“Point of No Return”, an expansive and immersive performance, took place in a large field behind Cobbs Creek Recreation Center on Halloween of 2017, and welcomed visitors from our world into a purgatory-like “world beyond this one”. Featuring a cast of clowns trapped in Sisyphean – and often humorous and tragic – tasks, each clown waited desperately for a mysterious boat to take them away.
Little Debbie, Eliza Leighton’s character in “Point of No Return”, attempts to correctly follow a vague recipe for “Cheezcake”, which is both the paradise-like destination of the boat and the location where Little Debbie will finally be reunited with her long-lost love Beau, an embodied rainbow. Upon completion of a series of random tasks detailed pictorially in her recipe (a bowl being stirred, a plate of cookies and a giant red X), Little Debbie steps onto a scale believing she will soon be transported to Cheezcake. Each time she fails to be taken away. With each failure she becomes more and more desperate to get the recipe “right”, eventually eating an entire plate of cookies at once, covering herself in a red pudding X, and screaming “TAKE ME TO CHEEZCAKE!” at the sky.
“Little Debbie” explores the archetype of the suburban housewife, which has often been used as a “universal” representation of American femininity. However, like all tropes, the suburban housewife misrepresents the experience of being a woman and erases difference. It was always a myth. “Little Debbie” is an interrogation of white femininity, specifically the culture of self-help and the “positivity industrial complex”, perfectionism, and white expectations of the female body. “Little Debbie” was designed and created by Eliza Leighton, with dramaturgical help from Donna Oblongata and the Feast of Fools clowns. She also received sewing help from Mika Taliaferro.
Eliza Leighton is an artist based in West Philadelphia. She uses visual art and performance to interrogate issues of intimacy and violence, femininity, and racial identity. She has recently been obsessed with housewives, hardware, and the color red.
You can see more of her work here: https://elizaleighton.cargocollective.com/