We here at the Visitorium are gearing up for the Ottawa Fringe Festival like never before, folks. Part of that is a series of pretty informal interviews I did with several of the creative-types who will be wowing y’all in the weeks to come. To start off the series, I sat down at a comfy Bridgehead with JONAH ALLINGHAM, Ottawa Theatre School graduate and creator/star of the one-man show IN WAVES, playing in the basement of the Royal Oak Laurier from the 14th-24th. He’s also in THE SUICIDE with his OTS teammates, but we mostly talked about In Waves (because my interview with the Suicide crew is coming up in a few days!)
Visitorium – Who is Backpack Theatre?
Jonah Allingham – Backpack theatre pretty much is myself…I’ve hired on a team for this project. I have Catriona Leger as my Director, I have Jack Terrion, who’s a newcomer, and he’s my stage manager. And I have Louis Caunter doing my soundtrack, and my friend Eric Chad is doing promotion for me. But Backpack Theatre is pretty brand new, and I’m the only founding member, I guess.
V – Where did IN WAVES come from?
JA – In the 3rd year of Ottawa Theatre School where I just graduated, we have a performance creation project where we make a half-hour creation of anything we want. So you can use texts which are already existing, or you can write your own thing. And I wasn’t going to write my own thing? But I spent most of last summer out near the Atlantic ocean with my friends in Nova Scotia, camping around there, and then with my Father who lives in the Quebec Maritimes. And my Father’s a fisherman. So I was exposed to….doing hard jobs out at sea because you’ve got to support your family. So IN WAVES deals with a protagonist who’s forced to spend months out at sea because he’s been conscripted and he needs to do it otherwise he’ll be imprisoned and his family will be screwed over. So it comes both from being near the ocean and from talking to my father about his job as a fisherman. And then just researching mermaids and stuff like that.
JA – The show’s set in the 1600’s right as Henry Hudson’s voyage tot he Northwest passage is happening. It’s not directly about Henry Hudson, but a sailor who’s aboard his ship. It’s more of a fairy-tale with an historical setting than a historical ‘this is what happened’ story.
V – Is this your first time in Fringe?
JA – I did do a show about 2 years ago with the Salamander Shakespeare company, called THE DEATH OF TYBALT, and I played Paris. But this is my first time producing a show at Fringe, and my first time…well, it’s my first time ever doing a one-man show.
V – Why enter a one-man show in the Fringe, when you’re already in the Fringe with the Ottawa Theatre School show?
JA – Good question. I guess…I workshopped this show earlier in December, and one of my professors came up to me after the workshop and gave me a big hug and said ‘you have to mount this show’. I almost did Piggyback Fringe because I didn’t think I’d be able to get into Ottawa Fringe because it was too late already, but then I realized BYOV was an option. And the goal had always been to mount this show in a bar, so I fortunately went to see if I could find any venues and the first, best venue I found was the basement of the Royal Oak…everything just seemed to fall into place perfectly. And I like the idea/challenge that for ten days I’m doing two shows a day, just sort of running back and forth and then hanging at the beer tent. I wanted to still do THE SUICIDE but I also really wanted to do this show. This show’s really important to me, and something really fun to work on.
V – What’s the most exciting thing about this show for you?
JA – It’s a very intimate show, and I’m very excited to spend half an hour telling a story to an audience and just trying to bring them into my world…Telling them about this story of love.
V – How has the OTS experience been for you?
JA – SO fantastic. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to become an actor. In the past year we got to work with Evolution Theatre on a great show IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS, and we got to work with Andy Massingham on a really innovative funky show called WE WANT LIFE. And then we got to work with Pierre Brault on THE SUICIDE which is this lost hidden gem which is also being remounted at the Fringe. So, all these opportunities to work with these people who…when I was going through high school Pierre Brault was kind of a hero of mine, and then to get to work with him at the end of college was pretty cool. So, fantastic school.
Catch Jonah’s show IN WAVES at the 2012 Ottawa Fringe Festival…and stay tuned for another Fringe-terview tomorrow!