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Posts tagged ‘The Fringe Festival’

Interview with Grace Thompson – Playwright & Co-Performer of “Tell Me” a 2015 Toronto Fringe Shed Show

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

SSB: Your show only allows 8 audience members in at a time. Have you performed for an audience this small before? How is it different?

Grace Thompson: The smallest audience I performed for was in 2009. I was a part of the Paprika Festival with some friends from high school and through that our play was asked to be part of the Luminato festival. Our performance space was a storage closet at the back of the Young Centre to an audience of about 15 people. This felt shockingly intimate, as there was so little separation between the audience and us. At the time, I had never experienced performing anywhere other than a traditional theatre space. Fast forward six years later and now having seen many, many site specific shows and shows with very intimate audiences, I have gained an understanding, appreciation, and love for theatre in non-traditional spaces. So this time around I feel a confidence in knowing how to speak to such a small and intimate audience and the benefits that can come from that.

SSB: Tell us a little more about the show… It seems very mysterious. What’s the structure? Is it interactive? Scripted?

GT: What you will watch is many things unfold between Kate Maguire, my co-actor and myself. With that the audience will be allowed to make their own assumptions and craft how these two people connect to each other through how the reading plays out. There will be minor audience interaction, but what we really want is for our audience to feel like they are equally a part of this experience. It allows you to question your own morals and beliefs on what it means to see into not only our own future but into someone else’s. I can guarantee you will leave with something.

SSB: The show takes place in a literal shed. What’s it like creating for this non-traditional space?

GT: Kate and I started with brainstorming ideas of what would take place in a shed, what kinds of stories would happen here. Kate came up with the idea of fortune telling. Fortune telling is always told in small intimate spaces and is often very theatrical by nature.

When I wrote this, I thought about the mystery in fortune telling. There is the question of how we tell our own fortunes. How we mostly always feel like we are going to get bad news and that we are doomed. How everyday we are preparing for our future for what we hope will happen or what we hope will never happen. This subject sparked endless hilarious conversations, which inspired most of our dialogue. We also both went to get our fortunes told which was a fun and strange experience.

Soon enough, Kate and I started talking about this subject will all kinds of people. I believe we all, in some way, can see versions of how our lives will play out but we need someone else to tell us, to confirm it. And how we search for that is through so many different outlets and different types of relationships. I think now we both feel this play is made for this space and this small audience to experience… so we are feeling very excited.

SSB: What show at the Fringe are you most looking forward to seeing?

GT: The 10/10/10 Project, The Untitled Sam Mullins Project, Rukmini’s Gold, Water Choke, and In Case We Disappear are some off the top of my head that I really want to check out!

SSB: Describe “Tell Me” in 5 words

GT: When you know, you know.

SSB: Who do you most want to walk into that shed to be a part of it all? It could be anyone!

GT: Well I know for Kate it would be David Bowie. For me, honestly anyone who feels like they are going through or have gone through a life crisis or any crisis for that matter. Come, laugh, and feel calmed by it all.

Tell Me

presented by Obliviate Theatre as part of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival


Cast: Kate Maguire and Grace Thompson

Written by: Grace Thompson.

Stage Manager: Steven Elliot Jackson.

Where: Fringe Club, Honest Ed’s Alley

July 01 at 10 PM & 10:30 PM
July 03 at 07:45 PM & 08:15 PM
July 04 at 06:30 PM & 07:00 PM
July 05 at 05:30 PM & 06:00 PM
July 06 at 09:00 PM & 09:30 PM
July 07 at 07:30 PM & 08:00 PM
July 08 at 09:00 PM & 09:30 PM

Capacity: Only 8 people permitted each show.

Note: If there are more people outside after they are done both shows, they may add another performance!

Tickets: The show is PWYC! Someone will be outside with a cashbox. You can pay right as you go in.


Interview with Rachel Blair – Playwright & Performer of “A Man Walks Into a Bar” at the 2015 Toronto Fringe

by Bailey Green 

A woman, with the help of a man, tells a joke: A man walks into a bar and meets a waitress. As lines between the performers and the characters blur, a tense and funny standoff about gender, power, and selling sex emerges. A Man Walks Into a Bar

Presented by Circle Circle and written by Rachel Blair, A Man Walks into a Bar is a stark exploration of the ways men and women interact. Inspired by current events, collected stories and her own experience, the play is a frank conversation about masculine and feminine interaction. The location— the loaded and often hyper-sexualized environment of a bar.

Rachel wanted to discuss inequality, for example: how from a very early age women are taught coping strategies to avoid violence and protect themselves. “In these kinds of conversations, about gender or race, someone has privilege and someone does not,” Rachel says, “and you might not realize how privileged you are until you hear how someone else isn’t.” She strove to make each character identifiable but challenging. In her own words, she describes the play as “funny, feminist, masculine, urgent and accessible.”

The play slips between two worlds, between interaction with the audience and absorption into the woman’s story. Rachel performs the role of the woman. Blue Bigwood-Mallin plays the man, and Rachel comments on his willingness to stretch as a performer, committing to the strong opinionated nature of his role. The play began as a satire on how men negatively respond to women’s stories— corrections, suggestions, interruptions, etc. Rachel did extensive research, using Reddit and message boards to examine the ways men dismantled women’s arguments. Now before I go further, let me introduce a hashtag conceived by the cast and crew:


One of Rachel’s challenges was to make the piece as balanced as possible, “I’m trying open up a discussion that happens often, and clearly sometimes blows up in our face and creates animosity—between men and women, women and women, men and men. I wanted to be very respectful to both voices without making them caricatures or demonizing them.” Rachel mentions White Ribbon for their work, men working to end violence towards women, and expresses her gratitude for the feminists in her life.

One of whom is her director, David Matheson (Artistic Director of the Dora nominated Wordsmyth Theatre) who was a mentor of Rachel’s while she studied at York. Their friendship grew from there. “David’s great about drawing out new aspects and finding moments while being very respectful of the work,” Rachel says. When Rachel was selected from the Fringe lottery, she proceeded to write the play in two months, going through multiple drafts with her dramaturg Andrew Cheng—who she has worked with for years.

After June 1st, Rachel officially switched over to acting the role as opposed to writing the show. She initially found it challenging to let go of the male character’s justifiable opinions at points in the story.“We’ve played a lot with my character’s volition and how much she needs to keep the conversation with the man amicable and light. As a playwright I’ve written this piece, and I’m outspoken and opinionated” Rachel says, “but for the character, this is a big brave thing to talk about this idea and tell this joke to a man. I think a lot of women may have huge opinions about who they are as women and where they stand but are scared to speak up for fear that they won’t ‘do it right’ or rock the boat or to encourage judgement.”

As for her intention for the audience, she hopes people hear an opinion different from their own and find themselves understanding even though they still may disagree. She hopes women find a sense of comfort in hearing any part of their experience heard. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

A Man Walks Into a Bar

A Man Walks In 3 Lo Res

A man walks into a bar and asks a waitress for a drink. A tense and funny metatheatrical look at gender dynamics.

From Rachel Blair, 2008 New Play Contest winner for Wake (NNNN, ***** Eye Weekly, Best of Fringe) and David Matheson, Artistic Director of Dora-nominated Wordsmyth Theatre and director of [sic] (Best of Fringe) and Bluebeard (Patron’s Pick).

By: Rachel Blair

Company: Circle Circle

Company origin: Toronto, Ontario

Director: David Matheson

Dramaturg: Andrew Cheng

Warnings: Mature Language

Where: Tarragon Theatre Extraspace

July 01 at 06:30 PM
July 03 at 01:15 PM
July 04 at 07:00 PM
July 05 at 03:30 PM
July 06 at 08:30 PM
July 08 at 12:00 PM
July 11 at 05:15 PM