It’s almost 130 in the morning as I start to write this. I just drank more than I should have, missed my last bus and had to walk 45 minutes home. I really, really should not still be up writing (and drinking), as I have to be at work at 8 in the morning.
But fuck that noise. I saw THIS IS A RECORDING tonite, and if anything else matters then there is no God. Also, I met Bronwyn Steinberg tonite and that too was also cool.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Today was my very own, very sad last day at the GCTC‘s UNDERCURRENTS festival, which to my mind has been a smashing goddamn success. I’ve enjoyed all the shows I’ve seen, and tonite was my go at the last one on my list, the grand finale I’d planned for, Kelly Rigole and Simon Bradshaw’s Fringe ’09 killer THIS IS A RECORDING. I caught this show, pretty much on a whim, two years back at Ottawa U’s ample Alumni Auditorium. And if you’re wondering what size that room was, I’ll direct you to the ‘auditorium’ portion of the previous sentence. This time, it was being staged in the GCTC Studio, which is every bit as cozy as the word ‘studio’ implies. That shift alone had me curious as to how the show would play this time.
But more than that, the Ditto Productions gang (Kelly and Simon) had brought on board Fringe Superking Natalie Joy Quesnel to direct this time, reshaping and trimming the show into a potentially new animal indeed. Much to look forward to, even IF I hadn’t already caught it.
After arriving, chatting with my GCTC barmaid pal Emma, saying hello to my old acting boss Barry Karp, and bothering poor Nancy Kenny as I am wont to do (btw, please read her latest post and try and help Evolution Theatre out, if you can…it’s the right thing to do, and you’re an awful person if you don’t) we headed in to the studio. I snuck into a front row seat, eschewing human contact as always, and watched as Kelly and Simon set up, with perfectly practiced casualness, before our eyes.
…it actually never ceases to amaze me, in shows where the actors are out on stage before the play officially starts, that more people are NOT watching them closely. It’s like skipping the opening few stanzas of a poem. But whatever. Soon enough, the lights dimmed, the stories began, and Kelly and Simon turned their multicoloured sheets, chairs, and coatrack into magic right in front of our eyes.
A product of ‘Verbatim’ theatre, where the words of regular, ordinary folk are reenacted onstage, RECORDING is a show about heroes, personal or otherwise, in our lives. I remembered a lot of it from the Fringe…the ‘Green Lantern’ kid, the girl who got married too young, the weed sale gone wrong, the random ninja..! The stories ranged all over, from goofily ridiculous to painfully true. And a few new ones had been added for this run, stories about our own heroes onstage, Kelly and Simon themselves. It helped, I thought, to make the show a little bit more about them, as well as the random or mercurial heroes mentioned in their various verbatim stories. Because that’s how they relate to it all…the heroic journey is THEIR journey, too. And if it’s THEIR journey…well, shit. It’s ours too, isn’t it?
I won’t give anything more away other than to say that before the show was over Simon and Kelly each had me pretty much in tears AND stitches, and if you can ask anything more from theatre you’re a greedier sonofabitch than I. It doesn’t get any better, my friends, than THIS IS A RECORDING.
After the show, I milled about with Nancy, Tania Levy, shook hands with Brad Long, met the supercool Michelle LeBlanc and Bronwyn Steinberg, and eventually congratulated and thanked Simon and Kelly…who, by the by, are probably the two coolest, easiest to talk to people I’ve EVER met in theatre. They’re just awesome folk, and the connection they have…easily noticeable on the stage, even when one is acting and the other is waiting in the shadows…should make anyone in range green with envy.
I got invited to head over the the Absinthe Bar then, and of course since I was working at 8 in the morning the next day and am not a hopeless, attention-seeking drunk…
…HA HA HA, I couldn’t finish that sentence. I headed over, sat next to three of Ottawa’s best actresses (Kelly, Nancy and Margo MacDonald, who taught us all about how best to enjoy Absinthe), wished I had the nerve to stroll over and tell Johanna Nutter how amazing I thought her show, MY PREGNANT BROTHER was (note: I did not have the nerve, someone else please tell her for me..?), but did get to tell Kevin Orr what a wicked good time BIFURCATE ME was. It was a good time.
SO good, that I stayed about two minutes too long and ended up missing my last bus home. It was a pretty mild nite tho, so I decided to walk, having a few interesting solo conversations with myself about the realizations I’ve come to about my role with theatre recently (more on that another day), and just enough renewed adrenalin to stay up and write this post. I’m glad I did. Because really, tonite felt almost like one of my Fringe days from this past summer…and really, that’s exactly what I’d been hoping for from UNDERCURRENTS. So a billion thanks to Pat, Lise Ann, the GCTC gang, and every performer and crew that took part. I hope you all understand that we’re very much expecting more of the same this time, next year. Also, I’m expecting at least some of you to come out to the Elmdale Tavern this monday nite for CRUSH IMPROV (except you, Kenny…you can’t drink right now, and going to the Elmdale would just be cruel). So, awesome festival everyone, loved every minute of it, and happily look forward to UNDERCURRENTS II. And now, I gotta go to bed, or I’m getting fired. Peace, love and soul to all,
The Visitor (and Winston)