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Posts tagged ‘FringeTO’

“Making Improv Magic, The Value of Play & Working with Colin Mochrie” In Conversation with Liz Johnston & Mimi Warshaw on ENTRANCES AND EXITS at the 2018 Fringe

Interview by Megan Robinson.

The concept of Entrances and Exits, a new farce on stage now as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a complicated one. To make things more complicated, it’s also entirely improvised!

This impressive and unscripted farce is split into two parts; with the first twenty minutes playing out in the living room with a series of entrances and exits into and out of the bedroom and then restarting a second time with the same scenario, but set in the bedroom. This requires that the cast do an instant replay of sorts; filling in the blanks of the story, hitting all the main plot points, and eventually culminating with a satisfying resolution. And hopefully they can make us laugh along the way.

Somehow, the cast pulls this off without any planning and with very minimal mid-show discussion.

We sat down with actor, improviser, Bad Dog Theatre Company member and Entrances and Exits co-creator Liz Johnston and Howland Company member and E&E production manager Mimi Warshaw to figure out how they make that improv magic happen, some common misconceptions about improv, and, of course, what it’s like working with Colin Mochrie.


Megan Robinson: What does a rehearsal look like for this type of improvised show?

Mimi Warshaw: Paolo (Santalucia, the director) brought a lot of his acting training into it and was really interested in playing with characters, discovering characters and trying on some clown work. So that was the beginning, just to play. That helped to know how everyone worked. That was the focus of the first half.

The last month and a half was about finding the show. And it grew in pieces. There was a lot of, “Let’s play with one room, then the next room, now let’s see what happens if we flip the set.”

A lot of playing and coming back and saying, “How did that feel? What worked? What can we do better?”

MR: Is there anything not improvised? What might be consistent throughout the show? The characters? Anything?

Liz Johnston: You really don’t know what will happen.

MW: I’ve seen maybe a dozen versions, maybe more, and no two shows have been the same.

MR: How much do you play for each other and how much is for the audience?

LJ: The audiences have been really generous, so I think we’ve been playing a lot for the audience. The thing about improv is that you also get the joy of making each other laugh. There are so many fabulous moments where someone will say something, and you just can’t help it. And the audience feels kind of in on it because they know it’s improvised. That’s really joyful. That’s what I love more than any kind of theatre, where you can really have everybody be on the same page, and they can be like, “I know exactly why this is funny. I was here for every part of it.”

MR: What is a myth or misconception about improv?

MW: I firmly believe that people think improv is just people going up and being funny. But I think good improv is funny because it’s recognizable. When I’m at an improv show, there’s always somebody who gives a suggestion like, ‘we’re in a volcano at the end of the earth.’

And I’m like, ‘we’ll never be there so…’ Maybe it would be funny, but I’m more interested in seeing somebody in a bakery having a traumatic moment and seeing the comedy in that.

I don’t know if it’s a misconception, but I like seeing reality on stage, and I think there’s comedy in that. I think that’s funnier than just a bunch of jokes.

I also think people are terrified of doing improv because they think they aren’t funny…

LJ: Another thing is that it’s nice to have people now recognize that there really are different styles of improv, that are all valuable.

So you can go to an improv show and have big laughs and fast scenes and big characters and enjoy that just as much as going to see something like this longer narrative unfold and have unexpected turns, more dramatic moments, and have them both be beautiful and both be improv.

I don’t want to run into a trap here… I love short-form improv. I love games (an easy thing to describe it as is what you see on Whose Line Is It Anyway). There’s so much joy in that, and there’s so much talent in being able to do that well. It’s truly harder than anything else. So I never want to say those aren’t worth as much as a long-form unscripted piece of theatre.

MR: So farce is very slapstick and physical. How do you improvise that sort of thing? Or do you?

MW: It’s not just physical, it leans towards the improbable, leans towards the ridiculous, so it doesn’t need to be grounded to reality. And we definitely do that. As much as there’s still truth, it still has that sense of play.

The other thing I’ve been told about farce is it doesn’t need to have to have a moral. It can just be a really beautifully fun and hilarious time.

LJ: I always forget we have so many different definitions we’ve gone through describing what farce is, but again leaning towards the improbable.

Like: There’s a dead body in the other room, this is true, what else is true? It’s not about calling the cops or trying to figure out what happened. It’s us trying to be like, “Okay, there’s a body in the other room, but we also have to make sure everything’s fine for the party.”

We like the fact that as much as it is ridiculous, it’s all stuff that could happen. It’s all about the foibles of humanity and the relationships between people and it takes those tensions that might already exist, those love affairs that exist, and heightens them to the point of the ridiculous.

MR: Must be fun!

LJ: It is nice to escape a little bit. Which is not to say that we don’t deal with the issues of what’s going on in reality, but because it is so focused on just relationships between individuals and how silly and absurd they can be, it is a bit of an escape to get to go there and just live in that ridiculous and joyful place.

MR: Have you ever showed up to rehearsal and been in the shittiest mood and not been able to find that joy?

LJ: I had one where it was an 11 pm show, and I had just done D&D Live!, which is another show that I LOVE, and it’s so funny and also improvised. I’d done that earlier in the day and I’d done another show, so I came to do the 11pm show, and I was so zonked. I could not find my energy. But it’s the same thing that happens for any performer; the audience starts to come in, you have the cast around you, you put on your costume, and you’re like, “This is the best thing ever! What’s next?”

So it’s a nice medication for tiredness.

MR: Some of the best questions can come from inside the process. Do you have a question you’d like to ask each other about your experience within the show?

MW: Liz, when you’re standing backstage, and you’re like, “I need to figure out what I’m bringing to this scenario”, what’s that process like? How do you feel in that moment?

LJ: I don’t know. I really don’t think about it. I like to just go on stage. That’s the kind of classic improv thing: if you can really get used to just trusting yourself to go onstage.

Just open the door, going, “Here we are! What happens next?”

MW: In the show, how much awareness do you have of the bedroom when you’re in the living room?

LJ: I usually have an idea of what I think is going on. And everybody is so good at having their own ideas.

We talk about this in improv, it’s called “group mind” where everyone sort of ends up on the same page without discussing it at all.

The number of times that will happen with this show… I mean, it’s the magic of it!

MR: So the magic of it is a surprise to the improvisers too? I know as an audience member, that’s how it feels. Those moments feel…

LJ: Totally, you come back, and you’re just like wow! It feels so wild.

MR: What about pushing boundaries?

LJ: You check in. You talk about it, whether it’s physical touching or subjects you can touch on that may be a boundary. Even just one night, with my nose bleeds, and I was like, “Listen, guys, it might happen. I have tissue in my pocket. I’m okay, it’s okay.” And any of those types of conversations, you just need to have them. And we’ve had those. Any good cast will talk about it constantly.

MW: There are moments where people will say things, and we’ve had this in rehearsals, where somebody will take a dive, and be like, “I’m going to propose something…”

But our cast is really supportive and really knows each other and so they’re able to support them. And that’s what I love about improv – you can do something, and guaranteed, five people will say we’ve got your back, we’ve got you, we’ll take care of you.

There have definitely been moments where you need to be risky, but these people handled that with such care, and such responsibility, they made it so safe.

LJ: Anyone who is making a faux pas, it’s coming from a place of fear.

The biggest thing in improv is you need to go on stage making a choice to make everyone else look as good as possible so if you can do that, if everybody is doing that, then everybody is going to look great. You’re setting up everyone else to succeed. You can’t do that if you’re undercutting them or sacrificing them for a laugh or commenting on something for the sake of the audience.

MR: Lastly, tell me about working with Colin Mochrie!

LJ: He’s just the most generous man.

It’s such a generous thing to do; to know your name will lend fame, or excitement to someone’s show. He does that so willingly and generously.

He did this exercise with us, which is really difficult. Everyone was struggling to keep up and we started playing with the format of the game so it got faster and went backwards and forwards, so fast! But Colin was having no trouble, just breezing through it. Everyone know’s how funny he is and how sharp, but good lord the man is fast. And so present. We’re so excited to have him on the show!

Entrances and Exits

Who:
Presented by The Howland Company in association with Bad Dog Comedy Theatre
Created by Liz Johnston & Ruth Goodwin
Director: Paolo Santalucia
Starring: Ghazal Azarbad, Conor Bradbury, Nigel Downer, Dylan Evans, Ruth Goodwin, Liz Johnston, Connor Low
Designed by: Christian Horoszczak
Production Manager: Mimi Warshaw

What:
A completely improvised play based on the structure of traditional farces we love like “The Norman Conquests” and “Noises Off”.

Where:
FACTORY THEATRE – MAINSPACE
125 Bathurst St
Toronto
Ontario
M5V 2R2

When:
13th July – 7:30pm
14th July – 9:15pm
15th July – 12:00pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

In Conversation with artist Tom McGee on Being a Dramaturge, Collaborating with Kat Sandler and Embracing His Own Style as Playwright & Director with FEATHERWEIGHT at the Fringe

Interview by Megan Robinson.

Tom McGee is a story nerd, with a resume to prove it.

Behind every hit Theatre Brouhaha show has been McGee, working as the diligent dramaturge alongside playwright Kat Sandler. He has been there helping her craft the hilarious, dark and punchy scripts we’ve all come to expect from this ambitious company.

With their newest production, Featherweight, McGee is swapping places with Sandler. While McGee steps into the roles of writer and director, Sandler is working as both producer and dramaturge.

Featherweight is a dark comedy that promises to be as relevant as your Facebook feed and to prompt your most heated post-show debates (did you see Bang Bang?), remaining faithful to the Brouhaha mandate of creating theatre for the Netflix generation.

Brouhaha’s fast-paced shows speak to what is in the zeitgeist; this is a company that understands it is competing not only with other theatre but with all digital content. And the company has a creative process that moves as quick as their dialogue. In this age of content, it’s important to McGee that each show gets put on stage quickly, while the story is still topical. Rather than two years of development, a Brouhaha show gets more like two months (the script will get a little longer). Concerning the longevity of this style of theatre, McGee believes that it’s the memory of the play and the experience of the audience that matters more than it’s potential success in the unlikely event of a remount. Plus, at the rate Sandler and McGee can whip up a script, McGee would sooner come up with a new show that can speak to what is happening in the current moment anyway.

I got to speak with Tom to get his thoughts on the struggles of dramaturgy and learning to embrace his own writing style.


On Working with Brouhaha and Kat Sandler

Tom McGee: I’ve worked in some capacity on all of Kat’s scripts, with the exception of her long-forgotten piece Dirty Girls, which she did in the Fringe. Even Mustard and Bang Bang; I was a consulting dramaturge on both of those. Often Kat will hire me on the side because Factory and Tarragon will have their own dramaturges (who are excellent) but I’ve been working with Kat so long that our short-hand is so good. She can basically call me up and be like, “You know that thing I’m always worried about? This scene.” And I’ll be like, “Oh ya, I see what you’re talking about – how about this, this, this, and this?” And she’ll be like, “Great! Thank you! I needed that.”

As a Dramaturge, If You’re Doing Your Job Right, You’re Invisible

TM: Tom Arthur Davis, one of the guys who runs Pandemic Theatre, wrote a really interesting piece around the Dora Awards about depression and dramaturgy, “Being Nominated For An Award Made Me Suicidal,” and it’s pretty intense, but he touches on something about dramaturgy that I’ve certainly struggled with. It’s the same thing that a good editor will encounter on a film or in a novel which is; the job is to make the writer’s work as good as the writer’s work can be, and there isn’t a ton of credit in that. Aside from the writer’s indulgence at the end of the novel, that everyone usually skips, where the writer will say, “Oh my god, I can’t fucking describe how much I need my editor”, and everyone goes, “I don’t know who that is but I loved your book!”

Dramaturgy can often be that way and I struggled with that for a long time.

Kat and I are very dear friends, and she’s always been very appreciative of what I’ve done, but the first Brouhaha show we did was very, very tough.

I was producing it, and I dramaturged it, and I was a ghost. At the time I was hell-bent on being an actor, and I just helped make this company, and my name was all over the show, but I felt completely invisible. And it was really hard.

For me what ended up really helping was getting an art therapist. What I’ve been working on with her, which has been tremendously helpful, is unpacking those feelings of invisibility and how to accept personal credit when there isn’t necessarily big, flashy, showy credit. It’s definitely a struggle. Every part of the arts comes with a cost and I think this is the big one for dramaturgy.

Tom Arthur Davis summed it up in his piece, something along the lines of, your job is basically to facilitate other people’s brilliance… and that’s cool, and there’s huge satisfaction in that. Like when I can make one of Kat’s pieces click, which is what we call it: the click. It’s that moment where she’ll be like, “Great, got it, thanks,” and then she hangs up and goes and punches out like a billion pages. That feels tremendously satisfying.

Photo Credit: John Gundy. Michael Musi as Jeff in FEATHERWEIGHT

On Swapping Roles With Sandler

TM: Honestly, we’re both nerds for story so this is has always been both a job and a hobby for us. The number of times that we’re like, “Okay, we’re both really stressed. Let’s just go out and get a drink and not talk about this,” and then, of course, we end up talking about it because it’s fun!

Early on the struggle that Kat was having working as my dramaturge was she’d say, “I’m always going to try to make your script more like my scripts.” And in my head, I’m thinking Thats fucking great, your scripts are great. Let’s do that! So we had a few, not necessarily growing pains, but I had to adjust to being a little more assertive about my style and what I actually liked about my script.

I had a reading of what was supposed to be the production Featherweight script, right before we were about to go into rehearsals and it was rough. A lot of the criticisms, all fair, where people were kind of being like, “Is this what you were trying to say?” and, no one had said it outright, but it was a lot of that classic, “It’s very interesting” and I was like, “Oh shit, no one likes this…”

So I’m on the subway on the way home and Megan Miles, my wife, was like, “Do you even like this play anymore”? And I was like, “No, actually… I fucking hate it.”

I was writing some short story at the same time that was just completely bonkers and I was like, “I like this short story! It’s fun. But this play is so weighed down, and I don’t know what to do… blah blah blah.” Just admitting that got me thinking that I needed to re-write it the way I would like it to be, and suddenly it all just clicked into place! What is funny is this draft of Featherweight that’s onstage now is actually closer to the very first draft I wrote. It’s come completely full circle. Even though the characters are different, and their arguments are different, and what’s going on is kind of different, it feels more like the original because that’s when I was expressing the style I actually wanted.

Because I look up to Kat and I like Kat’s style so much I took every note as gospel. You know, my style is strange, and Kat and I have a similar tone but a different style, so I had to kind of grab hold of my own style harder for this show. Which she, again, had been advocating for the whole damn time, but just not necessarily in terms I was understanding.

Photo Credit: John Gundy
L-R: Kat Letwin as Thoth, Michael Musi as Jeff, Amanda Cordner as Anubis in FEATHERWEIGHT

A Very Brouhaha Directing Process

TM: We always work our stuff on its feet and what is on stage is wildly different than what I went in with on the first day of rehearsal. We’ve cut a bunch, we’ve changed some things, we’ve tailored it to the performers, but I’ve never run that process. I’ve always dramaturged that process, Kat’s always been the leader of that. So at first, I wasn’t sure if I could do that myself. But despite how different I am as a director and a writer, ultimately the rehearsal style ended up still being a very Brouhaha process.

That Brouhaha Style 

TM: What’s been really nice is that even just from the reviews no one has been like, “Oh this is really different from a normal Brouhaha show.” Everyone’s just taking it as a Brouhaha show, which means a lot to me. It has been many, many years, and it’s very nice to put my name and style to one of these things and have audiences respond to it in a way that I would hope for. I’ve been thinking about these audiences for a long time.

Making the Job Work for You

For me, the solution was to find ways to keep working on my own style to fill in the gaps. In this case, it was writing short stories and basically just doing things that, even if they don’t really have wide reach, they fill that need for me to be creating and developing my own voice.

I love dramaturgy. I don’t think I could make it my only output, but that’s also just me. I’ve got a really restless brain and on the one hand that’s great for dramaturgy because I always like to be chewing on something, but if I’m only chewing on other people’s stuff I tend to get restless, so it works as long as I have multiple things to sink my teeth into.

Featherweight

Who:
Director – Tom McGee
Cast – Amanda Cordner as ANUBIS
Michael Musi as JEFF
with Kat Letwin as EVERYONE ELSE
and Ammit as THE DEVOURER OF HEARTS
Producers – Kat Sandler, Tom McGee

What:
Upon dying, Jeff awakes in a bar full of ancient gods that will weigh his browser history against a feather to determine if he was a good person… or face damnation. Equal parts ‘American Gods’ and ‘Twelve Angry Men,’ FEATHERWEIGHT asks: what effect does our online life have on others? Will Jeff’s browser history damn him? Would it damn you? From the minds behind BRIGHT LIGHTS (NNNNN) and SHAKEY-SHAKE AND FRIENDS (NNNNN)

Where:
THE PADDOCK TAVERN
178 Bathurst Street
Toronto
Ontario

When:
12th July – 8:00pm
13th July – 8:00pm
14th July – 8:00pm
15th July – 8:00pm

Tickets:
Featherweight is SOLD OUT online but you can always show up early at the venue and try your luck at the door!

 

Photo of Tom McGee by James McKay

“Inspiration, Travel & Getting Personal” In Conversation with performer Clare Blackwood on BIKEFACE at the 2018 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Jared Bishop.

BikeFace is a show ready to inspire adventure. Strange but true tales of writer Natalie Frijia’s solo journey across Canada are brought to life by performer Clare Blackwood, on stage now at the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival. We sat down with Clare to talk about inspiration, travel and how personal this show became.

JB: When did you first learn about the story told in BikeFace?

CB: It was about two months ago. I had no Fringe plans. My friend Rebecca Perry (producer) called me out of the blue and was like “Hey, Natalie Frijia (creator) and I have this script, you are one of two people we are considering for it. Is this something you would like to be a part of?” and I was like “Oh God, yes!”

That was a couple months ago. When I read the script, I knew that this was exactly the type of story I was interested in telling. I am a solo traveller as well. Natalie’s writing really resonates with me. We have the same style of dry humour about travelling alone. It’s really nice because it makes her words really easy to speak.

It was such a pleasure to read a script that felt tailor-made for me and she didn’t even know it.

JB: How did you make the story your own?

CB: I have done a lot of travelling by myself. I have had a lot of the experiences explored in the play, I didn’t have to sit there and wonder what’s it like to be alone in the middle of the road, in the middle of the country, in a place I have never been. I have that experience, I have that knowledge and I know what it’s like to be camping in the middle of nowhere and hear noises and think “I am going to die now… glad I had a good life!”

A big theme of the play is how being a woman is different when travelling alone, the adversity it comes with and the attitudes you get from other people. It’s often quite rampant so I know what she is talking about. Men are cat-calling you on your bike or you’re being told you shouldn’t be by yourself. It is something you get all the time when you are by yourself. So this made it very personal for me.

The joy of meeting new people is so prevalent in this play. Some of the best human beings I have ever met in my life are people who I have known for a day or two. They just leave this mark on you and then they leave. You think “I will probably never see this person again but I will remember them for the rest of my life.” I think that is also a really relatable theme in this show with all of these characters. They have all left such a huge mark on her (Natalie) that she wanted to bring them to life. It was my pleasure to try to do that without ever having met them.

JB: What inspires you to travel?

CB: I am a Gryffindor. I like not knowing where I am going and I like missing trains and having to figure out alternative routes and meeting new people and camping in stupid places where I shouldn’t be camping and not planning where I am sleeping. There is just such a thrill in that.

I love seeing new things. I am a giant history nerd and I go where the history is. It’s just fun for me. I know how I travel for some people is horrifying but for me it’s fun, that’s the baseline.

I’m influenced by my family who taught me to love camping. My mom is a person who has gone skydiving and who camps by herself, so this has always been encouraged.

I have always just been a stubbornly independent person so that’s where my inspiration for travel comes from. And it’s also a nice “fuck you” to people who say I can’t.

JB: There are many characters you explore in this show, do you have a specific process for developing them?

CB: It’s funny because I have never played multiple characters on stage before. This show was a huge challenge for me. I had to draw on a whole lot of sources to create these characters. Some came a lot more naturally than others. Normally, when I create a character, I start with the voice and go from there. That’s mostly what I did for these people. If I was having trouble with the character it was because I wasn’t being specific enough in their voice.

JB: How does telling this story compare to your past Fringe experiences?

CB: My fringe experiences have been varied and wonderful. This has definitely been the easiest story to tell. My parents came to see the show Saturday and they were like, “You could have written that. That’s the story we keep waiting for you to write.” Again, Natalie and I are very similar in the way that we write and the way that we travel. So with this show, the process of creating it for me wasn’t easy, but the act of telling it and the act of engaging with the audience has been a breeze.

You don’t have to work to get people on your side with this show. They are already there. You open your mouth and the words come out and they are like, “Oh yes, I like this person.”

This has been the most personal show for me. And the one that is closest to who I am as a human.

JB: What is something important to share with people who haven’t yet seen Bike Face?

CB: I really want people to come see this show, whether you like bikes, whether you go camping, whether you have gone on an adventure. It’s a show that people have been saying really resonates with them. It’s a perfect fringe show in the sense of it will make you laugh and it will make you cry and it will make you want to go on an adventure. I think it’s such a gift as a performer to have a show like this.

And because it’s been created by this badass group of women who are really good at their jobs! It feeds the inner adventurer in everybody, which I think is so lovely.

BikeFace 

Who:
Company: Trailblazing Ladies
Playwright: Natalie Frijia
Director:Mandy Roveda
Cast: Clare Blackwood
Producer: Rebecca Perry

What:
“Like a ride down the road with the wind at your back!” (Edmonton Journal)
During the Victorian cycling craze, doctors warned women riders they would undoubtedly cultivate “bicycle faces”: becoming over-exerted, wild-eyed, un-sexed vulgarities, with nothing before them but the wide, open road. Over a century later, the Journal of Paediatric Psychology still finds that girls are four times more likely to be warned about dangers inherent in exploration and adventure. This is where BikeFace takes off! It will tickle your funny bone and above all else, ignite your thirst for adventure!

Where:
The Annex Theatre
736 Bathurst St
Toronto
Ontario
M5S 1Z5

When:
July 12th   1:45pm
July 13th   9:45pm
July 14th   2:15pm
July 15th   7:30pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

Photo Notes: Photographer: Hayley Andoff Featured in Photo: Clare Blackwood

 

 

 

 

“Puppets, The Service Industry & The Fringe” – In Conversation with Sex T-Rex on their new show BENDY SIGN TAVERN at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Bailey Green

We spoke with Kaitlin Morrow, Seann Murray and Elliot Loran about Sex T-Rex’s site-specific Fringe show, Bendy Sign Tavern (located at Venue 26: The Paddock Tavern). We spoke about puppets, the service industry and supporting each other at the Fringe.

(Interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Kaitlin Morrow: So… because it’s a puppet show, I think a lot of people are wondering if kids are allowed, and they are, even though it’s a bar, but they have to be accompanied by someone who is… not a kid. I think it’s important to distinguish that it isn’t a ‘kids show’, but if your kid can put up with swearing, they can see the show.

Seann Murray: It’s about as racy as most of our shows. There’s certainly less murder in this one. I wouldn’t say no murder… but less.

Bailey Green: When did Bendy Sign Tavern start to take shape? I know a lot of your shows have a somewhat quick turnaround time, so when did this one start to grow?

KM: This one had a sort of longer process. I used to work at this cafe in the east end for years, and my friend worked there before I did, so I had this long-standing relationship with this place. And like most cafes, it was full of characters and we were always joking about different characters you see coming in. And then, [in 2012] Comedy Bar and Insight Productions teamed up and had this pilot week competition where you pitch a TV show and if you get accepted you perform your pilot live for TV producers. The prize was $5000 and you get to go to these pitch meetings and then… we won.

BG: You won! That’s the best ending to the story

KM: We built about 20 puppets in a month and wrote the show and put it on its feet. We didn’t get into the Fringe this year with the lottery, which was good to know, but then site-specific came up… I said, “Look I have this puppet show in my closet. Let’s pull it out and do it in a cafe.” We couldn’t find a cafe but then a bar became available so we were like, “It’ll work in a bar!” It didn’t work in a bar. The story was about characters coming in and grabbing a coffee and going and that relationship doesn’t really exist in a bar. You don’t walk up to a bar and leave.

SM: So we started the process thinking that we had this show in the bag and then on second consideration, not really. A 20 minute TV pilot set in a coffee shop does not translate to an hour-long play set in a tavern. But there are still a lot of the same elements. At its core, it’s about the service industry

KM: [The puppets] were sitting in my closet for years so it was good to get them out and make use of them.

Photo of Kaitlin Morrow by Connor Low

BG: How many puppets did you already have and how many did you need to build? What’s the creation process like?

KM: I wish I had a photo of my apartment – it’s a mess. I believe we had to make 14 new puppets for this show. Some are really simple, some are more complex.

SM: There were a few big ones, for sure, something that is worth noting is that when it comes to creation there are a lot of different styles of puppets in this show, so there are very different processes in terms of how long it takes to make them.

[this part of the interview has been removed as it was mostly the author freaking out over several awesome Sex T-Rex puppets. See the show, and you too will be amazed by puppets. Also Elliott Loran, who plays the Human Piano Player in Bendy Sign Tavern and composed original music for the show, joins the interview.]

KM: So we made two dozen of our closest friends and family suffer through a 2 hour super secret preview of the show last Sunday.

Elliott Loran: It was great to have a run before opening. I don’t think I’ve ever been in an indie company that’s done that. Usually it’s like, “Okay we might get a run in before we open.”

BG: And usually Sex T-Rex brings the show to Montreal Fringe before?

KM: It’s our first time premiering a show in Toronto… It’s a little baby show. Usually we do make changes every single show. We’re always working on it. Sometimes the change is big, sometimes it’s small, but it never stays the same. So this is just going to be a raw, fresh creation!

SM: Montreal is also an especially good community in terms of giving feedback because they are used to being the first stop on the Fringe circuit. The audiences there are so generous with trying to improve your show.

Photo by Connor Low

BG: And this show is a really different style and genre from what you’ve done before. Music is now a part of the show, as well! What has that been like?

KM: It has been wonderful working with Elliott. None of us are musicians… I’m a hobbyist musician at best.

SM: Any amount of canned music we could get for this would be repetitive and so distracting. And Elliott is someone for us to play off of, as well.

EL: We’ve written some original music for the show too, so it’s not all improvised. It’s been a fun collaborative process! How has that been for you guys having not done it before?

KM: Super fun and terrifying. I wouldn’t say it’s a musical, but there’s music!

EL: I would call it a play with music. It’s a delightful surprise that there are songs. The music that is written is a bit jazz-inspired.

KM: Also a bit of bar atmosphere, drinking music… We’ve also never straight up written a love story before. Some of our shows may have romantic elements in them but often it is like a surprise ending.

SM: All of Sex T-Rex’s other shows are an action-based show, where the principal action revolves around combat, specifically, which is not the case in the play. And as a genre parody, I guess you could say it’s a romantic comedy but it’s not even a rom com because it is very situational. It’s about a workplace and it’s about this team.

EL: The characters are so surprising and it’s so different. It’s such a mash-up of all these fantastic ideas.

SM: This story is more anecdotal – many of us in Sex T-Rex are working in the service industry. It’s probably a story that will connect to a lot of Fringe artists.

KM: Speaking of that, we’re going to be featuring a different Fringe show every show! So the Fringe artists happen to be there in the bar and we are so excited that they’re there because they are celebrities in our world and so the puppets interview them.

BG: That’s a great way to really bring in the community and give back.

KM: We’ve been doing the Fringe for so long that I feel like at this point, in a way, we sort of need to. I remember when we were starting out with Callaghan! and we had like 40 people in our audience for most shows (if we were lucky), and then the very slow growth arc where we could finally sell out a 200 seat theatre. It wasn’t like 0 to sold-out for us. We had a slow growth so we had to work for a while to build a reputation. Now that we’ve been around for a while, it’s been 5 years, there are now people who will tweet about us and help to prop us up and spread the word. That’s amazing and we want to do that for other shows.

EL: You want to share that kind of support and share the work that inspires you. There’s so much. Like, I think to the Mind of a Snail team, that did Curious Contagiousthey have a new show called Multiple Organism and it has gotten so little Fringe pre-buzz, and their work is incredible! So I’m going to be promoting the shit out of that.

Bendy Sign Tavern

Who:
Creators: Sex T-Rex
Cast: Conor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Elliott Loran, Kaitlin Morrow, Seann Murray

What:
Award winning comedy company Sex T-Rex (Second City, Just For Laughs and Atlantic Fringe Best Comedy Award winners) return to the Toronto Fringe for the fifth year in a row with a Full Service puppet Rom-Com! “Life is hard when you’re a young puppet trying to make your way in the big city. But with a song in her heart and a crew of loveable co-workers by her side, Joan will overcome rude customers, packs of Bachelorette Wolves and literally battle her deepest fears to achieve her dreams.” Note: July 9th show is 8:30pm, which is updated from printed program.

Where:
THE PADDOCK
178 Bathurst Street, Toronto

When:
6th July – 7:30pm
7th July – 7:30pm
8th July – 7:30pm
9th July – 8:30pm
10th July – 7:30pm
11th July – 7:30pm
12th July – 7:30pm
13th July – 7:30pm
14th July – 7:30pm
15th July – 7:30pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

Connect:
t: @sextrex
f: /sextrexcomedy
i: @sextrexcomedy

#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.