visitorium

Ottawa Fringe 2016 – Epilogue

In Fringe Fest, Uncategorized on June 29, 2016 at 11:34 am

This…was a hard Fringe.

Picking up the pieces now in those oddly quiet days after, and finally getting some reliably decent sleeps again, it’s odd to look back on this one, my ninth Ottawa Fringe Festival, and the third in which I performed. I think I saw fewer shows than ever before…a paltry 27, tho of course they were all fantastic. In fact, before I get to my own post-show report, let’s deal with those amazing shows I was lucky enough to lay eyes and feels on:

the Exclusion Zone

Gary

Love is a Battlefield

Everybody Dies in December

Dissidents

How to be a Gentleman

Laser Kiwi

Rideshares and Rope Swings

Magic Unicorn Island

2 For Tea

Cardinal

Angels and Aliens

A Tension to Detail

Alpha Delta 86

In Waking Life

Best Picture

GET LOST Jem Rolls

Saor (Free)
C-

ArborAmor

V.R.Dunne

#staystrong

Grade 8

Drinksitter

Lovely Lady Lump

Blindside

Okay, so that’s a pretty swell list, yeah? And I’m sorry I missed some great hometown heroes like Fireflood and Dead Unicorn Ink, but here’s hoping they consider a double-bill remount (you know you want to!). Also missed the local Improv gangs at Fringe…will try and make up for that with a few visits to their regularly scheduled shows coming soon. Some shows I missed because they conflicted with my own, or out of sheer exhaustion. Of the ones I did catch, I loved a lot. Jem Rolls was as good as I’ve ever seen him in GET LOST, the Two Kind Boys made a wonderful Fringe debut with the terrific RIDESHARES AND ROPE SWINGS, Martin Dockery impressed as ever in THE EXCLUSION ZONE, Nancy Kenny gave what I think is her most beautiful performance ever in EVERYBODY DIES IN DECEMBER. In the end though, I had two top picks that immediately made me want to come back in the theatre and see them again

Magic Unicorn Island WEB

MAGIC UNICORN ISLAND from Jayson McDonald. The dude what inspired me to become a solo performer continues to inspire with maybe his best show yet (and that’s saying something). Hilarious, imaginative, poignant and devastating.

-Cardinal 1 (cred Aplombusrhombus)

…And CARDINAL from Aplombusrhombus. I had the privilege of performing with Madeleine Hall in last year’s Fringe, and after Cardinal it’s pretty obvious who had the talent in THAT team-up. Joining forces with Mitchel Rose, they created a wordless, colourful and vibrant visual landscape as two opposing clowns act out the disintegration of a man’s mind to alzheimers. Utterly unforgettable.

Plenty more shout-outs deserved…The Synsk sisters charmed mightily in IN WAKING LIFE, Gerard Harris hit storytelling highs in A TENSION TO DETAIL, James and Jamesy continue to be brilliant in 2 FOR TEA…I really could go on and on and ON, but I think I’m just stalling now.

bisbee poster

This year I hit the Fringe in my first ever solo show, a comedy/drama called NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR, the story of an elderly WWII vet who is robbed of a precious locket and sets out to nab the punk who took it. Along thee way he meets a young runaway, is haunted by visions of his old squadmate Peppini, yadda yadda yadda. A little late for the elevator pitch now, I know. This show was a definite labour of love, and I can’t thank my stage manager Erin McDonald enough (fighting illness the entire Fringe, but still made every show and nary a tech bobble to be found. If anyone deserves an award this time out, it’s her). Likewise her partner Pierre, who jumped in by her side and was ready to take over if need arose, plus stalwart venue tech Fraser, sound guru Leslie Cserepy, and superstar¬† Jodi Morden who helped out so much in the creation of the show. And of course my OWN Partner Caitlin, who helped keep me sane and standing throughout. All the love forever, gang.

I don’t know what I was expecting from my first solo outing…I mean, I know what i was HOPING for, or dreaming about…best of fest! Sellout crowds! Rave reviews! Outstanding solo performer! Cries for a remount! On to Winnipeg..!!!! Ha.ūüôā

The reality was much more, well, real than all that. Small to middling houses (I will NOT make my money back, tho I won’t take such a hit that I have to sell organs or anything), a couple of relatively pleasant reviews, no word of mouth to speak of, no awards or accolades…none of which sounds particularly strange when I put it on paper. But at the time…well, let’s just say that playing to 8 people at 11pm on closing weekend was not a personal high for me (but I gave those 8 good folk a terrific show, dagnabbit!). I got disappointed, I felt distant from my beloved Fringe family…gone from being that reviewer guy everyone knew and liked to just some untested solo performer whose show wasn’t doing very well and who didn’t know how to open his mouth without whining about that fact. I found myself feeling very un-Fringey pangs of envy towards friends and colleagues whose shows WERE packing houses and WERE getting rave reviews and great word of mouth while I stagnated…believe me, I ain’t proud of those pangs. Add to that working overtime hours at my day job all the while I was opening a physical theatre piece, and my visits to Chapel Perilous were becoming more and more frequent. And I know, I know that others at Fringe had even less material success than me, and those people have my eternal sympathy. Fringe can be a brutally tough racket, and this one has been a big learning experience for me.

But…but that isn’t what I wanted! A LEARNING experience?? My first solo show? Are you kidding me? This was supposed to be my breakthrough, guys! Didn’t anyone read the script in my head? AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DID THE READING???

diary

“…and then I won a Dora Award.” It’s right there in my diary, you guys!!

Sigh. But in the end, and after some sober (and sometimes drunken) self-reflection, I know exactly why my show never sold out, and why the reviews were just okay, and why nobody talked about it on twitter and all that jazz. And that’s because…it just wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t TERRIBLE, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I put up there on that stage. It IS a good show. But not only is there room for improvement, there’s need. If this show is to ever see the light of day again…and trust me, after this Fringe my dreams of touring it have taken a serious body blow…it needs some work. And I’ve already taken a few moments to sit down and think about where those tweaks and twists might come. And I’ll be talking with others about exactly that in the months to come. Fringe may be only 11 days a year, but it also never ends. That’s my new reality. And that reality…well, that’s a rather welcome one.

NormanBisbee3 pic byCaitlin Oleson

Take a break, Norman…you did good.

In fact, I have to delay workshopping on Norman Bisbee because now that Ottawa Fringe is over for 2016, it’s time to get back into the rehearsal hall with Madeleine Hall (the talented one, remember?) and Jodi Morden (the belle with the bell) as we start prepping FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING to hit Vancouver Fringe in September. See? Fringe never ends, gang. Fringe is a beginning that never ends.¬† Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

The Road to War

In Fringe Fest, Uncategorized on May 20, 2016 at 12:55 am

I’m up later than I’d planned.

I mean, not that I had a CRAZY busy day or anything (I’m no Kiefer Sutherland), but I did get some sun, which if you’re familiar with my pallour you’ll know could be a source of concern for me. There was much walking in direct sunlight, some eating, some meetings, what might be considered a late-in-life viewing of Mel Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES, and then bedtime.¬† I was in bed, and ready for sleepies.

But for Fringe.

The 2016 Ottawa fringe website went live and all whirlagog with activity today, announcing the impressive 20th anniversary lineup of the festival that changed the course of my life back in 2008.¬† A lot of my time today was spent pretending I did NOT have laundry that needed doing, and instead poring meticulously over the shows in said list.¬† I can already safely say that I’m almost recklessly giddy that my theatrical hero and inspiration, Jayson McDonald, is finally coming back to Ottawa Fringe, and that LASER KIWI is a show I will absolutely be seeing, based solely on the wonderfully absurd strength of its name.

laser kiwi

LASER KIWI, people..!

But I was sleepy, and so took to bed.¬† But sleep was not in the cards.¬† I had too many thoughts in my head, about my beloved Fringe.¬† Not of the entirely Fanboyish variety for which I first became known in Ottawa, but because MY show, the still-upcoming Norman Bisbee Goes to War, was one of the shows in that ‘impressive lineup’ I’d mentioned.¬† And while I’m happy to say the thoughts that kept me awake were NOT unhappy ones…no undue stress about deadlines or production details or unfinished scripts (there may have been a fantasy or two about winning best of fest lodged in my musings somewhere)… I knew that I clearly was not done with Fringe for the day.

So up I got, poured a late shot of Jamesons, and tossed my dvd of Martin Dockery’s brilliant storytelling show WANDERLUST on for inspiration.¬† It worked.¬† And remind me to buy all the rest of his discs come June, and then remind yourselves to do that too.

dockery

This is Martin Dockery. See all his shows and buy all his stuff. You’re welcome.

When it was done, I moved to my computer, because as the show played, I realized that I owed a long overdue post, on this terribly rusty blog, ABOUT that show of mine. One that’s been kicking around in my head for about 2 years now, coming to me almost fully formed after a couple of moments in front of a mirror in the changeroom at work pretending to be an elderly man, for no good reason.¬† NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR is a show about an unexpected adventure undertaken by an unlikely protagonist, 84 year old Norman.¬† Venturing out into the bad part of town to track down his most prized possession, stolen by a Rat-Faced punk, Norman befriends a young runaway named Sally, and is aided/haunted by visions of his old war buddy Peppini.

NormanBisbee1 Pic by Caitlin Oleson

Scary promo photo of me by Unicorn Princess Caitlin Oleson.

That’s the elevator pitch, such as it is.¬† Marketing ain’t my strong suit.

The reality of the production aspect, however is…good?¬† I’ll say good.¬† I was terrified for a long time that I was taking on too much with this one, a show I’d told myself as soon as I thought of it that I wasn’t good enough to do yet.¬† I’d probably still be saying that, if some clever people hadn’t¬† made me realize that I would likely be content to KEEP saying that until I was dead.¬† And you don’t make art when you’re content (dibs on the tee-shirt right for that one).

Still…I was writing and performing this show, and kinda/sorta directing it too.¬† Which is a TERRIBLE idea, you don’t have to tell me.¬† But I have people keeping me honest in this, I swear! An early workshop of the show with Jodi Essery led to me abandoning the original silent version of the show in favour of a full-fledged script, with words and everything.¬† My go-to Jodi, Jodi Morden, has been sitting in when she can, helping me with blocking and timing and everything in between. I landed a gold medal Stage Manager in the form of the mighty Erin McDonald, who does nothing but impress.¬† Good guy Leslie Cserepy is going to town on sound, Stirling Prentice of Winged Beast Outfitters is working up a sweet poster design. The script is done.¬† I like it.¬† I’m off book.¬† I’m…we’re…in good shape?¬† We open in less than a month at the ODD Box.¬† And as I sit here, almost in the dark, writing this post and listening to my collection of Fringe songs from my computer (a bit of LITTLE ORANGE MAN is teasing my ears as I write these words), I can remember that June back in2008, standing alone in a corner of the now-gone Beer Tent, basking in the glow of my first ever Fringe and gawking at the people and performers who had redefined acting and entertaining for me in just 11 short days and quietly, desperately thinking to myself I WANT TO BELONG TO THIS SO BADLY.

Now, before you say anything, let me just say that it’s kind of hard for me to feel like I belong to anything.¬† It’s just my brain. But, I’m a little bit closer now.¬† This June I’ll be even a littler bit closer-er. Me and Norman.¬† And hopefully a few of you reading this will be joining us along the way.

And hey, if you wanna buy an advance ticket, go for it right HERE. See you at the Theatre, gang. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and…oh. Yeah.¬† That’s ANOTHER overdue post.)

 

Coming Up in April 2016

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2016 at 8:32 am
  • Updated April 12th, added Cabaret¬† Oh-La-La and Dance de Garcons to Theatre Francais.

Another right-on-time entry of show listings for the month.

…APRIL FOOLS!¬† I’m more than a week late! Sigh. Here ya go…

Concord Floral at the NAC Studio. Jordan Tannahill…’nuff said.¬† Until the 9th.

Calendar Girls at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Until the 16th.

Pool (no water) at Academic Hall, from the Ottawa U Drama Guild. The 5th to 9th.

vw cast

The Virginia Woolf Cast, courtesy of Andrew Alexander.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Gladstone, from Bear and Co. A pleasant evening in with charming people. The 7th to 16th.

12th night ld

Twelfth Night of the Living Dead at Algonquin College Theatre (Buliding N). Shakespeare’s classic…but with Dinosaurs! Or something.¬† The 13th to 17th.

Mop in the Grid at Live! On Elgin. Hosted by Nick Amott and Fireflood, a night of variety and pre-Fringe excitement from a slew of companies, including myself (doing I don’t know what, but come along and find out). On the 20th.

Staff Room at the Gladstone, from Phoenix Players. The 22nd to 30th.

wh

Woyzeck’s Head at Arts Court Theatre, from Third Wall Theatre. Tactics closes for the season with the return of one of Ottawa’s most beloved theatre Companies to action! The 22nd to 30th.

Janet Wilson meets the Queen at the GCTC. You had me at Tony Adams and Katie Ryerson.  The 21st to May 8th.

Belles Soeurs: the Musical at the NAC Theatre. Tremblay gets the song’n’dance treatment! The 27th to May 14th.

 РTheatre Francais

Cabaret Oh-La-La at Theatre de L’Ile. Until the 16th.

887 at the NAC Theatre. Robert Lapage returns! The 12Th to 18th, English surtitles on the 15th.

Dance de Garcons at La Nouvelle Scene, from Theatre la Catapulte. The 14th to 16th.

Tendre at the NAC Studio. 2 performers, attached with rubber bands, in a show for ages 4 and up! The 23rd and 24th.

Scenes de la Vie Conjugale at the NAC Studio. French adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman classic Scenes from a Marriage. The 27th to 30th.

 РImprov and other Stuff

oif 2016

Ottawa Improv Festival at Arts Court, the 14th to 16th. All the Improv you can handle, and most of the Improv you can’t. Check it out!

The Improv Game Show at Live! on Elgin. Exactly what it sounds like, on the 11th.

Okay, I’m a week late and this post is still missing a ton of stuff, I know!¬† Will update occasionally (with updated items spotlighted at the top of the post for easy reference from now on) when I get the chance. But for now, I need breakfast, and it was really important to get this one out today.You don’t even know.¬† Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid (and Winston)

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