Interview by Hallie Seline
HS: Who is Billy H. Tender?
JL: Billy is the popstar of his generation, and the play is about his infamous concert on January 31st, 2021. Before his unorthodox transformation into contemporary folk music, however, he collaborated regularly with producer DJ Jeh, and his production company, Front Row Fleek Freak, was sponsored by major players like Neosporin, Chef Boyardee, the State of Israel, Teen Physique Drinking Water, and Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Krunch. His mother, Stella Virginia Tender, was a Canadian stage actress until she accepted her position in the department of Post-Audience Theatre Theory and Semiotics Department at the University of Guelph. Billy’s younger brother, Hal, is fifteen and is his number one fan, A-1-since-day-1.
HS: What was your inspiration to write this piece?
I spent seven months off the grid in 2014. I was living on this pirate ship that sailed the American East Coast performing opera and circus (it’s a long story…), but reintegrating into urban life was tough, and there’s this feeling of anxiety or loneliness I’d feel when I’d spend a couple of hours absorbed in Facebook… It reminded me of insomnia, and a lot of this play is trying to figure out and give some catharsis for that feeling.
I also wanted to write a show where I could wear a dress, but that element has been cut for a long time now.
HS: Tell me about working with director Adam Lazarus and dramaturg Guillermo Verdecchia.
JL: Both Adam and Guillermo are stupidly generous and infuriatingly smart, and they really like to make fun of each other.
HS: Can you speak about the role of music in the show?
JL: It’s big. Adrian Shepherd, in addition to building an already complicated sound design, has created basically a whole album of pop music, and it rocks.
HS: If your audience could listen to a song or a few before the show, what would it/they be?
JL: Check out our music videos on our Facebook page…
“Hey Adrian, can you make, like, a Skrillex song?”
And three days later he sent us “Show Ü My Love”
Short Answer Round:
HS: What music are you listening to right now?
JL: I’m giving a second listen to the audiobook So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. It’s great. He also narrates it and his voice is comforting and it’s about all my nervous system can handle right now.
HS: Favourite place in the city?
JL: Golden Patty in Kensington Market has been very good to me these past few weeks.
HS: Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
JL: “I don’t believe anything you’re saying. Act better” – Adam Lazarus
Written and performed by Jesse LaVercombe
Directed by Adam Lazarus
Dramaturgy by Guillermo Verdecchia
Music by Jesse LaVercombe and Adrian Shepherd
Sound design by Adrian Shepherd
Design by Shannon Lea Doyle and Kelly Anderson
Cheography by Neeky Dalir
Stage Managed by Alexa Polenz
Producer: Curtis te Brinke
What: “I want to tell you about a day. January 31st, 2021. It wasn’t that long ago, I believe.
It was a salient day, at least in North America. I felt it on the Internet and in the weather and in my tummy. It was like the zeitgeist finally saw itself in the mirror, and it wasn’t sure whether to fight or flirt, so it kind of did both and just ate itself. It was a Sunday, clear skies but cold.”
– Hal Tender
(second son of Stella Virginia Tender [former Canadian stage actress, now research assistant in the U. of Guelph’s Post-Audience Theatre Theory and Semiotics Department], younger brother of the one, the only, Billy H. Tender) FB event here.
Where: Videofag, 187 Augusta Ave
When: Jan 5 — 12, 2016
Jan. 5th @ 8pm – SOLD OUT
Jan. 6th @ 8pm
Jan. 7th @ 8pm
Jan. 8th @ 8pm
Jan. 9th @ 2pm and 8pm
Jan. 10th @ 2pm and 8pm
Jan. 11 @ 8pm
Jan. 12 @ 8pm
Connect with us!
Spread the word: #billyhtender
Jesse LaVercombe – @jesselavercombe
Videofag – @Videofag
In the Greenroom – @intheGreenRoom_
Hallie Seline – @HallieSeline