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Posts tagged ‘Toronto Sketch Comedy’

Fringe Preview: “Ups. Downs. Keyboard. Dance. Millennials.” And more of what to expect in REGICIDE, a sketch comedy show at the 2015 TO Fringe

Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird

SSB: Can you tell us what “Regicide” means and how it affects this piece? 

Christian Smith: Yeah! Technically It means “Killing a King”. We aren’t trying to say anything by the name apart from we really loved when the Simpsons referenced it and we all thought it was a fun name. Naming a sketch comedy troupe is hard and silly. The concept of “Regicide” influenced the poster design and thus influenced some of the scenes we’ve created. We had a great designer to work with, Raul Delgado, and he created the poster. We took some of those themes and incorporated them into the show.

SSB: Regicide is not your standard play. What was the process for creating this show? 

CS: Well, writing sketch comedy can be hard because there are so many ways to create it. Everyone in the group came from a different background and have had different experiences, so we kind of all started writing on our own to begin with. I prefer to collaborate, but in this particular process I had to focus much more on my writing and it actually helped me get to the core of the idea quicker. As you know, Fringe approaches quickly once you hear you’ve gotten a lottery spot! There are also enormous benefits to pitching the idea in a room before that and to having the other creators brainstorm on it. In this case, we all had to shift the way we work and it was exciting.

It was a great learning experience as it is our first revue as the group “Regicide“. We brought in Kerry Griffin (current Second City mainstage director) to direct the show after we had a ton of material to show him and then he shaped it.

SSB: What’s it like working with Kerry Griffin? 

CS: Kerry is a great director and great guy. He doesn’t come in with any pre-conceived notions of the show or what he wants to see from the group. He reads the room, sees where our strengths lie and goes from there. He really allowed us to find our voices and then you can see him start to put a show together. He has great instincts and such an amazing sense of humour.

SSB: There are sooo many plays in the Fringe. What sets Regicide apart? 

CS: There are going to be so many good shows! Everyone has their preference in types of comedy and what they look for in a theatrical experience. If you’re looking for topical, creative, fun and (on occasion) thought provoking; then see our show. Personally, I like to use sketch comedy as a way to hold a mirror up to society and speak about concepts or topics that move/interest me. Sometimes we need to have a discourse about some things through the guise of a comedy show for us to know it’s okay to laugh about something. Or at the very least, have us start asking questions. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes comedy can tug at your heartstrings or punch you in the gut! That’s the kind of thing I’m interested in!

SSB: How was the team assembled? Did you know each other beforehand? 

CS: We all met in the Second City Conservatory program and here we are. We had some great people work with us. They run a great establishment there at the Second City.

SSB: Describe the show in 5 words.

CS: Ups. Downs. Keyboard. Dance. Millennials.

SSB: Who’s the one person you’d want to see this show? (Could be anyone alive, dead…)

CS: Well… since you said “could be anyone alive, dead….”, the ellipses made me think that I have to pick Tupac. No one knows either way if he’s alive or dead. I’d like the rumours to stop with us, here, at the Regicide show. He is now obligated to come see the show, one way or another. Gotcha Tupac!

 

regicide poster

 

Where: Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 79 St. George St., Toronto, Ontario

When:

July 01 at 08:15 PM
July 04 at 07:30 PM
July 06 at 05:00 PM
July 07 at 03:00 PM
July 09 at 12:15 PM
July 10 at 09:15 PM
July 11 at 03:30 PM

Connect with them:

Christian Smith – Writer/Performer    @ChristianVSmith

Sam Roulston – Writer/Performer      @SamWRoulston

Emma Davey – Writer/Performer       @TheEmmaJames

Gina Phillips – Writer/Performer         @GinaPhillips

Carson Gale – Writer/Performer         @Carson_Gale

Pete DeCourcy – Writer/Performer     @PeteDeCourcy

Kerry Griffin – Director                        @Kerry_Griffin

Nicola Dempsey – Musical Director

Georgia Brown – Stage Manager

Raul Delgado – Poster Design

Connect with us:

Shaina Silver-Baird – Writer             @SSilverBaird

In the Greenroom                            @intheGreenRoom_

Tickets:

http://fringetoronto.com/fringe-festival/shows/regicide/

 

Artist Profile: Gwynne Phillips & Briana Templeton of The Templeton Philharmonic’s “Unbridled & Unstable” at the NSTF

Interview by Hallie Seline

I had the pleasure of chatting with two hugely-talented, intelligent and down-right hilarious performers – Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton of The Templeton Philharmonic about their current sketch show, Unbridled & Unstable, a good-time-havin’ must-see at the Next Stage Theatre Festival (NSTF). 

We discussed the importance of taking risks, the freedom of making your own work, a remixed Downton Abbey theme song, inspiring artists, The Comedy Bar and putting the focus on the work.

HS: Tell us about yourselves.

B: I grew up in Kitchener, ON.

G: And I grew up in the country, near Orangeville, ON.

B: Both of us studied drama at the University of Toronto, where we met. We ended up doing a play together at Il Piccolo Teatro in Milan through the program, which needless to say was very, VERY fun. Since then, I’ve done a lot of theatre and worked behind the scenes for film companies. Right now, in addition to acting, I work as a writer and producer for advertising. It’s very fun and beneficial to infuse whatever comedy I can into my work in that arena, as well.

G: When I’m not performing with The Templeton Philharmonic, I work for a charity called A Ticket Forward as their Social Media Manager. Briana and I have also worked for TIFF doing various jobs. As far as other acting gigs go, I also starred as Barbra in Night Of The Living Dead Live! directed by Christopher Bond last year, which was an incredible experience and probably the most fun I’ve had on stage other than doing sketch.

HS: What sparked The Templeton Philharmonic to get started? 

B: We wanted to create something together as writers and performers, so we applied to the Montreal Fringe back in 2011. Thus, we were forced to create something and ended up making a comedy show. Nothing helps bring art to life like a solid deadline.

G: We were also never cast in anything together at U of T and wanted to create our own work where we could have the freedom to play any type of character we wanted… for instance… two monks in a monastery.

Briana Templeton & Gwynne Phillips

Briana Templeton & Gwynne Phillips

HS: Tell us a bit about Unbridled & Unstable at the NSTF.

B: It’s a comedy show that features a lot of surreal, strange and silly sketches. It’s a lot of fun to perform, and to watch as well (so we hear).

G: U&U (no one calls it that) is a loosely equestrian-themed sketch comedy show with a variety of characters who are all, in some way, either unbridled or unstable.

HS: We are thrilled at how many female artists are representing at the NSTF this year. As artists who hang out in the comedy circuit as well, is that somewhere you see the same vibrancy of female talent being recognized? We’d love to hear your thoughts. 

B: Yup, it’s great. We feel lucky to be a part of both the theatre AND comedy scenes in Toronto – which are home to some awesome talent (of all genders).

G: The calibre of talented ladies in the Toronto comedy scene is exceptional. We are very fortunate to have such a supportive comedy community.

To state the obvious: the entertainment industry is a tough one. And in many ways: it can be even more brutal if you’re female. I think that it’s important for the genders of creators and characters to be more evenly represented in media (the The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has some great stats if you feel like being depressed). And that includes comedy. I think it’s important to acknowledge the disparity and try and actively change that state of affairs.

B: That said… we get asked A LOT about what it’s like to be female comedians. I suppose it’s because humour can be a very powerful thing to wield and/or master… you sink or swim. And there’s that myth that women aren’t as funny, due to our lady brains and all. As such, we’ve had interviewers focus on whether or not we cry after we bomb a set. Somehow, I doubt that’s something they would ask a male comedian…

Of course, our viewpoints as feminists and females does inform our work. It has to, and that’s a good thing. But, I don’t think that’s the ONLY thing we can focus on in our writing, either. We want to be good comedians, period. Not good for comedians that get their period (see what I did there? A pun!). What I’m saying is: we’re very grateful for being recognized as artists, and that people like and/or connect with our work. That’s marvellous. But I hope we don’t get extra kudos just because of our chromosomes, but because we’re doing interesting work. Ya dig?

HS: Totally. Great answer!  Why do you think the NSTF is important for the Toronto arts community and Toronto as a whole? 

B: It helps artists reach a bigger audience, and it helps us to access venues that would be difficult for us to afford otherwise (without jacking up our ticket prices). Getting to perform at the Factory Theatre, for example, is such a pleasure for us.

G: NSTF is great for creating a supportive community of artists gathered in one place to see each other’s work and inspire one another. It’s also refreshing to see so many people lined up outside at the coldest time of year to see some theatre!

Briana Templeton & Gwynne Phillips

Briana Templeton & Gwynne Phillips

HS: Who inspires you?

B: We both really like offbeat, old movies. We recently watched The Innocents (1961) together which is delightfully creepy. And of course, other writers and performers and comedians. I really love Maria Bamford and Key & Peele. In terms of fellow Canadians, I’d say: Tony Ho, Peter ‘n Chris, Kathleen Phillips, Mark Little and Dan Beirne (especially their recent “Space Riders” and “Dad Drives”), we could go on and on.

G: Obviously love Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Sarah Silverman, among others. But if you just pop into Comedy Bar here in TO, you are surrounded by talented and inspiring folks from stand-ups to sketch comedians who are going out and performing almost every night of the week and just trying stuff out. That’s inspiring.

HS: What is your favourite part of Toronto and why?

B: I love Toronto Island. Probably because of the insane 50-100 year wait list to live there. It makes it that much more appealing because it’ll never happen. Also, name wise: I like Baby Point and Crestfallen Lane.

G: I really love biking in Toronto in the summer and going through all the different neighbourhoods. Seems like it’s becoming a really cool place to live all of a sudden. Maybe too cool…

HS: I would love to hear the best advice you’ve ever gotten. 

B: “Those pants look terrible”. KIDDING. That’s one of the not-so-helpful pieces of advice I’ve gotten. Hmm… a theatre teacher once said “Don’t move unless you need to move, don’t speak unless you need to speak” in regards to being on stage. The point is not to be hesitant on stage but to find your intension and have stakes. Everything you write as a writer and everything you do as an actor should serve a purpose. And, don’t be afraid to streamline your work and distill it. Zero in on what you’re trying to get across, and/or how you are moving the action.

G: Take risks. This is a hard one because it is easy to fall into a pattern that is comfortable – whether it’s in comedy or in life. Just do things that scare you. Don’t fall into old habits or repeat yourself too often. Shake things up!

HS: Favourite part about the NSTF tent? 

B: The heaters. Also, the people huddling around them.

G: The twinkly lights. And one year they had stew. I hope they have stew again.

HS: If you could have your audience listen to a song or playlist before seeing the show, what would it be? 

G: “The Downton Abbey Opening Theme Song” immediately interrupted by “Pump Up The Jam”.

(For your remixing purposes:)

HS: Describe Unbridled and Unstable in 5-10 words.

G: A fast-paced, energetic, comedy/variety show featuring hobby horses.

HS: What’s another NSTF show that you are most excited about?

B: I’m excited to see Dink! Kris Siddiqi makes a voiceover cameo in our show, and Jasmine Chen guest starred in our CBC Punchline web series, “Womanish”. Also, Graham Clark Reads The Phone Book and For A Good Time, Call Kathy Blanchard seem very promising.

G: I would love to see all the shows if I get the chance! They all look intriguing to me. That being said, Graham Clark Reads The Phonebook seems right up my alley.

Unbridled & Unstable

by Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton of The Templeton Philharmonic, presented as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival

Horse-Photoshoot

Playing everything from upper crust Edwardian snobs to unhinged modern suburbanites, Briana Templeton and Gwynne Phillips have created a show loaded with surreal humour, outrageous dance sequences, and biting social commentary. Unbridled & Unstable will feature best-loved sketches from the duo’s repertoire alongside plenty of daring new material. Expect the unexpected.

Tickets: $15 – Buy here.

Connect: The Templeton Philharmonic

http://templetonphilharmonic.com/
@TempletonPhil 

Where: Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst St.)
Length: 60 min

Created by Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton
Featuring Gwynne Phillips and Briana Templeton
Stage Manager Vanessa K. Purdy

When:

Wed Jan 7 – 8:30pm
Fri Jan 9 – 5:15pm
Sat Jan 10 – 2:45pm
Sun Jan 11 – 7:00pm – followed by a Talkback at The Hoxton
Mon Jan 12 – 9:15pm
Wed Jan 14 – 6:45pm
Thu Jan 15 – 7:15pm
Sat Jan 17 – 9:00pm
Sun Jan 18 – 6:00pm