15 Anniversary Artist Interviews: Twanna Hines

Twanna Hines is a successful media personality on the hottest topic imaginable: sex.

You’ve probably seen her on CNN, or heard her on NPR, or read her work in places like Huffington Post and Fast Company. She’s even started her own company to channel all the energy: Funky Brown Chick.

So what lured Hines to live performance at Capital Fringe – including 2019’s acclaimed We’re All Going to Fucking Die? Telling stories about American anxieties and freedoms, and feeling an immediate response that makes the experience fulfilling.

“It’s instant feedback,” says Hines. “And it’s a feedback loop every single show that I present.”

Hines put up her first Capital Fringe show in 2014, shortly after she moved to DC. Titled I Fucked Your Country, it was an exploration of sex as an international language.

“I had never performed onstage before,” recalls Hines. “I write. Teach. Speak. Go on television and radio to talk about sexual health – and how do we have more pleasurable lives? How can I challenge myself what I have what have I not done?”

Putting together that first show, she continues, meant getting personal – and global: “I thought: ‘Okay. I just moved to DC. It’s an international city. I want to try [Capital Fringe], and this is a debut of many sorts. So I’m going to talk about the first time that I ever had sex. That happened in England. And then several different times, other times. I had sex in other countries with other people. And I thought, well, if that’s what the show is, that is what it has to be called. I Fucked Your Country.”

Hines’ first Fringe production was a success, but the rewards came with some risks. “Performing a live show about sex can be much more intimate than actually having sex,” she says. “Because you’re talking more. And exposing yourself. Typically, when I’m having sex with someone, I don’t start talking about my childhood.”

It was another five years before Hines returned to Capital Fringe with a new show, We’re All Going to Fucking Die. It was an attempt to get to grips with what had changed – in politics and sexual politics – in the intervening span.

“It had been a couple years since my previous show,” explains Hines, “and we were dealing with the different little landscape in DC. That’s very important. What is the right piece of theater for the time we’re living in right now? We were staring down an election year coming up. We were more than halfway through Trump’s presidential run.  So I wanted to do something that really talked about a lot of things it people were feeling, regardless of their politics.”

Hine says anxiety ended up being a central theme: “There was a research study that showed Americans were more stressed out than our GDP peers. That told me we needed to talk about it. The point of the show was that anxiety is the common denominator for all of us. So what if we actually talked about that – and what it meant to really live? The show is called We’re All Going to Fucking Die, but it’s about how to have the best lives ever while we’re here. How to let go of the anxiety so that we can live. And how to have the best sex that we can possibly have why we’re here.”

Once again, Hines had Capital Fringe audiences talking in 2019. “I absolutely am madly in love with – and deeply adore – Fringe audiences. My heart is so big for people who support independent artists.”

Hines adds that she revels in the uniqueness of her live performances. “Any night you went,” she says, “it’s a different show. Because I continue to develop as I respond to the audience. An audience on Sunday at 3 p.m. is very different than 10 p.m. audience on a Friday night. I love the vibrancy, and the nimbleness. The show feels like a living organism that me, as a performer, and the audience collectively build together. I love that.”

The collaboration has also been a journey of personal growth for a media personality who’s already made a mark in the industry. “Fringe helped me personally grow as a human,” concludes Hines. “I learned how to be more vulnerable in front of others. All of my work is nonfiction and very personal. I was sharing in front of a packed audience. We sold out our shows. Yep. And sharing that in front of hundreds of people, week after week… I think I’ve grown and matured as a person, emotionally, from doing live theatre.”

– Richard Byrne