatness with race in this powerful, playfully political pop-art piece. This show was inspired by our personal lives.”


A Downstage production, presented by Alberta Theatre Projects in association with Handsome Alice & Theatre Calgary, Bianca and Keshia not only co-created and co-performed, they also co-produced The F Word: “Funding from Calgary Arts Development (CADA) was used to support us as producing partners for the world premiere. With this, we were able to, first and foremost, pay ourselves accordingly. It also allowed us to advocate for size-accessible seats as part of the Martha Cohen Theatre. Size-accessible seating was an important goal towards making sure fat folks felt accepted and respected in a theatre space. Being producing partners also meant that we attended a lot of meetings, consultations, and offered feedback for marketing and communication assets. It was really important to us that we had a say in different parts of the production and made sure our storytelling extended beyond the stage.”


With the funding from CADA, Keshia and Bianca were able to fully invest their time, energy, and emotional labour as playwrights, performers, and producing partners: “The impact of this funding for us is huge. We were able to show up fully without worrying about proper compensation and make sure our basic needs were met throughout the process — a reassurance that as artists, we deserve pay at every step of the way in our art-making.” 


“We believe this show has a life beyond this world premiere as there is a strong need in our society to give visibility to fat folks and to bring awareness to the harms of anti-fatness in our world. Based on audience feedback, people from all lived experiences were able to reflect, learn, and celebrate the topics discussed in The F Word. As artists who are fat women of colour, we have always wanted to make art that allows folks from our marginalized identities to feel seen and we are proud to have a small part in demanding a better future for fellow fat folks through our art.”