5 Fringe Questions with NANCY KENNY

I’ve been following (not stalking..!) Nancy Kenny for a while now.  I’ve seen and been impressed by her in shows like THIS IS A PLAY, LITTLE MARTYRS, MARY MAGDALENE AND ADVENTURES IN SOBRIETY (all with Evolution Theatre, a company she co-founded) as well as Fringe shows like NO EXIT UPSTAGE and the hit ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL (Prix Rideau Award winner for outstanding Fringe production).  I am also roommates with her cat Winston, who says hello.  After a stint in Toronto she’s back in Ottawa for a spell, and she’s brought with her an original translation (into French) of the play DOLORES for this year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival.

Nancy Kenny and Martine Roquebrune in DOLORES.
Nancy Kenny and Martine Roquebrune in DOLORES.

 -Are you happy to be back in the Ottawa Fringe after a year away?

I’m thrilled to be back. I’ve been participating in Ottawa Fringe, in one way or another, since 2002 and last year was the first time I wasn’t here. This definitely feels like a homecoming. It’s also great to be working with Tania Levy again and yet to be doing something so completely different from Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

– What made you want to translate this play?

It started a few years ago as an acting exercise. I was assigned this play in a class and my teacher would often ask me to ‘say it in French’ which would immediately ground me more into the character. Makes sense since it’s my first language. Some people might be surprised to know that.

– Do you enjoy working in French more or less than English?  Does it make a difference?

I really enjoy both, but this is my first time working professionally in French since high school (if you don’t count my time this past year with a wildly successful French improv team in Toronto). For a long time now I’ve been wanting to get back to my roots and this production does just that  Does it make a difference? I don’t think so. Though I feel very blessed to be able to move easily between the two language groups.

– Tell us a bit about the rest of your cast and crew!

Well some of you may know my incredibly talented director, Tania Levy, who directed me in Roller Derby Saved My Soul and had a lot of success last year with Vernus Says Surprise. Every time we work together she surprises me more and more with just how good she is at this directing thing. She has a great eye for what’s happening on stage but still gives the actors an incredible amount of freedom to play and discover. Oh and she didn’t even blink when I told her I wanted to make this show site-specific, with a very small audience sitting all around us. I like how she indulges my crazy ideas. Everyone reading this should hire her to direct everything from now on and pay her lots of money to do so.

Unlike RDSMS, Dolores is a two-hander – as in, there are two people in the cast. A couple years ago, I saw Martine Roquebrune do a scene from a Chekov play in French in one of my acting classes. She just blew me away and I knew then and there that I wanted to work on this show with her. Oddly enough, she had also worked on the English version of Dolores in a class. We were originally going to play the same characters from class, but after reading through the script a few times, we realized that together we were better suited to the reverse. So I am now playing Dolores and she is playing my sister Sandra. Martine has done a lot of film work, but this is her first play. Ottawa theatre audiences are in for a very pleasant surprise.

And last, but definitely not least, there is my fabulous stage manager, Jess Clark. She came highly recommended and I can see why. I have no idea why I thought I could do this show without an SM because right now I can’t imagine ever doing this show without her.
– Have you set a record for the most performances scheduled in a single Fringe Festival?

HA! Maybe? I don’t know, I didn’t ask. 19 performances seems like a lot doesn’t it? Long story short, if I want to have any chance of covering my costs and paying these wonderful people who are working with me, I had to do more performances. The show is fairly short though, about 40 min, and we’ve been training with multiple runs throughout rehearsals so we’re ready for this marathon I like to call Fringe.

Nancy in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.
Nancy in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL.pic by Richard Gilmore.

– bonus question: what’s happening with your previous Fringe show ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL?

Oh, I am so excited with this one! In July, I will be at Just for Laughs Zoofest in Montreal and in August I’m going to the Edmonton Fringe Festival and the Atlantic Fringe in Halifax. But stay tuned, Ottawa, there may be a one-off or two coming your way.

I also had a great time introducing the show at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival this past week. I made some great national connections and I hope that you haven’t heard the last of Roller Derby Saved My Soul just yet.

DOLORES plays at this year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival at St.Pauls Eastern United Church (473 Cumberland), in the downstairs kitchen.  Showtimes are:

June 20 – 19h00 & 21h30
June 21 – 19h00 & 21h30
June 22 – 15h00 & 19h00 & 21h30
June 23 – 21h30
June 24 – 21h30
June 25 – 20h00
June 26 – 19h00 & 21h30
June 27 – 19h00 & 21h30
June 28 – 19h00 & 21h30
June 29 – 15h00 & 17h30 & 20h30

Advance tickets available HERE at the Fringe website.  $10 at the door with a Fringe pin!  And Dolores is a proud sponsor of local women’s shelters L’Autre Chez Soi and Interval House of Ottawa.

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