I’m up later than I’d planned.
I mean, not that I had a CRAZY busy day or anything (I’m no Kiefer Sutherland), but I did get some sun, which if you’re familiar with my pallour you’ll know could be a source of concern for me. There was much walking in direct sunlight, some eating, some meetings, what might be considered a late-in-life viewing of Mel Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES, and then bedtime. I was in bed, and ready for sleepies.
But for Fringe.
The 2016 Ottawa fringe website went live and all whirlagog with activity today, announcing the impressive 20th anniversary lineup of the festival that changed the course of my life back in 2008. A lot of my time today was spent pretending I did NOT have laundry that needed doing, and instead poring meticulously over the shows in said list. I can already safely say that I’m almost recklessly giddy that my theatrical hero and inspiration, Jayson McDonald, is finally coming back to Ottawa Fringe, and that LASER KIWI is a show I will absolutely be seeing, based solely on the wonderfully absurd strength of its name.
But I was sleepy, and so took to bed. But sleep was not in the cards. I had too many thoughts in my head, about my beloved Fringe. Not of the entirely Fanboyish variety for which I first became known in Ottawa, but because MY show, the still-upcoming Norman Bisbee Goes to War, was one of the shows in that ‘impressive lineup’ I’d mentioned. And while I’m happy to say the thoughts that kept me awake were NOT unhappy ones…no undue stress about deadlines or production details or unfinished scripts (there may have been a fantasy or two about winning best of fest lodged in my musings somewhere)… I knew that I clearly was not done with Fringe for the day.
So up I got, poured a late shot of Jamesons, and tossed my dvd of Martin Dockery’s brilliant storytelling show WANDERLUST on for inspiration. It worked. And remind me to buy all the rest of his discs come June, and then remind yourselves to do that too.
When it was done, I moved to my computer, because as the show played, I realized that I owed a long overdue post, on this terribly rusty blog, ABOUT that show of mine. One that’s been kicking around in my head for about 2 years now, coming to me almost fully formed after a couple of moments in front of a mirror in the changeroom at work pretending to be an elderly man, for no good reason. NORMAN BISBEE GOES TO WAR is a show about an unexpected adventure undertaken by an unlikely protagonist, 84 year old Norman. Venturing out into the bad part of town to track down his most prized possession, stolen by a Rat-Faced punk, Norman befriends a young runaway named Sally, and is aided/haunted by visions of his old war buddy Peppini.
That’s the elevator pitch, such as it is. Marketing ain’t my strong suit.
The reality of the production aspect, however is…good? I’ll say good. I was terrified for a long time that I was taking on too much with this one, a show I’d told myself as soon as I thought of it that I wasn’t good enough to do yet. I’d probably still be saying that, if some clever people hadn’t made me realize that I would likely be content to KEEP saying that until I was dead. And you don’t make art when you’re content (dibs on the tee-shirt right for that one).
Still…I was writing and performing this show, and kinda/sorta directing it too. Which is a TERRIBLE idea, you don’t have to tell me. But I have people keeping me honest in this, I swear! An early workshop of the show with Jodi Essery led to me abandoning the original silent version of the show in favour of a full-fledged script, with words and everything. My go-to Jodi, Jodi Morden, has been sitting in when she can, helping me with blocking and timing and everything in between. I landed a gold medal Stage Manager in the form of the mighty Erin McDonald, who does nothing but impress. Good guy Leslie Cserepy is going to town on sound, Stirling Prentice of Winged Beast Outfitters is working up a sweet poster design. The script is done. I like it. I’m off book. I’m…we’re…in good shape? We open in less than a month at the ODD Box. And as I sit here, almost in the dark, writing this post and listening to my collection of Fringe songs from my computer (a bit of LITTLE ORANGE MAN is teasing my ears as I write these words), I can remember that June back in2008, standing alone in a corner of the now-gone Beer Tent, basking in the glow of my first ever Fringe and gawking at the people and performers who had redefined acting and entertaining for me in just 11 short days and quietly, desperately thinking to myself I WANT TO BELONG TO THIS SO BADLY.
Now, before you say anything, let me just say that it’s kind of hard for me to feel like I belong to anything. It’s just my brain. But, I’m a little bit closer now. This June I’ll be even a littler bit closer-er. Me and Norman. And hopefully a few of you reading this will be joining us along the way.
And hey, if you wanna buy an advance ticket, go for it right HERE. See you at the Theatre, gang. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid (and…oh. Yeah. That’s ANOTHER overdue post.)