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Our 2015 Fringe Favourites

by Hallie Seline, Bailey Green, Brittany Kay, Madryn McCabe

As another incredible Toronto Fringe Festival draws to a close, we wanted to share some of the In the Greenroom gals’ favourite shows, should it inspire your final Fringe days. It has been a pleasure immersing ourselves in the Fringe spirit – racing from venue to venue, meeting new friends in the Fringe Alley or in various Fringe lines and discovering incredible artists as well as watching those we already knew share what they love with another year of Fringe-goers. Here are some of our Fringe Favourites, in no particular order.

What would make your list? Share your picks with us on Twitter @intheGreenRoom_ Facebook @In the Greenroom or on Instagram @inthegreenroom. #GetYourFringeOn!

Morro and Jasp Do Puberty

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Simply delightful! These clown sisters are such open, super smart performers, who embrace the chaos of growing up in weird and wonderful ways with a playful spirit that invites the audience to come along for the ride. These gals are truly great at what they do and had us smiling from ear to ear ever since.

Shows: Patron’s Pick show – Sunday July 12 at 9:15

Tickets here.

In Case We Disappear

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We’ve been likening the captivating Vanessa Smyth’s performance to a wonderful glass of wine since seeing her intimate piece of storytelling, song and spoken word poetry. It’s really something to watch. Smyth is so open and welcoming, confident and charming as she shares this unique performance with her audience. We loved it!

Sadly there are no longer any more performances but keep up to date with Vanessa’s next projects here: vanessasmythe.com Twitter: @vsmythe

SwordPlay: A Play of Swords

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Amazing physical comedy and sharp performances including some improv, beard-nuzzles, and a killer GOT Little Finger impression. Anyone who’s played those old-school video games will get a real kick out of this but definitely worth checking out even if you aren’t a huge video-game fan. Really inventive work. We had a super enjoyable time.

Shows: July 11 at 04:00 PM

Tickets here.

sextrexcomedy.com
@sextrex

Summerland

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This is a Fringe show of epic proportions, Fringe-wise. With a cast of 100 teens INCLUDING a rotating cast of main characters, the sheer scale of this mystical musical is something to see. Watching that many young performers sing and dance their hearts out on stage together is a true joy to experience. Filled with stunning music by the talented Anika Johnson, Barbara Johnston and Suzy Wilde, we hope this continues to develop and finds life in the main stages! Hello, Mirvish! Hello, Broadway!

Shows:

July 11 at 07:30 PM
July 12 at 02:00 PM

Tickets here.

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project

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Sam Mullins knows how to draw his audience in, connecting with every seat in the house. The writing was sharp, charming and honest. Mullins’ stories transport you to other places and times, and then leave you to reflect on your own quirks, fears, joys and heartbreaks.

Show: July 11 at 11:30 PM
Tickets here.

Hamlet… A Puppet Epic!

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Hamlet…A Puppet Epic! has laugh-out-loud humour for all ages, the Bard and awesome puppets. You’ve never seen Hamlet like this. The ensemble cast performs with an infectious energy. It’s no small feat to fill a theatre with families and then keep them all spellbound for an hour. It doesn’t talk down to the kids at all, and there are plenty of jokes for the adults. We also get the best explanation for Polonius’ decision to hid behind a curtain that we’ve ever heard. True theatre magic from Shakey-Shake and Friends.

Shows:
July 12 at 11:00 AM

Patrons Pick: July 12 at 6:00 PM

Tickets here.

One Good Marriage

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Becky Shrimpton and Matthew Gin’s performances are thoughtful and witty. They have the best chemistry of a staged married couple we’ve seen in a long time. The dialogue is quick and navigates the comedy and tragedy deftly. Definitely worth seeing.

Shows:
July 11 at 07:30 PM 
July 12 at 02:00 PM 
July 12 at 07:30 PM 
Tickets here.

Peter ‘n’ Chris Present: Here Lies Chris

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Vancouver based sketch duo, Peter n’ Chris had us laughing from beginning to end. Their use of physical comedy, repetition and sketch characters made their storytelling enjoyable and engaging. Constant Fringe Favourites!

Show:
July 11 at 07:30 PM
Tickets here.

A Man Walks into a Bar

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A Man Walks into a Bar was a meta-theatrical experience that allowed audiences to gain insight on what many waitresses and women at any given job can go through. Rachel Blair’s writing was witty and hilarious, and became extremely thought provoking about male/female interaction. Definitely worthy of Best of Fringe.

Show: July 13 at 9:15 PM
Ticketshere.

The Philanderess

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Playwright and actress, Sophia Fabiilli, challenged the notion of femininity and power in epic ways. Every player in this farcical marathon of a comedy was incredible! Fabiilli is one fierce Fringe femme.

Shows:
July 12 at 04:00 PM
Patrons Pick: July 12 at 9:45 PM
Advanced tickets are sold out but there may be tickets at the door one hour before.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Merry Wives of Windsor - Suzette McCanny, Sean Sullivan, Julia Nish-Lapidus - photo by Madison Golshani, Daniel Pascale

Bash’d does it again! The ladies call the shots in this silly Shakespeare play and we loved it. A special shout-out goes to Suzette McCanny and Julia Nish-Lapidus who we loved watching delight in their plotting and trickery, and also to the incredible AJ Richardson, whose mastery of text and comedy set up a Ford that added to our sheer joy of watching him and Falstaff be made the fool-of. Great ensemble, appropriately silly Shakespeare play, and perfect setting for Fringe-viewing with beer in hand.

Shows:
July 11 at 07:00 PM
July 12 at 05:00 PM
Tickets here.

Bout

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The fights are intense, and the relationship between Jackie and her coach is fantastic. The dialogue between them is fast and holds nothing back. The perfect one, two, punch for a Fringe knock-out.

Shows:
July 11 at 10:00 PM
July 12 at 10:00 PM
Tickets: here

The Dinner Table

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“Stories open us up to each other”. A truly special and intimate experience, delicious home-cooked meal that was tailored to the guest and a slew of incredible storytellers from the Toronto theatre community. If theatre, for you, is about connection and a sharing of stories, The Dinner Table is for you.

Shows:
July 11 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 12 at 06:30 PM  sold out
Both of the final performances are sold out but there is always a chance at snagging a single ticket at the door.

An Interview with Julia Nish-Lapidus & Catherine Rainville of Shakespeare BASH’d “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in the 2015 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Bailey Green

“We’ve done comedies before, but nothing like this. It’s a non-stop riot.” – Julia Nish-Lapidus, Shakespeare Bash’d.

You may not associate the words “laugh-a-minute” with Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, but Shakespeare Bash’d may change your mind—they have taken over the Victory Cafe this Fringe to bring you a comedy of epic proportions. I spoke with Julia Nish-Lapidus (playing Mistress Page) and Catherine Rainville (co-director of the production with Artistic Director James Wallis) to talk about what makes this show so “silly, fartuous, specially amazing and ridonculous.”

The show’s main plot focuses on Falstaff, Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and their respective husbands. Falstaff decides he wants to seduce the women to gain access to their husbands’ money, but when the ladies figure it out, they decide to turn the tables on him. “They’re two smart, badass, confident, ballsy women,” says Julia.

The two women also decide to teach Mistress Ford’s jealous husband (Andrew Joseph Richardson) a lesson. Catherine and Julia praise Suzette McCanny’s work as Mistress Ford, especially with her portrayal of her sincere love for her husband and desire to help him recover from his jealousy for his own sake. Though Master Ford is described as a “rascally knave”, through cuts and interpretation, Bash’d chose to cut some of the implied violence in the text. “In 2015, we can’t have a man who beats his wife being forgiven at the end of the play. That just doesn’t sit right,” Catherine says. “And we’re not burning Falstaff with candles… We ‘turn him, turn him’ instead of ‘burn him, burn him,” Julia follows up.

And it wouldn’t be Shakespeare without a subplot – a love story between Anne Page and Fenton (played by real-life couple Jade Douris and Drew O’Hara) whose chances are jeopardized by Anne’s mother, Mistress Page, who is anxious to marry her off to the good Doctor Caius (played by Zachary Parkhurst). Jeff Dingle plays Slender, another suitor of Anne: “Slender is so loveable but just so, so wrong for Anne,” Julia says.

Sean Sullivan plays Falstaff and Lynne Griffin plays Mistress Quickly, and Catherine and Julia can’t say enough good things about them. “Sean is such a generous scene partner who is so willing to go for it,” Julia says. “They’re honestly amazing,” says Catherine, “Every day they might bring in a new prop or piece of clothing, props or set ideas.” Sean really dove in to the role of Falstaff with exuberance. Catherine expresses gratitude for Sean’s willingness to be completely open to try new direction. Catherine also says what a privilege it’s been to watch the actors go through the extensive process of creating a character from start to finish—a process she is quite familiar with, herself.

I asked Catherine and Julia about what had challenged them over the course of the show:

Julia: Giving myself permission to truly push myself. I’ve played comedic roles in our shows before, I mean last year it was basically just cleavage and squeaking. But with this show, I’m just trusting myself and the text and our amazing company, and just going for it with gusto.

Catherine: My greatest challenge has been navigating the impossible, like when the whole cast is onstage or there’s these big changes in space or location. For example, how do you make the audience see a giant tree in their mind?

Julia: Oh no… now the audience is going to be looking for the giant tree.

Catherine: There’s no tree. It’s not literal. But sometimes you get these gifts, like there’s a chimney spoken of in the text and we just magically have a fireplace in the Victory.

Julia: This time around in the Victory Cafe, I feel like we’re really embracing the bar and making it part of our story. We are the Victory Cafe players and we are here to perform our show for our audience and the queen.

I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

Merry Wives - Poster

Join your favourite Best of Fringe winning Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare BASH’d, for the Bard’s outrageous rural comedy: The Merry Wives of Windsor. In a world of drunks and cuckolds, two witty women set out to teach a lesson of love and jealousy.
Come crush a cup at the Victory cafe with this battle of wits.
“I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.”

By: William Shakespeare
Company: Shakespeare BASH’d
Company origin: Toronto, Ontario
Director: James Wallis, Catherine Rainville
Cast: Jade Douris, Lynne Griffin, Andrew Knowlton, David Mackett, Suzette McCanny, Julia Nish-Lapidus, Drew O’Hara, Andrew Joseph Richardson, David Ross, Sean Sullivan

Connect with them:

shakespearebashd.com
@ShakesBASHd

Where: The Victory Cafe, 581 Markham Street

When:
July 07 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 08 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 09 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 05:00 PM  buy tickets

Show length: 90min.

Tickets: fringetoronto.com

“Loss sure is unpleasant, right?” – An Interview with Ben Hayward – director of “A Tournament of Lies” in the 2015 Toronto Fringe

by Bailey Green 

A Tournament of Lies is a play of eight monologues spoken by the former friends and lovers of Alex, the deceased. Part of the challenge of directing the show, explains director Ben Hayward, lay in how to find each character’s connections to each other and their ties to Alex, the person who has left them all behind. “There’s a sense when someone dies young that there’s this lost life that never happened,” says Hayward, “and we wanted to explore how people cope with that.”

When Bald Monkey Theatre decided they wanted to perform Evan Brown’s play A Tournament of Lies, they began the search for their site-specific location—the action of the play takes place at a memorial. But as you can imagine, securing a funeral home for a play is as tricky as it sounds. They’re costly to rent, and having the owners on board with the idea was another challenge altogether. “We also wanted to avoid churches,” says Hayward, “because we didn’t want the piece to have any particular religious focus,” — the piece avoids discussing afterlife or heaven in any way. They ended up choosing the Multi-Faith centre at the University of Toronto for the reverent atmosphere, plus the challenge it would prove to transform it into a theatrical space.

Ben Hayward is involved with two shows this year—working as director of A Tournament of Lies with Bald Monkey Theatre as well as co-creator and cook for The Dinner Table with Fail Better Theatre (co-created and produced by Ali Richardson). Last year, Hayward played the elusive Andy Warhol in last summer’s Fringe success Andy Warhol presents: Valerie (presented by Fail Better Theatre.)

The bereaved cast of characters, “who are wacky and wide-ranging” says Ben, include: “a guy hung up on the dead girl, two people who work at a bottle recycling plant, a hipster cab driver, a drunk dude who hates funerals and her ex-lover.” One of the characters in the show is a diary entry, “which was an interesting abstract moment, everyone else is somehow connected to the sphere of the dead girl Alex, but this one is outside of that, so we had to figure out that voice,” says Ben. The bereaved are played by Owen Fawcett, Brandon Gillespie, Hannah Jack, Iain LaCourt, Sarah Marchand, Lindsey Middleton, Sarah Robbins and Jonathan Walls.

The Multi-Faith Centre feels like it could host a memorial—it’s has a sense of decorum, it’s non-descript and to a degree, clinical. But from a theatrical standpoint, there’s no backstage area, no hidden props on a table, nor is there a lighting grid. So it was up to the cast and crew to create the magic. “One of the best parts was transforming the space, and I don’t want to give away too much,” says Ben, “but for example we have a runner of LED lights around the room so that as the show proceeds and becomes more theatrical the lights change with that. My approach to the show has been about magic – that life is about those moments of magic and it’s about the things that don’t have logical or linear explanations.” They’re hoping to surprise their audience out of their initial thoughts. They want the audience to engage, to be invested and hopefully delighted.

Ben is constantly seeking ways of pushing the boundaries of theatre creation in a way that doesn’t need the proscenium arch. “I want to avoid making ‘movies on stage’, ” laughs Ben. When I ask Ben to describe A Tournament of Lies in five words, he pauses and says “loss sure is unpleasant, right?”

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Alex’s friends and lovers gather at her funeral to make sense of her death. Once together, they compete between themselves to see who can grieve the best. How do you make sense of your life when the person who defined it is gone? A Tournament of Lies examines the unsavoury nature of grief, fragmentation of memory, and self-preservation.

By: Evan Brown
Company origin: Toronto, Ontario
Director: Ben Hayward
Cast: Owen Fawcett, Hannah Jack, Iain LaCourt, Sarah Marchand, Lindsey Middleton, Sarah Robbins, Jon Walls

Warnings: Mature Language

Where: (site-specific) Multi-Faith Centre (The Quiet Room)

Capacity: 15

When:
July 02 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 03 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 06 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 07 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 08 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 09 at 09:00 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 09:00 PM  sold out

Show length: 60min.

In Conversation with Sophia Fabiilli – Adaptor & Performer of The Philanderess in the 2015 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Hallie Seline

I had the pleasure of chatting with the Fabulous Fabiilli. I call her that as 1 – her twitter handle is FabFabiilli and I want it to catch on and 2 – she’s inspired me to think that should be her superhero name. Currently wearing the many hats of adaptor/writer, producer, actor etc. etc. in her show The Philanderess in this year’s Fringe Festival, Sophia shares her inspiration for the adaptation, the strength of her team around her and some very good advice for surviving the ever-necessary evil of wearing those multi-tasking shoes in indie theatre. #FringeFemmeTO power!

HS: What inspired you to adapt George Bernard Shaw’s The Philanderer for the 21st century?

Sophia Fabiilli: Want to know my little secret? I didn’t have a project when I applied for the Fringe (gasp!). I was trying to find the perfect play to produce, but nothing felt right and my gut told me I was trying too hard. So, I sat down in my front of my bookshelf and said: “What do you really like, Sophia?” (out loud, alone, and creepily in my apartment). And there was my copy of Shaw’s Plays Unpleasant. I loved working on a scene from The Philanderer in theatre school and I realized what I really like are plays that make me laugh and make me think. I’m also very passionate about the representation of women on stage and in the media, so thought it would be interesting to re-invent the play with a woman at the centre of a modern love triangle, while trying to let Shaw’s smart, funny, and witty writing inspire my own. Then I realized this idea would involve writing a PLAY, so I went around telling myself I couldn’t possibly do THAT. Then, I finally told someone the idea, they said “DO IT”, and I started writing (and I haven’t slept a full night since).

What resulted is a weird, little farce. Our tagline is “Open relationships, ballsy sexcapades, and weeping men… What would Shaw think of that?”. Laugh? Cry? Throw rotten tomatoes from the grave? Come see the show and tell me what you think over a Steamwhistle after.

HS: You have a great group of artists working on this play. What was it like bringing something that you had been working with so intimately as an adaptor to the team you have around you?

SF: My amazing director/dramaturg/work wife, Michelle Alexander, was the first person I asked to help me with this project and I will sing her praises to anyone willing to listen. It’s been her and I since the get-go and we have slowly built our mighty little team together.

HS: What’s it been like?

SF: As an actor and producer: AWESOME. Work with great people. They’ll make you look like you know what you’re doing.

As a writer: AWESOME. And, to be honest, a little overwhelming. If you hire smart actors, they will ask hard questions about your weird little play baby, which in the moment is challenging, but in the long run is invaluable. There were a few humbling rehearsals where discrepancies were pointed out and questions were asked and I had to go back to my laptop and figure it out. Overall though, everyone’s profesh (that’s how I say professional without sounding pretentious); they all know what they’re doing and they’re all invested. I’m extremely lucky to be working with them.

HS: As you mentioned, you wear many hats for this production – adaptor, writer, producer, actor – what was your experience taking on so many roles in this show and do you have any words of advice for others who are or might one day be in the same kind of multitasking shoes?

SF: Full disclosure: writing, acting, and producing this show is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It is as difficult as everyone tells you it is (Michelle and I answer each other’s calls “Hello! Panic Attack Central” which gives you an idea of what our lives have been like leading up to opening).

Even now that we’re open, I’m STILL working on trying to separate my different roles, but things always come up! For instance, once we started rehearsals, I was trying really to “hang up my writer hat”, but then… the ending needed a major rewrite. And then… the show was too long. And then… it was still too long. And then… it was still too long… Layer in a never-ending producing to do list and slaying my demons as an actor, and… yes, Panic Attack Central really should have been the name of my theatre company now that I think of it.

So, here’s my humble advice:

1) Just like in real life, wearing more than one hat isn’t a “good” idea. But wearing multiple hats in this crazy biz is often unavoidable, so: prioritize and carve out time in your schedule for the creative things. Often there are harder deadlines for the producer things and will take priority sometimes (okay, a lot of times), make time for the creative stuff (for writing, learning lines, warming up for your show)… because chances are the creative part is probably why you’re producing your own show in the first place.

2) Ask for help. This one is so hard! It’s hard to trust other people with your weird play baby (no one understands her like you do). Surround yourself with awesome people and let them help you. My stage manager, Laura Paduch, offered to take on producer-y things from the get-go and I will forever love her for that. I also ended up bringing on my awesome co-producer, Vikki Velenosi, who keeps forcing me to give her items off my to do list, which she then magically accomplishes. I will love her forever, too. And then there is my small army of friends who I call for advice, for help postering, or for free therapy sessions. Oh, and Mom built my set. So, yes, I would definitely recommend having handy (and retired) parents.

3) Think less, just do it. This became my weirdo Nike-inspired mantra. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Do one thing at a time. Make a to do list and start checking things off. Just do it.

4) Budget extra time. For everything. Yep.

5) Take care of yourself. Take breaks. Take your vitamins. Sleep. Eat well. Call your mom (especially if she built your set).

Please note: I did not do these things unless we count eating Nutella off a spoon at 2am as “eating well”.

6) Remind yourself to enjoy the process. Half way through rehearsals I realized I was stressing so much about making a play. A PLAAAY. Even though I am totally the CEO of Panic Attack Central, making theatre isn’t heart surgery, so I tried my best not to stress about it like it was (and failed, but this sounds like excellent advice, doesn’t it?).

HS: Tell us about your favourite aspect of the Fringe Festival.

SF: The lottery system. “Breaking into the scene” is really daunting and can feel impossible, but anyone can get into the Fringe! It doesn’t matter what’s on your resume!! I just love that. And the beer tent is pretty fun, I guesssss…..

HS: Describe The Philanderess in 5 words.

SF: Silly. Sexy. Weird. Ridiculous. Unicorn.

HS: We’re loving the #FringeFemmeTO hashtag you ladies started! As Femmes who are Fringing, any other shows you think we should check out?

SF: It caught on! Woohoo! I feel like an old lady who got her DVD player to work! Honestly, I have a very on-again/off-again relationship with Twitter, but this really is evidence of its power to connect people.

So many #FringeFemmeTO shows to see and so little time! Here are just a few in no particular order:

In Case We Disappear, Bout, Hanger, Adventures of a Red Headed Coffee Shop Girl, Morro and Jasp do Puberty, Waiting for Alonzo

The Philanderess

Presented by Truth ‘n’ Lies Theatre as part of The 2015 Toronto Fringe

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Meet Charlotte. She has a PhD in feminist philosophy, just asked her lawyer boyfriend to be her life partner, and authors a wildly famous blog about sleeping with men on the side. She has it all!
Until one of her lovers – and his entire family – crash her engagement party.
An outrageous, sexy, fast-paced farce inspired by G.B. Shaw’s ‘The Philanderer’!

By: Sophia Fabiilli
Company: Truth ‘n’ Lies Theatre
Company origin: Toronto, Ontario
Director: Michelle Alexander
Cast: Amos Crawley, Seth Drabinsky, Jakob Ehman, Sophia Fabiilli, Deborah Tennant and Suzanne Bennett
Creative team:
Stage Manager: Laura Paduch, Co-producers: Sophia Fabiilli and Vikki Velenosi, Designer: Laura Gardner, Fight Director: Nate Bitton

Where: Annex Theatre

When: 
July 02 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 04 at 11:00 PM  buy tickets
July 06 at 01:30 PM  buy tickets
July 08 at 07:30 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 05:45 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 12:30 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 04:00 PM  buy tickets

Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language

Tickets: fringetoronto.com

Connect with them: @truthnlies
@FabFabiilli

#FringeFemmeTO

sophiafab.com

Connect with us: @intheGreenRoom_
@HallieSeline

#GetYourFringeOn

Interview with Grace Thompson – Playwright & Co-Performer of “Tell Me” a 2015 Toronto Fringe Shed Show

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

SSB: Your show only allows 8 audience members in at a time. Have you performed for an audience this small before? How is it different?

Grace Thompson: The smallest audience I performed for was in 2009. I was a part of the Paprika Festival with some friends from high school and through that our play was asked to be part of the Luminato festival. Our performance space was a storage closet at the back of the Young Centre to an audience of about 15 people. This felt shockingly intimate, as there was so little separation between the audience and us. At the time, I had never experienced performing anywhere other than a traditional theatre space. Fast forward six years later and now having seen many, many site specific shows and shows with very intimate audiences, I have gained an understanding, appreciation, and love for theatre in non-traditional spaces. So this time around I feel a confidence in knowing how to speak to such a small and intimate audience and the benefits that can come from that.

SSB: Tell us a little more about the show… It seems very mysterious. What’s the structure? Is it interactive? Scripted?

GT: What you will watch is many things unfold between Kate Maguire, my co-actor and myself. With that the audience will be allowed to make their own assumptions and craft how these two people connect to each other through how the reading plays out. There will be minor audience interaction, but what we really want is for our audience to feel like they are equally a part of this experience. It allows you to question your own morals and beliefs on what it means to see into not only our own future but into someone else’s. I can guarantee you will leave with something.

SSB: The show takes place in a literal shed. What’s it like creating for this non-traditional space?

GT: Kate and I started with brainstorming ideas of what would take place in a shed, what kinds of stories would happen here. Kate came up with the idea of fortune telling. Fortune telling is always told in small intimate spaces and is often very theatrical by nature.

When I wrote this, I thought about the mystery in fortune telling. There is the question of how we tell our own fortunes. How we mostly always feel like we are going to get bad news and that we are doomed. How everyday we are preparing for our future for what we hope will happen or what we hope will never happen. This subject sparked endless hilarious conversations, which inspired most of our dialogue. We also both went to get our fortunes told which was a fun and strange experience.

Soon enough, Kate and I started talking about this subject will all kinds of people. I believe we all, in some way, can see versions of how our lives will play out but we need someone else to tell us, to confirm it. And how we search for that is through so many different outlets and different types of relationships. I think now we both feel this play is made for this space and this small audience to experience… so we are feeling very excited.

SSB: What show at the Fringe are you most looking forward to seeing?

GT: The 10/10/10 Project, The Untitled Sam Mullins Project, Rukmini’s Gold, Water Choke, and In Case We Disappear are some off the top of my head that I really want to check out!

SSB: Describe “Tell Me” in 5 words

GT: When you know, you know.

SSB: Who do you most want to walk into that shed to be a part of it all? It could be anyone!

GT: Well I know for Kate it would be David Bowie. For me, honestly anyone who feels like they are going through or have gone through a life crisis or any crisis for that matter. Come, laugh, and feel calmed by it all.

Tell Me

presented by Obliviate Theatre as part of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival

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Cast: Kate Maguire and Grace Thompson

Written by: Grace Thompson.

Stage Manager: Steven Elliot Jackson.

Where: Fringe Club, Honest Ed’s Alley

When:
July 01 at 10 PM & 10:30 PM
July 03 at 07:45 PM & 08:15 PM
July 04 at 06:30 PM & 07:00 PM
July 05 at 05:30 PM & 06:00 PM
July 06 at 09:00 PM & 09:30 PM
July 07 at 07:30 PM & 08:00 PM
July 08 at 09:00 PM & 09:30 PM

Capacity: Only 8 people permitted each show.

Note: If there are more people outside after they are done both shows, they may add another performance!

Tickets: The show is PWYC! Someone will be outside with a cashbox. You can pay right as you go in.

 

Interview with Rachel Blair – Playwright & Performer of “A Man Walks Into a Bar” at the 2015 Toronto Fringe

by Bailey Green 

A woman, with the help of a man, tells a joke: A man walks into a bar and meets a waitress. As lines between the performers and the characters blur, a tense and funny standoff about gender, power, and selling sex emerges. A Man Walks Into a Bar

Presented by Circle Circle and written by Rachel Blair, A Man Walks into a Bar is a stark exploration of the ways men and women interact. Inspired by current events, collected stories and her own experience, the play is a frank conversation about masculine and feminine interaction. The location— the loaded and often hyper-sexualized environment of a bar.

Rachel wanted to discuss inequality, for example: how from a very early age women are taught coping strategies to avoid violence and protect themselves. “In these kinds of conversations, about gender or race, someone has privilege and someone does not,” Rachel says, “and you might not realize how privileged you are until you hear how someone else isn’t.” She strove to make each character identifiable but challenging. In her own words, she describes the play as “funny, feminist, masculine, urgent and accessible.”

The play slips between two worlds, between interaction with the audience and absorption into the woman’s story. Rachel performs the role of the woman. Blue Bigwood-Mallin plays the man, and Rachel comments on his willingness to stretch as a performer, committing to the strong opinionated nature of his role. The play began as a satire on how men negatively respond to women’s stories— corrections, suggestions, interruptions, etc. Rachel did extensive research, using Reddit and message boards to examine the ways men dismantled women’s arguments. Now before I go further, let me introduce a hashtag conceived by the cast and crew:

#NotAllMenwhoWalkIntoaBar

One of Rachel’s challenges was to make the piece as balanced as possible, “I’m trying open up a discussion that happens often, and clearly sometimes blows up in our face and creates animosity—between men and women, women and women, men and men. I wanted to be very respectful to both voices without making them caricatures or demonizing them.” Rachel mentions White Ribbon for their work, men working to end violence towards women, and expresses her gratitude for the feminists in her life.

One of whom is her director, David Matheson (Artistic Director of the Dora nominated Wordsmyth Theatre) who was a mentor of Rachel’s while she studied at York. Their friendship grew from there. “David’s great about drawing out new aspects and finding moments while being very respectful of the work,” Rachel says. When Rachel was selected from the Fringe lottery, she proceeded to write the play in two months, going through multiple drafts with her dramaturg Andrew Cheng—who she has worked with for years.

After June 1st, Rachel officially switched over to acting the role as opposed to writing the show. She initially found it challenging to let go of the male character’s justifiable opinions at points in the story.“We’ve played a lot with my character’s volition and how much she needs to keep the conversation with the man amicable and light. As a playwright I’ve written this piece, and I’m outspoken and opinionated” Rachel says, “but for the character, this is a big brave thing to talk about this idea and tell this joke to a man. I think a lot of women may have huge opinions about who they are as women and where they stand but are scared to speak up for fear that they won’t ‘do it right’ or rock the boat or to encourage judgement.”

As for her intention for the audience, she hopes people hear an opinion different from their own and find themselves understanding even though they still may disagree. She hopes women find a sense of comfort in hearing any part of their experience heard. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

A Man Walks Into a Bar

A Man Walks In 3 Lo Res

A man walks into a bar and asks a waitress for a drink. A tense and funny metatheatrical look at gender dynamics.

From Rachel Blair, 2008 New Play Contest winner for Wake (NNNN, ***** Eye Weekly, Best of Fringe) and David Matheson, Artistic Director of Dora-nominated Wordsmyth Theatre and director of [sic] (Best of Fringe) and Bluebeard (Patron’s Pick).

By: Rachel Blair

Company: Circle Circle

Company origin: Toronto, Ontario

Director: David Matheson

Dramaturg: Andrew Cheng

Warnings: Mature Language

Where: Tarragon Theatre Extraspace

When:
July 01 at 06:30 PM
July 03 at 01:15 PM
July 04 at 07:00 PM
July 05 at 03:30 PM
July 06 at 08:30 PM
July 08 at 12:00 PM
July 11 at 05:15 PM

Tickets: http://fringetoronto.com/fringe-festival/shows/a-man-walks-into-a-bar/

 

 

Get Your 2015 Fringe On: What We’re Excited For & Some Friendly Fringe-ing Advice

It’s that time of year again… Happy Opening to the 2015 Toronto Fringe! There are so many shows, so many artists, so many activities, so much of everything… how do you even start? We’ve compiled a list of some shows that we’re excited to check out as we kick off our Fringe-ing for the next two weeks, as well as a few events that have caught our eye. We also have a bit of friendly Fringe-ing advice on how to get the most out of your Fringe Fest experience.

As always, this is just a starting off point. Our number one advice is to try something new that might not have made its way on to all of these lists. Also, #ConnectWithUs via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to let us know what else we should check out!

The Crowd Pleasers

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Tried and true. These artists bring their A-game every time and we’re thrilled to have them back at the Fringe. Do. Not. Miss!:

Morro and Jasp Do Puberty, presented by Up your Nose and In your Toes (U.N.I.T) Productions – Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

Gavin Crawford: “Friend” “Like” #ME, presented by IdleMind Productions – Annex Theatre

Swordplay: A Play of Swords, presented by Sex T-Rex – Al Green Theatre

High Tea, presented by James & Jamesy – Randolph Theatre

Peter N’ Chris Present: Here Lies Chris, presented by Peter n’ Chris – Randolph Theatre

Caws & Effect, presented by Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. – Factory Theatre Mainspace 

The Musicals

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Is this the year of the new musical? Has the Fringe always been like this? Most likely. But whatever it may be, we’re super #intoit and these are the shows we are hoping to fill our hearts with song: 

Summerland, presented by Wexford Performing Arts – Harbord Collegiate Institute

Adventures of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl, presented by Rebecca Perry Productions – Annex Theatre

People Suck, presented by Nutmeg Creations – Randolph Theatre

Rounding The Bend, presented by Out of the Blue Theatre Company – Robert Gill Theatre

I’m Right Here – A Song Cycle, presented by Victor Theatre Productions – Tarragon Mainspace

Deadmouse: The Musical, presented by Malach Productions – Al Green Theatre

The Classics

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The Bard in a bar, twists on a classic or re-told with some sass by our favourite Shakespearean puppets, these are the “classics” we’re most excited for:

The Philanderess, presented by Truth ‘n’ Lies Theatre (inspired by G.B. Shaw’s The Philanderer“) – Annex Theatre 

The Merry Wives of Windsor, presented by Shakespeare BASH’d – The Victory Cafe 

Hamlet… A Puppet Epic! presented by Shakey-Shake and Friends – FringeKids! Club – George Ignatieff Theatre

Twelfe Night, or What You Will, presented by Ale House Theatre – St. Vladimir Theatre

The Storytellers

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A refreshing way to mix up your Fringe schedule. Get personal. Go back to the basics. Connect to the storytellers. These folks have caught our eye and are sure to ignite your imagination. They’ll make you laugh. They’ll make you cry. They’ll make you groove. They’ll make you dinner? They’ll get you right in the feels: 

In Case We Disappear, presented by Hopscotch on the Rocks – Tarragon Extraspace

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project, presented by Sam S. Mullins – Factory Theatre Mainspace

Graham Clark Reads The Phonebook, presented by Laugh Gallery – Factory Theatre Studio

Starry Notions, presented by Nefarious Projects – Annex Theatre

The Dinner Table, presented by Fail Better Theatre – 918 Bathurst St. (Downstairs Kitchen)

The Events:

Tent Talks – Take your theatre-going experience to a whole new level. Delve deeper in to different topics surrounding the theatre ecology of Toronto and connect with local artists and experts to continue the discussion.

Get Crafty – We are a BIG FAN of buttons and this year you can make your own! We’ll trade you for one of ours if you can find us in the tents! Or if cross stitching is more your game, that’s going on too! Find out more at The Fringe Club.

Photo Booth – “Fringe Portrait Studio” is a new addition to the Fringe alley from Art is Hard, creators of the SMASH hit FLIP THE TABLE. “A participatory live art experience”. We’re game to check it out!

Visual Fringe – Local artists gather and rotate every day in the Fringe alley. See some incredible artwork and met artisans that you can be-friend and support all year round. #buylocal #supportlocalartists

Our advice:

Take care of yourselves! Drink water, wear your sunscreen and get your rest. It’s a marathon, friends. Hard-core Fringe-ing can wear you down. Winner lasts the full two weeks!

Go in with an open mind and an open heart! Get in the spirit of the Fringe and go see something on whim. There is so much out there, why not try something new? It may surprise you.

Be bold and say hello! Stuck in the Fringe tents in between shows? Why not approach a fellow Fringe-er and make a new friend! Talk about what you’ve seen. Talk about the work. Talk about the theatre you go to all-year-round. Get off those cell phones and connect!

Now go out there and GET YOUR FRINGE ON! Happy Fringe-ing, friends. We’ll see you in the tent!

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