Showing posts from August, 2012

Apple Picking...

I am headed off to New York City for the next little while.  Look how casual I was about saying that...  A good friend of mine is getting married on the weekend so I am heading down to celebrate with her and her fella and have stretched the trip out a bit so I can see some shows. I have never been before and since Broadway is like Mecca to theatre people ( particularly those who do musicals ) I am so excited!  I have a great travelling companion, also a NY Newbie and we are excited to take on the city! Anyhow, I am doubtful I will blog in my absence as I am leaving my computer behind, but I will fill you in when I get back. Today is packing for me and also getting the boys ready for school.  I don't have much time when I get back so the plan is to have it all ready before I go so that first day is taken care of. That's the plan, anyhow. Today is buying shoes and labelling school supplies... If I am lucky I will also find a better travelling purse... My mind is full of what

And So Another Fringe Ends...

Well, I wrapped the Fringe up today with 3 more shows bringing my total to 21 for the Festival.  I think that is pretty close to last year and I felt I saw enough but not too much.  I got a great variety and didn't make any major missteps in picking.  I am getting better at parsing through the program for the opening weekend and then keeping my ear to the ground for the rest of the week.  Word of Mouth was a good thing to listen for! Of the 11 days of Fringe I saw shows on 9 days, so I will be adding that number ( not 21 ) to my theatrical goal for the year, bringing my current total up to 38! I am 2 away from my goal.  I think I will have no problem surpassing that since I won that season prize and we still have Rock of Ages in the Broadway Across Canada tickets and two Walterdale shows.  I think next year I will be upping my goal! Anyhow, today I started with The Colander Gals .  I was blown away by how tight it was.  They made me so very happy.  The house was very full.  Th

Final Days of Fringe 2012...

Despite the 14+ rating on Son of a Dwarf! we decided to take the boys to see it.  I had seen all the three previous Fringe shows from this group and had a chat with the Director about content and felt that they could handle the inappropriate humour.  Other than the 'bad words' ( which they already know and know they are not to use them themselves) and a few sexual innuendo ( which went right over their heads ) there was nothign worry about. It was a perfect fit.  We have raised our children with an appreciation for the inappropriate - sorry about that... Anyhow, the show was much fun!  Gibson was instantly quoting lines and retelling parts of the show to me as we walked back to the car. He also felt the goat was a particularly good actor. Oliver agreed that the choice was a good fit.   I have said it before, but this group does the best job of merging film and theatre. One show left - today at 1 p.m. at the Garneau Theatre. I am off to enjoy my last day of Fringe starting

Hold-Overs Announced

If you didn't get your fill of Fringe shows this past week, you can catch a few special ones at the Holdovers next weekend.  I am pleased to see that many of the Word of Mouth shows made it on that list.  I will not be able to make any of them as I will be in NYC that weekend.  I saw most of the ones on that list that I wanted to with the exception of Reefer Madness.  I am really sad I didn't get to that one, but my back needed the rest last night and Mark needed the night out.  There are other Fringe shows I will not have gotten to that I wish I could have but you only have so much time! I did my best... My plan for tonight is to take the whole family to Son of a Dwarf! at the Garneau.  If I feel up to it I might abandon them and head back to the village for another show.  On Sunday I will be seeing The Colander Gals and then I have tentative plans for Spare Change , Threads and Gruesome Playground Injuries.  This is contingent on my back and the availability of ticket

Artist's Forum on Risk at the Fringe - A Review

Someone reviewed the Fringe Artist's Forum I participated in on Risk in a Fringe show (How Far is Too Far?).  You can read it here. It is an interesting read.

Friday at Fringe Finished Fast!

I raced to the site, after dropping off Gibson at camp, and got there just in time to catch The Gooble Portrait.  It was a fun show ( aimed at younger audiences ) and was very impressive in it's concept and design.  The production was sophisticated in a way that I appreciate.  Too often I find that children's theatre is not done well or else is over-simplified and dumbed down.  This was clever, smart and magical without being over the heads of the kids.  I am glad I caught it.  If there were a design category for Fringe shows - this one would definitely win it!  The way they create the painting effects is  really cool. I then headed to Walterdale Theatre for 7 Ways to Die (stopping for a green onion cake on the way).   7 Ways is a sweet little mask play about love and death and it was a nice show for a Friday afternoon. I am off this evening as Mark has requested a night out to hear our friend Richie's band perform at BoDiddly's and since I have been out for the la

Loose Lips...

Here are some more Word of Mouth recommendations - some are repeats, but that just tells you I heard them from more than one person! Here they are in no particular order except for the first two. Loon - this is the most often heard show on the grounds when I ask the question Apocalypse: A Period Piece - 2nd most frequent Gruesome Playground Injuries Reefer Madness Spare Change A Kind of Alaska/Victoria Station Medicine Fools for Love Essay Progressive Polygamists Finding Nymma Mojo Mickeybo Sexual Perversity in Chicago I heard a lot of the same shows mentioned.  I find it interesting which shows I am NOT hearing about, which I would have thought would have been up there based on things like reviews and # of stars and all that. Food for thought!  I do like that there is a real mix up there.  Some are local, some are not, some  are funny, some are serious, clown shows, mask shows, plays and musicals - it's all there!

Holy Hannah! HAIL!

This day felt really long, but not in a bad way.  After all that heat I enjoyed that it was a little cooler today.  It made Acacia Hall a lot more comfortable as I sat through Pushed.   Pushed was a great choice.  I had missed it when it was at Nextfest but thought it sounded intriguing then (a few years ago) so I was happy to fit it in.  Great script and wonderful performances from the two actresses.  It's funny for the first half and then it gets very tense.  It's one of those that you kind of get a shiver after. And then came the HAIL!  I went to get Oliver first and just as we pulled out of the Saville Parking lot the hail started coming down. Oliver is ridiculously afraid of weather phenomenon ( he will get himself worked up enough to throw up - not fun ) so I decided to drop him off at the Store with Mark before I got Gibson.  Crazy weather.  Of course, Gibson had not packed a coat so I wrapped him in my pashmina (he looked very funny) and we ran for the van. I am of

Talking with Playwrights - the Artist's Forum

The Artist's Forum went really well last night.  There were about 15-20 people there and I guess that was the best attended one.  I was pleased with the discussion both from the panel and the audience.  A wee bit nervous before it started, I was fine once questions were posed.  I think I was articulate and managed to express what I felt.  I am not an authority though, and I know there was one or two things from the audience that I couldn't solve - How can reviewers be better trained?; How do you get a venue if you don't get picked in the lottery and you can't find a BYOV?; How come there's no Brecht at the festival? Is the Fringe getting too big, too fast? I have no idea on most of those.  But as to risk and the balance of risk vs. saleability I know that I have to write the play I have to write.  Not everyone will be my audience, but some will.  I hope that I always do good and truthful work and that's all I can do.  Because I don't tend to write the side s

A Couple of Irish Lads...

I caught Mojo Mickeybo this afternoon at the Cosmo (Stage 8).  It was a nice two-hander deftly performed.  Great pace, excellent characterization.  I quite liked it.  You can tell they have worked hard on this - there is a crispness to it that is often missing in Fringe shows.  Well directed and acted and a script that moves a long engagingly.  It's also very present - they really knew it inside out.  I imagine the two actors have some sort of Improv background to keep it all so clean and fresh.  I knew something was going to happen, but I was a little surprised that I actually got teary eyed at the ending.

Word of Mouth

I have been asking people what shows they recommend (basically I say: be my reviewer and tell me what you think has been good).  I will keep doing so as I run into people I know.  I haven't bought past Thursday so I am hoping to construct a weekend from the input I get. Here are some of the shows that my friends have recommended (based on seeing them, not based on being in them): Gruesome Playground Injuries God is a Scottish Drag Queen Fools For Love Reefer Madness Minding Dad Dead Wrong Loon A Wake Apocalypse: A Period Piece Four in the Crib Gordon's Big Bald Head The list was longer if I included the recommendations of the shows the people were in themselves - funny that... I'll keep asking because I trust a reviewer I can ask questions of and I will let you know what I hear!

Fringe Artist Forum - Good Talks!

So my Fringe Forum is on tonight.  I am very excited to participate in this panel, although I feel a bit outclassed by the talent I will be sitting up there with.  In any case, it is sure to be an interesting discussion and it's FREE!  Drop by the PCL Theatre and check it out.  For those of you who write for Fringe or produce for Fringe it is sure to be a valuable discussion.  FRINGE FORUMS 2012 August 20, 21 and 22, 2012 8:30 – 9:30 PM ADMISSION: Free LOCATION:  PCL Studio at the TransAlta Arts Barns 10330 – 84 Ave.  (south end of the Arts Barns)  [ map ] Fringe Theatre Adventures, in partnership with the  Playwrights Canada Press , NeWest Press ,  Theatre Alberta ,  Alberta Touring Arts Alliance  and the Writers Guild of Alberta , is pleased to present the Fringe Forums at the PCL Studio located in the TransAlta Arts Barns. There are three different forums that touch on issues that concern the theatre community currently. We are pleased to host some of Alberta’s most

Start in Sunshine, End in Rain and Lightning...

Not a comment on the theatre I saw today, merely the weather.  I am glad for this storm as I think it will release some of the heat of the week.  I could feel something building so thankfully I brought my hoodie so I had it after the last show when I needed it. Today I quite enjoyed my Fringe Adventure.  I saw three good shows and had some great conversations.  I was surprised by what I saw - always a good thing since I am not fond of predictability.  The word for today was compelling! I started the day with Wishbone Theatre's Parlour Songs .  I love Wishbone Theatre.  I am always impressed with the quality of their work and this was no exception.  I am not sure what the title was about, but the show was really good.  I was particularly impressed with Dave Clarke and Michael Peng, but I also loved the concept - using text from the script and images on screens to support the action.  It was also quite clever in that it made for a cleaner show.  I am not sure if those choices we

A New Day! Three More shows...

I woke after a lovely sleep and was thinking about why I love the Fringe so much... Just yesterday I saw three very, very different shows produced by people who are clearly passionate about what they do, and while I connected to each with different degrees of success, I felt that they all were working it and dedicated to telling their stories.  Fringe is about the taking of risks.  It's about putting it out there.  Not everything works, but that's okay.  If I look at my fringe so far - the whole thing - I have been lucky to see 7 shows, all of which were worth the money I paid to see them.  Some (Like Spring Awakening and A Bronte Burlesque ) were worth far more.  That's awesome.  I have also written a play, well, a first draft.  I have eaten mini-donuts and ice cream and have drank a lot of diet coke ( wait, that's normal ).  I watched 2 outdoor shows - which I normally do not do.  And it's only day 6!  Today I will see  3 more shows - they range wide in scope -

And Three More Shows...

Saw three more shows today.  This pace is actually slow for me, but I lost the Sunday to playwrighting so there ya go. This afternoon I saw Spring Awakening at Strathcona High School.  It was a FABULOUS Show!  Easily worth 2-3 times the price of admission.  Strong vocals, well cast and well directed.  The music was great and it's a very compelling show.  I highly recommend.  It is toasty in the space - so bring or buy water and leave your jacket in the car.  It's also 2 hours + so you have to plan for that, but it is well worth the time and the heat! In the evening I caught Bromance and then A Bronte Burlesque .   I am a little old to have truly connected to Bromance .  I think it plays better to a young and single demographic.  It has been many years since I have been young or single and although I recognize the character types in the play, I am a bit removed from them.  There were some clever parts and quite a few laughs but the combination of my old age and the chall

Finished with about 3 Hours to Spare...

There comes a time in the 24 hour playwrighting adventure where I just can't do much more.  I know that I will do more with the script eventually but for now it's a first draft,  it's pretty solid, and it's submitted.  I had time to print it off and proof it.  I had a good time and now I am tired.  I need to shower and I really want a  nap... maybe Mark will take the boys outside or something. It's back to normal here - Oliver whining about not being allowed to play his DS (Mark made some arbitrary decision - not sure why), and the kitchen is a mess. Tomorrow I am back at the Fringe for Spring Awakening, Bromance and A Bronte Burlesque.  I'd better rest up!

Over halfway there both in time and writing...

At about 4:30 a.m. I laid down for a nap in Corner Stage.  I got a little over 3 hours worth of not super comfortable sleep, and then was woken up for breakfast.  I feel like we are eating a lot.  No one will starve at this 24 Hour Playwrighting Competition! Yay! And that's good, because when you get past the midpoint you need the food breaks to keep you focused. After a granola bar and orange juice I washed my face and brushed my teeth and returned to the script.  It's getting closer to completion. I am at the doubting myself stage, where I think that all I am writing are cliches, but when I took that playwrighting course with Nobel Prize winner Derek Wolcott, he said something about Chekhov saying something about everything being a cliche so I think I am good there. I mean, Nobel Prize Winner and Chekhov - how can you go wrong?  Besides, this is the vomit draft - just got to get it on the page! I hope to get the draft completed by 1 p.m. so I can print it off and read it

Taking a Break from Writing... By Writing...

We are in hour 6 of Play in a Day over at the University of Alberta's Media Room.  The event has been calm and quiet with a break for supper just after 9:00 p.m. and several bathroom breaks and FB checks.  I have been productive.  I am on page 16 of my script and it feels kind of cool to be writing a play I had no ideas about until 6 p.m. this evening. I like what I have and I am feeling tired but also feeling like I could go for a few more hours before trying to take a nap. It is nice to have time to write and even better to have time specifically dedicated to that purpose. There are 12 of us here writing our plays.  We interact at meals - that's nice.  It's obvious that some people know each other.  I will try to learn a few more names at the next break. I have enough sugar to give a small child diabetes so I am in good shape.  I have only had 4 diet cokes... so far... Anyhow, I will keep plugging along - who knows, maybe I am writing my next Fringe show?

Re-Cap and Reflection - Fringe Day Two

The afternoon at the Fringe with the boys was great.  A little expensive, but great.  We enjoyed some of the buskers/outdoor shows (Deux Hoops and Secret Circus) and wandered the grounds.  We also got their ice-cream and mini donuts covered.  It was good.  The best was the show. I picked right this year! Yay!   Kidprovisors proved to be a fabulous choice.  It suited both boys and they loved it.  I also quite enjoyed the show.  The group really merged the adult experienced improvisors with the young new improvisors very well and they gave us a truly entertaining hour of fun.  Gibson is a full-body audience member, particularly when he laughs and he squirmed and roared through the whole thing.  Oliver dropped his "I'm almost a teenager' attitude and was similarly engaged. Donovan Workun was both boys' favorite and they were thrilled to wave at him in the street after the show (and he waved back - so thrilled!).  They both want to take improv classes.  Now that's do

Fringe 2012 - Day Two Plan!

I am taking my kids to the Fringe this afternoon for a little Kidprovising and Kid's Fringe.  Soon the oldest will be too cool for the Kid's Fringe so I am making the most of it now.  Ah well, when he's too old I can send him on his way and just do kid stuff with the younger.  Anyhow, the first question asked of me today when I came downstairs was, " When are we going to the Fringe?" I like this.  I like that when we occasionally drive by the area at other times in the year the kids will ask " When is Fringe on again ?" I like that they are already attached to it... I have done my brain-washing! But even better, the Fringe has done it's job to make it something they want to return to. I am going to try to stick to a budget with regards to Fringe food.  These kids would eat EVERYTHING if I would buy it for them.  Mini-donuts, ice-cream, maybe pizza... we shall see. First the show, then Kid's Fringe and then the food.  That's the way it ha

And Fringe Begins!

I shed most of the germs just in time for Fringe to start tonight.  The Village was hopping and I had a fun time 'directing traffic' for the Performers Parade.  I tried to have fun with it with some fancy arm circling and pointing the way.  Directing actors in a parade is kind of like herding cats, but probably more fun! I then did a bit of a recon of the site and then proceeded to the line up for my first Fringe show, Fiorello!, at the Varscona.  I had a lovely chat with another solo theatre goer in the line and sat with her for the show. Line chats are an important part of Fringing particularly if you go on your own.  I am always fascinated by the openness of people in Fringe line-ups to talk to complete strangers.  It's kind of cool. The show was fun.  Clearly a scaled down version since they had to squeeze a full-length musical into a more reasonable fringe running time, but the cast of 6 did a good job populating early 20th Century New York.  I was not familiar

Illness Strikes... Not Fun...

I am sick.  Gibson is sick.  It is not fun.  I am hoping that I am over the worst of it by tomorrow because I have some stuff I want to do - Fringe related stuff. I do not want to be sitting in a Medicentre for a couple of hours so hopefully this clears up for the both of us. One can hope. All I can say is that I am glad I am not in a Fringe show.  I cannot imagine dealing with this flu/cold thing and be going through tech.  I hope all the Fringe participants are healthy and not achy like me and Gibson!

Too Many Pieces want to Fit in the Same Spot...

So yesterday I wrote about my love for the Fringe Program... today I write about my frustration with the BYOV scheduling I discovered in the Fringe Program.  One of the things that the people with BYOVs tend to do is schedule all their shows in the 7-10 p.m. window... ALL THEIR SHOWS in that window.  It sucks.  It means they are programming for the casual Fringer - the Fringer who comes to the Fringe Village during the 'high hours' and sees one or two shows and then hangs out in the beer tent.  It does not work well for the die-hard Fringer - the one who wants to see a lot of shows.  I go through the program and circle the shows I am interested in - I come up with about 57 - about 1/3 of those are indoor shows and 2/3 are BYOVs.  Can you see the problem?  Consider as well that the BYOVs are not all in the Fringe Village area.  Some of them you have to drive to.  So I am finding myself with a challenging schedule.  I can't make it work.  And because there are some at off-

Seven Dollars of Joy - My Fringe Program

Yesterday I bought tickets for my Thursday and Friday shows, but before I could do much more planning I knew I needed a program.  There are just too many BYOVs and I am loath to do the planning and buy tickets and then find out I have 15 minutes to get from Fringe Village to Expressionz Cafe or The stanley Milner Library.  Can't be done. So, I went down to the Box Offic, picked up my tickets (all for shows in the Village proper) and bought my Program.  The Program is the most valuable resource for any die-hard fringer, especially with the plethora of BYOVs.  If you casually fringe you can probably get away with not buying one - but I have to very carefully plan my fringe experience so I have to make it work right and there are shows I want to see at these off-site BYOVs so I have to figure out when I will get to them. I flipped through the Program.  I had read through the online synopsis for all the shows the day before so I got through it faster than you might have thought, bu

So Do You Have a Fringe Show?

I have been asked this upwards of 50 times last month and it is kind of making me wish I did.  Let's hope I get in next year after taking a year off!  I do have some connections to the Fringe this year... I am doing this: FRINGE ARTIST'S FORUMS Wednesday, August 22, 2012 8:30 – 9:30 PM A FRINGE TOO FAR? WHAT RISKS DO WE REALLY TAKE? Join local playwrights as they probe questions about the size and scope of the risks they take in their Fringe work. Should new works at the Fringe strive to take risks that may not be possible in a regular theatre season? Should a playwright go ‘to the edge’ at the Fringe, or does too much “fringy-ness” turn away audiences? MODERATOR: Eric Rice (President, Walterdale Playhouse) PANELISTS: Marty Chan (author of the 2011 Fringe hit Mothership Down), Kristen Finlay (author of the 2011 Fringe hit Pieces ), Nicole Schafenacker (co-author of the 2012 Nextfest play Double Occultation ), Jon Lachlan Stewart (co-founder of Surreal SoReal Theatre)

Strangely Drained...

I've been without an active project for about 3 weeks now and I am feeling really punchy about it.  I have filled my time with reading and cleaning and working out, but without a structured project I feel at wit's end. I do have projects coming up and some that I am somewhat involved in (painting in September, a bit of dramaturgy for a friend's Fringe show [ more on that in a later post ], overdue writing projects, etc...), but now in the heat of summer with kids home and all that I feel a bit trapped and bored. I have read many books over the last few weeks.  A bit of junk food reading, some non-fiction, some police procedurals, some young adult fantasy stuff and all that has been good.  I just don't function well when not busy.  That is not to say I want people to load me up with their tasks ( no phone calls, please ).  There is something that happens when you are chained to the house because of kids (it is summertime and they are home) and so you can't do things