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2018 Next Stage Festival Profile: Leila Live!

Interview by Brittany Kay.

It’s easy to fall in love with Leila. She will have you giggling the second you meet her and will probably add herself into your contacts before you leave. If you haven’t seen her Formation video, you are missing out. I had the distinct privilege of talking to the Persian Princess herself about her show Leila Live! at The Next Stage Festival.

Brittany Kay: Who is Leila?

Leila: Hi there! My name is Leila and I am a real-life Persian Princess. I am originally from Tehran, Iran and have been performing my solo shows Love With Leila and A Very Leila Christmas across Canada (and one time in America before that disgusting monster became president) for the past three years. The critics have named me the ‘Persian Judy Garland’ but I self-identify as the ‘Persian Ariana Grande’ (as you will see in my show). People may also recognize me from my hit YouTube videos such as: The Fresh Queen of Tehran, My hijab brings all the boys to the yard, and my own take on Beyonce’s Formation.

My biggest dream—other than being a broadway star and having my own Netflix series—is to date Zac Efron. I think he is so talented, good looking and I believe we have a lot in common so we would be a really good match.

I have been quite active on Tinder lately – I am single and ready to mingle, looking for the right guy! No on has matched with me yet but I am staying optimistic and know that it will happen soon.

BK: What inspired you to create this story?

L: My newest show Leila Live! is my first venture into the world of CABARET! I wanted to start off this new year by trying something completely different. In this show, I am not only acting and telling a story, but I am showcasing a big variety of my talents such as: monologuing, dancing, original singer songwriting, stand up, impressions, sound effects and puppets. That’s right! There is a lot going on in this tight 30 minute show. We are really hoping to find potential agents, producers and boyfriends after one of the performances. If you are interested please email me: salam@laughwithleila.com

BK: Where else can we see some of your work? I see you have quite the social media following! How did that happen?

L: You know it really just happened naturally. I love to be social and I love to take pictures so Instagram is really the perfect platform for me. I am also on Twitter but I don’t like birds that much. On Instagram I am trying to show what it is like to be a touring performer but also to give advice to my internet friends – #tiptuesday and #wisdomwednesday have been quite popular posts. But none are nearly as fun as #mancrushmonday – I have to start posting about some guys other than Zac Efron though because I think he blocked me but my mother is looking into it for me. You can expect to see some new YouTube videos later this year as well as the launch of my very first album!

BK: Why is this show and more importantly Leila as a person, important for our community today?

L: Earlier this year someone told me that they had never seen a show with a Middle Eastern character who is portrayed as a nice and fun person. That made me really sad!!! We are not just the terrorists and angry cab drivers—we are real human beings with families, personalities, dreams, ambitions and are usually really freaking funny and full of joy. I want people to have fun with me! I want my audience to laugh and feel like they are just hanging out with me and not watching a ‘show’ in a theatre. Like we are friends, because we are friends! And in the end we get to see a little bit of ourselves in one another.

I just finished a run of my show A Very Leila Christmas in Kitchener with an amazing theatre company called Green Light Arts. We packed the theatre for 5 nights and even got the Mayor of Kitchener to come and sing a duet with me. The night was full of so much joy and laughter (and a few tears because let’s face it the holidays aren’t fun and games all the time) but so many people said that they have never smiled so much, that they didn’t know they could laugh so hard and that this kind of laughing was therapeutic. I mean, what is better than that really?

BK: Talk to me about Leilas Girlfriends?

L: Leila’s Girlfriends is one of my favourite projects I have ever done. It was a partnership program with the Immigrant Working Centre and the Good Shepherd in Hamilton. I hosted a storytelling workshop for newcomer women to help them share their own stories of being in Canada. The ones who felt comfortable enough joined me on stage for a performance on International Women’s Day. It was so empowering to watch these beautiful women stand up in front of sold out audiences and share their voice for the first time. I had shivers each night and had to hold my tears back. Some of these women are still very good friends of mine.

BK: Why is The Next Stage Festival the perfect platform for you and your work?

L: Well this is quite literally the next stage for me. This is the first time that I am performing a cabaret show. I am trying out never before seen material in a different style than I am used to and I get to do it 12 nights in a row! My mother and I have been rehearsing this showcase in our living room for a few months now and we are so excited to share it with an audience.

BK: Are there any other shows that you are excited to see in the festival?

L: My friend Christel Bartelse is performing her new clown show The Surprise in the same venue as me (Factory Antechamber). We did a Double Bill of our shows Love With Leila and All KIDding Aside last year at the Toronto Centre of the Arts and I am so happy to share a space with her again. She is so talented and funny and she has the most beautiful hair. Really, go check out her ginger locks – they are gorgeous.

BK: What do you want audiences walking away with?

L: My Instagram account on their phone.

BK: Anything else we need to know?

L: My venue is the warmest one in the entire building… so… that should be enough of a reason to buy a ticket.

Leila Live!

Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana

Who:
Written and Performed by me (Leila)
Directed by my mother (Farideh)

What:
Real life Persian Princess seeking a real guy who is trusting, healthy, and has his Canadian citizenship. Must enjoy authentic middle eastern cuisine, hypnotic dance moves, and little bit of fluff and scruff. No smoking, drinking, or drugging allowed! If my parents don’t like you chances are I will 😉 Swipe right for singing, dancing, acting, joking, and modeling my me (Leila).

Where:
Factory Antechamber
125 Bathurst Street, Toronto

When:
January 3rd – 14th
January 10th – 5:55pm
January 11th – 8:40pm
January 12th – 8:40pm
January 13th – 5:25pm
January 14th – 3:55pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

Connect:
fb: /badgirlleila
t: @_badgirl_leila
ig: @_badgirl_leila

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“The Zombie Apocalypse, Bunker Necessities, and What the Post-Zombie World Would Look Like” – A Chat with Clare Blackwood on WELCOME TO THE BUNKER! at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Madryn McCabe

We spoke with Clare Blackwood, co-writer/performer of Welcome to the Bunker! at the 2017 Toronto Fringe. We chatted about why she chose to go for the post-apocalyptic zombie genre, what she would bring to the bunker if/when the zombie apocalypse happens, and what audiences should prepare for when they enter The Bunker this Fringe.

MM: Tell me a little bit about your show.

Clare Blackwood: Welcome to the Bunker! is an immersive post-apocalyptic zombie comedy set deep “under” the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. Katie, a zombie rights millennial activist, and Todd, an antisocial Gen-X prepper, have holed up in Todd’s bunker after North America has been overrun by the undead and left for…well, dead by the rest of the world. Naturally, Katie has decided that the best thing to do in this situation is to collect as many survivors as possible and bring them down into the bunker, in order to create a harmonious new society when the whole “zombie thing” has died down (pun very much intended). Together, they’ll take each audience of survivors through a very enthusiastic-yet-half-assed apocalypse orientation… that is, unless that scratching in the walls gets any louder…

MM: Why a post-apocalyptic zombie show?

CB: Why not? was my very first response, but I have a feeling you’re looking for more intelligent stuff than that. I’d like to say that with all the chaos that’s going on in the US and abroad, that intelligent theatrical commentary about how the world may very well become a post-apocalyptic wasteland sooner than we think was what we were going for when deciding what to do for Fringe, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s because I’m a giant zombie-obsessed nerd who thought the idea of two weirdos doing PowerPoint presentations about the end of the world was hilarious beyond all reason. However, there are wonderful motifs to explore in the genre, and it was interesting to use it to explore the themes of loss, generational tension, and hope for the future, in the midst of an absurd Armageddon scenario. Zombies have been used forever to make parallels to modern society’s worries and problems, and this play is no exception.

Clare Blackwood and Ryan F. Hughes. Photographer: Max Telzerow.

I originally had an idea for a show about two very polar opposite people stuck in a zombie bunker together over a year ago, when I first considered entering Fringe. However, I had dismissed the idea as unfeasible and too silly (I know, what a ridiculous concept, right? IT’S FRINGE!) and decided to do something else for the Festival. It wasn’t until a series of unforeseen events led me to having to abandon that particular show that I remembered I had this apocalyptic idea in my back pocket. So I followed my nerdy heart and found an incredible team of people ready to take on the zombies head-on. I think we’ve managed to make the zombie apocalypse fun for not only über nerds, but anyone who likes to have a silly, awesome time at the theatre.

MM: What’s your favourite zombie movie/game/TV show and why?

CB: Why must you make me choose one, you temptress?! Okay, so in terms of zombie movie, I would definitely say 28 Weeks Later. I’ve always preferred the fast-moving “infected” to the slow, shambling undead. Mo’ carnage, mo’ fun. Most people prefer the original 28 Days, and it’s admittedly a better movie, but I love Weeks because it’s just non-stop zombie mayhem goodness. In terms of video games, the original Left 4 Dead will always hold a special place in my heart. I will never tire of it. In theatre school, whenever I was super busy, headshotting the undead hordes was the best stress reliever ever. And lastly, I tried to get into The Walking Dead, but was turned off of it in the first few episodes because of the lack of the aforementioned zombie carnage. Call me bloodthirsty, but less bickering and more katana fights, please.

MM: If you could bring three things into your bunker, what would they be and why?

CB: 1) The Lord of the Rings extended edition trilogy.

2) My cat, Gandalf. He would be extraordinarily displeased with me if I didn’t, and would probably find a way in anyway and then barf on all my irreplaceable belongings.

3) My Orlando Bloom waifu body pillow. (Just kidding! Or am I.)

…Wow, that list accidentally ended up being super Tolkien-heavy. I hope you don’t think I’m a nerd. Oh my god.

Clare Blackwood and Ryan F. Hughes. Photographer: Max Telzerow.

MM: What do you think the post-zombie world will look like? After all the carnage, and you emerge from your bunker, what do you think the world will be like?

CB: I step out of the bunker and into the free air. My auburn locks have grown in the years underground, yet despite the lack of shampoo and personal hygiene it has somehow become even sexier and more luscious. My clothes are ripped, yet flattering on my figure that has somehow not become scurvy-ridden and emaciated due to lack of proper nutrition underground. There have been so many beets. So many. I look around, getting a look at a crumbled Toronto I haven’t seen in three long years. The New World Regime has done quick work. I have heard stories of the clashes between the rebels and the Winterfist Government on the bunker radio, but it is clear the military has won the War. Its factions are marked on the jackets of my fellow, similarly-beautiful survivors: the Foragers. The Warriors. The Diplomats. Conform to the characteristics of your faction or be killed. That was the law here, ever since we had won the fight against the Walkers a month ago. Now, I face my biggest challenge yet – to choose between my best friend, Graeden, and the strange, yet enticing man I had shared all those years in the bunker with – Paeder. Together, we would overthrow the dictatorship and bring peace to a land ravaged from the zombie hordes…

Oh wait. My bad. That’s from my upcoming YA dystopian zombie trilogy. Forget that happened. Let’s move along.

MM: What should your audience prepare for as they enter your bunker? What do they need to know going in?

CB: They should get ready for one hell of a ridiculous(ly fun!) immersive ride into the apocalypse! No additional preparation needed. Come in with an open, nerdy heart and be ready to laugh, because we’re going to chat you up and have a party. We can’t wait to have you as our guests down here in the bunker. And don’t worry, we’ll keep you all safe… hopefully.

Welcome to the Bunker!

Who:
Company – Portius Productions
Playwright/Creator – Clare Blackwood and Ryan F. Hughes
Director – Alison Louder
Stage Manager – Justine Cargo
Cast – Ryan F. Hughes, Clare Blackwood

What:
Zombie apocalypse got you down? Grab your prep kit and your fellow survivors and join us underground to start your new life! Say goodbye to foraging for rations, sneaking through abandoned cities, and those pesky marauding death cults! Say hello to life in the bunker, where we will guide you through adjusting to your new surroundings. Generator power! Protection from the elements! Nearly fully figured out chemical toilets! Free canned beets while supplies last!* Join us for your orientation today!

*BEETS ARE GONE

Where:
Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace
16 Ryerson Ave. Toronto

When:
9th July – 9:45pm
11th July – 8:30pm
12th July – 4:45pm
13th July – 6:15pm
14th July – 3:30pm
15th July – 1:00pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

Connect:
t: @bunkertofringe
f: /bunkertofringe

 

#FiercelyFringe 2017 – Part 2

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!

– ITGR


The Food Project

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

We are Theatre By Committee! We’re a seven-member collective based here in Toronto creating narrative-focused, contemporary work in found spaces. We like to do things “by committee” with an ensemble-approach that rejects role-specific or hierarchical models in our administrative and creative environments.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

The Food Project is an in-depth exploration of where your food comes from – how it’s grown, how it’s transported, and where it goes once you decide you don’t want it anymore. The project is an attempt to answer the question “can we eat our way to a better world?” Dealing with the meat industry, poultry and eggs and even the darker side of veganism, the Food Project asks audiences to explore their own food choices, and consider what changes they are able, and willing to make.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

The Food Project joins a long history of site-specific shows, with an intimate, interactive show based in the SKETCH kitchen. A collaborative effort with Committee members as well as some TBC new-comers, the Food Project aims to present an immediate and entertaining look at the food industry.

CONNECT

t: @theatrebycommittee
i: @TBCommittee


Dear Uncle Wish

WHO ARE YOU?

We’re Theatre Enthused. We believe unbridled and un-ironic enthusiasm is necessary to create mind and heart expanding theatre.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

This show will have audiences thinking about what the past has to offer us. Bride, a young, anxious nurse is convinced that her hometown will never change. The audience knows that the folk-healing her Uncle practices is a lost art, and that old Newfoundland culture is nearly gone. Where do we get our bearings, when pain and loss seem the only constant? This show’s mix of humour and heartache will soothe the most tightly wound Torontonian. 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

I’m a Toronto theatre newcomer and I’ve hustled with very limited resources to assemble an amazing team (Adam Bailey, Jamie Johnson, Ryan Hughes). I wrote it, I’m producing it, I composed music for it and I’m starring in it. I knew all that would be necessary if I want to break into this scene, so I did it.

CONNECT

t: @dearunclewish 
i: @dearunclewish
#DUW


Odd One Out

WHO ARE YOU?

Playwright Maureen Gualtieri: Our show is about how we all create narratives for ourselves in order to make sense of the world. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

We’ve all told – and continue to tell – ourselves stories in order to organize impersonal, sometimes terrifying circumstances around us, and give meaning to cosmically unfair events, like the loss of a deeply loved one as we are doomed to always quest for “why.”

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

It’s about identity – how we can spend so much time molding ourselves into a shape that we think pleases others, a shape that doesn’t tip anyone off to what’s inside struggling to be contained, until the day something cracks and we can’t be held back anymore. The play’s about love, but it’s also a mystery, concealing the possibility that somehow, under the brutal truth of real life, there may be a bit of magic that offers a tantalizing escape from normal.

CONNECT

#LesbiansVsAliens #LoveWins


Adult Entertainment

WHO ARE YOU?

Triple ByPass Productions seek to perform work that is relevant, bold and engaging, telling stories from all walks of life, in a way only an acting ensemble can. By focusing on characters and relationships we approach our work as truthfully and honestly as possible, creating unforgettable pieces grounded in realism. This Toronto based collective is; raw, unrelenting and unapologetic.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel series is a Canadian classic. We love his conflicted characters and the unpredictable world they inhabit; it’s an actor’s dream. The Fringe Festival offers us indie artists a platform and the opportunity to perform in a theatre we otherwise couldn’t afford!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Cops, lawyers, husbands, wives, truth and lies. Sex, liquor, secret deals, fist fights and perhaps even love. You never know what you’re going to find behind the door of a motel…

CONNECT

t: @triplebypasspro
i: @triplebypass_to


Sketch Betch

 

WHO ARE YOU?

We are Sketch Betch, a Toronto based sketch comedy troupe who met studying improv at The Second City.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

You should come and see our show, Life’s a Betch, for three reasons: Gregorian monks doing 80s classics, tons of John Travolta, a lot of people dying. And nipple play.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?  

What makes this show #FiercelyFringe you ask? Well, we wrote it. From scratch. And then we baked it at a low temperature for like 6 months. We added a dash of unemployment, a sprinkle of self-doubt, and a whole lot of love and hard work. We bring you our show.

CONNECT

t: @sketchbetches
i: @sketchbetches


Operation SUNshine

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

Jennifer McKinley, playwright, performer and producer of Operation SUNshine. I have a background in clown, comedy and storytelling and I’m an expert cat herder, artist wrangler and ego juggler. I’m also a champion research ferret and stalwart guardian of the grammar, self-appointed and mildly annoying about it. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Who doesn’t love to be regaled with poetic tales of Toronto’s dark side from the depths of a serial killer’s lair? Operation SUNshine offers something for everyone looking to whet their depraved appetites. Sex! Revolution! Psychedelics! 179 actual SUNshine Girls rescued from the walls of a dank basement bathroom!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

The seed for Operation SUNshine was literally dug up from underground by me for you. 25-year-old pinups and sensational news stories from the Toronto SUN assist with the storytelling while Clara McBride’s fierce direction draws forth a complementary physical narrative from my not-always-so-willing body. I’ve never been so sore. Or so invigorated!

CONNECT

#OpSUN
t: @JennyDonkey, @claramcbride
i: @jay_mac77@helingungoren


Rough Magic

WHO ARE YOU?

Theatre Arcturus is an award-winning company that creates visually stunning plays that weave aerial arts into the world of the story. Winners of the 2016 Cutting-Edge Award for creating innovative theatre, we’re back at Toronto Fringe with our brand new show, Rough Magic.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

A collision of air and earth, Rough Magic creates a vertical world to tell the story of Ariel and Caliban in a newly imagined prequel to The Tempest.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Unlike anything else at the festival, this highly physical show features demanding performances by a duo of grassroots creator/performers who put the story first, meeting between air and ground as two very different beings, erasing boundaries that make us fear the “other.”

CONNECT

#RoughMagic
t: @theatrearcturus
i: @theatrearcturus


SNAP!

 

WHO ARE YOU?

We are NightShift, a Fiercely Fringe company started by a couple of working class artists who wanted to build meaningful stories! Every one of our company is a Fringe veteran. Allan Michael even started his career doing Shakespeare on the street. We are a half-a-shoestring company, doing it all ourselves, every project. Heck, we don’t even have a theatre. We’re performing in a room at Scadding Court!

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

SNAP! began as a writer’s challenge and grew into a 20-minute play. People liked it, said it was about them and people they knew. It grew into a 50-minute play. It’s about anger and the day-to-day experiences that make us all crazy. Nobody’s exempt.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

When people see this show they may not leave with useful strategies to manage their anger, but they will definitely have laughed hard enough to forget why they were mad in the first place! SNAP! Fiercely Funny!

CONNECT

t: @snaptofringe
i: @snaptofringe


Brain Storm

WHO ARE YOU?

LUCID LUDIC, a company specializing in devising physical and visually striking theatre, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and exploring the unifying power of live performance.

BRAIN STORM is a viscerally experienced, arresting journey, about one woman dealing with a brain injury, another communicating with the spirits, and the neurosurgeon who is convinced that consciousness supersedes death.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

It is at once super personal, hyper-local and universally accessible. It offers a unique look at the cross-section between history, science, and spiritualism, and manages to do it in a visually stunning and physically evocative way.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Brain Storm was created on and is communicated through the bodies of women. The effort and artistic research that has gone into the piece shows the creators’ passions and fierce determination to make this work live, breathe, and move. This is what makes Brain Storm so very fiercely – and proudly – Fringe.

CONNECT

t: @lucid_ludic
i: @lucid_ludic
#brainstormplay


The Teeny Tiny Music Show  

WHO ARE YOU?

SNEAKY SNEAKY PRODUCTIONS. Toronto’s first marching band theatre company dedicated to creating unexpected musical events within a theatrical setting.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH OUR SHOW?

This ten-piece band enters the world of the show through the bathroom door, from behind the bar, and to the complete surprise of the audience! Meanwhile, the lead vocalist doubles as a storyteller narrating how she approached a musician in the middle of his performance to ask his name, his age and if he was single! 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We know there are more women than men in theatre. So if ya got it, flaunt it! Our band is an all-male cast with a female vocalist at the helm of it all! We’ve got it reversed – the gentlemen are sexy in matching bowties and cummerbunds, and the lady is a fox-onesie wearing silly bum! As we combine storytelling, design and staging with what begins as a duo lounge act, our musicians become pieces of the narrative’s progression. 

CONNECT

i: @SneakySneakyProductions
t: Hayley Pace @haelaaaaa @sneakysquared
#TTMS #sneakysneakysneaky #teenytinymusicshow 


Moonlight After Midnight

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

Concrete Drops Theatre, based out of Brooklyn, NY, we are an American and a Canadian couple who met on the fringe in 2010 and have been touring our own original work ever since.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Moonlight After Midnight has won the top critic’s prizes at fringes in Orlando, Ottawa, Cincinnati, Vancouver, and Adelaide, Australia. It’s a two-person show about a couple who randomly meet in a hotel room, nothing, though, is as it seems, not in the story, the relationship, nor the room in which they’ve met. Moonlight After Midnight, then, is both a love story and a puzzle to be solved by the audience – a fantasy about a fantasy we’ve all shared.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Moonlight After Midnight is told in a unique style – one that plays with time and space, offering multiple layers of reality that play out concurrently, but never conflict. It’s mind-bending, but always clear; it leads towards a conclusion, but allows the audience to actually reach it on its own.

CONNECT

t: @ConcreteDrops
i: @ConcreteDrops
#moonlightaftermidnight, #concretedrops


Delirium  

WHO ARE YOU?

I’m a New York-based storyteller who’s been touring festivals around the world for a decade.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

In Delirium, I’m telling a story about our biggest two pre-occupations: love & death. It’s about making meaning in an indifferent universe. Laughing about it, crying about it – feeling it together. The show is fun, it’s meaningful, it’s unabashed, and high-energy. Delirium just got an award at the biggest US festival (Best Solo at Orlando Fringe) and has gathered lots of swell reviews. But most importantly, everyone in the room, including myself, seems to get what they need from the show as we huddle around the virtual campfire for a story about ourselves.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

What makes me “fiercely fringe” is that I’ve been creating, touring, and entirely self-producing my own original work for ten years, living out of a suitcase the majority of that time. All for the pleasure and privilege of telling true stories to other people about what it is to be a person. It’s an experience that needs no approval from an artistic director, or similar cultural gate-keeper. 

CONNECT

t: @martindockery
f: /martindockery
#martindockery, #delirium
w: martindockery.com


Bad Date: a cautionary tale…

WHO ARE YOU?

Hi there, my name is Erin Aubrey. I am a single female in my 30’s who is the creator, co-producer, writer (of book, music and lyrics) as well as lead actress of the upcoming Toronto Fringe Play, Bad Date: a cautionary tale..

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Privy to the inner-most thoughts of the play’s hero (Molly), which are all delivered through original song (song titles include: “Dick Pics” and “Why Can’t I Cum? (from oral stimulation?)), the audience gets an unfiltered look into the mind of a single, 30-something woman, whilst bearing witness to one of the most awkward dates in the history of dating. 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Toronto audiences will love this insanely funny, bold, and risky show… It is as fierce as a play could be, and IS, in no uncertain terms, #FiercelyFringe.

CONNECT

t: @date_bad
i: @baddatethemusical
#baddatethemusical


Plays in Cafes 

WHO ARE YOU?

I’m Alex! I started Shadowpath in 2002. We’ve been creating new works with our project Plays In Cafes – animating public cafe spaces. This year we’re at Free Times Cafe (320 College). As patrons sit at their table, there are tables all around them coming to life with short plays. This way the audience becomes part of the world of the play. Audience or actor? Who knows? Anyone can be anyone at Plays In Cafes.

Plays in Cafes features an all-female production team, our directors, playwrights, publicist, producer are all FEMALE.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?  

Everyone should have a cafe-theatre experience. It’s express, it’s tasty, it’s fun! Free Times Cafe is known for their GREAT FOOD. You can maximize your Fringing by sampling THREE new plays. Add some snacks and drinks and you’ve got the perfect Fringe experience. 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We transform everyday spaces into creative places. We bring theatre to the people by creating in hotels, libraries, wineries and most recently, a car dealership. This makes theatre interesting, accessible and helps to build new audiences. We love discovering ‘found’ audiences as we produce pop-up performing arts experiences throughout our community.

CONNECT

t: @Shadowpathic


Bugger the Butterfly!

 

WHO ARE YOU?

We are Pencil-Neck Theatre, a group of theatre pros and soon-to-be pros that met at the University of Guelph.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

You should see our show because: it’s funny as hell, it’s about time travel and the banality of celebrity, it’s a little bit gay and a lot of other stuff, and it’s written by the only guy to win Fringe’s Best New Play prize twice (along with a whole buncha other good plays), T. Berto.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

This show is Fiercely Fringe because it’s about as grassroots as it gets. K. Nestruck said that Fringe needs to be silly and fun and cheap, so we’ve taken that to heart – but also added poignant and thought-provoking. We’re also fierce because we’ve attempted to fill theatre’s void in sci-fi. Last year, 6 of the top 10 films were sci-fi, but in theatre – look at the Doras – it’s tumbleweeds for sci-fi. But no more with Bugger the Butterfly!

CONNECT

#buggerthebutterfly


The Seat Next to the King

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

We are Minmar Gaslight Productions and we are presenting the play, The Seat Next To The King.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

You should come see this show because not only was it picked as the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival Best New Play for Steven Elliott Jackson’s work, it is an intimate, sexy, powerful and provocative story of two men struggling to find a place for themselves in a world that shuns them. It is a play about two real lives who risked the safety of their worlds while being connected to the most powerful men in America in 1964.

WHY ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Directed with rawness and passion by Tanisha Taitt, the production delves into the world of sexuality, masculinity, race and politics and presents two actors, Kwaku Okyere and Conor Ling, challenging stereotypes and exploring boundaries of theatre and performance. For all these reasons, The Seat Next To The King is Fiercely Fringe.

CONNECT

t: @minmargaslight
i: @Minmar_Gaslight


D&D Yoga 

WHO ARE YOU?

I’m Christine Desrochers, local yoga teacher, avid gamer, and creator of the D&D Yoga show.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

D&D Yoga is a unique immersive experience that fuses a yoga class with the imagination and gameplay elements from Dungeons & Dragons. Audience members will choose to be a mage, warrior or rogue and will follow the quest leader (me!) through a grand fantasy adventure. Participants use dice rolling and various thematic movements to delve deep into a dungeon, overcoming goblins, traps, and ancient magic in the pursuit of their goal.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?  

This show is Fiercely Fringe because it’s experimental, original, and amateur. This is the first time this style of theater will be preformed in Canada! This is also my first Fringe and I’m so excited (and nervous) to bring this creative project to the public. I can’t think of a better opportunity to showcase this alternative creation to open-minded people.

CONNECT

t: @Downward_d20
fb: /Downwardd20


Office Hours

Photo by Dahlia Katz

WHO ARE YOU?

Confirmation Bias Theatre is brand new, full of politics and vinegar, founded by playwright Glenn Clifton. Guided by the belief that political catastrophes are often a result of bad storytelling, the company’s mandate is to explore how political reality shapes individual choices.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Office Hours is about an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD, his girlfriend, and her English Professor. It’s a love triangle full of meditations on narrative: a tightly scripted, intense drama, marked by powerful subtext and edgy chemistry between the performers. Starring Michael Orlando (CHAD), Nicole Marie McCafferty (CAROLINE), and Greg Solomon (TYLER).

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

In our site-specific production, the audience is seated like students in CHAD’S university class. In a couple of moments CHAD asks questions of the audience. The audience can answer, interfere, say anything, and the actors will have to roll with whatever happens. It’s an immediate, democratic, theatre-in-the-rough experience that alternates between the intimacy of CHAD’s “Office Hours” and the chaos of a town-hall meeting. Anything could happen!

CONNECT

t: @CBias_Theatre
#OfficeHours


You Are Perfect

 

WHO ARE YOU?

White Horse Theater Company is producing Cyndy A. Marion’s original play You Are Perfect at the Toronto Fringe at Theatre Passe Muraille – Mainspace.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

The play is a new and uniquely original dramatic play that delves into the psyche of Charles Manson and his followers, a group that has both reviled and fascinated the American public for nearly a half century. Set in Susan Atkins’ prison cell on the eve of a key moment in the Manson murder trial, You Are Perfect is a theatrical re-imagining of her life and inner demons.

WHY ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

What makes this play #FiercelyFringe is its highly theatrical structure, which plays with time and spaces and aims to entertain, enlighten and surprise. White Horse Theater Company is a 14-year-old New York City based off-Broadway Theater Company committed to making high-quality theater and sharing our passion for American plays and playwrights with our fellow artists and audiences.

CONNECT

#YouArePerfect
t: @whtcnyc
i: @whitehorsetheater
f: /whitehorsetheatre


Things Drugs Taught Me 

WHO ARE YOU?  

I’m a writer, performer and founder of Four Face Productions, which focuses on storytelling. My solo show, Self-Exile, won Best of Fringe in Montreal in 2016 and has been touring Canada since. This year I’m presenting a two-person storytelling show called Things Drugs Taught Me at the Toronto Fringe.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Things Drugs Taught Me is at once funny and affecting. The stories include all the paranoia, highs and bad decisions you might expect, but as Montreal Rampage Magazine said, “Stark moments of insecurity, feelings of failure and the desire to be normal make for the most poignant and hilarious moments in the play.”

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We push the boundaries of traditional storytelling. The stories are broken into sections that weave in and out of each other and we take turns playing characters in each other’s stories, most often playing the opposite gender. This offers a new and dynamic dimension to true life storytelling.

CONNECT

t: @NishaColeman
i: @NishaColeman
f: /NishaColemanwriter
#ThingsDrugsTaughtMe


Contagious

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

An artist with the big heart. A teenager, immigrant from a war country. This whole journey made me value and respect the meaning of free mind, which Canada represents. I forever owe to Toronto for opening my eyes. Time to pay back.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

We stand up to ask important questions. There is magic in the air and we’ll make sure you see it.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We dance! We sing! We have a passion! You have a passion! All of us do. Let’s not forget about that. And never let anyone dictate how and why and what we should do. Bring it from the heart. One life to live!

CONNECT

t: @contagious2017


I Am Hope

WHO ARE YOU?

My name is Mia Raye Smith and I’m an actress and playwright in Queens, NY. A few years ago I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. My anxiety disorder left me home-bound. Thankful I was able to seek treatment and healing and now tell my story!!

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

My solo show was developed in Emmy Award-winning, writer and teacher Matt Hoverman’s Go-Solo Workshop in New York City. People should come and see my show because anxiety is the most common mental illness in Canada. In fact, statistics reveal that one in four Canadians (25%) will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. I have been touring my play at universities and colleges across the United States.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

My solo show is fiercely Fringe because it’s about finding hope and humor living with an anxiety disorder. It’s jammed packed with 19 characters. I’m fiercely Fringe because I’m sharing my battle without shame, in hopes to reach people suffering in silence!

CONNECT

t: @miarayesmith
#Iamhope


Nourishment

 

WHO ARE YOU?

Erin Maxfield, Jessica Watkin and Gloria Mok are co-artistic directors of ECM Theatre, a company that supports female artists and creates theatre in an accessible, inclusive, and collaborative environment. Our show Nourishment is a collaborative piece created by a team of kick-ass women with many different backgrounds and perspectives. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

It’s important to support female artists and seek out their stories because they have been historically underrepresented. With Nourishment, we hope to encourage audiences to think about the places women gather, the knowledge and experiences they share, and the invisible work they do.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We challenged ourselves to create a show that is accessible to a wider audience. We built theatricalized audio description into our piece, and hope to have two ASL-interpreted performances throughout the run. The Fringe Festival should be for everyone, and we hope to bridge some of the gaps that exist for audience members with disabilities!

CONNECT

t: @ECM_Theatre
i: @ecm_theatre
#NourishTO


SELF-ISH

 

WHO ARE YOU?

Diana Bang, Kuan Foo, and Dawn Milman of Classy Little Bitch Productions. The first three met through sketch comedy. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

SELF-ish is the show for you if you’ve ever dealt with loss. It’s about death, identity, family and the internet. This show is funny in small ways. And not so funny in other ways. We hope you stop by to support this Classy Little Bitch Productions show, because it’s classy, little and a big ol’ bitch. 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?  

SELF-ish is Fiercely Fringe because it’s a One Woman show thrown together by a Korean-Canadian girl named Diana Bang who has never done this before and was sick and tired of NEVER being the protagonist of any show, and wanted to showcase Kuan Foo’s writing talent (It’s the first play he’s written!) and Dawn Milman’s directing and dramaturgy abilities (She trains assistance dogs. Cool, right?) and Maggie Chafe / Giuseppe Condello’s technical brilliance (Trust me, they’re great).

CONNECT

i: @dianabangarama & @arugulagal
t: @thedianabang


This Is Not She

 

WHO ARE YOU?

This is Not She is an immersive solo show written and performed by Julia Haist. (that’s me!) The audience is assigned the role of the “class” and is invited to answer questions, read passages and do some creative writing of their own.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

We have foregone any theatrical flash in favour of creating a realistic classroom setting; the character of the teacher is raw, flawed, and hanging on by a thread; a large portion of the show is based off of improvised interactions with the audience, so there is no safety net; if I don’t do my job as a performer of engaging the audience, there is no show.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

All of this to say, this show is bold. It is risky and thrilling for me every time I perform it, and dare I say, fierce. (There is also the fact that this show is made entirely by women; playwright/performer, director, stage manager and ASM!)


High Park Noir

 

WHO ARE YOU?

Simply Twisted Productions is made up of three old theatre school friends from Montreal. We haven’t worked together since theatre school which was 15 years ago! Yeah, we’re old! We’re also diverse: two of us are women and the other is a gay man.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

We wanted to put on a comedy that had grounded characters but that was also wacky and wild. Our show, High Park Noir, is a must-see for anyone who loves the unconventional, hybrid theatre fun that one can only find at the Fringe!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We wanted to Fiercely call attention to urban animals and to condo construction in Toronto. We are expanding the genre of film noir in a fierce way too: by making all of the characters Toronto urban animals! And really, what’s more Fierce than a raccoon detective on the edge?!

CONNECT

t: @HighParkNoir


The Atomic Tradition  

WHO ARE YOU?

After losing confidence in my creator’s “voice,” I discovered a passion for reviewing theatre. I’ve been a senior writer for Mooney on Theatre since 2013. I’ve experienced so much of what Toronto artists have to offer and developed my own personal convictions as a critic, which lead to the return of my confidence as a storyteller!

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Our inherent capacity for violence and the precariousness of civilization are the major themes of my play. As people around the world fear the ominous promise of “Trump America,” seeing how quickly a relationship can collapse will resonate with an audience worried about a fragile and volatile civilization.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Having experienced Fringe as a reviewer, I have a fierce affection for the sense of community it fosters. I’m thrilled to contribute as creator with a show that was greatly influenced by the collaboration of the creative team that worked on the original workshop production.

CONNECT

t: @IstvanDugalin
i: @istvandugalin
#TheAtomicTradition


Shirley Gnome: Taking it Up the Notch  

WHO ARE YOU?

I am a country/soft-rock musician that writes and performs comedy songs about all sorts of unspoken truths and emotions, and enough people laugh at them to make it my job. I’ve ridden this wave of high art all across the world – Australia, the UK, and the US of OHGODPLEASEMAKEITSTOP. They give me awards and fancy stars which I use to trick people into coming to my shows. I got real drunk one night and woke up with a record deal. It’s with 604 Records and so far I’ve managed to steal a lot of their money.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?  

Because we all might die tomorrow and my music is as important as telling people in your life you love them and cherishing every moment of existence. So get your ass in here baby, because your number may be coming up.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?  

I sing about feelings surrounding sexual desire (and other enjoyable emotions like anger, loneliness, and dying alone). Yet (as we all know) freedom from sexual shame would cause the collapse of society, so my songs are considered risky. I tend to swear and make ugly faces, which is obviously completely upsetting because of this pesky vagina I have shoved up between my legs (it’s a niche genitalia only shared by half of the planet). In conclusion, God is dead and I’ve never felt more alive/Fiercely Fringe.

CONNECT

t: @ShirleyGnome
#takingitupthenotch


Open Rescue: The Play

 

WHO ARE YOU?

3D Theatre is a troupe of Toronto-based actors and stage technicians who passionately believe in animal rights and animal welfare. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

3D Theatre asks: Can an awareness of animal testing elicit sentient empathy among a Fringe Festival audience?

Far from being gratuitously shocking or politically preachy, OPEN RESCUE:The Play brings another side of this animal liberation issue to audiences, specifically, as animals ourselves, can human beings empathize with other animal species who are being intentionally harmed for the sake of human-centered research?

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

3D Theatre is creating an opportunity to dialogue with Toronto audiences about an important societal issue – should millions of animals be harmed and then killed in the name of science? 3D Theatre converted real-life interview findings into fiercely dramatic scripts that explore a dark side of animal testing in universities. The Toronto Fringe’s risqué programming is the perfect inter-connective venue where audiences can explore the issue of animal testing – and how “Open Rescue” – as a credible alternative. 


“Am I Pretty Now?”: A Musical Romp Through Plastic Surgery! 

WHO ARE YOU?

I am Toronto native who moved to Durham Region to have a family and created the not-for-profit company Durham Improv Collective Inc., hosted/created/produced five shows on Rogers TV in Oshawa, including two with Colin Mochrie. I am a Canadian Comedy Awards and Latin American Achievement Awards nominee and have just released my first book: The Ten Commandments…of Improvising! 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

This is a the first ever musical on plastic surgery and the trials and tribulations of going under the knife! A journey of insecurity and “never quite fitting in”. 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Whether you are curious about plastic surgery or you just can’t fathom why anyone would do such a thing, this show will keep you laughing and tapping your feet as I examine race, gender, motherhood, and Liza Minnelli in 60 min.

CONNECT

t: @antimommy
i: @comedianstephanieherrera.com


Seeking Refuge

 

WHO ARE YOU?

I’m Rick Jones, writer/composer of the Paul O’Sullivan Prize-winning script Seeking Refuge. Seeking Refuge is a story about the love, devotion, and sacrifice of two sisters separated by contemporary civil war and extreme hardship. The challenges and horrors they face each day are met with perseverance and the will to survive and re-unite.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

There are moments of brutality, but also moments of joy. The songs are the core of this show, revealing each character’s innermost thoughts and feelings, supported by music that was written intuitively, raw emotion pouring out in melodies underscored by relentless rhythms, capturing and seducing your ears. They’re like nothing you’ve ever heard before on the musical theatre stage, written from my heart.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Seeking Refuge was created as my visceral response to the unfathomable, mind-numbing crisis in our humanity unfolding daily before our eyes. Come and immerse yourself in the experience.

CONNECT

#SeekingRefugeTO
t: @SeekingRefugeTO


Butt Kapinski

 

WHO ARE YOU?

I’m a comedy artist, teacher and director devoted to interactive and immersive experiences. I create work that (on a good day) challenges the notions of what audience participation means, what a theatre community can be, how gender and comedy work together, and how far you can go and not frighten anyone. My show has been touring for almost 4 years, and has delighted folks in the UK, Australia, and a bunch of Canadian and US cities.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?  

Is it a comedy? Is it a sociological experiment? Who’s to say? You know when you enter the room, something different is afoot: the chairs are everywhere, it’s hard to tell where the performance will be and where the audience is, and that’s the point… It’s funny and gentle and bold and weird and totally reasonable at the same time. It is a unique experience every time.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?  

BUTT KAPINSKI is a love letter to Fringe audiences, who are weird and bold and brave and fierce, and it is the audience who make the show beautiful, surprising and hilarious, every time.

CONNECT

t: @buttkapinski


Not Good

WHO ARE YOU?

James MartEntz’s (who?) newest play is a story about the inner human struggle. The feeling of being wanted, the worry of no one noticing. Directed by Cedric Martin, and Ryan James, starring Daniel Entz (again, who are these guys?) three people who know the most about trying to make a life for themselves in a society dead-set against actors.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

An artist is at their best when they are struggling, when you can feel that truth in the focus of the piece. This show is simply an actor on a stage talking about his life. As Fringe veterans, we promise you a story of personal connection, and true longing for more. We pinky-swear this production will be Not Good.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

In terms of being “grassroots” we are walking talking examples. None of us have artistic families. We all had to make our way with no real guide. The sacrifices we make to put on a show at Fringe, with 4 people in the house is both heartbreaking, and well, worth it. We do it because there is a story to be told. Our show is our very real stories as actors rolled in a fictional one-man show, portrayed by Daniel Entz.


Kara Sevda

 

WHO ARE YOU?

Now What Theatre is a group of international artists who met while studying for their Masters in Classical and Contemporary Text (Acting) degrees at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We’re from all over America and the UK. Our mission is to create new work and tour it all over. Because if theatre is about making a difference one audience at a time, it’s better to have more audiences, all over the world.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

We wanted to create a piece of theatre that made people think, and that made people feel connected. We want people to escape with us, and to take a look at nostalgia and regret.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

Our show was created for the fringe environment. We made a simple but impactful show that we could take anywhere. We crowdfunded for travel expenses, have taken epic road trips to festivals, slept in cheap hotels, overnight buses and billets. We’ve been poor and have dealt with crippling self-doubt like all artists do. But, we are Fiercely Fringe, because our passions outweigh our fears.


No Place

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

My name is Graham Isador and I’m the artistic director of Pressgang. I write for VICE. We’re friends. The show I’m producing is NO PLACE. It’s written and performed by Jillian Welsh, who is an amazing storyteller that has made appearance on CBC’s LOVE ME. Her appearance on the RISK podcast was downloaded over a million times. It’s being directed by Shari Hollett, a director for the Second City, who has had smash Fringe Hits with For the Record and Radio:30.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

It’s an established funny woman helping an up and coming funny woman tell a deeply personal story about her family. Welsh has been making a name for herself in Toronto’s storytelling and comedy scenes. Here she blends the best of those world’s for a show that’s deeply touching piece. It’s being put on by a company who has been critically acclaimed in both Summerworks and Fringe.

HOW IS YOUR SHOW FIERCELY FRINGE?

The one woman show is a staple at the Fringe, but the thing that really pops about No Place is its willingness to take emotional risks. The show is funny, for sure, but at it’s core it is a raw portrait of the desperate need to belong and feel accepted, and what happens when those needs aren’t met.

CONNECT

t: @presgang @jillpickled @sharihollett
#noplaceTO


 In Sundry Languages

 

WHO ARE YOU?

“In Sundry Languages” pushes the boundaries of understanding through multilingual dialogue and experimental dramaturgy! We are a show that reflects the linguistic and cultural diversity of Toronto with a cast of emerging and established multigenerational immigrant actors, performing in many languages and no translations!

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

Produced by the Toronto Laboratory Theatre, an experimental collective, “In Sundry Languages” is a series of comic vignettes that draws on the use of body and media to translate what language cannot. The play is a performative experience that asks for a diverse audience to be created in full, which is why we need all kinds of people to come out to watch the show!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

We are #FiercelyFringe in our commitment to creatively unpacking and challenging narratives of immigration, displacement and negotiated identities, through language, multimedia, humour and a lot of heart!

CONNECT

t: @insundry
i: @insundrylanguages
#insundry


Algonquin Highway

WHO ARE YOU?

We are 17 Syllables Theatre Company with a creative team from Peterborough and a Toronto cast.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

It’s a brand-new world that’s breaking through the old world, and life-altering events have changed millennials Alex and Nic. They have each survived the last five years apart to get to who they really are: Alex, an indigenous female activist, and Nic, a transgender man. Now, they’re stuck together on the back roads of iconic Canada, and must talk through the real issues – identity, belonging, gender, appropriation – in order to save their childhood friendship, in a story that reflects the issues roaring through the current zeitgeist like a mad fire.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

A comic-drama about the power of real friendships, told with passion, humour, and action, Algonquin Highway winds its way through emotional twists and turns that will have you guessing at the each revelation and leave you wanting more of the two honest and complex characters, Alex and Nic

CONNECT

t: @17_syll
#AlexandNicgetstuck! #AlgonquinHighway


*Submissions have been slightly edited for clarity and length.


 

But wait! There’s more!

If you haven’t, be sure to check out

Part 1 of #FiercelyFringe here.

 


 

#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!

– ITGR


Pineapple Club 

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @PineappleClubTO
#PineappleClubTO


Bad Baby Presents: Rules Control the Fun

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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 YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @lark_and_whimsy
@janellemhanna
#BabysFirstFringe
i: @janellemhanna


Interstellar Elder

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @snafudance
#InterstellarElder


Picaza 

WHO ARE YOU? 

#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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

i: @inamoratadance
#Inamorata2017 #Picaza


Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons

WHO ARE YOU?

The Howland Company with Slow Blue Lions

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

(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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

(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.

CONNECT

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


Welcome to the Bunker

WHO ARE YOU

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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…

CONNECT

t: @bunkertofringe
#bunkerTO


Macbeth’s Head

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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?

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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!

CONNECT

t: @malfiproduction
#macbethshead #malfiproductions #longlivethehead


Perfect Couples

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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…

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

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


Monsters By Nature

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

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


13 Ways the World Ends

WHO ARE YOU?

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

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

WHY ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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

CONNECT

t: @ApocalypseGood
i: @GoodMorningApocalypse
#13WaysTheWorldEnds


White Wedding

WHO ARE YOU?

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!

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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?

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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!

CONNECT

t: @PortAlbertPro
i: @portalbertproductions


Bendy Sign Tavern

WHO ARE YOU?

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

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @sextrex
f: /sextrexcomedy


MUTTS OR: 101 LIBATIONS

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

i: @GracieMayTC
f: /GracieMayTC
t: @GracieMayTC
#MUTTS


The Stories of Lantern Tales

 

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY 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!

CONNECT

t: @TheatreUnspoken
#FringeKidsFest
#FringeFemmeTO
#deathmeetsharlequin


The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert!

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE COME SEE YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

w: www.thediddlinbibbles.com
f: /thediddlinbibbles
i: @thediddlinbibbles
t: @DiddlinBibbles


Madeleine Says Sorry

WHO ARE YOU?

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…

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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 YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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

CONNECT

t: @MadeleineSaysTO
i: @madeleinesaysto


Pillow Talk

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

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


Lysistrata

 

WHO ARE YOU?

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).

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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).

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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!

CONNECT

i: @LysistrataTO
t: @Lysistrata_TO
#LysistrataTO
#SlamPoetrySongsAndStripTease
#GlitterAndGoodTimes


The Miserable Worm

 

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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. 

CONNECT

t: @LetMeInTheatre


Lover Lover

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

i: @subvertingsomething
t: @subvertingsome
#loverlover


For the Love of Pie

 

WHO ARE YOU?

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 SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW IS YOUR SHOW FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @PieGeorgiaPeach
#FortheloveofpieTO


HEXEN  

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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!

CONNECT

f: /thecreationcoffin
i: @thecreationcoffin
#hexenfringe


Wanted

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?  

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @guayoyo_ca
i: @guayoyo_ca
#WantedTF


RISE/FALL  

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @MalcontentTC
#RiseFallFringe #BreaktheWall


The Night Hart Crane Kissed Me  

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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

CONNECT

t: @spindrifttc
i: @spindrifttheatreTO


Ten Creative Ways to Dispose of Your Cremains 

WHO ARE YOU?

We are Theatre Rhea and Neoteny Theatre.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

#CreaminsTO
t: @TheatreRhea


The Life Henri 

WHO ARE YOU?

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. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

i: @still_your_friend
t: @stillyourfriend
w: www.stillyourfriend.com
#thelifehenri


Traffic Jams

 

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

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


Love and Information  

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

#RALoveandInformation #LoveandInfo #LoveandJan #JanLovesInfo #RAPA


 The Resurrectionists  

WHO ARE YOU?

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!

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?  

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. 

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE? 

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.

CONNECT

t: @RebelsTheatre
i: @RebelsTheatre
w: www.rebelstheatre.com


Kassandra aka Joyia, Fringe Concert Series  

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?  

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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. 

CONNECT

t: @joyiamusic


Life Records 2: Side B 

WHO ARE YOU?

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! 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @rhiannonarcher
@LifeRecordsTO
i: @rhiannonarcher


A Flea in Her Ear

 

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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!

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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!

CONNECT

#afleainherear


The Balding 

WHO ARE YOU?  

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?  

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!

CONNECT

t: @jeffgandell
i: @jeffgandell


Recall

 

WHO ARE YOU?  

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. 

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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.

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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.

CONNECT

t: @SevenSiblingsCo
#RecallTO


On The Inside  

WHO ARE YOU?

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.

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CATCH YOUR SHOW?

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

HOW ARE YOU FIERCELY FRINGE?

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. 

CONNECT

t: @ontheinside17
i: @ontheinside17


*Submissions have been slightly edited for clarity and length.


But wait! There’s more!

For more #FiercelyFringe, continue here.

 


 

Artist Profile: Ali Joy Richardson, Director

Interview by Hallie Seline

We’re all about hard-working #bossbabes being at the helm of the theatre we see, so it was such a joy to catch up with Ali Joy Richardson to discuss her latest directing project, Liars at a Funeral, why her directing mentors have been instrumental in assembling her own director’s utility belt, and the top three pieces of advice she’s living by right now. 

HS: Tell me a bit about your current directing project, Liars at a Funeral, and what caught your interest when deciding to direct it.

Ali Joy Richardson: Liars at a Funeral is set in a funeral home in Northern Ontario where a grandmother has faked her own death in order to get her family back together for Christmas. It’s a farce: 4 doors, 5 actors playing 9 characters, and a family curse of female twins who hate one another…but without the stale sexism that’s so often sprinkled in the genre. Sophia Fabiilli has revived farce with a refreshing dose of 2017 sexuality and three generations of very funny women. Sophia told me the plot of the play over a pint at Tequila Bookworm back in September and I was hooked. I immediately sent her a batch of imagery that resonated with the play for me (Edward Gorey illustrations, Wes Anderson stills, and some weird ‘70s family Christmas photos). I’m very grateful to have been trusted with this play.

Photo Credit: Neil Silcox

HS: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned so far in your experience directing?

AJR: It requires rigorous, detailed homework to be able to properly play jazz in the room.

HS: Do you have a directing mentor? If so, who is it and why do you think it’s important to have a mentor?

AJR: Thank heaven for mentors. I learned the fundamentals from assistant directing for Melee Hutton and Estelle Shook and script coordinating from Andrea Donaldson. Richard Rose has been my primary teacher for the last while (his process has totally re-shaped my practice) and Aaron Willis is my go-to emergency phone call for all things theatre. These directors have given me clarity and confidence in my practice. I’ve gratefully thieved tools from each of them to assemble my own utility belt.

Photo Credit: Neil Silcox

HS: You have a pretty #bosslady production team going on for this show with you (director/dramaturg), Laura Jabalee Johnston (producer) and Sophia Fabiilli (playwright/producer). How has it been working with this team?

AJR: DREAMY. Lots of late night 3-way calls, endless hustle, and masterfully colour-coded email threads. They’ve made me a better artist and collaborator. I’d trust these women with my car, child, or estate (if I had any of those things).

HS: What are you most excited for audiences to experience when they come see the show?

AJR: The rollercoaster – Liars at a Funeral is very funny and bravely truthful.
Also…casket comedy.

HS: Describe the show in 5-10 words.

AJR: Just one: unstoppable.

(For a complete list of the myriad of obstacles we overcame, from the Storefront Theatre closing to our casket hinges busting right before we opened, buy anyone on the team a drink.)

Photo Credit: Neil Silcox

Rapid Fire Question Round:

Favourite place in the city:
The Toronto Reference Library.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Conversations, naps, and the Toronto Reference Library.

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text (a deeply nerdy podcast by two Harvard theologians) and re-reading Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”.

Best piece of advice you’ve received or current mantra you’re living by:
“What is the next right move?” (Oprah)
“Follow the campground rule – leave the audience better than you found them.” (Neil Silcox)
“Stand up from your desk every hour, Ali.” (my Mom)

Liars at a Funeral

Who:
Playwright – Sophia Fabiilli
Director & Dramaturg – Ali Joy Richardson
Ensemble – Ruby Joy, Rhea Akler, John Healy, Danny Pagett & Terry Tweed
Producers – Laura Jabalee Johnston & Sophia Fabiilli
Stage Management – Lori Anderson
Set & Wardrobe Design – Lindsay Woods
Sound Design – Nicholas Potter

What:
A black comedy about a grandmother who fakes her own death in order to reunite her family in Northern Ontario.

Grandma Mavis stages her own funeral in order to reunite her estranged family… just in time for an ice storm to trap them all in a funeral home over Christmas. Can this eccentric clan of liars navigate the rocky road to reconciliation? Or will the next 24hrs be the final nail in this dysfunctional family’s coffin?

Featuring five actors playing nine characters, Liars at a Funeral is equally hilarious and heartbreaking. It’s also a teensy bit inspired by Hamlet.

Where:
St. Vladimir Theatre
(620 Spadina Ave, south of Harbord

When:
May 5-14 2017

Tickets:
$25
truthnliestheatre.com

In Conversation with Sex T-Rex – Presenting their Double Bill at the Storefront until March 27

by Bailey Green

I had the pleasure of speaking with Sex T-Rex performers Seann Murray, Kaitlin Morrow, Conor Bradbury and director Alec Toller about their double bill, on now at the Storefront Theatre (Danny Pagett and Julian Frid were unable to stay for the interview but are also performing.)

It began with a quote from the movie Predator, “this stuff [chewing tobacco] will make you a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus.” And then one night, before an improv set, the announcer shortened the improv troupe’s name from Sexual Tyrannosaurus to Sex T-Rex, and it stuck. Performer Conor Bradbury laughs at the memory, “Hey, when someone’s right they’re right! There’s no need to be precious about your comedy.”

The group came together during their time at George Brown back in 2007-2008. Many elements of theatre school didn’t resonate with the actors but when they got together in stage combat class, then things really came alive. “It’s a triumvirate of violence really,” director Alec Toller jokes about the history of Sex T-Rex shows. “All of our action shows are centred around violence,” performer and producer Kaitlin Morrow adds. “Callaghan! was a lot of punching, Watch Out Wildkat is shooting and then Swordplay, which was loosely inspired by Princess Bride, has to do with, well, swords!”

Photo Credit: Cindy Lopez

Photo Credit: Cindy Lopez

This double bill features Watch Out Wildkat! and Swordplay: a play of swords. “Even though we have done Wildkat in 4 cities and Swordplay in 2, we’re still riffing, especially in rehearsals,” Morrow says. “You can always feel when it happens,” Bradbury adds. “There’s this unspoken ‘keep it’ feeling when someone makes a good joke.” Toller says that the group strives for clarity above all else, “We do so much mime, and fake action movie stuff that we’re always fighting to be so precise.”

Toller directs the group’s scripted shows (they also do improv shows) which are written plays with a sketch origin. “It’s very collaborative,” Toller says. “It functions more like a collective, so basically I’m the person not on stage… where I belong… but my job is to manage what everyone wants to get out of it. This show is a remount, so we’re trying to improve as we go, punch things up, and that can be challenging because we have an existing structure but we don’t have an audience.”

Photo Credit: John Gundy

Photo Credit: John Gundy

Writer, producer and performer Seann Murray speaks to the group dynamic saying, “It’s very rare that we have camp A and camp B disagreements. Instead, we usually have eight ideas with each person having three and a half small ideas each.” Bradbury adds, “It’s almost like we’ll have one person who is camp A and one who is camp B, and everyone else just isn’t helping. But it always works out for the best. To have a bit of argument in the room means people care about the product.” Morrow adds, deadpanned, “So we just punch each other in the face until someone gives in.”

Photo Credit: John Gundy

Photo Credit: John Gundy

Murray writes the scripts for the group and describes the process:

“The first step is we identify the genre we want to work in. Then we watch movies and chat about the tropes we want to hit, what we want to see [in the show] from the genre. So it’s not just regurgitation, we want to honour the genre. Once we’ve consumed a bunch of media and batted ideas around, I write the script and we workshop it throughout the process. We often wind up with a small chunk of the script left, we stay true to the character and story more or less, but as Alec [Toller] said, there’s lots of really funny improvisers on the team so we’ll take a scene, work through it and put it back into the script.”

The group considers audience feedback invaluable. They often take their shows to Montreal Fringe before performing at Toronto Fringe. Montreal Fringe offers them the opportunity to try out new material and improve their work. “We change something after basically every show, we find something else we’ve never done before,” Bradbury says.

Photo Credit: Sharon Murray

Photo Credit: Sharon Murray

Morrow, the only female performer of the troupe, tells me how that for years she dealt with crippling nightmares centred around improv. Subconsciously, she wanted to get up and perform but she was terrified. Now, with 19 shows under her belt, she has realized that a bad set isn’t the end of the world and that the joy she feels from performing far outweighs the fear. “The first time I went up to improvise was for Shane Adamczak’s secret show Captain Spaceship in Montreal Fringe,” Morrow remembers. “He just assumed I was in the show because I was a part of Sex T-Rex, and when I tried to back out, he told me I couldn’t because there were no other women in the show. So I didn’t sleep for about a week, and then somehow I was backstage and then I was onstage and I did it. The relief was amazing, and you know, it wasn’t even bad!”

Watch Out Wildkat! & Swordplay: A Play of Swords

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Presented by Sex T-Rex
When: March 11th -­ March 27th, Wed­-Sun
Watch Out Wildkat! @ 7:30 PM & Swordplay @ 9:00 PM
Sundays @ 2:00 PM
Where: The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor Street West
Tickets: $20 for single show, $30 for both shows
Available at http://thestorefronttheatre.com/events/swordplaywatchout-wildcat/
Connect: sextrexcomedy.com

A Chat with Ryan Robertson & Peter Hodgins of Two Chips Theatre’s “Copy”

Interview by Ryan Quinn

We sat down with Ryan Robertson and Peter Hodgins of Two Chips Theatre Group to discuss their current production of Copy.

RQ: Tell me a bit about the show!

RR: Sure! It’s a workplace show, a comedy/drama. It has a few themes. Firstly, it’s about people who are frustrated about their job, who are not achieving what they want to achieve. The tension between men and women, and between generations of people. So, it’s a comedy, but with a lot of darkness in it as well. We see these characters superficially at the beginning, and then they reveal a bit more about themselves and open up.

RQ: So, you wrote this piece, you’re directing it, and you’re performing in it as well.

RR: Yes. By default, essentially. When you’re a new theatre company in Toronto, it is difficult. I wanted to start from scratch because, as a writer, if you want to put a play up you normally have to go about it certain ways and work with different companies; and you end up with so many oars in the water that your play can be something totally different than what you started with. I also really wanted to have the final say on my cast and whatnot, I mean, for example, Peter is absolutely perfect for his role, and everyone else is fantastic as well. I find that better than the collegiate approach where you have a lot of people involved. These guys are as much a part of it as I am, but I never feel compromised.

PH: (laughs) Yeah, there’s not much in the way of food at rehearsal.

RR: I mean, we got a lot out of it. We do find that there are no egos at this level in the game, when you’re starting at the bottom and working with people who are like-minded.

PH: It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s going to be more fun as time goes on.

RR: Yeah, we have plans to keep going with some of this same core group and with the same kind of mentality. We really want to go back to the idea of the independent repertory company. We don’t do it for money, though I know a lot of people don’t, but we really want to do our own plays, I find that really interesting.

RQ: Do you feel like new original Canadian work is something the independent scene needs more of?

PH: For sure, I mean, Shakespeare is great. Don’t get me wrong. But, I see casting notices for it all the time and I can’t help but think “Who’s going to see that? They must have already seen it three or four times”. Part of it is that there’s no royalties. These plays are all free, and so young companies don’t have to pay a writer. So, it’s good to find new original stuff, which, for the most part, you have to write and create and perform yourself.

RR: When you come forward with something original, some people want to come forward and try to change it, to say “this isn’t right, that isn’t right, etc.”. Okay, we have to put up a few bucks ourselves, but if people really want to support new plays, they have to go to them. I hear a lot of people complaining about the same shows being done over and over, but then they don’t go out and see original plays.

PH: Yeah, we really need this stuff. And I’ve spoken to Ryan about making this into a film because we’ll all be ready for it, and we all love it.

RR: The thing about original plays is, as well, that because you are the creator, it’s a journey. I saw it on the page, I’ve seen the characters brought to life. There’s no need to put a “new spin” on a character because they’re completely new. What’s also important to me is that everything should be natural. We didn’t want to fall into the trap of being a wee bit pretentious. It’s a workplace play, so it has to be kind of earthy. I don’t mean to use the word pretentious, that has a negative connotation, but I mean that as well as depicting higher class things, it should reflect ordinary life. Even in the plays about ordinary people, there’s probably a bit too much wordiness at times. This is a much more down-to-earth workplace show.

RQ: That’s something else I wanted to touch on. This show deals with the minimum wage. So, because of that, it’s inherently political, as well as being comedy. Is that true?

RR: When I spoke to other writers when I was younger, they’d say “never preach”. You find a way to explain big issues with humour or in a way that doesn’t condescend. I’ve tried to do that with all the characters. Characters are more interesting that way, I think, when they don’t have these grand speeches planned.

PH: As long as it’s real. If you accurately portray a segment of society, it’s going to be political.

RQ: What do you want people to be discussing on the way home? What do you hope it leaves an audience with?

RR: I would hope people would get from it that in a way we’re all divided by our employers, and we’re all slaves to our mortgages and our dreams, but we’re fragmenting as a society. If we all got together and understood each others’ pain, we could do a lot better. We are divided, and we do worry about ourselves too much, and that hurts society. After the show, we’d like to talk to the audience, see what they got out of it, right?

PH: Yeah. I agree.

RR: But I do agree that when we attack these things, we have to do it with humour, with a little seriousness thrown in.

RQ: I think it was Shaw that said “If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you”.

RR: Exactly. That’s perfect.

RQ: And Peter, as a veteran performer, how did this project come about for you?

PH: I believe I found it on Mandy, actually. So I sent in my application and I erroneously asked if I could read the whole script. I guess that was a bad thing to do. So I didn’t hear anything for a while.

RR: So I went back to Peter after a couple cast changes, I wanted Peter from the start, and I sent him the script, and I guess he liked it. I tried to write something where everyone’s involved and has something to do, and consequently everyone in it seems to really enjoy doing it, so I hope that translates to the audience.

RQ: What’s exciting about this show for you, Peter?

PH: Well, this is my first time on a live stage, actually. I’ve done mostly acting in film and directing film, so that’s what’s exciting for me. Mail Room John is a very misunderstood guy, and I feel like that myself pretty often.

RQ: So both of you must have had an interesting time with approaching the work on day one. Peter, with it being your first time doing live theatre; and, Ryan with putting up your own work. How did you approach that?

RR: Well, I try to be a benign dictator. Every member of the cast has ideas and I wanted to avoid ego as much as possible. So, it’s been a real collaboration. We’ve had a lot of fun and I think that’s going to show through when we do it. It’s worked out exactly the way I wanted it to.

RQ: Going forward, what are your hopes for this company?

RR: Well, if people show up to this one, there will be more shows. I think it’ll be good because we don’t plan to stick to a certain group of actors, and everyone feels like a part of it. PH: Now that we have a great location, we can just keep doing it.

RR: It’s important that people come out because we ain’t made of money. We back it as much as we can, but we’re not a professional comedy. We’re just tailoring it to entertainment, not money.

RQ: Well, that’s become the new standard, hasn’t it? Independent companies doing professional-level work?

RR: Right, and you need to get dedication out of people because they are giving their time, so it has to count.

PH: I think it’s guaranteed we won’t make any money.

RR: If we break even, we’ll keep doing shows.

 

Copy

Written by Ryan Robinson, presented by Two Chips Theatre Group
Directed by Ryan Robinson
Featuring Alene Degian, Brian Stapf, Madryn McCabe, Peter Hodgins and Ryan Robinson
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Where: Sterling Studio Theatre, 163 Sterling Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6P 0A1
When: March 18-22 8pm, doors open at 7:30pm
Tickets: Advance tickets $15+service fee, At-the-door tickets $15 cash only
Concessions available, cash only
For more information:
www.sterlingstudiotheatre.com
www.twochipstheatre.com