Alice, Queen of Fools

It’s a whole new Year, and that means it’s time to crown a new head fool!  Or, at least, NOW I get that that’s an annual thing…I did not realize that a few days ago, when I first heard there was going to be another COMPANY OF FOOLS TWELFTH NIGHT CELEBRATION happening at the NAC 4th Stage.  I made it out to last year’s shindig and had a blast, but by the time I found out they do this regularly, I thought I’d missed my chance to get a ticket.  But luckily, I know amazing people who are much, much cooler than myself.  One of these is Smooth Tim Oberholzer, who had two tickets for the event he didn’t need, and most generously gifted them in my hapless direction.  I figure the least I can do is tell him what he missed.

With the effervescent and pun-tastic Leslie Czerepy in tow, I hit the 4th stage to see what was up, meeting the loverly Kelly Rigole on arrival.  Kelly just finished up a brilliant run with the Fools at the GCTC with their remount of A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE, and part of the fun of tonite’s fundraiser was to announce their 2012 season.  After some drinks, some food and some raffle-ticket-nabbin’, Fool Al Connors took to the stage, joined by legendary clown-combo Pommes Frites (Scott Florence) and ‘Restes (Margo MacDonald).  There they made several doomed and hilarious attempts to tell at least ONE scene from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  They managed (adding in a few extra lightsaber duels and mass deaths than I recall in the original, but whatevah), and after a brief cake break it was time to crown the new King or Queen.  Last year’s matriarch, you’ll recall, was Hazel.  And hers was a glorious reign.  But time goes on, and by decree of the red dot on the bottom of her cake plate, the new Queen of Fools is Alice (oddly fitting for a company whose last show put them in a Winter Wonderland), maybe she rule wisely.  She got off to a good start by commanding a pie in Scott Florence’s face.

A final scene ensued, with Scott, Al and Margo gathering for a tag-team take on MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, performing the Pyramus and Thisbe scene in their insane, patent-pending sudden-switch style that has to be seen to be believed.  I’ve caught their TAMING OF THE SHREW before like this, with each actor leaping mid-pentameter into a different role at the shout of ‘SWITCH’ from anywhere in the audience, and it was great to see them give a different play the Fool treatment.

Following the festivities, the new season was finally and merrily anounced.  I’m sure it’s all on their website, but if you’ll permit me the indulgence of a recap:

SHAKESPEARE AND YOU – Appearing in the lobby of the upcoming UNDERCURRENTS festival (much as THE LAB did last year) Feb.7-19, the Fools will be engaging in some interactive development of a new piece with willing (ideally) volunteers, to build their next show from the ground up.  Yes, you can be a part of it, folks, one more good reason to go to that festival.

SWEETS AND SONNETS DELIVERY – Send your sweetie a Fool with a personalized Shakespearean love sonnet!  Valentine’s Day, but potentially other days too.  Just ask’em!

OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE – March 27, the Fools will host Ottawa’s annual event in honour of World Theatre Day.  Competing companies have 48 hours to brainstorm their pieces.  Rubber Chicken glory awaits the victor!

SHAKESPEARE’S DEAD – April 30 – May 12, at various venues across the city (to be decided).  An indoor twist on the Fools’ annual outdoor show, this tale of a troupe of actors visited by the spirit of Shakespeare (who forces them to act out all of his death scenes) will be touring the city in a host of diff’rent venues.  And I can attest that th eFools are just as good inside as out.  But when they go out…

HENRY THE FIFTH – July 2 – Aug 18 at parks across Ottawa.  This year’s in-the-Park parade is Billy Shakes’ legendary war romp, directed by ANTONY & CLEOPATRA’s Geoff McBride and featuring an almost entirely female cast (with Margo Mac herself as Henry 5, whee!!).  We got a wee taster of this show in one short scene, and it’s gonna be so terribly sweet.  I’m for SURE bringing the nieces to this ‘un.

And I’ve also heard tell that Al Connors will be bringing the Fool’s classic SHAKESPEARE’S INTERACTIVE CIRCUS to this years Algonquin Theatre Arts season, so there’s that much more Foolishness to look forward to!  I couldn’t be exciteder, and it was a great night out with one of Ottawa’s finest companies (even if Tim Oberholzer’s borderline mystical raffle-luck didn’t manage to transfer to me, sigh).  And this time, I’ll plan ahead for next year.  Peace, love and soul to Fools everywhere,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS:  Thanks again, Tim!

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