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Posts tagged ‘2017 Toronto Fringe Festival’

A Chat with James Graham on LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Article by Megan Robinson

James Graham, of the Toronto-based ensemble The Howland Company, enjoys wandering through bookstores and letting play titles and covers jump out at him. And when they do, they get added to a list. It was in March of 2016, in London, England, that the catchy and memorably titled Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons by British playwright Sam Steiner caught his eye on a bookshelf in the National Theatre bookstore.

When The Howland Company was approached by Slow Blue Lions to work together on a Fringe show, he pulled out the list where he had noted Lemons as a possibility for future productions. The script fit the sort of criteria that the practical company looks for when choosing a play; the right length, about young people, the right amount of characters for the particular project. Plus, the rights were available.

“It’s always exciting when one of those plays that intrigues you finds its way to the front of the line,” he told me, in reference to Lemons making it off the list and onto the stage at this year’s Fringe Festival [and recently announced as PATRON’S PICK!] (And when life gives you Lemons… you put it on at the Fringe…. Sorry, I had to.)

The ambitious 60 minute show, with north of 200 lighting cues, follows Bernadette and Oliver as they navigate their relationship under the newly imposed law that restricts every individual to a daily limit of 140 words. There was a lot to cover in my interview with James Graham, who plays Oliver in Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons. In way more than 140 words, we spoke about working with director Harveen Sandhu, how language shapes relationships, and the importance of silence.

Photos of Ruth Goodwin and James Graham by Dan Abramovici

Meg Robinson : Tell me your favourite line from the show.

James Graham: I have tons of favourite lines. It’s so well-written. (he thinks for a while) At the end of one of the fights in the first half, Bernadette, Ruth [Goodwin]’s character, is kind of trying to explain to Oliver why this law might not be a bad thing and she tells him, “You can’t pigeon-hole me, I’m a million different things.” And I say to her, “How are you going to explain all those things in a hundred and forty words?” And she says, “I don’t know, maybe I’m not going to explain them.”

And I say, “Then nobody is going to know who you are.”

If there’s one part of the play that really speaks to me it’s that one. Because for all of the questions the show brings up (How do we know who we are or who someone else is? Are we defined by our language? Are we defined by the words we are able to use to describe ourselves or are we something regardless of language?) That exchange really encapsulates them for me.

And I remember when I first read the script, that was an exchange that really rang true for me.

MR: What were your thoughts when you first read the script?

JG: I loved the form and how Sam Steiner, the playwright, wanted to structure that journey of before the bill and after, and the differences between those two worlds.

What was intriguing to me was exploring how we talk to one another and how we take language for granted. How we use it to lie to each other and to actually walk around the truth, sometimes, as opposed to using it to speak as honestly and potently as we can. I think the premise of Lemons and the removal of that language forces these people to live in silence and in that silence you’re forced to really talk to one another and I thought that was a really powerful thing to explore.

MR: What moves you about the relationship between these two characters? 

JG: What moves me is watching a couple lose each other and find each other again. One of the themes of the play is how can you know someone else? Is it even possible to know someone? Does love exist without words?

I think the dynamic in the middle of the play is two people who lose touch with why they connected in the first place. And it’s painful. They have all the words in the world and they don’t communicate with each other.

And then this devastating law gets passed and it’s beautiful to watch them find each other again. And listen and communicate. And when they have to really choose something to say to each other, the stuff they choose really means something. At the end, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but it ends with a reveal of something that’s been left unspoken for some time.

Whether it means that their relationship is going to survive, well, the play leaves that open, but at the very least there’s an offer made; that I’m going to be honest with you. I’m going to share this thing. And I think that’s a really beautiful journey. And as a result that’s something that I’ve been curious about and exploring in my own relationships.

MR: When you are immersed in a show it can start to, like, tint your everyday life. You start to see things through a show-lens. How has being in the show shifted your own perspectives?

JG: I’ve been more curious about relationships – the language of relationships and how we talk to one another. I’ve gone on a few dates over the course of the process and have noticed the way that new couples or people who have just met each other talk, what things they choose to reveal to one another, what rhythms develop between two people. That’s been interesting.

Silence and the power of silence versus the need to articulate everything has been something I’ve noticed a lot more. And I think part of the play, part of Oliver’s journey, is towards acceptance and not a passive acceptance but a kind of presence. And I think silence is that state. It’s the state of acceptance of the world. And language sometimes can be the means to fill a void. That distinction has made itself more clear in my life.

So whether I’m a better communicator now than I was at the beginning of the process is probably not the case…

MR: But there’s an awareness?

JG: There’s an awareness, which I find kind of great.

MR: How did your director, Harveen Sandhu, get involved?

JG: I’ve been a huge fan of Harveen’s work as an actress for a long time. You see her once on stage and you know immediately how extraordinary of an artist she is; her intelligence, her emotional intelligence, her clarity, her discipline and dedication is all there in her work.

When Ruth and I we were brainstorming directors, I had a thought that maybe this would be something she would be interested in.

And I think one of the things that The Howland Company strives to do is to give space for talented people to step into a number of different roles. I think Harveen should do this. Canadian theatre would be in really extraordinary hands if she continued to explore directing as another form of expression. Because she really has a gift for it. We’re very lucky.

MR: If you could give the show another title what would it be? 

JG: I like the title! The first thing that comes to mind is 140. But I think that’s too on the nose. I don’t know.

MR: One last question – do swear words make the cut?

JG: Mhm… but then they disappear.

MR: They realize it’s not worth it?

JG: Well that touches on a point that the play tangentially gets to, which is that while the law does allow people to communicate more clearly with one another, what you lose is the joy of language – the expressiveness of swear words. You get down to a kind of bare essentials but I think you lose a great degree of expression and warmth and joy that we take in word play.

MR: Did you come up with a title yet? 

JG: I think maybe I would just call it Fewer Lemons? The citrus play… Lemons X 5

MR: Titles are hard.

JG: Let’s stick with what we have. It’s pretty great.

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

A Co-Production with Slow Blue Lions & The Howland Company
Written by Sam Steiner
Director – Harveen Sandhu
Cast – Ruth Goodwin, James Graham
Stage Manager – Sam Hale

A new law will limit the number of words you can say in a day: max 140. Soon you will have to speak without words, ‘say it all’ with no language; the ‘inarticulate speech of the heart’ is no longer just a song. The young Bernadette and Oliver meet just as the law is about to be enacted. Now their love must grow within its limits. They struggle with its rules, with obedience, with themselves, and with how they are going to live. They must make words count, and yet learn to talk without them. Political change becomes very personal.

1115 Queen St W

14th July – 9:15pm – Sold out
16th July – 1:00pm
16th July – 8:30pm *PATRON’S PICK*


t: @TheHowlandCo
f: /TheHowlandCompanyTheatre
i: @thehowlandcompany

“Trying Something New, Working Together as Partners & Theatre for Young Audiences” In Conversation with Anthony Bastianon & Denise Oucharek on JAY & SHILO’S SIBLING REVELRY at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Kids Fest

Interview by Hallie Seline

It was such a pleasure to catch up with power-duo Anthony Bastianon and Denise Oucharek about their latest collaboration on Jay & Shilo’s Sibling Revelry at this year’s Fringe Kids Fest at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. We spoke about the excitement of trying something new with the Fringe Kids Fest, the strength of working together as partners, when they get the chance, and the mantras they are currently living by in their careers.

HS: Tell me a bit about the show and how it came together.

Anthony Bastianon: Ali [Alisse Lee Goldenberg] approached me about a year ago to write a couple songs for a children’s show concept. I brought along lyricist Brett McCaig (with whom I’ve written several shows). We wrote a few things and she went away and did some more work on the idea, script and characters. Along came an opportunity to try out this show at this year’s Fringe Kids Fest and we fleshed out the script and added a few more songs. We have a delightful 35-minute show that focuses on siblings Jay and Shilo, who happen to live in a theatre full of magical characters. Ali had several ideas for this show, but we decided to go with the story of Tallulah, a fairy who has stage fright! It’s up to Jay and Shilo (with the help of the colourful narrator) to find a way to help Tallulah live out her dream and be a star on stage!

L-R: Joseph Zita, Justin Bott, Hailey Lewis, Jennifer Walls. Photo Credit: Msarookanian Photography

HS: Why were you drawn to work on a show for Fringe Kids?

AB: The Fringe Festival is a fantastic opportunity to try new things in an environment where the audience wants to see exactly that – new things on stage. The development process is always educational and having the opportunity to perform the show several times in a well supported festival is ideal. I’ve only ever written for the main Fringe festival. I’ve seen a couple of the Kids shows (I have a couple children of my own) and thought that it was the exact same excellent opportunity to try new material in front of an audience full of the perfect demographic.

Denise Oucharek: Children provide you with such honest feedback, they will REALLY let you know what is or isn’t working. I have been directing theatre with and for youth for almost 3 decades (I, ahem, clearly must have started when I was a newborn…) and I hold those experiences and productions near and dear to my heart.

L-R: Justin Bott, Joseph Zita, Jennifer Walls, Hailey Lewis. Photo Credit: Msarookanian Photography

HS: Tell me a bit about working together as partners.

AB: No comment… Kidding! We actually don’t get to work together too often. I’m usually off music directing shows and Denise is usually off performing in shows and it’s rare that our two schedules actually coordinate to do a show together (where, simultaneously, the MD position is open and there is a role for Denise). However, we’ve done a lot of work together teaching and working with children through our theatre company, Theatre Atoms (formerly The Mississauga Youth Theatre). This is something we’ve been doing for over – ahem – 25 years. I think we make a good team and it would be great if we had more opportunities to work together with Denise as the director.

DO: I love working with Anthony, as he mentioned, it does not happen that often. After all these years, we can usually anticipate the needs of the other and save time. We have a rhythm together when we work which I enjoy. There is always lots of laughter and knowing how the other works and what they require… it saves time in rehearsals!

HS: Why do you think festivals like The Fringe are important for both artists and patrons?

DO: The Fringe is key for the development of new works and offers a wide range of material and genres to the public at an unbelievably affordable price. There are always opportunities for artist and patron to mingle before and after performances, as well as at the Fringe tent, providing ample opportunity for feedback, networking and fruitful discussion.

L-R: Joseph Zita, Hailey Lewis, Jennifer Walls. Photo Credit: Msarookanian Photography

HS: What are you hoping young audiences experience during your show?

AB: First and foremost, I always hope that children love the theatre experience and want to come back to the theatre to see other shows. Developing an audience is always on our mind. For our show, Jay & Shilo, I hope that kids get the sense that being creative and using your imagination is as awesome and normal as going swimming or reading a book!

DO: I want kids to be fully engaged in our story as it unfolds. I want them to feel empathy for the characters and I hope that they laugh, laugh, laugh!

HS: Dare I ask… What’s your favourite musical?

AB: Favourite score is “Candide” by Bernstein. There a few shows I could see again and again, like West Side Story, Joseph, Fiddler On The Roof.

DO: Sorry, can’t do it. For me, musicals are like potato chips, I can’t have just one.

HS: Best advice you have ever received/current mantra you live by?

AB: Regarding my career and the music theatre industry, I would say that hard work and preparation are the cornerstone of any success that I may be fortunate enough to enjoy.

DO: Don’t be so busy running toward your next goal that you forget to look back and thank those who helped you reach your last one.

HS: What other shows are on your must-see list this Fringe?

AB: Unfortunately, Denise and I are actually on one of those rare opportunities to work together as we will be out-of-town during the Fringe Festival and will be missing the shows (aside from the opening of Jay & Shilo). But I think Derrick Chua always provides a superb list of “must-sees”.

Jay & Shilo’s Sibling Revelry

Company: Triplets Theatrical
Playwright/Creators: Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Anthony Bastianon, Brett McCaig
Director: Denise Oucharek
Music Director: Anthony Bastion
Cast: Justin Bott, Hailey Lewis, Jennifer Walls, Joseph Zita
Producers: Brian Goldenberg, Jeff Jones

Imagine if the creatures from NARNIA found themselves in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA… Sibling Revelry is a fun, musical romp for the whole family revolving around siblings Jay and Shilo; two kids who live in a theatre populated by magical and musical creatures. Drawing on their creativity, the brother and sister duo use their strengths to help their friend Tallulah the fairy find her bravery and take centre stage. (Ages 3-12)

15 Devonshire Pl

14th July – 10:00am
16th July – 1:30pm


An Honest Goodbye

By Jared Bishop

The joy expressed in this collection of festival-goers, meeting one last time in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s, no longer matched its environment. The lights weren’t twinkling like the eyes of excited Fringe performers. We were all dressed up, sparkly and beautiful, waiting for the parade to start, to say one last goodbye to our ghost of a home. With no more blood pumping through Mirvish Village, we took the life in us to our new home at Scadding Court Community Centre.

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

Mirvish Village was a beautiful space to occupy. There was magic oozing from all those strings of lights and graffitied walls. We radiated that energy right back. The Toronto Fringe is a community brought together once a year and our home base is integral. For every great difficulty faced in independent theatre, the Fringe Club and Mirvish Village had something to offer. Losing this home is sad. It symbolically connected the old Toronto with the new and the Fringe Club felt like a manifestation of those things coming together.

I came to the parade, not to promote a show or give out hand bills to the public, but to work through feelings of grief and sadness. The Toronto Fringe has lost a home and our city is losing honest history and culture. I wanted to bring in the intentions of healing to this Costume Parade. Dressing up, being silly and marching down the street is already a practice I use to heal personal wounds. I often find new confidence and boldness when dressed as something a little outside of myself. I put on one of my partner’s lacy, floral shirts and donned a straw hat I had decorated with flowers and vines. I wanted my costume to represent new life – like a garden in the spring. I walked from my home in Little Italy with a bit more bounce and optimism in each step, towards Bloor and the special place we used to call The Fringe Club.

A large group had amassed in the space surrounded by the boarded up windows. Empty homes and businesses, a place once full of life but now sacrificed for higher profits. It was evident we most move on.

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

There was a politeness to the way we travelled down Bathurst. We shared the sidewalks, stopped at red lights, smiled, waved and courteously engaged the public. We divided ourselves into groups easily managed by the sidewalks and intersections. Our parade stretched a great distance down Fringe’s main artery. We were a cheerful spectacle moving at an eager pace. Our community features an incredible collection of beauty and inspiration. Amongst us were Mimes moving with mostly muteness – tuba and saxophone singing in their place.

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

High Park Noir’s collection of crime-fighting critters created comradery between the new creations. The feline Fuzz was quite flirtatious. Physical representations of our most private parts were shared to the public for peer review. These fringe folks representing their shows or supporting a friend’s, passed out their offerings of invitation to all who would accept. As we continued closer to our new home at Scadding Court, we announced our presence with confidence and celebration.

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

As 100+ fabulous Fringe people filed into our new home it felt like ecstatic celebration. Celebration for our community and the new community welcoming us in. Scadding Court is already a high use centre. Many different groups of people utilize this multifaceted facility. Our presence felt like a positive offering back to these folk. I started to make comparisons between our new and previously used spaces. Has Fringe found a home that builds stronger connections to the larger communities we exist in? Is there greater stability in this type of community space? It is clear we are guests here right now. We share this space with the skateboarders and shipping container merchants, the families and youth groups that use the pool, park and baseball diamonds. This is unlike the alley we used to occupy, that at any other time of the year was a dank space mostly used for leaving a car behind. That parking lot was ours for twelve days and we filled it. We must engage our new space with more intention and mindfulness. It is now important to create something that involves our larger community. Something that offers welcomeness and accessibility to the folks outside of ourselves. I hope this will facilitate growth and deeper roots. Fringe is a tree with many branches and we wish for our fruits to flourish.

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

This club has captivated the neighbourhood and we must stretch out our hands to share the joyous events that make this festival special. The reflections of grief and loss I addressed with my floral costume transformed into celebration of connection and community. I gathered sparkling, joyous energy and wish to radiate that back to Scadding Court and all the other spaces our festival shares. These conclusions were created by the Parade. It provided a space for catharsis if that is what you wanted. The symbolic mobilization of community in response to gentrification instigated honest reflection and a unifying spirit. This is something radiant we can all share. A continuous pursuit of cohesion is what will turn this space into home. I can do little else but emit excitement for our future. It’s something I am a big fan of.

Find out more about The Toronto Fringe, the shows and events in this year’s festival and book tickets here.

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

Mixing Burlesque and Greek Theatre in LYSISTRATA at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Brittany Kay

“The Fringe is a perfect platform because it is the rock and roll of theatre festivals: anything goes, so the audiences are open and up for surprises.” – Sebastian Marziali

Burlesque and a Greek classic. Both very different genres, both incredibly alike in intention. One wouldn’t normally find this mash-up in the Toronto theatre scene, but this is Fringe, right? After a sold-out opening performance, Kay Brattan’s take on Lysistrata has found the perfect place for its debut.

In this preview, we chat with writer/director/co-producer Kay Brattan, Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame performer St. Stella, and performer Sebastian Marziali/El Toro about their burlesque adaptation of Lysistrata.

Brittany Kay: Tell me a little bit about the show.

Kay Brattan: Historically, Lysistrata is a story about the women of Greece uniting together in a sex strike to end the Peloponnesian war. Our Lysistrata turns the strike into a “strike-tease”, adding slam poetry, songs and strip-tease to heighten the tension of this Greek Comedy. This production is a site-specific piece of immersive theatre that is set in The Painted Lady, a bar in Toronto that is known as a burlesque venue. We’ve chosen to completely annihilate the 4th wall in this show, and present this story to its audience as a burlesque revue. We know you’re there: we want you to know that. Because everything in this play is for you. In the revue style we’re able to explore all the different types of acts that make up the wonderful world of burlesque, from the Can-Can, to Vaudevillian numbers, and the new wave of Neo-Burlesque.

BK: Where did the idea come from to mix Burlesque and Greek theatre?

KB: I studied Lysistrata in university and have always loved this play. It’s funny, playful, and can be contextualized in a way that makes it a strong piece of feminist theatre. Finding a way to marry it to burlesque was actually quite easy because by the end of the play everyone is practically naked. The characters start off in a world that’s a little more conservative and very quickly everything gets turned upside-down. As the clothes fly off, we see their everyday restrictions disappear and it’s incredibly liberating to see. For myself, this is a feeling I’ve always experienced when I watch a burlesque show. Living in a world that constantly makes women feel that our worth is judged by our waistline is daunting, so to be able to have a space that celebrates body positivity and empowers everyone to own their sexuality is exactly what I wanted to explore in this show.

Burlesque is such a big, bold, cheeky, and extravagant form of performance art, so it made sense that the women of the play use it as their tactic to aid them in this sex strike. It’s all about the tease, and not only do they use this to their advantage, they use it as self liberation. Instead of matching violence with violence, they use their femininity and cleverness to fight and win this battle.

Photo of St. Stella by Sly Maria

BK: What do you think will be really successful about this mash-up?

Sebastian Marziali: Plain and simple, burlesque finds its roots in ancient works of comedic satire such as Lysistrata. The strip-teasing style we know today was built on the foundation of making a mockery of those in power, specifically with women lampooning men and turning the tables on the power dynamic of storytelling. Early on in my burlesque career, I came across the idea that “if you get them laughing, you can shove anything down their throats,” and I feel that this show does a beautiful job of just that. It’s fuelled by raunchy, bawdy comedy and dance but upon a foundation of real honest reflection around man’s obsession with war and profit. The other beautiful part about it is the distance that we have from the ancient Greek pieces, which allows more room to play, experiment, and adapt. There is less preciousness than there is with more modern Western classics so we’ve really been able to integrate the eclectic nature of modern burlesque and cabaret, inserting music and dance styles from all across the spectrum but grounded within the structure of the story. It’s a marriage of form that you don’t need the Fates to have seen coming.

BK: The Fringe is all about daring to see something different. This piece is going to be different and definitely stand out. What would you say to Fringers that would entice them to see this show?

St. Stella: I think we are doing a very ambitious show this year. For first time producers, we took on everything and the kitchen sink! I think people will want to see this show for the extravaganza of it all; singing, dancing, striptease, feminism, political relevance, (near) nudity and site-immersion – there are a ton of themes in there for almost everyone to say “Heck yeah! I wanna see that!” I also think people are always interested to see fresh twists on the classics, particularly a text that has been given new relevance in the current political climate.

In photo (l-r): Amanda Mattar, Brittany Cope, St. Stella, Amanda McKnight, Jennah Foster-Catlack. Photo taken by David Kingsmill

BK: The Burlesque community is very real and current in the Toronto arts scene, but some people haven’t tapped into it yet. Why is that? What makes the Burlesque world different and exciting?

SS: A lot of people don’t realize that Toronto really is a leading city in the world, particularly in experimental or what we call ‘neo’ burlesque. But even with that, many people still haven’t seen a show or even heard about our community. I think there are still a ton of misconceptions about what burlesque is, which is fair because burlesque has a ton of permutations. But, the thing I love most about burlesque is that feeling that we so rarely get any more from entertainment – the raw humanity of it. It’s intimate and glamorous, a fantasy, but not fake, it can be simultaneously subversive, sexy and silly. Burlesque is a tease: it keeps people wanting more. And the coolest thing is that the ‘more’ can often be what the audience makes of it themselves; being inspired to buy a sparkly flower for their hair, or some fancy lingerie or dance in front of the mirror… Burlesque invites the audience to take the feeling of the show home with them. I’m really excited that this show might open the door to a whole new audience of burlesque fans.

BK: Why is the Fringe a perfect platform for this experience?

SM: The Fringe is a perfect platform because it is the rock and roll of theatre festivals: anything goes, so the audiences are open and up for surprises. People are at Fringe to have a good time but also to challenge their preferences and expand their scope. What better way than to be immersed in a blend of modern burlesque and Greek comedy which exists and has existed to speak directly to the masses in a way that is entertaining but also sparks curiosity and questioning of our sociopolitical structures. Also, at the end of the day, this show is first and foremost a celebration, a raucous experience that puts the action right in your lap. In the end, isn’t that what Fringe is all about? Getting crotch-deep in art!

SS: I think Fringe has this big beautiful feeling of ‘let’s throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’. For a lot of people, it’s the only theatre they see in the year because it’s so accessible, it’s not elite. That aesthetic fits perfectly with the pathos of burlesque (and Lysistrata!) – it’s by the people, for the people. I also think that the way we have put together this adaptation has a lot to do with the Fringe itself as well – it’s a Pastiche. We rap, we sing, we take our clothes off, we dance, we climb on bar-tops – it’s no holds barred theatre, just like the festival itself!

In photo (l-r): Amanda Mattar, Brittany Cope, St. Stella, Amanda McKnight, Jennah Foster-Catlack. Photo taken by David Kingsmill

BK: You have Burlesque artists but also actors in your show. Why this choice artistically and how does this aid in the performance and storytelling of the piece?

KB: It honestly just worked out that way through the audition process, and I’m so glad it did. Having a mix of both disciplines of performers helped the show in the same way combining the two performance styles did. The burlesque performers were able to share their craft with the actors, and the actors did the same for them. The best part of this experience was just watching how much fun everyone was having. It’s a different way to approach a play, and I think that because we attracted a group of artists that were willing to explore this new side of themselves, and do they ever shine in it! Everyone’s willingness and eagerness to explore this work has been more than a delight to bear witness to and I think it’s something our audience will really enjoy to see as well.

BK: What do you want audiences walking away with?

SM: We want audiences staggering away! Bent over in laughter and arousal with hardly a voice left (hooting and hollering is strongly encouraged). We want people leaving having had an experience desperate to come back and try the ride again from a different angle. We really take advantage of our venue using it in its entirety, which means keeping our audience right in the thick of it all (pun intended). I feel that we also want people going away with a new-found appreciation for both burlesque and theatre as platforms to bring us together in our ever more splintered lives. It’s been my mission, since being sucked into the magical world that is burlesque, to bring “traditional theatre” more into that world. After all that’s what theatre was and is meant to be, a mosh pit where we tear down the world outside and experience something wondrous together.

BK: What other shows are you looking forward to seeing in the Fringe?

SM: If you are even remotely intrigued by our show you are going to absolutely love Shirley Gnome’s Taking it up the Notch a comedian singer with the voice of an angel and the mind of a filthy sailor. So yes, I am excited about her. Also I am dying to see Mind of a Snail’s new show Multiple Organisms. Their work is so enchanting and knowing that they’re marrying that with sexuality and the human form just gets me all tingley.

BK: What are the most exciting parts about the festival?

SM: I think the most exciting part about the festival is the open and engaging interactions. Seeing giant groups of people excited to be in the same room together and take a collective dive into the unknown. Putting aside the phone and Netflix for a couple of weeks and enjoying shared experience. There’s something so necessary about this beautiful space that is created where everyone is just really excited about art and conversation.


Company – how.dare.collective.
Playwright/Creator – Aristophanes
Starring: St. Stella, with Brittany Cope, Jennah Foster-Catlack, Sebastian Marziali, Amanda Mattar, Amanda McKnight, Timothy Ng, Jordan Shore
Directed and Adapted by Kay Brattan Choreographed by St. Stella
Costume and Props by Stevie Baker Musical Composition by David Kingsmill

Lysistrata leads a rebellious group of women in a sex strike, hoping to end the war that is tearing their country apart. In this modern adaptation of Aristophanes’ classic comedy, how.dare.collective. puts a burlesque spin on this tale of resistance and desire.

The Painted Lady
218 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, M6J 2Z9

July 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th – 7:00pm
July 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th – 2:00pm


t: @Lysistrata_TO
f: /LysistrataTO
i: @lysistratato

#FiercelyFringe 2017 – Part 1

It’s the most WONDERFUL TIME of the year! Happy Opening to the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival! Every year, we are constantly inspired by the core values of The Toronto Fringe Festival:

  • It’s about creating art at a grassroots level.
  • It’s “theatre by the people, for the people“.
  • It’s about taking risks and exploring something new.

So, we asked this year’s Boss Fringe Artist Babes: How are you FIERCELY representing these values? How are you #FiercelyFringe?

After an overwhelming response, we’re thrilled to share our first #FiercelyFringe preview with you, listed in no particular order, and in two parts (because we can only get our scroll on for so long…)

We hope this gives you a more personal look at these shows and the artists behind them as you plan your viewing schedule over the next two weeks.

Be sure to follow along with us on twitter, facebook and instagram for our full #FringeTO coverage celebrating all of the people and moving pieces that make this festival so electric!

See you at the Fringe Club #FiercelyFringe friends!


Pineapple Club 


The Pineapple Club team is comprised of Director/Choreographer Robin Henderson (of last year’s Best of Fringe hit, Dance Animal) and performers Paul Barnes, Jonathan Shaboo and Pascale Yensen.


The Pineapple Club tagline is “Come for the comedy. Stay for the calamity”. With everything that’s happening in the world, it’s especially important to be laughing right now.


Where else would you find a mash-up of comedic dance, sketch comedy and social commentary? Pineapple Club speaks to the emotional fallout of the world’s events in 2016 through the unique lens of comedic dance, sketch comedy, puppetry and music.


t: @PineappleClubTO

Bad Baby Presents: Rules Control the Fun


From a group of seasoned Fringers boasting a total of 13 Fringe tent romances collectively, Janelle Hanna’s new solo show Bad Baby Presents: Rules Control the Fun is not simply a clown show, but it does feature her clown Bad Baby, prominently. Think of it instead as a new play about love, loneliness and humans’ need for connection, as well as it being Bad Baby’s first Fringe appearance, all rolled into one.


Bad Baby has seen a lot of Fringe shows, and she is a self-proclaimed fringe expert. So she knows exactly what to do and what not to do. She knows all of the rules.


What makes us FIERCE is how the play itself goes deeper, exploring themes that writer and performer Hanna feels strongly about: love, relationships, vulnerability and shame. Expect a lot of laughter and comedy at this show, but don’t expect to see only that.


t: @lark_and_whimsy
i: @janellemhanna

Interstellar Elder


SNAFU is the creators of SOLD-OUT shows ‘LITTLE ORANGE MAN (***** – VueWeekly) and ‘KITT & JANE,’ (****½ – Edmonton Journal)

We’ve been touring across Canada for the last ten years, both to all the fringes and to curated festivals like Wildside, Undercurrents, Next Stage and SummerWorks. All of our shows are weird.


In Interstellar Elder, we meet Kitt, fierce lone geriatric astronaut adrift in a spaceship carrying cryogenically frozen human cargo. Her mission: protect the last of humankind.

“Amazingly versatile physical comedian with the BEST ENDING IN THE HISTORY OF FRINGE.” – Montreal Gazette.


This summer, we’re touring 9 FRINGE FESTIVALS across Canada. #FringeHogs. This is my second time winning the CAFF lottery in the past three years, whereas some artists have applied for CAFF every year for the past two decades and never been drawn. If I win CAFF a third time, I expect death threats from other fringe artists.


t: @snafudance



#FiercelyFlamenco – Inamorata Dance Collective was found in 2014 by Mexican Canadian dancer, Sofía Gudiño, to explore experimental crossovers between contemporary and flamenco dance, music and theatre.


Their premier full-length work, Picaza, is an honest and visceral look into one woman’s journey to self-awareness, told through bilingual poetry, dance, traditional Latin music, and experimental compositions!


One of this year’s Culturally Diverse Projects at the Fringe, this group of twelve multidisciplinary artists is #FiercelyFringe, building everything in their grassroots show from scratch and pooling their creative resources to learn from each other and create something completely new.


i: @inamoratadance
#Inamorata2017 #Picaza

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons


The Howland Company with Slow Blue Lions


(1) It’s about love, and law saying you can’t say more than 140 words/day; (2) It’s the healthiest, most citric, show in Fringe; (3) It’s funny and touching, also has a couple of tips for mostly silent relationships.


(1) women directing and producing*, each for first time; women AD and intern; *producer won Cayle Chernin Award for theatre production’; (2) show is by first time playwright Sam Steiner and comes from UK Fringe.


f: /TheHowlandCompanyTheatre
t: @TheHowlandCo
i: @thehowlandcompany

Welcome to the Bunker


Portius Productions is a brand new company that aims to explore the opportunities different theatrical spaces offer for experimentation with audience immersion and interaction, with an emphasis on all things nerdy. Its inaugural show, Welcome to the Bunker! is written, produced, and performed by Clare Blackwood and Ryan F. Hughes, and is an immersive zombie apocalypse comedy set in a bunker deep below the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace.


This is a show for nerds, comedy lovers, and anyone who wants to laugh at two weirdos trying and failing to lead an apocalypse orientation for the survival of humanity.


We’re pushing the boundaries of how to involve audiences inside of a traditional theatre space, taking them out of their pre-armageddon comfort zones, and maybe singing welcoming songs to them. That is, if the zombies don’t get to them first…


t: @bunkertofringe

Macbeth’s Head


I’m Kyle McDonald, the founder of Malfi Productions, whose mandate is: to produce entertaining and interesting film, television, theatre, and literature by merging tradition with innovation for an audience who craves emotional and intellectual risk. We’re dedicated to injecting classical material into something contemporary and relevant.


How many people can say they’ve seen a disembodied head with magical powers running around on a dessert trolley while threatening to destroy all of Shakespeare’s work?


We’ve gotten this show on the road with pure love: from the illustrator who did our amazing artwork, to the composer who made original music, to our photographer who’s shot us free of charge. Also, there is little to no set, and we’re relying only on our wits to tell the tale of this maniacal head! And, the script is half in original verse, which seems like a pretty bold move in the age of one liner TV scripts!


t: @malfiproduction
#macbethshead #malfiproductions #longlivethehead

Perfect Couples


We’re an indie theatre collective dedicated to generating bold new work. We are passionate about stories from underrepresented voices, and providing opportunities for emerging artists to flex their muscles.


Our fringe show, Perfect Couples, is a good example of this. Written, directed, designed and performed by emerging artists, the show is distinctly millennial. Yet, refreshingly, it’s never reductive or patronizing— there’s not one mention of twitter or selfies. Perhaps more defining as a millennial piece is that it talks about mental illness, which is rampant among 20-somethings. The play is a twisty trip down visual artist Valencia’s unravelling, and we see how her struggle with mental health impacts her relationship and community. Women-driven, queer, sexy as hell…


Perfect Couples by Mitchell Janiak is both witty and dark. It takes advantage of what Fringe provides— an opportunity to take risk and tell stories that aren’t heard often enough.


t: @PencilKitProd
i: @PencilKitProductions
f: /PencilKit

Monsters By Nature


We are Kindling Collective! We take an intersectional feminist perspective to classical works. Our show Monsters By Nature was created in a similar fashion to how Frankenstein made his creature, by piecing together classical and self-written texts, punk and folk music.


Audiences explore what makes them feel empowered by their inner monster and reflect on their perceptions of people that they fear.


Monsters by Nature owns the term Fiercely Fringe by its bravery to examine the roots of our fears. It’s terrifying to watch pieces that force you to look into what makes you a monster. But it’s also empowering to do so. At rehearsal last night I thought how fulfilling it feels to be in a room with 6 fierce women, an electric guitar, and bare hearts telling these stories of characters that have remained relevant through the ages. We can’t wait to meet you in the midnight.


i: @kindlingcollective
f: @kindlingcollective
t: @kindlincollec3
#kindlingcollective #whatareyouafraidof

13 Ways the World Ends


Good Morning Apocalypse is a comedy troupe from South Ontario, formed in 2015.


Why see our show? For one thing, we have a hour-long revue about all the ways the world will end, and not once does someone mention Donald Trump. Nothing about what’s happening in the U.K. either, since we couldn’t find a rhyme for “Brexit.” There’s zombies, but not enough to get you all zombied out. At one point someone plays the saxophone – badly. There’s a killer robot, and a killer plague, and a lovely little sketch about how all the bees are dead and we’re next. Mostly it’s full of people who go through their days with a vague sense of dread, and who also have opinions about which of the Mad Maxes is the best Mad Max.


This is the kind of show that can only happen at Fringe, and we’re fiercely proud of it.


t: @ApocalypseGood
i: @GoodMorningApocalypse

White Wedding


I’m a female writer / director who is trying to combine those skills for the first time with a new play called “White Wedding”! I’ve had a lot of luck in the past as both a writer and director and now I’m trying to bring those two sides of my brain together with an incredible group of creative individuals!


White Wedding explores really recognizable feelings in a new way. Instead of asking what happens as a wedding, White Wedding asks what happens in a hallway above a wedding. What private conversations and secrets are told? Who makes out with who? Who ends up drinking themselves into a sad quiet corner somewhere? Why do we celebrate stupid emotions like love again?


We are creating theatre in a found space firstly because we think it’s a cool thing to do, but also because it’s a necessity. Re-imagining theatre for new spaces for today’s audiences is what will bring in new audiences, make people feel invited to the art form, and open up the stage to something new, something novel, something fierce!


t: @PortAlbertPro
i: @portalbertproductions

Bendy Sign Tavern


Sex T-Rex is a comedy collective that has been in the Toronto Fringe since 2013!


Bendy Sign Tavern is our most Fiercely Fringe show yet- a site specific puppet show where six-legged barflies trade actual Fringe reviews and you can order a pint from a puppet!


We’ll have rotating fringe guests from our favourite shows. Throw in live music and Sex T-Rex’s signature wit and you’ve got a real tour-de-fierce.


t: @sextrex
f: /sextrexcomedy



The Gracie May Theatre Company, named after the creator’s late childhood dog, is devoted to creating new Canadian content. The company refuses to take any political stand and holds no beliefs whatsoever.

 The founder, Joey Monahan, currently resides in a fortified compound near Georgetown, Ontario.


MUTTS OR: 101 LIBATIONS is a unique comedy, not for the faint of heart. As dark as it is funny, the story follows two hopeless, helpless, and hapless drunks who steal dogs and return them for reward money to support their addiction. After taking a service dog and causing the death of a blind man, the two find themselves at odds with each other when one wants to continue their lifestyle and the other decides to stop.


It has been created and is being performed by a small group of local artists. Although the play itself never states a location, it is very much a Canadian, and specifically a Torontonian piece. It has been made with the intention of making people laugh and hurt at the same time, because in life sometimes something can be humorous and heartbreaking at once.


i: @GracieMayTC
f: /GracieMayTC
t: @GracieMayTC

The Stories of Lantern Tales



I am a storyteller.

Encountering the storyfire in 1981 at the age of 28, when I hitchhiked 70 miles from St. Catharines to Toronto to hear my first storyteller, Trinidadian Paul Keens-Douglas. I became interested in composing original tales, especially stories inspired by my childhood in the Ottawa. Valley. I am a violinist/fiddler and featured in festivals across Canada and abroad.


Composed in traditional forms The Stories of Lantern Tales are unique, shaped by a childhood spent in the countryside of Black Bay Road.
 They are an excellent opportunity for listeners to meet the devil, a 4 tonne traction engine with a soul, 12 sea serpents and a cedar canoe pulled by six Ottawa Valley beavers.


The distillation of images and experiences that came from growing up as a child in an isolated Ottawa Valley countryside, wandering alone along endless trails in the woods, the silence of a winter moon.

Through the imagination of the listener those experiences live again.

Death Meets Harlequin


Unspoken Theatre was founded in 2011 by sisters Nina & Natalie Kaye, and focuses on new writing with a classical influence. We have produced over a dozen new plays by local women writers.


Our short comedy, Death Meets Harlequin tackles big themes with a light heart, using archetype, music, dance, Commedia dell’Arte, and physical comedy to infuse our attitude on life and death with a little optimism.

Our cast and crew are Festival veterans, with credits at Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival and Big Ideas Festival; SoCap Theatre’s Short Short Play Festival; InspiraTO; and the Toronto Fringe.


Death Meets Harlequin offers something for everyone. A deeper meaning for the philosophical thinkers; bright costumes and silly songs for the kids; great new writing for the lovers of literature; a touching family story for the ones who cry and laugh at once; and a circus pre-show by Deflying Feets for anyone else!


t: @TheatreUnspoken

The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert!


Lesley Robertson and Matt Shaw are “The Diddlin’ Bibbles”, a comedy band making their Toronto Fringe debut. Co-written and directed by the hilarious Dana Puddicombe, “The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert” tells the story of Rose-Marie and Jessop Bibbles, a sex-positive and spiritual singer-songwriter duo, who have travelled from small-town Wisconsin to Toronto to perform at the Toronto Fringe Festival – their lifelong dream.


Their show, “The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert” is part sketch comedy, part live concert, part mockumentary, part metatheatre, and part love story. Think: Flight of the Conchords meets Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind meets #the6ix.


This show is “fiercely fringe” because it’s a new play written and designed specifically for the Toronto Fringe Festival, St. Vladimir Theatre, and Toronto audiences! The entire show is a self-reflexive comedy spoofing the experiences of the Toronto Fringe Festival, the arts, and the city of Toronto.


f: /thediddlinbibbles
i: @thediddlinbibbles
t: @DiddlinBibbles

Madeleine Says Sorry


Prairie Fire, Please was founded by Aaron Jan and Madeleine Brown, lightweights with no taste whatsoever in alcohol. We welcome you to judge our poor choices – we’re likely already judging yours. Madeleine Says Sorry is the company’s inaugural production. Will it be our last? Depends how bad the hangover is…


Where else can you see a 6×4 foot poster-shrine of David Suzuki, and a magical cardboard Apologemeter X that descends from the heavens?


How are we #FiercelyFringe?
 We collectively had three very successful fringe shows last year. Rowing, Silk Bath, and Knots. This one is nothing like any of those shows. Our process has been entirely funded by popsicles. 
We never start rehearsal on time. Our director cannot afford underwear. We are one of the most diverse teams in the Toronto Fringe! #FiercelyFringe


t: @MadeleineSaysTO
i: @madeleinesaysto

Pillow Talk


We are a group of comedians, actors and creators who met while attending the Second City Conservatory Program. Shortly after graduating, Charlotte Cattell and Olivia Brodie-Dinsdale reconnected to start a sketch duo, the O.C. After their successful show at Montreal Sketchfest they thought there would be no better idea than asking their friend and fellow creative, Adam Martignetti to join them in making a completely original sketch revue.


Pillow Talk is not what you would expect from a traditional sketch revue, we wanted to keep things real and make it more than just making people laugh. We tackle those intimate and vulnerable moments in life that people wouldn’t normally talk about openly. Pillow Talk, doesn’t imply the usually sexual connotation. I mean, we would like to think we are pretty darn sexy!


Written by 3 real people about real experiences, Pillow Talk couldn’t be anything more than “Fiercely Fringe”! We are people with anxieties, fears and the notion that ghosts are real! But what is more fierce than displaying those moments for everyone to see.


f: @Pillowtalkfringe2017
t: @PTFringeTO17
i: @pillowtalkfringeto




how.dare.collective. is making their debut at this year’s Toronto Fringe. The brainchild of two-time Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame performer-choreographer St. Stella and writer/director Kay Brattan, their mandate is to create theatre for the underdog – representing the underrepresented. The Lysistrata company is made up of experienced and talented performers from both the theatre and burlesque communities, and some of whom are well-known in both scenes, such as Sebastian Marziali (El Toro to the burlesque & boylesque community).


Lysistrata brings an appetizing take on classic Greek comedy to the contemporary audience. Brattan has used her own words to combine three different translations of Aristophanes’ work, and through the combination of slam poetry, songs and striptease, this will be a retelling of the story the likes of which has not been seen before, with the two mediums blending to embody and convey the messages of the piece (such as female empowerment, peace not war and, of course, equality).


With this show, we bring together the varied talents of our diverse company to tell this story in a fresh, powerful and memorable spectacle. Bring on the glitter and good times!


i: @LysistrataTO
t: @Lysistrata_TO

The Miserable Worm



We are Let Me In, a theatre collective spearheaded by Justine Christensen and Patrick J. Horan. We seek to remix, alter, satirize, and break “classical” plays, thrusting them into a contemporary landscape.


Our show, The Miserable Worm, exposes gendered expectations often ingrained in old works, bringing to light new colours from Chekhov’s “untitled play”, which our show is based off of. The story is made new through gender-bent casting; particularly by placing a woman in the title role of the smarmy playboy Platonov.


Let Me In’s The Miserable Worm is Fiercely Fringe because it draws in and implicates the audience into the action. As soon as they walk through the doors of the Annex, each audience member becomes a guest at the Platonov Estate. They are privy to the events and intimacies of a fatal night of hard drinking and painful nostalgia. Oh, and it’s going to be really funny. 


t: @LetMeInTheatre

Lover Lover


Subverting Something is a company founded by Veronika Gribanova and is now based in Toronto and New York. Our mandate is our name. We’re almost half serious.


A lesbian and a straight man walk into a bar: a love story. It’s complicated. Lover Lover is a story about the limitations and possibilities of love. This site-specific play is an intimate conversation between strangers in a public space. At Nightowl, a bar in Little Italy, audience members can have a drink and watch the story unfold. Allow us to subvert your expectations.


Lover Lover explores issues that aren’t often discussed in a public setting. Questions of sexuality, identity, and polyamory, as well as of vulnerability and intimacy, are brought to light. We have risked placing emotion at the centre of our work and we are telling the truth as we understand it, which is both an obligatory and subversive act.


i: @subvertingsomething
t: @subvertingsome

For the Love of Pie



I’m the daughter of a French Canadian mother who taught me the importance of butter and extravagance. For the Love of Pie, my play, showcases a lot of that French “je ne sais quoi”! Montrealers and Chicagoans were dazzled by the show nominating it for Best Solo Theatre Production (Montreal Fringe) and naming it one of of the 5 Best Bets of the Chicago Fringe (TimeOut Chicago).


Why see it, Toronto? Because sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and need to be reminded that life is not as easy as pie and why not embrace failure as opposed to suppressing it.


It’s fiercely fringe because, well, it’s just me writing, producing and playing three very extravagant characters leading over the top ridiculous lives and my challenge is to make their story resonate with the audience.


t: @PieGeorgiaPeach



The Creation Coffin is a Toronto based company that focuses on progressive work, emerging artists and female creators. The cast and crew of Hexen are all recent Randolph Academy Alumnae.


Fringers should be sure to see Hexen because it is a savage critique on the society that we have constructed for ourselves, through a powerful, sexy and feminine lens.


Hexen is truly “fiercely fringe”. The show and our site-specific venue are designed to make you feel like you’re deep in a forest. Because of this we did the majority of our rehearsals outdoors and we have benefited greatly from the inspiration that nature provides. Stylistically, Hexen is quite pioneering – we would describe it as a “deconstructed musical”, something we have never seen done before but are fiercely experimenting with for this year’s Fringe Festival!


f: /thecreationcoffin
i: @thecreationcoffin



Sue Morrison is a world-class teacher of performance-oriented Clown and Bouffon.

Mélanie Raymond has been working and training at DynamO Theatre (acrobatical theatre) for 15 years.


The performance has been described as like having a conversation with a best friend that you didn’t know you had. The arc of the show is affected by the qualities that the performer brings to the theatre each night, and the qualities of the audience, and how those interact. The audience is part of what happens each night and no two shows are the same.


This is outsider theatre. This is bottom-up, grassroots theatre. The collaborators developed the script through a process of question and answer, call and response between the outside eye and the inside eye… a bricolage brought to life using the language of twelve masks. There is a universality to the experiences that the performer encounters and explores.


t: @guayoyo_ca
i: @guayoyo_ca



Malcontent Theatre Company is a diverse, grassroots indie company made up of performers from students to seasoned professionals. We are committed to inclusiveness and challenging standards.


RISE/FALL is an immersive, site-specific production that has the audience divided by a wall. A unique show happens on each side, and occasionally interacts with the other side. The wealthy percentage of society has gained control of the government and banished anyone of minority to the other side of a wall.


This production is fiercely Fringe because we are an independent group of local artists, who are playing around with new theatrical concepts and tackling political issues with no holds barred. We are creating a show unlike anything any of us have ever seen, and are taking a huge risk with such a complicated concept. This deals with subjects that are close to everyone’s hearts, including segregation, prejudice, racism, homophobia, and Trump’s America.


t: @MalcontentTC
#RiseFallFringe #BreaktheWall

The Night Hart Crane Kissed Me  


We are Spindrift and our combined talents include: acting, writing, directing, magic, music and stage combat! We put all of these to use in our very first Fringe outing, The Night Hart Crane Kissed Me.


What’s a Hart Crane you may be asking? Answer: a sailor-loving, hard-partying poet who burned through the burlesque houses, vaudeville theatres, boxing matches and speakeasies of Jazz age New York before blazing out at 32. His grave merely says: Lost At Sea.


We chart his final hours, explore how his life and art intersect with our own, and attempt to invoke the feeling of encountering his poetry for the first time using all of the rad methods mentioned above. This summer we invite you to get #KissedByHart


t: @spindrifttc
i: @spindrifttheatreTO

Ten Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains 


We are Theatre Rhea and Neoteny Theatre.


Yes, it may have the longest title ever, but most importantly it’s a millennial love letter dedicated to the misfits of the Peter Pan Generation. Lucy and Bennett, our two main characters, are lonely but are given the chance to connect. Written by Rose Napoli and directed by Carly Chamberlain, be sure to visit us in the backspace of Theatre Passe Muraille, just down the street from the tent!


Our characters are just like the people who come to the fringe. People who exist on the periphery, and find a connection by being on the outside. The show itself may be about nothing. Or it may be about everything. But it’s definitely about an urn of ashes and six popsicles.


t: @TheatreRhea

The Life Henri 


Award winning Artist Adam Bailey: creator of Fringe hits The Assassination of Robert Ford and Adam Bailey is on Fire, and director of The Enchanted Crackhouse .This year I’m doing The Life Henri, a play about dead painter Henri Rousseau. It includes a slideshow and we’re selling wine. 


It’s a really intimate experience that’ll sweep you away. We got four stars when we tested it in Edmonton and it deftly touches on some modern issues like bullying. Plus, slideshow!


Henri Rousseau should be the patron saint of Fringe. An outsider artist, spends years unlocking the key to success, overcoming poverty and incarceration along the way. Also, I mash his story with a 1970s horror movie and somehow that makes it all very touching.


i: @still_your_friend
t: @stillyourfriend

Traffic Jams



Resilience Theatre. We are a feminist theatre company dedicated to telling women’s stories and those of the underrepresented. This is our first production and hope this opportunity will allow us to make connections and create more content that young people can relate to that illustrates their experiences.


Five-word pitch: woman attacks depression with ukulele! See this show because it’s funny, relevant, and sometimes uncomfortable. It deals with issues many young people are facing, particularly artists, and highlights the different ways mental illness can surface within one person.


This show came from a late-night phone call between two friends about mental health and artistic struggles. We refused to wait for this story to be told, so we’ve brought it to the stage ourselves. Mental illness is tough to talk about, even for us, but by taking the risk to show this battle, we can contribute to a dialogue on mental health.


f: /resilienceTO
t: @resilience_TO
i: @resilience_to

Love and Information  


The play is by Caryl Churchill, will be directed by Andrea Donaldson and performed by the 5th term students at Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. Our show is essentially 50 mini shows packed into one.


Contemporary issues regarding knowledge, communication, and our capacity to love and be loved are beautifully represented. We explore these issues in the most unique ways, incorporating movement, song, and even silence. There is so much to take away from this beautiful painting of humanity.


As the actors, we have been very thankful for the process. Every day we go into rehearsal and are utterly moved by our discoveries. We dive into various human behaviours, points of view, sexualities and cultural differences. When something doesn’t work, we ask ourselves why, and approach it from a different angle. It has been the most incredible journey for us, and we cannot wait to share it with Toronto.


#RALoveandInformation #LoveandInfo #LoveandJan #JanLovesInfo #RAPA

 The Resurrectionists  


House of Rebels Theatre started in 2014 as a podcast audio drama company, that has since expanded into interviews and original stage plays. In the 2016 Toronto Fringe, we produced King of the Castle, and are excited to bring another exploration of morals and humanity to the Randolph Theatre this year!


The Resurrectionists tackles one of the western world’s best-kept, darkest secrets. Grave-robbing in the 19th century was a rarely-reported crime that occurred anywhere people studied medicine. Shortages of bodies with surpluses of students lead to creative, criminal solutions to the growing demand. This play examines Canada’s habit of hiding it’s less-savoury history, and why we keep letting ourselves do so. 


The Resurrectionists is co-produced with Theatre Parallax. We are companies interested in theatre that is provocative AND entertaining – and we don’t believe those are mutually exclusive qualities. We want to have our art, and like it too.


t: @RebelsTheatre
i: @RebelsTheatre

Kassandra aka Joyia, Fringe Concert Series  


My name is Kassandra, aka Joyia, and I’m a musician. I’ve made it my mission to make unique music, which represents myself. I make all of my songs in both acoustic and electronically produced versions. I make music that combines R&B with a bit of an electronic sound. I’ve coined my genre as “soultronic,” and want to bring the genre to life in my own unique way.


I’m part of the Fringe concert series on July 9! True songwriting and composition has always been my passion, and I’ve been building up a new repertoire over the last few months. For the first time, I’m making music that I feel is 100% me, and it’s the most liberating feeling ever.


I create art for the reason art was created. It’s a freedom of expression, a chance to connect people. It’s finally giving me a chance to share my true self with people. It’s been a long journey of self-discovery, and I can finally say that the music I make truly represents me. 


t: @joyiamusic

Life Records 2: Side B 


I’m Rhiannon Archer & I wrote/perform Life Records 2. This company is just me & I named it after my late dog Beefy. He was really great! 


2 words: IT’S FUN! Everyone should see Life Records 2. Unless if you hate fun, then maybe just stay home.


7 words: Because I’m Fierce & in the fringe! I’m really putting myself out there in order to connect myself and the audience with one another.


t: @rhiannonarcher
i: @rhiannonarcher

A Flea in Her Ear



Pulse Theatre’s “A Flea in Her Ear” is a modern adaptation of one of the greatest vaudevilles ever! We made the characters quirkier, the relationships more sensual, the show more exciting! A splendid cast, terrific creative team, a visionary director.


The energy, the sexiness, the colorfulness, the playfullness- our show is funny and entertaining! All the original comedy gold, plus hippies and furries, and just a touch of…well, let’s not spoil the surprises! Even if you do know the original script – you don’t know this show!


A part of Pulse Theatre’s mandate is working with immigrant artists and diverse performers – “visible and audible minorities”, and we did just that – our talented cast and crew depicts the wonderful diversity of Toronto’s theatre scene. A fierce comedy with a powerful ensemble and crew, and beautiful promo art by the amazing Derrick Chow! Our Flea roars like a tiger!



The Balding 


Jeff Gandell is a Montreal writer, storyteller, actor, musician and teacher. I tell stories that aim to make people laugh and feel a greater connection to the emotional landscape of the universe.


The Balding is a hilarious story about a twenty-year-old man who’s convinced he’s going bald because he’s still a virgin. In his quest to find romance, he falls down a rabbit hole of dangerous car accidents and property destruction. It’s a show about learning to love the fleeting nature of all our lives. Basically, the lighter side of mortality and decay.


It’s funny! The rawness and vulnerability of the protagonist will make audiences concurrently laugh and feel better about their own insecurities. Plus, there are a couple of raucous rock n’ roll numbers. And it’s a masterfully constructed story that will leave audiences breathlessly anticipating what comes next. Come on!


t: @jeffgandell
i: @jeffgandell




Seven Siblings Theatre utilizes the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique to create the Theatre of the Future, Fantastic Realism. We’re presenting a sci-fi thriller that pushes the boundaries of government control. Written by genre-shattering female playwright Eliza Clark, the show is centered around a mother and daughter relationship holding their ground as the government tries to “RECALL” potentially dangerous or psychopathic children. 


Clark dives into a troubled child’s mind and examines emotional understanding as the two desperately try to start fresh. The world of this play is a truthful and surreal depiction of our future society.


This Fiercely Fringe show not only gives us sci-fi in theatre, something you don’t see often, but gives women the lead narrative in what is usually a male domain. Plus… we have violence, blood, guns, mature language, a shopping list of food props, sci-fi machinery, and a sick sense of humour. We’re fierce as f$%k.


t: @SevenSiblingsCo

On The Inside  


My name is Michelle Thoms and I’m the writer and director of On The Inside, a play about a young woman caught in the vicious cycle of Canada’s Corrections System. It doesn’t stop there though, it’s also about humanity and the lengths people go to survive.


People should watch this show because it raises questions about solitary confinement, society and about the grey area that sits between professionalism and caring.


We are pushing the envelope by taking a true story and extending and exploring further questions that surround it. Questions like: Why is the rate of women of colour increasing at a dramatic rate in Canadian federal prisons? Why is self injury increasing in women’s prison? Is “othering” used in the prison system and to what extent?  As well, On The Inside is taking a risk because it is being presented as a docutheatre production. 


t: @ontheinside17
i: @ontheinside17

*Submissions have been slightly edited for clarity and length.

But wait! There’s more!

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A Chat with Carly Chamberlain, Director of 10 CREATIVE WAYS TO DISPOSE OF YOUR CREMAINS at the 2017 Fringe

Interview by Bailey Green

We spoke with Carly Chamberlain, artistic producer of Neoteny Theatre and director of upcoming Fringe show 10 Creative Ways to Dispose of your Cremains written by Rose Napoli. Jakob Ehman and Rose Napoli star in this two hander about millennials, emotional baggage and bed bugs.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

BG: Tell me about working with Rose Napoli. How did you two meet?

CC: We both went to University of Windsor in the acting program, we were one class apart and she was like an honorary member of our class. So I’ve known her for 15 years, and we were friendly but never close. When we started working together at Canadian Stage, we reconnected and really hit it off. I went away to school and during that time she had been writing and we stayed connected. When she approached me this Fall about 10 Creative Ways, it felt like the right project. We’ve known each other for a long time, so to take our relationship a new level, so to speak, has been really exciting.

BG: What drew you into the script?

CC: It’s really different from what I had worked on recently. On the surface it seems quite contemporary, colloquial and casual. The first scene is at a party, it’s about millennials, and on the surface it seems like snappy little play. But there’s a lot of anxiety and deeper issues going on under the surface. It’s a play about people who are so desperate to connect, but their baggage gets in the way and I felt like that was a familiar experience and familiar to people I know. When I read it, I felt I knew these characters. Instant connection.

BG: So where do we find these characters at the start of the play?

CC: Two people meet at a party, and they end up not really getting along, but they stumble back upon each other while they are dealing with shit in their own lives. The play takes place over 24 hours, and then an epilogue. So [we see] two seemingly mis-matched people that may have the potential for a real connection, whether that is friendship or romance. It’s not really a love story in a traditional way. It’s a Toronto story. It’s about two people trying to maybe grow up and how to do that amongst the shit of bed bugs and trying to pay rent and trying to find some meaning in what they’re doing in their lives.

R-L: Rose Napoli, Jakob Ehman

BG: So Rose also acts in 10 Creative Ways, how have you both navigated that change in roles from playwright to actor? Or is it a more fluid process?

CC: It’s a new experience and I have never directed someone in their own work. So I went in with an open mind and to see what the needs would be. The play had some workshops so we both felt confident that the script was in a good place; there were things we’d change but there wouldn’t be massive re-writes in rehearsal. It’s a fluid relationship when I’m in rehearsal with Jakob and Rose. It’s important to me when working on new work not to look to the writer in the room to answer all of our questions, you still need to investigate just the way you would with Shakespeare or Chekhov. I like plays that leave those rough edges, and now that we’re deeper in, we just jump back and forth pretty fluidly. Jakob and Rose have worked together so they have that dynamic as well and it’s a pretty open room as far as the dialogue around changing the text when it’s needed.

BG: What has been the greatest joy working on this piece?

CC: I like when I’m working with really good people and am surprised by what they come up with. They have free rein in that way. I’m working with a design team who I’ve worked with before and are people I really trust. It has been a special experience, the contributions of the whole team and a lot of my work has been in response to what everyone else is giving, I am shaping the awesome ideas of all the people in the room. Anna [Treusch] who designed the set, came to me and said ‘I can see exactly what this set is,’ and that’s not the way she usually works, usually it’s a longer, organic process. So that was so unexpected to me. And Daniel [Bennett] for sound composition, he had a really clear idea right away. So I love getting to be surprised and inspired.

BG: It seems like we’re grappling with this ‘millennial question’ in art and theatre right now, and it can be really nebulous. Could you distill 10 Creative Ways into a couple short phrases?

CC: It’s about learning how to communicate when you’re more comfortable using emojis and it’s about making a choice to let go and accept that your baggage is in the room

BG: And lastly, what are you excited to see at fringe?

CC: The Diddlin Bibbles, they are so funny and shocking and strange and I always really love so I am looking forward to seeing a full set. I’m looking forward to Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons cause I love The Howland Company stuff but also, similarly to our piece, it has a title everyone remembers but yet still doesn’t quite know what it’s about, so I like that there’s a bit of mystery around it. And Nourishment, it’s got a couple of young creators that are doing some really interesting work, strong young women, and I’m excited about it.

10 Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains

Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Written by Rose Napoli
Directed by Carly Chamberlain
Starring: Jakob Ehman & Rose Napoli
Producer: Nicole Myers-MitchellSet & Costume Design by Anna Treusch
Sound & Lighting Design by Daniel Bennett
Stage Management by Lucy McPhee
Production Management by David Costello
Photography & Graphic Design by Kyle Purcell

Boy meets girl. Boy has broken vaporizer. Girl has bed bugs. “Ten Creative Ways to Dispose of your Cremains” is not just the longest title ever, it’s a millennial love letter to the misfits of the Peter Pan Generation.

From the writer of “Oregano”at the Storefront Theatre and the director of “Plucked” at Summerworks, comes a new old story about living on the outside. Starring Jakob Ehman and Rose Napoli.

Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
16 Ryerson Ave.

6th July – 9:30pm
8th July – 3:15pm
9th July – 8:00pm
10th July – 5:45pm
11th July – 10:15pm
13th July – 1:00pm
14th July – 8:45pm
16th July – 2:15pm


Carly Chamberlain: @CarlyCha
Rose Napoli: @RoseNapoli1
Theatre Rhea: @TheatreRhea
Neoteny Theatre: /NeotenyTheatre


A Chat with Storyteller Jillian Welsh on NO PLACE in the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Brittany Kay

Jillian Welsh is very, very funny… just TRY not to laugh at her answers! She’s no stranger to the storytelling community with appearances on the RISK podcast and CBC’s Love Me. Her new show NO PLACE explores her relationship to her family and trying to find her place. 

Brittany Kay: Tell me a little bit about your show.

Jillian Welsh: In my real life I always thought that I would sing at my grandmother’s funeral, but holy drama Batman — things got complicated. This show takes place the hour before her funeral in a church and explores all of the secrets that made it so damn complicated.

BK: Why is a show like NO PLACE perfect for the Fringe? Why your show, over the 159 other shows?

JW: Oh man, don’t choose me over things. I mean come see this show, please come see it, but I advise the Derrick Chua method; see as many things as you possibly can. There are so many incredible artists this year.

BK: What are the fears and excitements around doing a solo show?

JW: What if I have to pee? What if I can’t hold it?

BK: Why the title NO PLACE?

JW: I buried that answer deep in the play, come solve the mystery, yeah? #nancydrewyou (…into coming to my show).

BK: How did you come to storytelling?

JW: I was working in a bar and Graham Isador kept trying to talk to me while I was busy moving around some rubber chickens. I told him to shut up and hold my cock, then he asked me to tell a story onstage.

BK: What draws you to storytelling as a performer? What makes you keep coming back to this medium?

JW: I keep trying to live a normal life, but fail miserably.

BK: What do you want audiences walking away with?

JW: Their coats, umbrellas and water bottles. I hate cleaning up after people.

BK: Are there other shows you are planning to see in the Fringe?


But for sure:

Dear Uncle Wish because I love Samantha Chaulk’s brain, Life Records 2: Side B because Rhiannon Archer is just so damn hilarious and She Grew Funny because the director (Chris Earle) is life partners with my director (Shari Hollett) and they gave me free sandwiches.

BK: You’ve been in the Fringe before. What are your favourite parts about the festival?

JW: The tent, marijuana and consensual sex.

No Place

Written and Performed by Jillian Welsh
Directed by Shari Hollett
Stage manager: Ada Adler
Produced by Pressgang Theatre as a part of the Toronto Fringe Festival

Josephine knows she should sing at her grandmothers funeral. Or at least say something, anything at all. But somehow between Manhattan and rural Ontario all the music got lost and now all the right things to say can only turn out wrong.

St. George the Marytr (The Music Gallery)
197 John Street (beside the OCAD building/behind the AGO)

July 6th – 8:00pm
July 7th – 1:00pm
July 8th – 8:00pm
July 9th –   8:00pm
July 10th– 8:00pm
July 12th– 8:00pm
July 13th– 8:00pm
July 14th– 1:00pm
July 15th– 8:00pm
July 16th– 8:00pm