Tag Archives: Ottawa Fringe

Postcards from the 2012 Fringe Part 2

It happens every year at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, for many reasons some shows fall below the radar and are not as talked about as much as others early on. Usually by this point (with 3 days left to go), word has gotten out that these productions are very much worth seeing.

Here are a few of these below the radar shows:

White Noise: Created by Margaret Evraire and Christina Bryson, tells the story of Nadia Kajouji, a Carleton University student who committed suicide in 2008. The play is largely a movement piece and recounts the last days of Nadia’s life. Originally I was going to give this production a pass.  Plays based on relatively recent true life events can be very challenging to handle with appropriate sensitivity.  The buzz in the beer tent, however, was positive so I decided to go. I’m glad I did. After the performance ended, the audience (myself included) was very slow to get up and leave the theatre; obviously very moved by the play. I was also very impressed by the sophisticated staging and sound design. Make sure you see this one!

White Noise (photo courtesy of the Ottawa Fringe Festival)

Gametes and Gonads:  This one man show created, by Jeff Laird, is a high energy whirlwind of a show in which he takes on a multitude of characters (seriously there are like a couple million sperm alone!). Laird skillfully handles all these roles and the show never loses its coherence. Gametes and Gonads is billed as Star Wars meets your genitals. It’s clever and fun. The last show is at 11:00 p.m on Saturday (June 23). Go see it!

Trashman’s Dilemma: Set in a dystopian future this play by (Bruce Gooch) delves into complicated themes revolving around language. Can agency/freedom exist without the words to express it? As an interesting twist the three member cast rotate the roles for each performance. The last chance to catch this show is 3:00 p.m. on Saturday (June 23)!

There are only three days left in the festival! If you haven’t done so already, buy a fringe pin ($3) and check out a play(s) for ($10/ticket).

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Postcards From the Fringe Part 2

Fringe Courtyard. Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Fringe Festival

Well, I’ve sampled every beer available at the beer tent, lost track of the days, and seen a whole lot of theatre. Clearly, the Fringe Festival is well underway. Over the last week I’ve been really fortunate to have also met a bunch of really cool people including Brent Hirose  SUCKERPUNCH, Katie Hood, from the Animal Show, Mikaela Dyke from Dying Hard, And RC Weslowski from The Wet Dream Catcher. For me, half the fun of Fringe is meeting new people and the beer tent provides a great place, for performers and audiences, to mingle as equals.

Here are a few of my highlights from the last few days:

Last night: Was my favourite Fringe Beer Tent event. Karaoke night! I enthusiastically belted out a hard core rendition of the Smashing Pumpkins “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.” Other’s sang an eclectic mix of show tunes, pop ballads, and rock songs. Good times!

Also, I finally got around to seeing Katie Hood’s the Animal Show. I wish I saw this one earlier so I could have given it an earlier endorsement. Hood is a gifted storyteller and The Animal Show is a powerful recount of her experiences working as an animal hospital rescuer.  It’s an insightful window into a life few of us experience.I laughed a lot but was also quite moved by her story. Go see it.

Day ? (possibly Sunday): I was completely blown away by Nancy Kenny’s newest creation Roller Derby Saved My Soul. This is Kenny’s strongest performance to date. Her comic timing is impeccable. This show is in my top 3 favourite shows for this year’s Fringe. The woman performs on roller skates people! Enough said.

In the same day, I also enjoyed Subnormality. Based on a web comic, this play presents a series of vignettes (many of them humorous) about the “weirdness of human nature.” I love that this one is also a benefit performance for Jer’s Vision (an anti-bullying organization). It’s nice to see performers working with charities to make our communities a better place to live. For that reason alone, it’s worth your support.

So what’s next on my list to see? I fully intend to check out Am I Blue by New York performer Elizabeth Blue, Dying Hard, by Mikaela Dyke, RC Weslowski’s  The Wet Dream Catcher and FRUITCAKE:Ten Commandments From the Psyche ward by Rob Gee.

I hope I’ve inspired some of you to come down to the festival and check out some shows too. You know where to find me if you want to talk about a show or recommend something to see. Happy Fringing everyone!

The Facebook

OK I did it.  I’ve joined the Facebook  (pauses for the collective dropping of jaws). I realize it’s shocking. Since it’s inception, I have always been a little leery about putting myself out on this social media platform.  This despite the fact that I am a blogger. You see, a blog I felt I could control since, despite being a public space, I was firmly in charge of the content and could even claim a certain degree of anonymity. (I used to use a generic cityscape photo as my header.) I was less sure this would be the case with Facebook.

FB has always seemed to me like a wierd blur of private/public.  A space that I wasn’t totally sure how to navigate. Do I friend everyone or just my real friends? How do I filter out all the noise and just get information that matters to me? Do I really need more online connections? Wouldn’t real life connections be preferable (Twitter has changed my thinking on this).

I also imagined all sorts of horrific situations where my private life would spill out into my work life. Would this impact my chance at promotion or complicate work relationships?

Later onI became less self-conscious of my Internet image eventually dropping the anonymity from this blog and plastering my face over the top of it in a banner. I also joined Twitter and in a few weeks was making connections with strangers and benefiting from it. After all these revelations, it seemed pointless to ignore this communications platform. In fact, with a Fringe show in the works it made sense to use this tool to reach those who aren’t on Twitter or who don’t currently read my blog and let them know about it. So I signed up for an account.

My first hour was a little overwhelming. I hadn’t even finished  filling out my privacy settings before I had 15 friend requests and 3 wall comments. Suddenly a box appeared with a comment from Jessica. It took me awhile to realize that this was actually a real-time “chat” conversation.

Jessica: There I’ve written on your wall

Wayne: (Thinks to himself. Why is my wall a small square box in the corner of the screen?)

Jessica: It’s sure taking you awhile to respond.

Wayne: Oh! This is in real-time!

That was a lot of fun. Kelly, Nadine (#48 now is off the list) and Sterling were also instrumental in helping me find my way around and getting me to join in the first place.

So what do you think?: Will FB be an effective promotional tool (not the sole tool of course)? Or will this platform just be another time sink/procrastination aid?

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!