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Sunday, August 25, 2013

From Fringe With Love Draws to a Close... A very good year...

So today was the final day of the Fringe.  I saw 16 shows which is a little low for me, but luckily I seem to have chosen well and I feel sated with my theatre choices. I also saved the best (meaning, My Favorite) for the last day.  There is satisfaction in that... and I am not sure why...

Anyhow, I started the day today with Princess Confidential.  It was delightful.  A Detective/Fairy Tale which was funny for kids and for adults.  I found it very smart and it had the right amount of action and explanation.  The script, by Ellen Chorley, is well paced and clever and the two actors, Merran Carr-Wiggin and Neil Kuefler, shift humorously from character to character re-enacting re-interpreted fairy tales to solve the mystery.  The updates of the classic fairy tales are familiar enough for us to know the story, but freshened up with modern interpretations that fit the detective theme.  A lot of fun.

I had a wee break - and a horrible dining experience at O2's - and then headed to my second show for the day.

Although I tend to stick to plays at Fringe, I had heard a lot about the 11 O'clock Number, the improvised musical group that started up this year at the Varscona.  And since I am rarely up for a late evening finding the 4:15 p.m. show at Fringe was perfect.  It was a hoot.  Like all improv shows, some things/songs/scenes worked better than others, but the group is charismatic and it was fun watching them walk that tight rope of 'what now?'  Adrienne Salmon and Jason Hardwick were stand-outs to me, with Salmon delivering a beautiful solo ballad lamenting her parents never buying her a dog as a child. If I can stay up late enough, I may go back during the regular season to see what else they can do!

And then I saw A Picasso.  What a show.  That's the one - my favorite this year.  Julian Arnold, completely transformed into Pablo Picasso (he's almost unrecognizable) against the stunning and sharply intelligent Shannon Blanchet as Miss Fischer, the German art critic.  It's a brilliantly written play set in Paris during the occupation and John Hudson has done a wonderful job with it.  Everything was perfect.  It's in hold-overs at the Varscona If you didn't see it - you absolutely should.  I was drawn into it in less than 5 minutes and they held me tight until the end.  It didn't hurt that I know a bit about Picasso and Guernica, but I think the more important thing is understanding the artist's attitude towards art and it's impact on culture, as well as the seductive power of art.

Finally, I ended the evening with Promise and Promiscuity: A Jane Austen Musical.  It was a lot of fun. I'm a fan of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility so I enjoyed a lot of the references and there was a wonderful incorporation of pop culture music and other references.  It's a one woman show and was a fun way to end the festival.

Ah well, until next year...

One last Word of Mouth...

A couple more Word of Mouth shows from the line-ups! Sorry I have not been as diligent about it this year!

Matchstick
Little Fish
God is a Scottish Drag Queen
Grim and Fischer
Coraline
Never Let the Crew See You Cry
Scratch

Saturday - Terrific Fringing! Great Shows AND Green Onion Cake!

Second last day of a slow Fringe for me and I took in four solid shows.


I started with Port Authority (shout out for being Held Over!! Way to go, local group done good).  It was an excellent piece, well-paced with solid performances. I liked the subtlety of it and it's realness. It has both sadness and humour and makes you think about regret and missed opportunities.

Next we caught The Lonely Hearts.  It too was very well done, a solid script and well performed with an interesting vaudeville-like approach.  It left me a little unsettled, however, as the subject was a bit macabre and the fat jokes were hard to take after a while.  Many strong things to this show, but I think I will be thinking about this one for a while.  It's a matter of wanting the laughs to be unencumbered, I think, but sometimes I felt guilty for laughing.  Does that make sense?  It too is held over - at the Varscona - so catch it if you can and tell me what you think.

Then a well-deserved break to eat green onion cakes and cool down.  We grabbed our festival food favorite and headed to the air conditioned interior of the main box office.  Those first two shows were both in non-air-conditioned buildings and we needed to lower our core temperatures!  It was a yummy break and then we headed off for more shows.

Third on the list was Little Fish.  It was really well done.  Strong singers and actors and a very tight ensemble. I am unfamiliar with the composer and I will admit I cannot recall any of the songs, but while they were happening I was engaged.  I really liked the choreography and how well everyone stayed in the world at all times.  There was no checking out and waiting - it was 100% present from all cast members all the time.  It was nice to see this company (The Plain Janes) do this less traditional musical and equally nice to see something I did not know. I was also impressed with the acoustics.  No mics, but it was never an issue - all the voices were strong and the Varscona has brilliant acoustics. The play itself led to discussions about what it was trying to say and I always love a show that lives beyond it's final notes.  It's the talking about it afterwards that indicated whether it was truly interesting.

Finally we ended our evening with Countries Shaped Liked Stars.  It was beautiful and silly and tuneful and so funny, yet sad (only at the end).  Lovely use of low-tech magic and a commitment to the world that was beautiful.  Both actors were charismatic and engaged the audience beautifully.  And, oh, the music bordered on magical.  There's a whimsy to this piece that is truly lovely and it's great for all ages - it's based on a children's book.

A lovely end to a great day of Fringe-tastic theatre!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday Fringe Two-Pack!

Last night I started the final weekend of the Fringe with another two solid shows.  The festival is winding down so if you haven't bought your tickets yet and the show you want to see is not on the holdovers list here or here, then you need to get on it! My weekend is planned, with another 4 shows today and 4 tomorrow.

Last night I began the evening with Tuesdays With Morrie produced at the Walterdale Playhouse by Leo Llama Productions. It was a loving and sincere production that got me a little choked up at all the right places (and from the sniffling in the audience, I was not alone).  Well performed and well directed it fit nicely onto the Walterdale Stage. I was so glad to get tickets as it sold out quickly, but fortunately a friend of a friend had two extra tickets to sell - Whew!

We had a little supper to fill our 2 hour break and then we were off to see Truck Theatre's Or, at OSPAC.  It started a little on the wordy side, but luckily the three actors were very strong and could handle the dialogue. It's a sexy little piece about Aphra Behn (played by Kristy Hansen), former spy and one of the first women playwrights in the world of Charles II. It was a show that was best when Garrett Ross' and Clarice Eckford's multitudes of characters went in and out seamlessly with us never knowing who was going to come in the room next.  It was a fun, sexy romp which touched on the sexual politics of the day in love, life and work.

At this point I am patting myself on the back for picking good stuff... so far no duds!

I do have some Fringe pet-peeves to vent.  Please people, leave your dogs at home.  It's too crazy at the Fringe Site for dogs and I have seen some huge ones and ones that have not been very well controlled (one was literally dragging it's owner all over the place - definitely not ready for a crowded fringe site), but beyond that, even if you are sure your dog is 'fine', some people are not comfortable around dogs they do not know and this is not a place you expect to see them  At the very least, be attentive to how people are reacting to your dog and not make them have to make the huge path around you.  It's my pet peeve, but I thought that was the official fringe rule for the site so I was quite shocked to encounter 7 dogs in less than 10 minutes on Thursday night.

Here is the official Fringe "Policy" (from their website):

PETS ON SITE

Only service animals are allowed in theatres and welcome on site. We strongly recommend that all other pets stay at home.
  • The Fringe site can be quite crowded and chaotic which is dangerous for both pets and patrons.
  • Weather on site can be unpredictable and extreme which is dangerous for animals.
  • There are no on-site provisions for water for animals.
  • Pet disposition may vary and some adults and children are afraid of animals. We want the site to be a fun and safe place for everyone!
  • The site features food preparation and animals pose a potential public health risk.
  • Animals are not permitted in theatres, Beer Tents or the Wine & Spirits Tent. Leave your pet at home so you can enjoy the Festival to its fullest!
Second Pet-Peeve: Babies in audiences.  Okay, I don't have a problem with a baby actively enjoying a show, but if you bring your baby or small child to a non-kid show, hmmmm... let's say Tuesdays With Morrie, for example.  The first time he or she cries or fusses you need to take them out of the theatre and miss the rest of the show.  Or maybe the second time, or third. How about the fourth time? Not the sixth or seventh with ten minutes left in the play. That's all I am saying.  Every time that child cries you have taken the people in the audience out of the show.  You owe them all $15.00.  So just don't do it.

Third Pet Peeve: Smoking in the crowds watching the outdoor shows.  It's gross for the rest of us. Go somewhere else.  Sorry, I know it's an addiction, but you are ruining my experience and when I leave before the end of the outdoor performance because I can't handle your smoke then that performer doesn't get my money.  I hope you are putting in double in the hat to cover for that.

So that's my rant... Enjoy your fringe!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three, no wait, Two More Shows!

There was a stalled vehicle on the high level bridge.  That stalled vehicle made me and Oliver very unhappy. That stalled vehicle made my journey a good 35-45 minutes longer than it should have been and as a result, despite trying our hardest, we were 2 MINUTES LATE for The Kidprovisors.  I was really looking forward to it, especially because Oliver was.  I had to minimize his resultant grumpiness by plying him with mini-donuts and ice cream.  Then he weaseled a t-shirt and a mine craft pin out of me. I have heard that the RFT early show is a little more family friendly so I might try to take the boys (or at least Oliver) a few times in the year.  I want to cultivate his appreciation for it!

Anyhow, after I did the Kid-Exchange with Mark, I headed off to my second (now first) show of the evening, Cayce Grey in FAMILY SQUABBLES.  I was so funny.  What a clever script where the fourth wall is shattered to great effect.  Lots of topical humour, some fabulous interpretive dance, fart-balls, and it's literally all that AND a bag of chips!  Great fun!

The evening was clearly looking up!

And it finished with a BANG!  I headed off to catch Trout Stanley at the Telephone Museum.  I had heard this was a very hysterical script and I was not disappointed.  It has a Fringe-Aesthetic in that it's odd, but oh-so-funny.  Played perfectly by the cast of three with sharp direction it rises above the typical fringe fare, yet seem so perfect for this kind of festival.  Let's just say there is nothing predictable about it and that's a very good thing.

Sorry, no Word of Mouth today.  I talked to a few strangers in the theatres and line-ups, but few had seen much.  I will endeavour to seek out more suggestions tomorrow night so that you can end your Fringe with some good stuff!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Little Neil Gaiman set to Music! Coraline: the Musical at the Fringe!

I saw my fourth show tonight at the Fringe.  I pick up speed later this week, but the start has been slow for me in terms of numbers of shows. It bothers me too that I haven't seen more, but I do have tickets purchased for 14 shows and room for more if I feel up to it!

When I heard there was a musical version of Neil Gaiman's Coraline and that someone was doing it at the Fringe I was intrigued.  When I saw the company that was doing it (Impossible Mongoose) and the cast list I was officially excited. I am glad to say it lived up to my expectations.  It's delightful!  They created a very full world and conceptually this is quite the experience.  Low Tech Magic pays off, and they capture the romantic creepiness that Gaiman's story requires.  If you can't make it darkly whimsical it won't work - but they do and it's terrific!  Well done!  It's not typical and familiarity with the story or Neil Gaiman's style is recommended, but not necessary.  They really sell it and they do it well. It's a tight ensemble so to single anyone out is silly as the all contribute to a very even production, but I will give credit to Corben Kushneryk's direction - it's spot-on!

Day 6 Word of Mouth
I also got a few more Word of Mouth recommendations today (some repeats, some new):

Tompongelo vs. the Sky Lobster
The Rambler
Jake's Gift
Countries Shaped Like Stars
God is a Scottish Drag Queen
Off Book: The Musical
Zombie Apocalypse: Dead or Alive
Snap
Trout Stanley
Scratch
Grim and Fischer
Little Fish
Or,
Port Authority
Shipwrecked

I am happy that several of these are on my list!  I look forward to seeing them!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Word of Mouth - Day Five of the Fringe

I took advantage of being around people who have seen a lot of shows while at the Theatre Alberta/Fringe Fundraising Event tonight.  Here are the 'must-see' shows from those I spoke to:

Nashville Hurricane
A Picasso
Promise and Promiscuity
Assassinating Thompson
Countries Shaped Like Stars
God is a Scottish Drag Queen
Grim and Fischer
Hot Thespian Action
Ludwig and Lohengrin
The Tenant Haimovitz
They Call Me Mr. Fry

Sunday, August 18, 2013

24 Hours in Which I Write a Play and Get Silly... And the Follow-up Event Where I Get to See if it's a Winner! Play in a Day - Fringe 2013

So I just finished Play in a Day 2013.  It's a 24 Hour Playwriting Competition in it's second year of operation held in conjunction with The Edmonton International Fringe. I like 24 Hour Playwriting Competitions.  There is something about the tightness of the timeline, combined with actually having space and purpose to write that fuels me to get a play done.  It might not be fabulous, but it's a first draft with a beginning, middle and end and I can hopefully take it away and make it better.  I never enter these things worrying about winning.  For me I accept the impossibility of the task and say, "Let's just do this!". It's about getting the draft done.  If I manage to craft something good, that's a bonus.  Getting it good is about re-writing and editing.  This event is just about writing. This year the room was more intimate and several of us were on twitter so we filled the online air space with jokes and silliness and it made for a very fun day.  I finished at 20:35 and only grabbed about 2 hours of not very good sleep (not counting the 45 minutes I think I also got on my keyboard).  I'm happy with my work as a starting point and now comes the waiting to see if I win (again, I am not holding my breath!).

When do I find out? Well, on Tuesday Night! Where?  Well, at a Fringe Forum! The fringe is combining a reading of the successful script with a Forum on How to Be a Successful Playwright.  All the information is below!  I will be late because I screwed up and thought this was on Wednesday (I think at one point it was and they moved it... or maybe because it was on Wednesday last year I just assumed... Anyhow...).  So I have to rush from my show to catch what I can.  I should only miss about 45 minutes of the evening.  You can catch it all! And it's Free!

PLAY IN A DAY
24 hours. 12 plays. One winner.
Culminating in the
How to be a Successful Playwright Forum

PCL STUDIO AT THE ATB FINANCIAL ARTS BARNS
TUESDAY, AUGUST 20, 2013
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Returning after a triumphant inaugural year, Play in a Day will put twelve new playwrights through their paces in an epic competition, featuring copious amounts of coffee and sleep deprivation. The winning playwright will be thrust into a year-long process of play development with the help of local professional artists.

The winning play will be announced and read publicly for the first time in conjunction with the How To Be a Successful Playwright Forum. Join professional playwrights and publishers as they discuss the process of play writing from development and workshopping through to performance and publication.

MODERATOR: Mieko Ouchi (Playwright and President of the Board, Playwrights Canada Press)
PANELISTS: Anne Nothof (Play Editor, NeWest Press), Marty Chan (Playwright), Nicole Moeller (Playwright)

Fringe 2013 - Word of Mouth - Day 3

I've been sequestered at the U of A since 5 p.m. last night for the 24 Hour Playwriting Competition (Play in a Day), but our rotating crew of supervisors have been out and about and I have asked them what shows they might recommend based on what they have seen.  So here's my first Word of Mouth for this Fringe.

Held
Assassinating Thompson
Fracture
God is a Scottish Drag Queen
Countries Shaped Like Stars

I'm sure it will get much longer as Fringe progresses and as people see more shows!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Theatre Alberta Invites you to a party at the Fringe!

This Monday Night, Theatre Alberta is having a party/fundraiser at the Edmonton International Fringe.  It's a great opportunity to have a drink, celebrate with others and support a good cause. Join us for an evening of lively discussion, entertainment and door prizes in support of Theatre Alberta, Artstrek, and the Alberta Arts Flood Relief Fund.

All proceeds from this event will be split between Theatre Alberta (in support of our recent expansion of Artstrek) and the Alberta Arts Flood Relief Fund....

If you can't make the event, consider donating online or by phone at 1-888-422-8160.

Theatre Alberta's Fringe Forum:
The Patron, The Theatre and The Artistic Creator – Who Will Our Champions Be?
It’s a municipal election year in Alberta. The arts community is rallying to find and engage our champions as we lobby for a thriving arts industry in the province. How do we foster a culture of meaningful dialogue and decisive action between patrons, funders, community and business leaders, politicians, and artists? Join some of our province’s most vocal and successful Arts Champions to discuss advocacy and partnership strategies on both micro and macro levels.

Monday, August 19th
7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
ATB Community Patio at the Edmonton Fringe: corner of 104th Street and 85th Avenue

 
On Monday, August 19th, 7:30 p.m., in the ATB Community Patio (corner of 104th Street and 85th Avenue) at the 2013 Edmonton Fringe, you’re invited to Theatre Alberta’s Fringe Forum:
A little More about the Forum:

Moderated by Megan Dart and featuring a panel of local Arts Champions, we explore new ways to foster a culture of meaningful dialogue and decisive action between patrons, funders, community and business leaders, politicians, and artists.

If you don’t already know Megan Dart, you probably should! Making waves in Edmonton’s theatre community, we’re pleased that she has agreed to lead this important discussion!

Alongside her sister Beth, Megan is the co-artistic producer of Catch the Keys Productions, as well as a playwright, poet, and freelance arts publicist. From curating arts events and managing arts-specific production and promotions on behalf of other organizations, to creating and producing experiential multidisciplinary new works, Catch the Keys is proud to bring evolutionary art to Edmonton audiences.

Megan is a curator with and the artist liaison and publicity manager for Nextfest; the publicity manager for The Expanse Festival; a Street Team member with the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta; an active board member with The Good Women Dance Collective and artsScene Edmonton; and a steering committee member with the Theatre Edmonton Project. Megan is also a Communications Consultant with Focus Communications, and has experience in corporate and not-for-profit communications, public affairs, event management and local and national media relations. Working with a variety of clients from small startup entrepreneurships to large government and academic institutions, Megan has managed upward of 200 events per year, coordinated national lobbying campaigns involving more than 2 million Canadians, changed provincial and federal legislation, unveiled city landmarks, and helped coordinate media for the largest minor hockey tournament in North America.

Fringing Begins!

Last night I officially commenced my fringing!  I did go to the VIP kick-off on Wednesday night (where I partook in the awesome candy bar and photo booth) but I missed Opening Night to rest up for the sheer madness of this weekend (and following week).

I started the evening with Linda Wood Edwards' Never Let the Crew See You Cry, an homage to her mother, Ethel Johnson Wood, and the civilian women of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during WW II. It's funny, engaging, and heartfelt and Edwards has constructed a beautiful script which tells an important but untold part of our history.  The three person cast is strong, with the bright and likeable Laura Raboud as Ethel, and the sassy Judy McFerran and handsome Alex D. Mackie take on a myriad of roles and accents to fill out the rest of Ethel's world.  It moves quickly from scene to seen and finds a lovely balance between the human story and the history.  It's got an emotional impact and as we left we saw many a teary eyed person in the audience. A Note: we saw the first show and it was SOLD OUT, so getting your tickets early might be advised. 

Then I headed down to La Cite for 50% Fruit's Carrie: the Musical.  I'm am always amazed at companies that can bring full length musicals to the Fringe.  The scope of what's required blows me away.  This was their first performance and there are a few technical things (mics and lights) that I know will get smoother and sorted out now that the techs have seen a run of the whole show.  This show has a powerhouse performance from Alyssa Billingsley as Carrie whose voice is so huge that she belted her first song with no mic and was heard clear as a bell above the band. The duets between Billingsley and Amanda Neufeld (Carrie's Mother) alone are worth the price of admission.  Other strong performances come from Jaimi Resse as narrator Sue Snell,  Zachary Parsons-Lozinski as Tommy Ross and Kerry Johnson as the teacher. I should also mention the fabulous choreography (Amanda Neufeld) which is executed so well by this capable cast as a whole. As a Musical buff, I loved the music, which I had never heard before.


While waiting in  line for Carrie, we were sold the show Hockey Night at the Puck & Pickle which was to start 1/2 an hour after our show finished in the venue next door.  It's produced by Monster Theatre and stars Jon Paterson and Ryan Gladstone.  With my fringe nights being somewhat limited this year I was happy to be able to fit another show into my evening and I've seen Paterson before and have always found him entertaining.  I AM SO GLAD WE WENT!!! The show was hysterically funny.  Paterson and Gladstone play multiple pairs of hockey watchers in the fictional Puck & Pickle Sports Bar.  This play is funny on it's own, but if you have ever watched a hockey game, played hockey, seen other people watching hockey, been to a sports bar, liked or watched sports at all, like pandas, YOU WILL LAUGH YOURSELF SILLY!  I know I did.  It's rapid fire, a bit saucy, with laughs stacked on top of each other, and each of the pairs of game watchers have their own arc.  Paterson and Gladstone also have a phenomenal chemistry with each other and the audience - truly a laugh-guaranteed show which any Canadian will connect to! SEE IT!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Program Unseen... Here's What's on My Radar for Fringe 2013

Despite going to Safeway twice in the last week, I have yet to pick up a Fringe Program.  It's been on my list and both times it just flew my mind while buying buns, veggies and milk.  Tonight.  Tonight I will be on the Fringe grounds and I will get one.

So, even though I don't have a program there are quite a few shows on my radar thanks to FB Events, lots of people talking about their shows and the very cool new iPhone App for the Fringe.  My favourite part of the App is the Favourites tab.  So, using those things, here is what is on my radar.  Be Aware, once I get my program, there will be many, many more shows on my 'want-to-see' list and this is merely scratching the surface.

The Lonely Hearts, by Jana O'Connor
This was the APC Discovery Prize winner in 2007 and I got to see a reading of it at Playworks Ink that year and just the reading was hysterical. I am really looking forward to seeing it with all the bells and whistles.   It's also got a stellar cast with Belinda Cornish, Michael Peng and Colin Matty and it's directed by Chris Bullough.  A recipe for hilarity!

Carrie: The Musical, 50% Fruit Theatre
If you follow my blog, you know I have an affection for this little theatre company.  I loved the Balzac piece two fringes ago and was mesmerized by Miss Julie last season.  I am so looking forward to see what they do with Carrie: The Musical.  It seems like the perfect choice for a company that embraces camp and is on the more twisted side of things. Its cast also has some outstanding references with Amanda Neufeld, Alyssa Billingsley and Zachary Parsons-Lozinski in the mix (just to name a few).

Happy Whackin' Jim McCrackin, Accidental Humour
Another little company that I love.  I saw this show three years ago when they first produced it.  They have brought the original cast back to remount the show (hints of a sequel down the line?), this time in their larger space of the Metro Cinema.  I've heard they have also taken a bit of time to tighten the piece up and make some changes so it's not exactly the same show if you've seen it before. I've said it before, but this company is the best for merging film with theatre. Lots of laughs guaranteed!

Little Fish, Plain Janes
The Janes always do a nice solid piece for Fringe and the description of this musical intrigued me.  They have a super solid cast (Jocelyn Ahlf, Elena Porter, Celina Dean, Melanie Piatocha, Mike Zimmerman, Paul Morgan Donald, Jason Hardwick and Steve Angove) and I am looking forward to seeing them do something outside the more traditional musicals I have seen from them in the past.

The Frozen Water Fortunes, by David Belke
You gotta see the new Belke... you just do... Consistent writing, always tons of fun!

Countries Shaped Like Stars, Mi Casa
This one keeps coming up on my radar.  It's been in a few fringes across Canada this summer and has received rave reviews.  It also sounds like it's going to be a show that's inventive and new, so I have it on my wish list.

Promise & Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen, Penash Productions
I'm an Austen fan and a Musical fan.  This one has me interested for those reasons!

The Rambler, by Mark Stubbings
Ever since I saw Stars and Sons a few years back, I have liked Mark Stubbings' writing.  He writes very real characters and dialogue and you can tell he's worked hard to craft a piece of art. He can find a way to make a string of curse words sound like poetry. Add in country music and the lovely Lindsey Walker and I say SOLD! They are back at Red Square Vodka House on Whyte and I recommend going inside early because the line up is inside and you will want to get good seats.

Never Let the Crew See You Cry, by Linda Wood Edwards
You may notice that there are a proliferation of new works from Edmonton playwrights on my list.  You might say I am bias towards new work, especially by Alberta playwrights!  I am interested in seeing this piece by Linda Wood Edwards as her writing is always so witty but this has a biographical aspect that I think will be engaging. Also, the fabulous Judy McFerran is in it!

Princess Confidential, by Ellen Chorley
I'm a sucker for a good children's theatre piece.  I don't even take my kids to all the kid's shows I see - I go for me.  This one, penned by powerhouse Ellen Chorley, also features the lovely Merran Carr-Wiggin.  From the description it's fairy tale princess meet hard-boiled detective.  I am intrigued.

Trout Stanley, cold.dead.fish theatre
Here's a funny story.  Earlier in the year I was in a play with a friend who kept raving about her favorite play ever, Trout Stanley.  I had never heard of it, but she would regale me with the plot description and even did a couple monologues from it.  Sounded fun.  Flash forward, a different friend tells me that she is producing the funniest play ever at the Fringe. What is it? Trout Stanley. The company in question is peppered with Sterling nominees and winners.  I'm in!

Coraline: The Musical, Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman!
Just that phrase alone should do it.  I had no idea that there was a musical based on Coraline, but there is.  It's also produced by Impossible Mongoose Productions so that's in it's favour, and then there's the cast: Kayla Gorman, Rebecca Merkley, Graham Mothersill and Oscar Derkx just to name a few.

Radio: 30, the Night Kitchen
I don't know much about this show, but several friends from Toronto have gone out of their way to recommend it to me.  People I trust.  I worry sometimes that I miss out on seeing some of the outstanding out-of-town shows because I know so many great in-town performers and writers.  Based on the recommendations for this one, I am going to do my best to check it out.

Port Authority, Forces of Nature
The pedigree on this production is solid.  I loved this company's production of This Lime Tree Bower from a few years ago.  It's cast includes Sterling nominated Cody Porter (The Weir, Days of Wine and Roses, This Lime Tree Bower, Mockingbird Close) and Keiran O'Callaghan (The Weir, Lion in Winter) and it's directed by Sterling nominated Amy Defelice (Mojo Mickybo, Days of Wine and Roses, This Lime Tree Bower).  It's on my must-see list.

Cayce Grey in Family SQUABBLES, by Gerald Osborn
Saddened that the show I was directing for the Fringe was a no-go, I am happy that I will get to see my leading lady (Catherine Wenschlag) onstage in this show.  Plus, it's written by Gerald Osborn, whose shows are always funny and witty. Add in Ruby Swekla and I am delighted.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but if you're looking for suggestions, you can start here!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Great Big Changes!

This week was a week of big changes for me.  Starting last Tuesday I have been at the Citadel Theatre/Robbins Academy as the new Marketing Administrator.  I was nervous and excited before starting, but feel quite good about it all after this first week. I have been a bit like a detective putting together the tasks involved and procedures, but everything I can see with the job so far seems to fit me very well and I am enjoying the work.  The people are also great and have been extremely friendly, welcoming and helpful.  I am at a high rate of asking questions so I am grateful for their patience.  Hopefully I shall have fewer and fewer questions as my time there goes on.

The biggest shift for me has really had to do with child care. Prior to this job I spent a great deal of my time on the computer actually doing a lot of the same kind of work - emailing, finding information, collating it, waiting for responses... But now, I have to worry about getting my kids places and picking them up on time. So far so good for the first week.  This next week will be more complicated because they are at two different camps, but the ease of the last week makes me optimistic about the upcoming school year.  I am already finding that certain tasks are being structured by the new work schedule and part of me is actually really enjoying that.  I think it is the same part of me that likes being busy.  If I am not busy I tend to waste a lot of time... now I can't do that so I feel far more productive!

Anyhow, I spent a little bit of time this weekend thinking about Fringe.  I will be on a tighter timetable because I won't be able to catch afternoon shows so I am aiming for about 10-15 shows (about half my normal). I think I can get 6 in between Thursday-Saturday.  I dive into the Play in a Day Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening and Monday will be spent at the Theatre Alberta Fundraising Event (stay posted) so the rest of the Fringe will have to wait.  Once I get my hands on a Paper Program I will let you know my sight unseen recommendations (stay posted)!

Monday, August 05, 2013

More Fun Times in YEG - Holiday Weekend...

Some of you know this and some of you don't, but other than Fringe I really try hard to avoid crowds.  I am never comfortable in a big group of anonymous people.  That's cool.  I know some people love it, but as a result of my anxiety I try to minimize my exposure to them!  So what we did this year was instead of going to Heritage Days we went to Fort Edmonton Park.  There were still quite a few people there, but I imagine compared to the packed Hawrelak Park, we were in good shape.  We also went early in the day so the morning was delightful! 

I really like Fort Edmonton Park, and so do the boys.  We started at the Mid-Way.  Oliver was keen to hit the Ferris Wheel and Gibson was tall enough to go on without a parent so the two of them rode it together.  Gibson's cries of "Let me off! It's too high!" were a bit of a surprise, but he actually went back for a second ride later so it obviously wasn't too traumatizing. They played the midway games and won some cool prizes.  The staff were lots of fun, chatting in a newsies-like accent and being extra generous with the prizes. After spending a few tickets we boarded the train and rode out to the Fort.  It's interesting to see the boys at different ages at Fort Edmonton Park.  Oliver has been on some school field trips out there and he clearly retained the knowledge explaining a few of the activities and locating the public bathrooms quickly when needed. They also have their favorite things to do so we took in some mini-golf and giant checkers followed by ice cream.  Gibson was particularly interested in watching the interpreters make Rabbit Stew.  I think he was hoping to get to be a taster but it wasn't ready for that! We also got to take in the new Capitol Theatre.  It's something else!  I have seen a play there before so I knew about some of the bells and whistles but the boys were new to it so that was very fun to see.  I really liked the demonstration movie and felt that it suited the Park as well as showing off the Theatre.  I am going to keep an eye out for the movies they show in hopes there will be one that the boys will be interested in seeing there. Before we left, Oliver needed one last Ferris Wheel ride so Gibson and I went window shopping in the gift shop while Dad waited for Ollie. 

We were there for about five and a half hours and there was lots to do and keep the boys engaged and entertained. Lots of walking and lots of seeing. All in all a great Heritage Day weekend outing.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Little Sword Play in the Square... A Nice YEG Summer Evening...

Last night we finally made it to the Wednesday Night Light Saber class at Sir Winston Churchill Square.  My good friend Janine has been teaching these classes all summer long on Wednesday nights from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. I have been meaning to take the boys but various conflicts in my schedule meant that last night was the first time we could make it out.  It was so much fun.  Gibson was really the push for it as I mentioned it to him earlier in the summer and he has been saying "Can we go this week?" and "Is it Wednesday? The Light Saber Day?" a lot over the past few weeks. I was so glad we went.  The class is nicely structured.  They split off the younger kids to do simpler activities (the little ones last about 45 minutes) and then split the people who have been coming a lot over the summer and the 'newbies' so that it's easy to meet the levels. I liked that everyone had to stretch first, then a basic pattern of 'positions' was taught and reviewed. You got the sense that this was not just playing around with Star Wars stuff, but that they were actually learning real sword play moves. I was also pleased with how serious my boys took it.  I know they both have a ways to go in terms of form and structure, but they both approached it like a class and they seemed to work harder.  The force does seem a little stronger in Gibson, however, but Oliver is so close to teenager that the attitude inherent seeped in a bit. After the basic patterns, there was a little routine that they paired up to practice and make better. I loved it when they added the force.  While the newbie practiced, the more experienced group was taught some more challenging moves to add to their routine.  I thought that was a great way to address the multiple needs of the group. We plan to go back, this time with lots of water as I didn't even think about it.  It was a great workout - not just swinging a toy around - they were jumping and lunging and the moves are very precise so both boys were very sweaty at the end.

Nice. Oh, and did I mention, FREE? Another great way to spend a summer evening in YEG!