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Posts tagged ‘Lesley Robertson’

In Conversation with Lesley Robertson and Matt Shaw aka Rosemary & Jessop of The Diddlin’ Bibbles at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Megan Robinson

It all started in Barrie Ontario in 2015 when Lesley Robertson and Matt Shaw were performing in Theatre By the Bay’s Nine Mile Portage. At the end of every show, there was a long walk back to where they had started. At the time, the two only knew each other so well. “I thought of Lesley like a little church mouse, who would not do anything vulgar. I only really knew you from afar,” Matt Shaw says, looking at her. Lesley matches him, “Yes, I thought of you as a lowly first year.” The two were in different years at George Brown College.

But after every show, as they walked, Lesley began to sing along to Matt’s guitar playing, making up lyrics that were surprisingly crass and vulgar. Matt joined in, adding in his own disgusting jokes, and they suddenly realized that they shared a very unique and weird taste in comedy. When Theatre Inamorata asked them to perform some of their “stupid songs” they agreed, launching their first ever performance as The Diddlin’ Bibbles, a married couple from Widdlywack Wisconsin.

Since their initial five-minute set in 2015, the two have gone on to create a full-length mockumentary show around The Bibbles’ foray into the Toronto Fringe. The story follows their seven performances as well as the egos and the drama The Bibbles’ experience at the Fringe.

Matt and Lesley’s own story reminds me of how lovers meet, but for creators. I ask if they are creative soul mates, but get throaty laughs and squinty eyes in response. The two agree they don’t really believe in soul mates, but Lesley assures me that they are creatively bonded for a long time. Lesley appreciates Matt’s “gentle kindness” in dealing with her perfectionism. Matt enjoys Lesley’s openness to be even weirder than he is, always saying yes to his strangest ideas and then adding an even more absurd twist.

I spoke with Matt and Lesley about the risk in creating your own work, sharing your most private self and why the Fringe is such a great place to learn.

Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Meg Robinson: So youre both primarily actors. Have you always been interested in creating your own work?

Lesley Robertson: No.

Matt Shaw: Really?

LR: Yeah. I think in a buried deep part of my heart I was interested but I didn’t know if I would have the courage.

MS: I’ve always been interested in doing it but this is the first time that I’ve produced and written something. I wrote a play but I only had a reading of it. So this is the first time I’ve done a full production from the bottom to the top. So it’s pretty fucking nerve-wracking.

MR: Is it?

MS: It is. It’s like, you don’t have a Shakespeare script that you know someone will love to watch and already know the story. You’re creating something totally new and weird…

LR: Weird! And we often question… it’s very crass and shocking… we’re exposing this weird sense of humour that, well, I definitely keep private in my actual life. I show my friends but in this show I’m exposing to the public that…. I like poo jokes!

MS: Jokes about vaginas! And dildos! Everything!

MR: Do you struggle with the idea of “being good” or do you find you have a sense for when something is good? 

MS: That’s the whole thing about what we do, you know, you take a risk. You find it funny, the director might find it funny, your friends find it funny. But at the end of the day you are taking a risk performing something that’s brand new to people.

LR: We aren’t precious with the material. We get rid of stuff.

MS: It has to get a vote of at least 2 out of 3. At least 66%. A C+

LR: Unless one person is really attached.

MS: Or really against it.

MR: Any great “aha moments” or learning moments during this process that you would like to share?

MS: We met with a few people, one of them being Dana [Puddicombe], our director, to just show them our songs without having any…

LR: Arc, story…

MS: Or idea of what our show was going to be and Dana pitched us in the meeting maybe like 4 or 5 concepts that we could do.

LR: And we were like oh! Oh yeah!

MS: And then..

LR: And then, I think the idea of the mockumentary style was largely hers.

MS: Totally.

LR: She brought a lot of the “aha moments”. She’s been integral.

MR: What are some of your inspirations for The Bibbles?

MS: Big one is Bo Burnham. I think he’s got the comedic songwriting thing to a fucking science. Christopher Guest, Flight of the Conchords.

LR: A lot of women on SNL who do these kinda cute, kinda gross characters that I find particularly satisfying.

MR: Why the Fringe?

LR: I think the Fringe is such a great opportunity. Just the cost of it. And it’s so well advertised and well-known. It’s an incredible platform.

MS: It’s a platform for the underdogs.

LR: I went to all these seminars where they teach you about the technical stuff.

MS: Yeah! At the Fringe you learn so much. It’s like a course in producing.

LR: I’m so #blessed.

MR: What sort of future do you see for the Bibbles?

LR: I don’t know. We want to continue. Of course we will still do open mic and sets to try out material but I want to keep with long form shows. I could see it touring. I could see a sequel. The end of the play suggests a follow-up…

MS: I’m down for all of those things.

MR: Why should people see your show?

MS: (laughing) If you like songs about dildos and the smell of vaginas and how much the TTC sucks… If you like songs about existential dread…

LR: It’s a hybrid genre that’s very playful. It’s meta-theatrical about the Toronto Fringe Festival.

MS: Yes, people who really enjoy the culture of the Fringe and have done it before will enjoy our jokes.

LR: And it’s about a small-town American couple coming to Toronto, so it’s a celebration of the city too.

Rapid Fire with The Diddlin’ Bibbles:

Favourite movie, maybe a date night movie you would watch?
Rosemary: The Lion King.
Jessop: That’s yours. That’s your favourite movie Rosemary…
Rosemary: It’s ours. Do you have a separate Jessop-favourite one?
Jessop: Mission Impossible 3. Third one. With Philip Seymour Hoffman. He’s a national treasure.

Which side of the bed do you each sleep on?
Rosemary: I sleep in the centre. And you sleep at the foot.
Jessop: Okay. Mhm, curled up like a little ball.
Rosemary: But he’s allowed up when we’re having the hanky panky.
Jessop: Hanky panky Rosemary? Keep talking like that and you’re gonna get in trouble.

Do you have any pets?
Rosemary: We have a collection of snakes!
Jessop: Squeaky Nietzsche is our pet goat who lost is his faith in God. We had our horse who died on our way to Toronto.

Did you ride a horse to Toronto?
Jessop: Yep, yeah we did. It died on the way.

The Diddlin’ Bibbles Live in Concert

Who:
Company: The Diddlin’ Bibbles
Created by: The Company
Director: Dana Puddicombe
Stage Manager: Laura Moniz
Producer: Michelle Langille (Theatre Inamorata)
Cast: Lesley Robertson, Matt Shaw

What:
Meet The Bibbles. A spiritual and sex-positive singer-songwriter duo, they have traveled all the way from Widdlywack, Wisconsin to perform at the prestigious Toronto Fringe Festival – their life-long dream. Jessop and Rose-Marie are ready to spread their gospel of light, love and lust through their toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’ tunes. But are they ready for all the riches, fame, and debauchery the Toronto Fringe may bring? Can their marriage survive the pressures of celebrity culture? Fame is a cruel mistress and The Bibbles are playing with fire. And musical instruments. Because they’re a band.

Where:
ST. VLADIMIR THEATRE
620 Spading Ave, Toronto

When:
6th July – 6:30pm
8th July – 1:45pm
9th July – 11:00pm
11th July – 8:30pm
13th July – 12:00pm
14th July – 5:15pm
16th July – 4:30pm

Tickets:
fringetoronto.com

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

 

Artist Profile: Lesley Robertson takes on the role of King John in the upcoming production by Shakespeare BASH’d

Interview by Hallie Seline

Hallie Seline: King John has been scarcely performed up until last year when Stratford staged it. Why do you think King John is due for a ‘come-back’ and what about it stood out the most after working on it now in comparison to some of Shakespeare’s more often produced work in Canada?

Lesley Robertson: I think King John is definitely due for a come-back because I think we all need a break from the over-produced comedies for a bit, while still getting to enjoy Shakespeare’s spectacular poetry, characters, and timeless themes of humanity. I especially think it’s due for a come-back in the bare-bones, accessible way Shakespeare BASH’d is approaching the play.  The text is heavy with political maneuvering, battles over ‘right’, and religious language – it’s very dense and rooted in its history. But with the clear direction of James Wallis, I think we will make this difficult, murky-seeming play come alive for an audience through our emphasis on the story and language (without relying on expensive sets and costumes) and our youthful energy and passion to tell a story about oppression. I personally celebrate the play’s complexity and messy imperfections – I think it suits the story, which is full of political and moral errors and people switching back and forth between sides. I also think it’s a great time to tell a political story with Canada just having had a very interesting election and also a travelling Magna Carta exhibit!

HS: What have you discovered in exploring the character of King John? 

LR: I’ve thought a lot about manipulation and what is right and wrong. I’ve rarely played characters that, on the outside, might be perceived as ‘villainous’ or even not likeable. But from the inside, those people are simply acting in a manner they think best. They are doing what they think is right and they are simply going after what they want and need. So, I guess that’s to say, I’ve found it very interesting to empathize with someone that has been hated so widely and for centuries! (That’s not to say I think what John does is ‘good’ and ‘right’!) I think Shakespeare has created a deliciously complex play and I hope to imbue John with the complexity of any human being; we are all vulnerable. I hope to complicate the audience’s inherited perception of “Bad King John.”

HS: What are you most looking forward to in doing this piece in The Junction City Music Hall?

LR: The proximity between the audience and our playing space, I like being able to see audience members’ faces, and, of course, the beer.

HS: Describe this play in 10 words or less.

LR: Oh, I’m terrible at this… Crap, are you counting?… “Oppression.”

Lesley Robertson as King John. Photo Credit: Kyle Purcell

Lesley Robertson as King John.

Rapid Fire Question Round:

HS: Favourite Drink at The Junction City Music Hall:

LR: I remember noting several craft tall boys that I love, but I can only remember Conductor’s Ale at the moment. Ask me again at the end of the run!

HS: Favourite rehearsal moment:

LR: When everyone laughed at me during an early movement rehearsal in which I created a giant angry horse with my body that simply yells “NEIGH!!!”

HR: Favourite place in Toronto:

LR: Other than my home, the 13th floor of Robarts Library.

HS: Where do you find inspiration?

LR: Music, literature, history, documentaries…

HS: Best advice you’ve ever gotten:

LR: Hm… My streetcar driver today said “Life is too short to be grumpy” and that was pretty great.

HS: What do you think is on your King John’s pre-show playlist?

LR: Something that really pumps me up I guess… like gangster rap… Yeah, probably some gangster rap.

King John Graphic

Directed by James Wallis

Featuring: Sochi Fried, James Graham, Bailey Green, Catherine Rainville, Lesley Robertson, Caitlyn Robson, David Ross, Matt Shaw, Tim Welham, Kate Werneburg, Jeff Yung

When: November 16 – 21, 2015

Where: Junction City Music Hall, 2907 Dundas Street West, Toronto.

Tickets: $19 online: shakespearebashd.com $20 at the door.

Connect with us!

Shakespeare Bash’d: @ShakesBASHd

In the Greenroom: @intheGreenRoom_