So we’re getting down to crunch time..only one week to go until the OTTAWA FRINGE FESTIVAL bursts open its many doors and kicks off eleven days of magic and madness. Which means it’s time I fired up this old blog and got down to the business of getting all of you (hi Mom!) excited too! There’s more than 50 shows appearing at this year’s festival…here’s one of them, that I got to chat with the creator about recently!
THE BISCUITEATER is the brainchild of Jim Loucks, a seasoned solo performer from down the US of A way. He’s previously toured multiple festivals with another show, CEMETERY GOLF (which I already kinda have to see, from the name alone). He is currently working on a third in collaboration with director Lisa Chess who also helped bring Biscuiteater to life. Jim tells that Chess helps him get to more of the emotional truth of the characters, as well as maintaining a work environment safe enough to bounce any crazy idea around . “She is a big creative force behind what you see on the stage.“ he says.
But the story of the Biscuiteater comes from Jim’s childhood and family history, loosely based on the life of his Grandfather. “I was very young when my Grandfather passed away,” Jim told me, “… so these are conversations I imagined having with him, based on the childhood memories that I have and passed-down family stories.”
The story as described in the good ol’ Fringe guide tells of a small-town cop, Jim’s granddaddy, who spends a long time haunted by the memory of shooting a black man in the line of duty, and his search for redemption through his relationship with his grandson. Terrific meat indeed for a storytelling piece, though it sounds like a show almost tailor-made to address issues that have been sharply in the spotlight of late. Despite that, Jim notes that it was the family story that actually got things started.
“By far the dominant part of the story is the relationship between the Grandfather and Grandson,” he explained, “…A shooting incident actually happened in my family history and was very important in my Grandfather’s life. I’m not necessarily trying to make a political statement with this show, it reflects more the guilt that I imagined my Grandfather going through as he faced his mortality. I wrote the show before the spotlight was really being shown on racially-motivated shootings in America, but the more I have performed it around the country, the more that particular aspect has come to the forefront and seems to really resonate with the audience.”
I don’t know if that’s life imitating art or what, but it does sound like one helluva ride. No wonder the Biscuiteater has already enjoyed success in Tucson, San Diego, Chicago, Austin, Seattle and more. Ottawa Fringe will be the show’s Canadian premiere, and you better believe I’m not missing it.
And no, of course, I didn’t forget to ask the most important question…just what kind of biscuits are we talking about here, and do we get to share? Jim IS described in the pressers as ‘Southern’, after all, so I’m thinking buttermilk and gravy, maybe, or some home-cooked oatmeal…but I guessed wrong.
“There are no biscuits harmed in any way during the course of this performance,” Jim explained with a smileyface , “… A biscuiteater is a hunting dog that is gun-shy and if he’s lucky, he becomes a household pet, bringing love and comfort to his family.”
So, no biscuits…but a friendly doggo is even better, I think we can all agree. And that THE BISCUITEATER should probably be on your must-see list for this Fringe festival. It plays at Studio Leonard-Beaulne and you can find the showtimes and ticket info HERE. It premieres on Thursday the 14th, Fringe opening night. See you at the Fringe,