Still over a week away to the premiere of Hannah & George at the Ottawa Fringe (get advance tickets HERE, or just boost my ego and click ‘join’ on our Facebook event page HERE), and I thought it was high time I gushed about my incredible Strange Visitations team of superwomen, without whom this show would not be here.
I first met my brilliant co-star Madeleine Hall years ago, when I mostly just knew her as ‘Jonah’s Girlfriend’ for an embarrassingly long time. It wasn’t until I started attending the Ottawa Theatre School as a first year (as she was beginning her third) and we became fellow students that we really started to form a proper friendship all our own, aand I’m really glad we did. Then I saw her in that year’s OTS production of Sylvia and was properly blown away, because I had not realized just how much talent she was packing. She was crazy good, and I couldn’t wait for the next two shows in her grad season. Sadly, those were not to be, but the two of us ended up heading out on similar journeys that following summer…I headed off to Clown Camp on Manitoulin Island with Mump and Smoot’s John Turner, while she made the even greater journey to France to study for a month with the legendary clown master Philippe Gaulier.
Now, I got back from my adventure first, and was busily working on an idea for an upcoming 20-minute show I had been picked to do at the 3rd Fresh Meat Festival (which Madeleine co-produces by the way) when I hit upon the idea of Speed Dating, using the Simpleman character I had created in OTS for a 5 minute silent piece, The Flower. I sent Mad an e-mail in France asking her if she would like to join me onstage for the piece, and to my joy she was all for it. Soon enough, we premiered Faster than the Speed of Dating at Fresh Meat to a great response. Since then we’ve also shared the stage in Chamber Theatre’s The Hairy Ape, and now are about to premiere our third show in a row together with Hannah & George. I couldn’t ask for a more talented and naturally funny clown co-star, who even during the rehearsal process for THIS show is hard at work producing the upcoming 4th Fresh Meat Festival. Her instincts have guided and shaped this show in exciting new directions, and her Hannah is a Fringe character for the ages. You don’t wanna miss this, folks.
Of course, we couldn’t have even gotten Speed of Dating onto the stage without the unswerving aid of OTS legend, and our director, Jodi Morden. After appearing in a veritable swarm of shows with OTS, including the brilliant Under MilkWood, Glitch and Twelfth Night (and even doing her own stint with Chamber Theatre in Marcel Pursued by the Hounds), she was my hoped-for pick to tackle the daunting task of directing a show in which the silent actors never directly look at one another, while constantly interacting and undergoing more than a dozen character transitions. She jumped at it and steered us through to the end product like the pro she is, and didn’t miss a beat when I invited her back to direct the full-length Fringe ‘sequel’ to Dating that Hannah & George essentially is (but not really). She was at Fringe last year too, co-starring in Rachel & Zoe with the fantastic Hannah Gibson Fraser.
Jodi has been a complete, utter joy to work with, and I have fond memories of our multiple shopping runs to Dollarama and beyond, scouting the seemingly endless props for this show (that currently live in the backseat of her car, bless her heart). This show would be nothing without her, and I would be a total wreck. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Miss Jodi. You got us through. 🙂
The final addition to out team was my good buddy and U of O grad Rebecca Laviolette, who I first met at some Youth Infringement from years past. Since then I’ve seen her in a host of YI shows, not to mention all over the Fringe stage (in shows like The Fight, Fallen and Oceans Apart) and beyond…she’s yet another Hairy Ape veteran as well. She was my behind the scenes helper/stage manager when I mounted my Foofarah Live! event last year, and when we realized we’d need an extra pair of hands on deck for H&G, she was my obvious pick. It was very clearly the correct choice, as she’s been tireless in her multiple roles in the production…she’s a terrific and engaging performer, but clearly has some stage managing blood in her from the whipsmart way she approaches every problem. There appears, actually, to be very little she cannot do (and even fewer things she doesn’t have on hand at a moments notice…her apartment is stocked up like some theatrical Batcave, it’s amazing). And nobody but nobody feeds a rehearsal like our Rebecca, let me tell you. A very instrumental addition to our Hannah & George team, and always such a joyous presence, especially at our beloved ‘crafting rehearsals’ at her place. And yes, you will get to see (and hear!) the lovely Ms Laviolette in the show.
I am proud as can be to be working in the company of these three talented creators, and I really do believe you’re going to want to see what they (and me) have brought to life for this Ottawa Fringe. Can’t wait to see you all there! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid (and Winston)