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Posts tagged ‘The Toronto Fringe Festival’

“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

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

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.

178 Bathurst Street, Toronto

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


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

A Chat with Barbara Johnston & Byron Laviolette on “Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party” at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Hallie Seline

If there is a dream collaboration in the Fringe not to miss, it’s the Fringe queens of new musicals – Barbara Johnston and Suzy Wilde (Summerland, The Fence) teaming up with interactive-theatre maven Byron Laviolette (Morro and Jasp) with Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party. We spoke with Barb and Byron about collaborating together, the excitement of trying something new in the Fringe, and how we all need a little more fun in our lives.

HS: Tell me a bit about the show and where the idea for this show came from?

Byron Laviolette: Brian Goldenberg, our producer, approached me with the idea that maybe we could find a way to take the best of current musical theatre (ie. Suzy Wilde and Barbara Johnston) and meld it with the interactive experience stuff I have been doing with Morro and Jasp. I was instantly intrigued. I’m not much of a musical guy, but had some experience with them working at Hart House on Rocky Horror and Reefer Madness, so I said yes.

HS: You have a stellar team involved. Can you speak a bit about working with each other?

Barbara Johnston: It was kind of a unique experience because the songs were written before the rest of the show. We had a song guide and character outlines to draw from, but essentially we had to build songs without knowing exact plot details – which was a challenging but really fun experience. The script was built in rehearsal with Byron and the actors, so Suzy and I didn’t even know the show until we saw it all starting to come together a couple of days ago.

Both of us are big fans of Morro and Jasp, so when we found out that Byron was on the project we were really excited to see where he was going to take this really cool concept. Suzy and I have worked together our entire lives and are constantly collaborating on projects (we’re also involved in True North Mixtape at Fringe this year) so us working together is “old hat” – in the best way possible! We have a short-hand with one another – we can read each others minds, so it makes working together heaven. It has been extremely exciting to write pop/karaoke songs for a cast of powerhouse singers who have all been so great with working with a short timeline and with our last-minute changes. Byron is an excellent collaborator – giving us lots of room to be part of the creative process and has done such great work with the actors, essentially building this show from the ground up. We have had a blast.

L-R: Jeigh Madjus, Tess Barao, Erica Peck, Kelly Holiff, Shane Hollon, Joseph Zita Photo Credit: Alex Nirta

BL: It’s been an interesting ride. There are a lot of differences in process between improv comedians, interactive performers and musical theatre actors. There are a lot of similarities too, but making sure that all processes are being honoured while trying to form a new methodology is challenging. I’m really happy with where we’ve landed though, and a lot of that credit goes to Suzy and Barb for giving us such stellar songs to work with.

HS: Why were you drawn to create this show for the Fringe? What is it about the show that makes it the perfect fit for the Fringe environment?

BJ: The concept of a site-specific Karaoke show was Brian Goldenberg’s idea, and it is a great one!

BL: I’ve done the Fringe now for something like 10 years and I was excited to try something new in the place where I believe new things have the best chance to soar and be seen. In different environments – like Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction at Crow’s – the opportunities to risk have very different stakes attached to them.

L-R: Kelly Holiff, Erica Peck, Jeigh Madjus, Tess Barao Photo Credit: Alex Nirta

HS: What do you hope audiences walk away with?

BJ: Hopefully with our tunes stuck in their head and maybe a slight hangover the next day.

BL: The tunes WILL be stuck in their heads. They are certainly stuck in mine. Like most of the work I am involved in, I hope that people have fun. We all need more fun in our lives. And meaning and feels and all that too, but I want to help build a space where people can feel invited in, involved in ways that doesn’t suck, and inspired to go out and share that sense of joy and wonder with the world around them. Keep the party going, you know?

HS: 100%! Love that. What is your go-to Karaoke song?

BJ: Mine changes, but either Sunday Morning (No Doubt) or Man! I Feel Like a Woman (Shania Twain). Suzy’s is always Sweet Child of Mine.

BL: I’m not much of a singer, but probably something from Disney. . .

HS: Where is your go-to Karaoke spot in Toronto?

BJ: Well I actually won 3rd place in a giant Karaoke contest 10 years ago during Pride lead by Foofer – the greatest Karaoke host in the city. She used to host at Crews and Tangos every Wednesday night and my friends and I would go religiously because there were always GREAT singers in the crowd. Now she has a night at WAYLA bar in Leslieville that we like to go to.

HS: Best advice you have ever received /current mantra you are living by?

BJ: When working in collaborations: The best idea wins.

BL: Yes, 100% Best idea wins. Also, find the balance in your work/life. This show is the third creation process I’ve been involved in since March (including Morro and Jasp and Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua) and you have to keep perspective as the dreams (and nightmares) swirl around you.

HS: Describe the show in 5-10 words:

BJ: Tony and Tina’s Wedding meets Company in a Teenage Dream.

BL: A Musical Mockumentary about the plight of the North American Millennial in the Modern Age.

HS: What other show(s) are on your must-see list this Fringe?

BJ: True North Mixtape (We’re in that one, but if we were not we would want to see it!)
Wild/Walled, Lipstique (both dance shows with some great dancers/choreographers).
Jay and Shilo’s Sibling Revelry!

All of them. ALL OF THEM!! Go risk. Go discover. Go play.

Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party

Company: Charcoal Sketch Productions
Playwright/Creator: Barbara Johnston, Suzy Wilde, and Byron Laviolette
Director: Byron Laviolette
Cast: Tess Barao, Kelly Holiff, Shane Hollon, Jeigh Madjus, Erica Peck, Joseph Zita
Producer: Brian Goldenberg, Jeff Jones

It’s Maddie’s 25th birthday party but something’s not right – the guest of honour hasn’t shown up yet! Join five of Maddie’s best friends as they try to sort out where the birthday girl is at while they fight to keep the party’s spirits high (and struggle to keep their own dark secrets hidden). This intimate, interactive story unfolds over a series of hilarious and heart-breaking Karaoke-style songs in a party environment where the audience are fellow guests.

12 Clinton Street, Toronto

6th July – 8:15pm
7th July – 7:00pm
8th July – 6:30pm
9th July – 6:00pm
11th July – 8:00pm
12th July – 8:45pm
13th July – 8:15pm
14th July – 7:00pm
15th July – 7:00pm
16th July – 6:00pm


t: @maddiesparty
f: /MaddiesParty

#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!


The Food Project



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.


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.


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.


t: @theatrebycommittee
i: @TBCommittee

Dear Uncle Wish


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


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. 


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.


t: @dearunclewish 
i: @dearunclewish

Odd One Out


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


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.”


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.


#LesbiansVsAliens #LoveWins

Adult Entertainment


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.


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!


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…


t: @triplebypasspro
i: @triplebypass_to

Sketch Betch



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


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.


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.


t: @sketchbetches
i: @sketchbetches

Operation SUNshine



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. 


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!


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!


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

Rough Magic


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.


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.


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.”


t: @theatrearcturus
i: @theatrearcturus




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!


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.


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!


t: @snaptofringe
i: @snaptofringe

Brain Storm


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.


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.


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.


t: @lucid_ludic
i: @lucid_ludic

The Teeny Tiny Music Show  


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


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! 


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. 


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

Moonlight After Midnight



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.


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.


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.


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



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


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.


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. 


t: @martindockery
f: /martindockery
#martindockery, #delirium

Bad Date: a cautionary tale…


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..


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. 


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.


t: @date_bad
i: @baddatethemusical

Plays in Cafes 


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.


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. 


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.


t: @Shadowpathic

Bugger the Butterfly!



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


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.


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!



The Seat Next to the King



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


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.


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.


t: @minmargaslight
i: @Minmar_Gaslight

D&D Yoga 


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


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.


t: @Downward_d20
fb: /Downwardd20

Office Hours

Photo by Dahlia Katz


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.


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).


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!


t: @CBias_Theatre

You Are Perfect



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


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.


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.


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

Things Drugs Taught Me 


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.


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.”


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.


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




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.


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


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!


t: @contagious2017

I Am Hope


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!!


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.


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!


t: @miarayesmith




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. 


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.


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!


t: @ECM_Theatre
i: @ecm_theatre




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


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. 


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).


i: @dianabangarama & @arugulagal
t: @thedianabang

This Is Not She



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.


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.


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



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.


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!


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?!


t: @HighParkNoir

The Atomic Tradition  


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!


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.


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.


t: @IstvanDugalin
i: @istvandugalin

Shirley Gnome: Taking it Up the Notch  


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.


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.


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.


t: @ShirleyGnome

Open Rescue: The Play



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


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?


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! 


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! 


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”. 


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.


t: @antimommy

Seeking Refuge



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.


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.


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.


t: @SeekingRefugeTO

Butt Kapinski



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.


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.


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.


t: @buttkapinski

Not Good


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.


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.


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



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.


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.


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



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.


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.


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.


t: @presgang @jillpickled @sharihollett

 In Sundry Languages



“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!


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!


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!


t: @insundry
i: @insundrylanguages

Algonquin Highway


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


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.


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


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.



Call for Submissions: How Fiercely Fringe Are You?

We’re compiling the most epic Toronto Fringe preview and we want to hear from all of you boss Fringe babes why you are the most #FiercelyFringe and why Toronto NEEDS to see your show.


Find out more about how to submit here! 

“Loss sure is unpleasant, right?” – An Interview with Ben Hayward – director of “A Tournament of Lies” in the 2015 Toronto Fringe

by Bailey Green 

A Tournament of Lies is a play of eight monologues spoken by the former friends and lovers of Alex, the deceased. Part of the challenge of directing the show, explains director Ben Hayward, lay in how to find each character’s connections to each other and their ties to Alex, the person who has left them all behind. “There’s a sense when someone dies young that there’s this lost life that never happened,” says Hayward, “and we wanted to explore how people cope with that.”

When Bald Monkey Theatre decided they wanted to perform Evan Brown’s play A Tournament of Lies, they began the search for their site-specific location—the action of the play takes place at a memorial. But as you can imagine, securing a funeral home for a play is as tricky as it sounds. They’re costly to rent, and having the owners on board with the idea was another challenge altogether. “We also wanted to avoid churches,” says Hayward, “because we didn’t want the piece to have any particular religious focus,” — the piece avoids discussing afterlife or heaven in any way. They ended up choosing the Multi-Faith centre at the University of Toronto for the reverent atmosphere, plus the challenge it would prove to transform it into a theatrical space.

Ben Hayward is involved with two shows this year—working as director of A Tournament of Lies with Bald Monkey Theatre as well as co-creator and cook for The Dinner Table with Fail Better Theatre (co-created and produced by Ali Richardson). Last year, Hayward played the elusive Andy Warhol in last summer’s Fringe success Andy Warhol presents: Valerie (presented by Fail Better Theatre.)

The bereaved cast of characters, “who are wacky and wide-ranging” says Ben, include: “a guy hung up on the dead girl, two people who work at a bottle recycling plant, a hipster cab driver, a drunk dude who hates funerals and her ex-lover.” One of the characters in the show is a diary entry, “which was an interesting abstract moment, everyone else is somehow connected to the sphere of the dead girl Alex, but this one is outside of that, so we had to figure out that voice,” says Ben. The bereaved are played by Owen Fawcett, Brandon Gillespie, Hannah Jack, Iain LaCourt, Sarah Marchand, Lindsey Middleton, Sarah Robbins and Jonathan Walls.

The Multi-Faith Centre feels like it could host a memorial—it’s has a sense of decorum, it’s non-descript and to a degree, clinical. But from a theatrical standpoint, there’s no backstage area, no hidden props on a table, nor is there a lighting grid. So it was up to the cast and crew to create the magic. “One of the best parts was transforming the space, and I don’t want to give away too much,” says Ben, “but for example we have a runner of LED lights around the room so that as the show proceeds and becomes more theatrical the lights change with that. My approach to the show has been about magic – that life is about those moments of magic and it’s about the things that don’t have logical or linear explanations.” They’re hoping to surprise their audience out of their initial thoughts. They want the audience to engage, to be invested and hopefully delighted.

Ben is constantly seeking ways of pushing the boundaries of theatre creation in a way that doesn’t need the proscenium arch. “I want to avoid making ‘movies on stage’, ” laughs Ben. When I ask Ben to describe A Tournament of Lies in five words, he pauses and says “loss sure is unpleasant, right?”


Alex’s friends and lovers gather at her funeral to make sense of her death. Once together, they compete between themselves to see who can grieve the best. How do you make sense of your life when the person who defined it is gone? A Tournament of Lies examines the unsavoury nature of grief, fragmentation of memory, and self-preservation.

By: Evan Brown
Company origin: Toronto, Ontario
Director: Ben Hayward
Cast: Owen Fawcett, Hannah Jack, Iain LaCourt, Sarah Marchand, Lindsey Middleton, Sarah Robbins, Jon Walls

Warnings: Mature Language

Where: (site-specific) Multi-Faith Centre (The Quiet Room)

Capacity: 15

July 02 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 03 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 06 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 07 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 08 at 09:00 PM  sold out
July 09 at 09:00 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 09:00 PM  sold out

Show length: 60min.

In Conversation with Sophia Fabiilli – Adaptor & Performer of The Philanderess in the 2015 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Hallie Seline

I had the pleasure of chatting with the Fabulous Fabiilli. I call her that as 1 – her twitter handle is FabFabiilli and I want it to catch on and 2 – she’s inspired me to think that should be her superhero name. Currently wearing the many hats of adaptor/writer, producer, actor etc. etc. in her show The Philanderess in this year’s Fringe Festival, Sophia shares her inspiration for the adaptation, the strength of her team around her and some very good advice for surviving the ever-necessary evil of wearing those multi-tasking shoes in indie theatre. #FringeFemmeTO power!

HS: What inspired you to adapt George Bernard Shaw’s The Philanderer for the 21st century?

Sophia Fabiilli: Want to know my little secret? I didn’t have a project when I applied for the Fringe (gasp!). I was trying to find the perfect play to produce, but nothing felt right and my gut told me I was trying too hard. So, I sat down in my front of my bookshelf and said: “What do you really like, Sophia?” (out loud, alone, and creepily in my apartment). And there was my copy of Shaw’s Plays Unpleasant. I loved working on a scene from The Philanderer in theatre school and I realized what I really like are plays that make me laugh and make me think. I’m also very passionate about the representation of women on stage and in the media, so thought it would be interesting to re-invent the play with a woman at the centre of a modern love triangle, while trying to let Shaw’s smart, funny, and witty writing inspire my own. Then I realized this idea would involve writing a PLAY, so I went around telling myself I couldn’t possibly do THAT. Then, I finally told someone the idea, they said “DO IT”, and I started writing (and I haven’t slept a full night since).

What resulted is a weird, little farce. Our tagline is “Open relationships, ballsy sexcapades, and weeping men… What would Shaw think of that?”. Laugh? Cry? Throw rotten tomatoes from the grave? Come see the show and tell me what you think over a Steamwhistle after.

HS: You have a great group of artists working on this play. What was it like bringing something that you had been working with so intimately as an adaptor to the team you have around you?

SF: My amazing director/dramaturg/work wife, Michelle Alexander, was the first person I asked to help me with this project and I will sing her praises to anyone willing to listen. It’s been her and I since the get-go and we have slowly built our mighty little team together.

HS: What’s it been like?

SF: As an actor and producer: AWESOME. Work with great people. They’ll make you look like you know what you’re doing.

As a writer: AWESOME. And, to be honest, a little overwhelming. If you hire smart actors, they will ask hard questions about your weird little play baby, which in the moment is challenging, but in the long run is invaluable. There were a few humbling rehearsals where discrepancies were pointed out and questions were asked and I had to go back to my laptop and figure it out. Overall though, everyone’s profesh (that’s how I say professional without sounding pretentious); they all know what they’re doing and they’re all invested. I’m extremely lucky to be working with them.

HS: As you mentioned, you wear many hats for this production – adaptor, writer, producer, actor – what was your experience taking on so many roles in this show and do you have any words of advice for others who are or might one day be in the same kind of multitasking shoes?

SF: Full disclosure: writing, acting, and producing this show is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It is as difficult as everyone tells you it is (Michelle and I answer each other’s calls “Hello! Panic Attack Central” which gives you an idea of what our lives have been like leading up to opening).

Even now that we’re open, I’m STILL working on trying to separate my different roles, but things always come up! For instance, once we started rehearsals, I was trying really to “hang up my writer hat”, but then… the ending needed a major rewrite. And then… the show was too long. And then… it was still too long. And then… it was still too long… Layer in a never-ending producing to do list and slaying my demons as an actor, and… yes, Panic Attack Central really should have been the name of my theatre company now that I think of it.

So, here’s my humble advice:

1) Just like in real life, wearing more than one hat isn’t a “good” idea. But wearing multiple hats in this crazy biz is often unavoidable, so: prioritize and carve out time in your schedule for the creative things. Often there are harder deadlines for the producer things and will take priority sometimes (okay, a lot of times), make time for the creative stuff (for writing, learning lines, warming up for your show)… because chances are the creative part is probably why you’re producing your own show in the first place.

2) Ask for help. This one is so hard! It’s hard to trust other people with your weird play baby (no one understands her like you do). Surround yourself with awesome people and let them help you. My stage manager, Laura Paduch, offered to take on producer-y things from the get-go and I will forever love her for that. I also ended up bringing on my awesome co-producer, Vikki Velenosi, who keeps forcing me to give her items off my to do list, which she then magically accomplishes. I will love her forever, too. And then there is my small army of friends who I call for advice, for help postering, or for free therapy sessions. Oh, and Mom built my set. So, yes, I would definitely recommend having handy (and retired) parents.

3) Think less, just do it. This became my weirdo Nike-inspired mantra. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Do one thing at a time. Make a to do list and start checking things off. Just do it.

4) Budget extra time. For everything. Yep.

5) Take care of yourself. Take breaks. Take your vitamins. Sleep. Eat well. Call your mom (especially if she built your set).

Please note: I did not do these things unless we count eating Nutella off a spoon at 2am as “eating well”.

6) Remind yourself to enjoy the process. Half way through rehearsals I realized I was stressing so much about making a play. A PLAAAY. Even though I am totally the CEO of Panic Attack Central, making theatre isn’t heart surgery, so I tried my best not to stress about it like it was (and failed, but this sounds like excellent advice, doesn’t it?).

HS: Tell us about your favourite aspect of the Fringe Festival.

SF: The lottery system. “Breaking into the scene” is really daunting and can feel impossible, but anyone can get into the Fringe! It doesn’t matter what’s on your resume!! I just love that. And the beer tent is pretty fun, I guesssss…..

HS: Describe The Philanderess in 5 words.

SF: Silly. Sexy. Weird. Ridiculous. Unicorn.

HS: We’re loving the #FringeFemmeTO hashtag you ladies started! As Femmes who are Fringing, any other shows you think we should check out?

SF: It caught on! Woohoo! I feel like an old lady who got her DVD player to work! Honestly, I have a very on-again/off-again relationship with Twitter, but this really is evidence of its power to connect people.

So many #FringeFemmeTO shows to see and so little time! Here are just a few in no particular order:

In Case We Disappear, Bout, Hanger, Adventures of a Red Headed Coffee Shop Girl, Morro and Jasp do Puberty, Waiting for Alonzo

The Philanderess

Presented by Truth ‘n’ Lies Theatre as part of The 2015 Toronto Fringe


Meet Charlotte. She has a PhD in feminist philosophy, just asked her lawyer boyfriend to be her life partner, and authors a wildly famous blog about sleeping with men on the side. She has it all!
Until one of her lovers – and his entire family – crash her engagement party.
An outrageous, sexy, fast-paced farce inspired by G.B. Shaw’s ‘The Philanderer’!

By: Sophia Fabiilli
Company: Truth ‘n’ Lies Theatre
Company origin: Toronto, Ontario
Director: Michelle Alexander
Cast: Amos Crawley, Seth Drabinsky, Jakob Ehman, Sophia Fabiilli, Deborah Tennant and Suzanne Bennett
Creative team:
Stage Manager: Laura Paduch, Co-producers: Sophia Fabiilli and Vikki Velenosi, Designer: Laura Gardner, Fight Director: Nate Bitton

Where: Annex Theatre

July 02 at 07:00 PM  buy tickets
July 04 at 11:00 PM  buy tickets
July 06 at 01:30 PM  buy tickets
July 08 at 07:30 PM  buy tickets
July 10 at 05:45 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 12:30 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 04:00 PM  buy tickets

Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language


Connect with them: @truthnlies


Connect with us: @intheGreenRoom_


Fringe Preview: People Suck – An Irreverent Exploration of Human Suckiness – Presented by Nutmeg Creations at the 2015 Toronto Fringe

by Bailey Green

Megan Phillips had an epiphany. She was being a complete jerk to the people she loved — she had no idea why. She sat in a hipster coffee shop in Toronto during the 2014 Fringe when it hit her. After “journaling-out” some ideas, she got in contact with Peter Cavell. Megan calls Pete, “a brilliant composer” and knew he was the right person to bring this idea to life. When Megan told Pete the title, it sealed the deal — People Suck, an irreverent exploration of human suckiness.

They were intrigued by the concept of creating a song cycle based around a theme, as opposed to a musical with a linear arc or central character. People Suck plays with musical genres and unique characters, injected with a healthy dose of comedy. “Pete and I had very similar ideas of comedy,” says Megan, “but we also knew that in order to give that comedy depth, we had to explore the emotional layers behind the songs.”

Pete and Megan have known each other for almost 15 years, they attended Western together, and also come from similar backgrounds of working with Second City and sketch/improv work. Pete, writer and co-music director, is a current musical director at Second City. Megan, writer and cast member, heads an all-girl sketch comedy troupe called STRAPLESS COMEDY (who you may have seen at Fringe last year!).

They wrote People Suck on and off into the winter of 2014, while Megan lived in Vancouver and Pete lived in Toronto. But when they were pulled for the Fringe, they began writing multiple times a week over the phone. “Skype is not our friend,” they say. They kept track of lyrics in Google docs to coordinate progress, but couldn’t resist chasing each other’s cursors around the screen. “Our biggest challenge was time and distance,” Megan remembers. With the time difference, there was a narrow window where they could work. “I would get home after work, put my son to bed, and have only a few hours to write with Megan,” Pete says. In May, Megan moved to Toronto and the pair began to work on production. “Pete’s like a ‘real’ person… I mean he has a job and family and 2 year old, and Adriana [Pete’s wife] has been so amazing and supportive of Pete and this project,” Megan says. “She’s the best!” Pete agrees.

After both knowing him for years, their director Kerry Griffin (current director of Second City mainstage) was the first person they thought of to bring on to the project. As for cast, they needed to find actors with a comedic background who also had strong vocal chops. They chose: Ashley Comeau (Second City mainstage) and Connor Thompson (Second City) who are “a real life couple” adds Megan; Allison Price (Second City) who “coincidentally, we grew up as kids together,” says Pete, “and went to the same piano teacher”; as well as Arthur Wright, who went to university at the same time as Pete and Megan, who they also herald is a “phenomenal singer and actor.” Pete and Megan have been deeply appreciative of the hive-mind-like comedic writer atmosphere that has brought their piece to a new level.

They also credit their producer Victoria Laberge for her excellent work. Laberge, a native Montrealler very involved with theatre and FRINGE Montreal, has allowed Pete and Megan to focus on the creativity while Vic handles deadlines, press releases and “so many emails,” Megan says.

Their co-music director Jordan Armstrong, also a music director at Second City, brings a level of fresh musical improvisation and a bevy of skill with instruments to the table. Jordan plays clarinet, flute saxophone, percussion and piano (to name a few.) “So maybe she’ll grab her sax and I’ll grab my guitar, to we’ll fill out the musical texture a little more,” Pete says.

As for what they’re most excited for with the Fringe:

Megan: “Just doing the show for an audience! This show is so special and I feel so lucky to have had Pete as a partner and then the cast and everyone else who’s been involved. It’s our gorgeous little baby and now we’re get to show the baby to the world.”

Pete: “Getting this out there. We’ve been living with it for so long. Watching it now, the actors are all doing their thing and it’s made us step back and realize – wow, that was ours and now it’s this massive thing that can actually stand on it’s own.”

As for a teaser or preview? Megan graciously sings me a preview of their opener, in a Tim Hortons. The featured character is Miss Talbot, a teacher, who tells her class to settle down for the day’s lesson — that everyone has a special talent they bring (“In the potluck of life we can’t all bring the casserole,” Megan sings) but there’s always someone who plays a specific role.

“Suppose you lend your favourite dolly to Delilah,

Cause you were taught it’s nice and kind and good to share,

But then she keeps it for five years, and when it you get it back,

It smells like pee and it’s missing all it’s hair,

Then Delilah is an asshole.”


People Suck

Presented by Nutmeg Creations as part of the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festivalunnamed

By: Megan Phillips and Peter Cavell

Company: Nutmeg Creations

Company origin: Vancouver, British Columbia

Director: Kerry Griffin

Cast: Ashley Comeau, Megan Phillips, Allie Price, Connor Thompson, Arthur Wright

Creative team: Musical Direction by Jordan Armstrong and Peter Cavell. Produced by Victoria Laberge.

Warnings: Sexual Content, Mature Language

Where: Randolph Theatre


July 01 at 08:15 PM
July 04 at 10:30 PM
July 06 at 12:45 PM
July 07 at 06:45 PM
July 08 at 10:30 PM
July 09 at 05:15 PM
July 11 at 11:00 PM

Connect with them: @PplSuckMusical

Connect with us: @intheGreenRoom_ & @_BaileyGreen