Spotlight On: The Hugging Army

hugging-army
The Scranton Fringe Festival is a performing arts festival, returning for its second year September 29th – October 2nd 2016 to downtown Scranton. With over fifty productions/special events spanning twelve venues to chose from at the festival the task can seem daunting – we are here to help further introduce you to what the Fringe has to offer!
***PLEASE NOTE: THE HUGGING ARMY HAS TWO SHOWS IN THE SCRANTON FRINGE FESTIVAL, BOTH AT 2:30PM, ONE ON SATURDAY & ONE ON SUNDAY. THE SUNDAY SHOW WAS OMITTED FROM THE PAPER GUIDE & WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE THIS MAY HAVE CAUSED.***
I Want You! To Join The Hugging Army is an interactive, spoken word event that uses stories, photos, and practical advice to deepen connections between people and enrich emotional health. Be forewarned: There WILL be hugs!
Buy tickets to The Hugging Army HERE.
1. Tell us about yourself and The Hugging Army.
I’m Vanessa White Fernandes, creator of The Hugging Army (previously called The Hugging Project); I am the facilitator/promoter of hugs of all kinds; all of my volunteers for the show have either done hugging with me in the past, or are just totally jazzed about the concept and carrying it forward!  We hope to keep having hugging events in Scranton and beyond.
2. What inspired the creation of The Hugging Army?
The inspiration for the Hugging Army, for the beginning of this hugging project, was a video that I saw on Facebook last spring; a man in Turkey was on a busy city street, blindfolded, with a sign that read, “I trust you, do you trust me?  Give me a hug.” The recorded response by passersby was inspiring and emotionally riveting to me.  I decided I must do something similar here.  Plus, I love giving, and receiving hugs! Hugging to me is the quickest, most effective way to connect with other human beings; and often, people don’t know how much they need a hug until they have someone offer to hug them. Then, I found other people who love hugging too, and wanted to become part of it.
3.Tell us more about the show at the Scranton Fringe Festival and what’s involved.
All of my volunteers are friends that I have met through various ways in my life; and who just said YES to helping out!  My wife, Brenda, recorded with photographs my first two hugging experiences, both at First Friday festivities in downtown Scranton last spring and summer.  I will be showing many of the photos that she took, and talking about why hugs are important; what benefits they bring us; why we don’t connect as humans, even though we want to, and how hugging in a present, mindful way, brings healing and connection.  We will also be guiding the audience in how to give mindful hugs to one another, and really share the connection and love!
4. What other productions in the 2016 Scranton Fringe Festival are you most excited about / planning on seeing?
I have a list!  I am looking forward to Retrospective:  Journey to the Center of the Salacious Pop Icon; Shedding Skin; I’m Standing; and the Big Gay Story Slam.  I think I am brave enough for the Poe Asylum as well!  And, of course, the preview and wrap parties!
5. In six words (no more, no less) what would you say to encourage someone to attend The Hugging Army? 
Change your life, open your heart.