It all started with a Facebook photo of a fawn….and it led to a play. Writer and BUST contributor Ayun Halliday took inspiration from nature, social media and dystopian stories and combined them all for her new play: Fawnbook.
Halliday says Fawnbook began when her improv group had the assignment to bring in social media posts. Someone brought in a post by a woman who had found a fawn in her backyard.
“What really struck me was this over-the-top, deeply emotional outpouring of support for her. Like, ‘You are its mama until its furry mama can return,'” Halliday told BUST. “So we put this on its feet and we immediately morphed into this pre-digital or maybe post-digital settlement, kind of like you would find on ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ people constantly working, planting things, growing the earth, washing clothes, these tough pioneer people who are fixated on this little fawn. And I loved it. I thought, ‘Okay guys, this is what we’re doing from here until forever. I don’t want to ever do another game of Freeze Tag, I don’t ever want to do another longform improv, I just want to be these people talking about wild animals and farming.'”
On her website, Halliday describes Fawnbook as “An agrarian, post-digital settlement of middle-aged women and teenage boys fixate on the fruits of their garden and unexpected encounters with wildlife as catastrophes both natural and manmade lay waste to the surrounding communities.” As the six main characters interact with each other, eerily beautiful images of young girls dressed as fawns appear around them.
The images of these “Fawngirls” were shot by Halliday’s friend Sue Jaye Johnson, with their daughters and a niece modeling.
“I knew that I needed photographs of the fawns, and I thought, I don’t want to just find wildlife pictures on the Internet, I want it to be something special and potentially artistic about this,” she said. She already had fawn-like makeup products and experience from dressing up as a “mermalope” – half mermaid, half jackalope – in New York’s annual Mermaid Parade – so it was an easy step to add antlers.
“If that was all that ever came out of it were the pictures, it would have been wonderful,” Halliday says. “It felt like this really special thing for women and girls to be doing together. They did transform into these beautiful, graceful, tentative creatures, deerlike. It was interesting to see how they became a heard, too, because the little girls are so much younger than the older ones that they haven’t spent much time together, they’re not natural peers. But as deer, they were natural peers.”