It all started with a flower.
Almost three years ago now I was in my one and only semester at the late, great Ottawa Theatre School, working away on my end of year project, a five minute ‘vocal masque’, in this case a silent and solo 5-minute performance piece. After a few questionable ideas, one night I lay awake in bed and the storyline for a short scene popped into my noggin. A clownish bit about a lonely dope trying to declare his love for a local barista by offering her a token of his affection…a solitary blue flower, hence my name for the show, ‘The Flower’. I quite enjoyed the finished product, and even performed it in a couple of other places a few times for new audiences. It was a nice bit.
Then a while later, I applied for and got in to a local theatre Festival, Fresh Meat, dedicated to premiering original 20-minute shows. I thought of the flower, and wondered what else that character could get up to. Somehow, speed dating popped into my head. After a few weeks of awkwardly imaging a 20 minute speed dating piece as a solo work, it occurred to me that this would be a LOT easier, and better, if someone else were on the stage with me. Also if someone were watching the both of us and making sure what we did made sense. Enter Madeleine Hall and Jodi Morden, two pals and previous grads of the Ottawa Theatre School, where I devised the flower in the first place. We put together the original show, FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING, for the 2014 Fresh Meat Festival, and it went over like gangbusters. I played two oddball characters, Madeleine tackled ten (not bad for a 20 minute show), and I’m still proud as mud of the staging for that show. It was a long rehearsal process for such a short piece, but worth every second.
Jodi, Mad and I (along with Rebecca Laviolette) would go on to collaborate on the 2015 Ottawa Fringe show HANNAH & GEORGE, very much inspired by characters from Speed of Dating. Not a sequel per se, more of a ‘what if’. A live action clown romantic comedy. It was fun.🙂
Now it’s 2016 and, after each performing in original works of our own at this year’s Ottawa Fringe (CARDINAL for Madeleine, with Mitchel Rose, and the solo NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR for me) we’ve got the gang back together to bring Speed of Dating out of retirement and out west to the Vancouver Fringe Festival. It’s a lot of firsts for me…first time performing out of Ottawa, first remount of a show (with almost ten extra minutes added to boot…it’s a revamp as well!), first time actually even going to Vancouver…the excitement is building, folks. I’m rather giddy.
In true emerging artist fashion, the gang and I have begun a Fundraiser campaign to try and offset the expenses of flying across the country to perform in just one festival. Please feel free to click on the link and donate what you can, if anything…and if nothing, that’s fine too, we accept good vibes and well wishes!
We have also the obligatory Facebook event page, which it would be lovely if you west coast types took a look at…it seems trite, but as out-of-towners, I promise, every ‘going’ click is another confidence boosting shot in the arm (I’ll add to that that , wow, am I ever blown away by the advance ticket sales for the show, already way above what I received for my show this year in Ottawa…THANK YOU, Vancouver!) https://www.facebook.com/events/291773537853609/
I would be remiss if I didn’t shoutout our incredible photog/designer MJ Gervais, who has done stellar work making us look good, not only on our sweet, sweet poster, but our series of collect-them-all polaroid postcards. 8 in all, and we’ve printed them in varying degrees of rarity. If you manage to get a complete set, tweet a pic of yourself with them at #SpeedofDating ! We will owe you, at the very least, a group hug.
Almost time to head on out, still finalizing the last bits of packing, printing and panicking…but mostly, can’t wait to check into the False Creek gym and see how Vancouver audiences react to our rapid fire, silent, silly romantic adventure. We hope you like it.
Vancouver Fringe…damn. Pretty good mileage for a 5-minute piece. Peace, love and soul,