Monthly Archives: June 2009

Reflections From The Fringe

Well the Ottawa Fringe Festival finished on Sunday and, finally, I’m starting to recover the energy I expended watching theatre, writing about theatre, meeting interesting people, and drinking in the beer tent. Getting home at 3:00 a.m. has been pretty much routine over the last couple of weeks. After awhile that kind of excess begins to take a toll.  Of course, in the end, it was all totally worth it. In fact, the quality of theatre was actually a lot higher than I expected. I will definitely be attending in 2010.

Next year I’ll be a little more ambitious and write a lot more.  I saw 16 shows this year but only reviewed three of them. I decided to start small since reviewing theatre for an established publication was a new thing for me.  The feedback, however, has been overwhelmingly positive so expect more articles from me at (Cult)ure magazine and possibly a few other online publications.

I would like to mention,just briefly, that throughout the festival, I heard complaints from a few artists about how little coverage the Fringe was getting in the mainstream media.  While I understand the frustration of these performers, waiting and expecting the newspapers, radio stations, etc. to cover your show is simply not a very good marketing strategy. If the conventional/mainstream media are uninterested in your Fringe show, it makes more sense to take your pitch elsewhere.

In future, I would encourage these artists to contact and pitch their show to online publications such as The Wellington Oracle, (Cult)ure magazine and others. These publications get a lot of traffic, which can be used to get bums into seats.

This new form of media is a powerful tool waiting to be harnessed. It takes effort but it is effort that will be rewarded. Also, in the 21st century, if you have a Fringe show (or anything else that you are promoting) you should also have a blog, a Twitter account and, I hate to admit it, a Facebook page where you talk about and promote your show.  A funny thing about all media is that activity generates activity. If the online world is buzzing soon the papers, radio stations, and local television will be as well.

Given this fact, it makes a lot of sense to spend less time on handbills and postering and more time on social media promotion. Then go work the beer tent to generate  as much word of mouth you can for your show along with your blog facebook page etc. If you put this kind of effort in, good things will happen I promise.


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My Latest Gig

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but somehow all the stars have aligned and I am making a re-entrance into the theatre community after a long absence. This time as a reviewer for (Cult)ure Magazine.  You can check out some of my reviews of the Fringe Festival there under the theatre tab.  Writing for (Cult)ure has been a pretty sweet gig and I’m fortunate to be working with my friend Kevin who is a fantastic editor. I’ve really enjoyed attending the Fringe and writing about theatre on behalf of (Cult)ure and I look forward to doing more articles/reviews for this excellent publication

You might be interested to know that way back before I even started this blog I wrote a comment at the Ottawa Arts Newsletter about theatre criticism/review (Link).

As you will see from my reviews, I’ve since come around to both Jessica and Sterling’s approach to criticism. Thank you both for informing my thinking on this issue. I am now one of the enlightened 🙂

I am also taking the less conventional approach of inserting myself directing into my reviews and writing about the chance encounters and conversations that make theatre special.  If anyone has any comments on the approach I’ve taken or other review feedback I would be interested to hear it.  Enjoy the Fringe while it lasts! Go out and see some shows!


Man of Leisure Part I

Life is a sweet fruit.

Well my summer as a man of leisure so far has been nothing less than fantastic. I’ve fully taken advantage of the various festivals that have been going on in this city including Magnetic North and Westfest. Ottawa Fringe is almost here as well, and I plan to attend at least four performances.

I haven’t done as much writing as I originally planned. Hanging out on coffee shop/beer patios and walks beside the river have taken up most of my afternoons. I’m fine with this of course. It’s great to finally have some gorgeous weather to enjoy. Summer is way too short in this town and I’m thrilled that I’m not stuck in a cubicle or office for this one.

I’m doing a ton of reading, in fact, I have three books on the go at the moment.

The Director’s Craft a handbook for the theatre by Katie Mitchell: This is an excellent resource for directors and aspiring directors. Books on directing that are practical and outline a clear process are rare. This is somewhat bizarre when contrasted with the sheer amount of literature available to assist actors with their craft. This handbook is a very good one and I recommend it.

Valis  by Phillip K. Dick: I haven’t read this in years so I am enjoying the re-read. A little gnosticism goes a long way. 🙂

The Devil’s Picnic by Taras Grescoe: This is fun piece of non-fiction. A little foray into all the forbidden foods of the world and an investigation of societal prohibitions.

How about you? What are you reading this summer?

Heartbreak, Pain, and Screen Writing

There is something about the creative process that always feels like a slightly dysfunctional relationship. We put our faith in it out of love and our time into out of duty, yet many times all this effort leads only to heartbreak, pain, and sorrow. This can sometimes be nothing less than sheer anguish until we once again gather our resources to try again.  

 

I’ve been there. I’m pretty sure many of you have as well. Whether it involved hours spent rehearsing in band that never made it out of the garage,   

months spent on a novel that only your significant other has read, or… well you get the picture.  Imagine how much more painful it must be to be on the verge of a success only to have the carpet pulled out from under you.

 

Josh Friedman, a fellow blogger, and one of the creators of the TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a screen writer who has recently had his show cancelled. Josh has written about this recently on his blog and his candor (read pain) is nothing less than compelling.  Bridges are burnt here and the overall tone, despite attempts at comedy, comes out as raw and ragged. 

 

 It’s a bit of a train wreck, but anyone who has engaged in the creative process will undoubtedly be familiar with the pain/self pity if not the financial success. It’s a good read. Here’s the link to Josh’s blog: 

http://hucksblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/boy-in-bubble.html

 

As I am about to launch myself back into several creative endeavors (playing an open stage, directing, acting?) after a seven year break, I actually find this post reassuring. It’s easy to get caught up in the pain (as Josh is here), but it’s important to remember (for me anyway) that the reason it is so painful when creative projects fail is because of, well… Love. 

 

(Gathering my resources and preparing to try again)

 

A New Game I’ve Discovered

Recently a fellow blogger, The Snarky Optimist, posted a fun link to a neat little browser game called Auditorium.  As you know, I love games so I thought I would take the opportunity to share this one with you. I  hope you will enjoy it as well. 

 

This game is essentially a puzzle game that combines the use of colours, music, shapes, and patterns. The goal is to create a little melody by manipulating a stream over various square “targets”.  You do this by using various circles that direct the stream (up, down, right, left etc.) By clicking and dragging on the edge of the circles you can expand or contract them to further control the stream.  Later on, the game gets more complicated and colour is introduced as another variable. 

 

For me the game gets more interesting when the colours are introduced. Unfortunately, it takes quite a few levels to get to this point.  This might just be the result of a personality quirk of mine, since I have a tendency to want to skip through the early “learning” stages in most games I play.

 

Overall, I am really enjoying the game and have been playing the demo quite a bit recently. Let me know what you think. 

 

Here’s a link to a demo of the game: Link