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Tuesday, August 28, 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 I might see (the online listings for Broadway shows looks so gooooood) and my general travelling stress (I am better in familiar places), but we are going to play it by ear and I think all will be well!  I am hoping it's not a crazy time for the city so we might get some deals and see some good stuff!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

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.  The cake was yummy.  The harmonies were tight and the laughs kept coming.  I was very pleased with it and so proud to have been a part of it.

Then I headed to the Fringe Village and saw Spare Change.  It was a tight little piece about panhandlers and perception and homelessness.  I am still not sure about whether I will give money to panhandlers, but it does give you pause in how you think about the people you see who are obviously homeless.  The key message is that they are still human and we seem to forget that.

Then I had a nice visit in the Beer Tents - first with the cast of Spare Change, most of whom I know from Walterdale, and then with friends Lindsey and Sarah who I also know from Walterdale (and other theatre experiences).

I ended the Fringe with perhaps my favourite show of the Festival.  Favourite implies personal choice and opinion and this one is wrapped up with pride and memory as I worked with the actress a few years back and I was blown away by how mature she is now as an actor, but I saw Gruesome Playground Injuries and it was so lovely.  It made me cry. I was also extremely impressed by the direction.  The transitions were electric and the design was spot-on.  It was a perfect final show for me.

This ends what is apparently a record breaking Fringe.  I know I had a good time.  Can't wait until next year!

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 with The Colander Gals at 2 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church.   I am excited to see how the show has matured over the course of Fringe.  It's been a while since I have seen the ladies. Hope to see some of you there - we can sit together!

Afterwards, back willing, I plan to head to the Fringe site to catch a few more shows. I think next year I will need to invest in a cushion or lumbar roll or something. This week has been a challenge for me.  First time ever.  I should probably get in better shape - strengthen the back muscles to prepare for Fringe! Maybe someone can put together a Fringe Training Program! on DVD!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

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 tickets! So far I feel like I have had a pretty good Fringe... I think I am up to 16 or 17 shows and if I get to all the ones I have planned for the rest of the weekend that will take me to 20-21... that's pretty good for me! And, hey, at $15 bucks a pop that's about $300.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

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 last 8 nights I guess it is only fair. My back is also in a bit of pain from sitting through so many shows so I will medicate and rest up for tomorrow and the marathon final Fringe day - Sunday!

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!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

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 two minds about being in sandals - one the one hand it was nice not to be in wet socks, but on the other hand my feet were pretty cold for a while there. If it looks overcast I am wearing the wellies tomorrow!

Met up with Anne Marie for Marked, Trevor Schmidt's new work, and ran into friends Richie and Vero there (nice to see you guys!).  It was very cool.  Mesmerizing.  All I wanted was a bigger click on the ending - maybe with lights or sound, because it remains a mystery so it took us a few seconds to realize that we weren't going to get all the answers.  The mystery itself is cool and the movement combined with the sound design is quite electric and moody.

And then it was time to find out who won the Play in a Day competition.  I knew upon entering the theatre that it was not me as my script has 5 women and the panel of actors were 2 women and 3 men, so I had no anxiousness about the announcement.  The lucky winner was (drum roll please) Julia Seymour, with her play The Passing.  We were then treated to a first ever reading by some fabulous local actors.  It was a really lovely script - excellent dialogue, well defined characters and conflict, and quite touching.  I hope to see it again as it is further developed.  When the winner was announced by Brian Dooley, he indicated that the jury had narrowed it down to three - so like all the playwrights involved have done, I will assume mine was one of the other two scripts (ha ha ha ha ha - oh, the ego needs it!).

I had about an hour and a half to kill before my last show of the day and I ran into former student Mike Robertson and his lovely girl Kelta and we talked of Fringe (what to see, reviews, what not to see), the movie 8 1/2 and Toronto and all sorts of things.  Mike has a show on at Wunderbar called Wut Iz Lyfe? and I have heard good things about it.  Knowing Mike, I am pretty sure it is funny!  Check it out if you have a chance!

I ended the day (see, it was long!) with a hot chocolate and The Wasteland.  Beth Graham is luminous and totally committed.  I, however, still do not get much of the poem.  I didn't when I was in University in the 80s and I pretended to get T.S. Eliot, so it was neat to compare.  There were moments of clarity in sections and some really lovely bits. I felt as though I was stretching my brain and that's a good thing.

Now I am off to bed.  All the theatre going is killing my back and might mean that I cut short tomorrow's theatre adventures (Advil and Tylenol are my friends right now).  However, I did want to share my tremendous news: I found out today, that I won the Vue Weekly Season Contest Grand Prize.  How cool is that?!?!? Click the link and you will see all the fabulous loot I will get.  Mark was actually a little sad that I didn't get runner up because he wanted the Andre Philip Gagnon tickets, but really! I am in heaven on this!


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 splitting comedies I have to work on writing well so that people will come for the quality not necessarily for the topic.  Not everyone goes to Fringe for the comedies - I know I don't.  I go for the potpourri! I like to see a variety, and I really like a nice solid play - new works beings my favorite!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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

CJSR FM 88

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 PressTheatre AlbertaAlberta Touring Arts Alliance and theWriters 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 celebrated theatre artists and personalities as guest panelists and moderators. These forums promise to create a lively discussion.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | 8:30 – 9:30 PM 

A FRINGE TOO FAR? WHAT RISKS DO WE REALLY TAKE?
Writers Guild of Alberta
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 hitPieces)Nicole Schafenacker (co-author of the 2012 Nextfest play Double Occultation)Mark Stubbings (author of the hit play Dry the Rain)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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 were prescribed by the script, or if it was directorial choice.  Whichever it was - it worked beautifully.

Next, after doing the kid's swap, I headed to La Cite for Passages.  I went expecting, I don't know what - something darkish about life's journey - I am not sure why that was what I was expecting, but I was.  Anyhow, I walk into the theatre and there are clowns.  I am NOT a clown person, but no matter.  I am game.  What followed was one of the most delightful hours I have even spent in the theatre.  It was such a joyful piece.  They made the space into an alley and this really worked for the show - especially since there were two little boys in the front row opposite who were fabulous to watch.  I wish I had brought my kids (but I didn't know it would be what it was!).  I just left that theatre so happy.  That was nice.  In the lobby before the show, I also ran into a friend from high school who I hadn't seen in 20 years - that was cool too.

I completed my journey by driving across the river to Avenue Theatre to catch Miss Julie.  I don't know Strindberg  (I will take Drama 308 this year and meet him) but he writes some really ugly and really mesmerizing characters.  Or maybe it was the adaptation? Or maybe it was the acting (all three actors onstage know how to hold the deck, and Miss Julie herself, Kerry Johnson, is electric).  Whatever it was, I was glued.  Even though the concept was very out there, I never tuned out (I do that sometimes if I am not engaged).  I couldn't take my eyes off what was going on.  The punk feel worked, even though it felt weird, because the ugliness of it really highlighted how ugly these people were.  It's not for everyone, but I bought the ticket so it's all about me.

All in all a very satisfying day of theatre.  I am feeling good about getting my money's worth this Fringe!

Tomorrow is a slow day for shows - only one in the afternoon - and then I do the Fringe Forum in the evening!  Yikes!  Better get some sleep!

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 - I think this will be my day for some crazy theatre.  I am excited.

My only sadness about Fringe is that there is no way that I will get to everything I want to see.  There are a lot of shows that I simply cannot get to... remember those 57 shows I circled in the Program?  Well, now word of mouth has lengthened the list... If I don't get there, it's not because I didn't want to.

Anyhow, I am off to Parlour Songs, then Passages and then Miss Julie.  It's going to be a wild ride!

Monday, August 20, 2012

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 challenges of the venue kept me from fully engaging.

Despite picking a really bad seat, I loved A Bronte Burlesque.  The script was extremely compelling and well written and it was well performed.  Interestingly, however, I felt the play could have stood well enough without the burlesque numbers.  The writing was that good.  I certainly hope that this one gets some recognition in that respect (Can you hear me Sterling Jury?!).  If you go to this one and you are really interested in the burlesque portions, try to get a seat in the centre or right side of the house as sight lines from the extreme left are challenging for some of the numbers that use the depth of the stage, but I loved the show despite not being able to see it all.  I did feel that some of the movement choices lent a lot to the production, but I didn't need all of it. I thought the actors and the script did such a good job of telling the story already.  The guy in front of me, however, was very, very into the burlesque... to each his or her own!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

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 in hard copy and then edit away like a madwoman.  We have until 6 p.m. to finish.  I feel like I am in good shape!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

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?

Friday, August 17, 2012

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 doing your job!

After we grabbed supper I met up with Mark and he took the boys off my hands so I could rush back to catch my two evening shows.  The first, Teatro's Angels on Horseback, was a fun little show.  I got my money's worth in laughs, but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of focus to the script.  Jeff Haslam stole the show and I think Medley (Ryan Parker and Rachel Bowron) could do a whole Fringe show themselves, but I found it hard to figure out whose story we were seeing and why.  It's a campy little piece and perhaps the party was just meant to be a set-up to get those crazy people in the same room together, I just wanted a little more flow and arc to the story.  

I ended the evening with The Be Arthurs Originals show.  Because the previous show in the Varscona went over time, this one started late and also went over time, but I had no other show afterwards so I was okay.  The show itself was hilarious and full of great music.  It's not a play, it's a concert, but the four guys are so funny and the banter and the way they play off each other is really well done.  The original songs they played showed not only their great sense of humour, but also their incredible musical skills. I highly recommend this one. I was belly laughing from the start, through the middle and to the end.

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 has to go.

Tonight, after my husband picks the kid's up, I will see at least 2 more shows (Angels on Horseback and The Be Arthurs).  I would love to squeeze in a third, but I have Play in a Day this weekend and I have to bank some sleep so I can write well!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

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 with the show prior to, but found the music fun and clever and everyone onstage was up to the challenge.  I enjoyed the tightness of the harmony when there were multiple singers and thought they all did a good job playing multiple parts.  Kendra O'Connor, Sheldon Elter and Kirstin Piehl stood out for me vocally and Kristi Hansen's comedic timing was spot-on, but it was a pretty even show all around. Lots of fun and a great way to kick off the festival for me.

The only sand in my shorts with the evening was discovering the dramatic price increase on parking.  I usually park in the lot that the Farmer's Market manages next to Catalyst Theatre.  It has been $5 for the last few years (at least the last 5) and I was floored to discover an increase to $8 as I pulled in.  It was clear from the guy taking money that I was not the first unhappy customer with regards to this news.  It means a dramatic increase in costs for me as I often have to park twice per day at the Fringe because I leave to get the kids and then return for more shows.  That will mean an extra $6 per day for parking.  That will also cut into my 'show-going' budget. It might be justified if the Market actually did something with the lot to justify the cost increase, but they don't.  It's unpaved, unguarded - basically the Fringe is a Cash Cow for them and now they are really making it look like an even bigger money grab. I am totally not impressed with this development.  It sucks and I am terribly, terribly disappointed, AND it will likely mean a few less shows for me this week. It really makes me regret the purchases I have made at the Farmer's Market this year.  Please don't write in with suggestions to bus - I can't - I have to have the vehicle to pick the kids up from camp.  Until the public transportation infrastructure in the city improves dramatically or my kids are older, I am stuck driving. I wouldn't have minded a 1$ increase - but $3 is a 60% jump with no discernible reason for the increase other than a money grab. The Fringe brings in a tremendous amount of foot traffic to the Strathcona area and it's spirit is about getting $ to the artists performing.  I might otherwise spend those dollars on a show or busker or on those new snazzy 50/50 tickets... now I don't have that money to do so.   My plan is to always pay with a $20 (never the correct change) and be surly - I might even snarl if they have the nerve to ask for exact change... that's about the only recourse I have right now...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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!

Friday, August 10, 2012

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-site venues this means that travel time is reducing things even more.  Plus, if I leave the parking lot to see another show I am less likely to come back and pay again to see a later show on site.  I will be more likely to just head home.

How to fix it?  You can't.  Not at this point, however, I would encourage some of the BYOVs to mix it up a bit in the future - add one or two afternoon shows to your schedule so that those who like to fringe a lot can get to your show.  I know for some of the spaces this is not possible but if a few of you do it you might actually find it works in your favour. Instead of competing only in the dense time, spread it out a bit. 

Oh well, perhaps this will benefit the indoor venues who do have afternoon times and are on site.  I know that for me I have chosen a few shows because they were more convenient to get to in terms of location and timing, whereas if I had more options at that time I might have seen something else.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

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, but was glad for the program because it has more information that the online version (cast lists, company names, playwrights and directors) so there were more to add to my list.  I circled 57 shows.  Now, I will not get to 57 shows.  I can't do it.  I am aiming for between 15-20 because I cannot fringe the first  Saturday night and Sunday all day (Play in a Day) and I will lose the Wednesday night (Artist's Forum).  If I get to 15 I will be happy.

So far I have tickets for:
Fiorello!
The Kidprovisors - taking the kids!
Angels on Horseback
The Be Arthurs
 
I have specific plans to see:
A Bronte Burlesque
Miss Julie
The Colander Gals   And I really, really want to see: Son of a Dwarf!
Reefer Madness
The Wasteland The Haunted Reel
 
And a whole bunch (40 or so) more that look really interesting and potentially cool - I will make whatever works, work. Bottom line - I could not have a very good Fringe without the Program.  It is the best $7 I could spend to make my Fringe a good one!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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)

This will be very cool to participate in.  I feel like a bit of a safe-bunny compared to the other panelists, but I think I have a perspective not only as a playwright, but as a director and as an audience member with regards to how far a show should go?   I am also doing this:

PLAY IN A DAY Thursday, August 23, 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]
24 hours. One play. One winner. Play in a Day is a 24-hour playwriting competition that aims not only to crown a victorious writer at the end of a highly-caffeinated process, but also to see the work created in that short period, evolve and develop into something more. The winner of this competition will be announced and the play will be read.

I am participating in the competition, in any case.  While it would be nice to win, I will be thrilled just to get the words on the page.  That's the hardest part for me! There are too many distractions in my life for me to write as much as I would like but an event dedicated to getting 'er done will help!

I also was lucky enough to be brought on-board to Dramaturge the following show for a wonderful group of performers.  I worked with three of them before (all separately) and it was nice to meet the fourth.  This project was a nice application of my skills.  When three people come together to construct a script, it is good to have that outside eye and ear to get a sense of the shape of the piece. This one you can catch at the Fringe!

The Colander Gals at the Edmonton Fringe Festival!
BYOV Venue #29: Trinity Lutheran Church 10014 – 81 Avenue
(NOT to be confused with Holy Trinity, a DIFFERENT Fringe venue!)

SHOW DATES AND TIMES: (the show runs 90minutes)
Thursday Aug 16 @ 8pm
Friday Aug 17 @ 8pm
Saturday Aug 18 @ 5pm
Sunday Aug 19 @ 4pm
Monday Aug 20 @ 6pm
Tuesday Aug 21 @ 8pm
Wednesday Aug 22 @ 7pm
Thursday Aug 23 @ 8pm

Friday Aug 24 @ 8:30pm
Saturday Aug 25 @ 6pm
Sunday Aug 26 @ 2pm

Set in the 1950s, The Colander Gals uses the AWI (Alberta Women’s Institute) as a vehicle for telling the fictional story of four rural women from central Alberta. The women come together as acquaintances to put on a musical variety show as a fundraiser for their community. Through the course of the play and its accompanying songs, we get snapshots of the lives of these women and the challenges, laughs and sisterhood that turn them into dear friends.

The Colander Gals is a NEW collective creation by the "Gals" of Shine On Productions (the folks who brought you the '90s Fringe hit WHATEVER LOLA WANTS) and features Hansi Klemm, Julie Sinclair, Mary Stevenson and Gail Olmstead (Music Director) with dramaturgy by Kristen M. Finlay. Janine Hodder is our fabulous photographer. Trinity Lutheran will be also be selling refreshments starting 1-hour prior to the show.

So, I guess with all this, I could say that I am doing something for the Fringe this year!

Monday, August 06, 2012

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 you want to do and even when you do some of the stuff you want to get done at home (cleaning and organizing and all that kind of crap) it is not necessarily fulfilling and you are quite likely to spend 2 hours cleaning a room and you can find it messed up again later that same day.  It happens in my house... grumble.

This weekend we went to a family reunion. I had a nice visit with some of the family - those that stuck around to visit. Some people left 1/2 an hour after we got there and came back just in time for supper when we had to leave about 1/2 an hour after that - what's up with that? The kids had a great time with their cousins and that was what counted.  Those that stayed to visit were pleasant to catch up with.  I don't often get to this one because if I am committed to Fringe stuff it is a challenge for me to go too.  My hip is killing me and I think the 6+ hours of driving had something to do with that, but whatever... grumble.

So tomorrow, to get out of the house and feel productive, I will work a casino.  Hi Ho, the Glamorous Life!

I should write more.  I technically have the time.  I should work out more (as soon as my hip stops killing me - I have actually been good about this the last two weeks). I should clean/sort out more of the house (I am working on it).  But I really need a project!