Edmonton Fringe 2012

I spent a whirlwind 6 days in Edmonton in August, catching 20 shows over 5 days, and proving to myself that there IS such a thing as too much theatre. I stayed at my uncle’s house within walking distance of Whyte Ave, so I got the full overwhelming Edmonton Fringe experience.

There were 214 shows at 52 venues this year. I had already seen 9 of them at previous Fringes… so… barely any. It took very little time to get my bearings – 52 venues may sound like an enormous number, but they’re virtually all within a 10 minute walk from each other; it’s quite incredible. There were always buskers everywhere in the “village,” plus food stalls (I got slightly addicted to a bubble tea stand) and merchants (clothes, jewellery, face reading…) and at least 3 beer gardens. The village would benefit from a quiet area for people to just breathe in between shows.


Edmonton Fringe really is the audience’s Fringe. They are savvy. They read reviews, follow the buzz, make lists, and see tons of shows. Meanwhile, the artists are tough to track down. So basically, I had a blast, but didn’t connect with anyone except the marvelous Gadfly folks (admittedly I was REALLY BUSY and pretty much didn’t stop for 5 days straight).

Reviewing was an interesting experience. At Montreal Fringe, Al had chosen all our shows for us (since we covered every single anglophone show). That meant that I saw some major duds as well as the good stuff. When left to my own devices on the other hand, I have really good “Fringe senses,” resulting in 20/20 seriously excellent shows. This may sound like a great thing… but it also means that the standards of what makes a show exceptional go up. WAY UP. That being said, some highlights were Little Lady, Bookworm, and Dying Hard (and of course I saw my Fringe crush of many years Ryan Gladstone in No Tweed Too Tight).

Edmonton Fringe was a Fringe of small dogs, mosquitoes, and buskers. It was hot. It was incredibly busy. I’d do it again in a flash.

What I saw (and reviewed for Bloody Underrated):

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2 months, 5 cities, 5 festivals

In the next two months, I’ll be hitting up Edmonton, Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon, and taking in a festival in each of those cities. I love my life. My good friend Sophia suggested I write about my adventures. Well, ok. That sounds like a GREAT idea.

So here’s what I’m doing in the next 2 months:

Other fall plans include doing videography for the Victoria Poetry Project (Tongues of Fire & Vic Slam), and volunteer work as the festival administrator of next year’s Victoria Spoken Word Festival. And I’m sure I’ll get up to lots more as well.

Oh hey, and while I have your attention, as of today I am unemployed. So if you know of a position that would suit me, send it my way! I plan on being utterly broke by mid-October. After that time I would like to not be broke. I am looking to work in communications, media, theatre, festivals, PR, event management, marketing… that sort of thing. The more flexibility, the better.

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my heart beats faster during Fringe

My heart beats faster during Fringe
It is no longer tied to the rhythm of the day-to-day everyday
The 9 to 5
Store opening hours
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
What are these things!?
My heart no longer knows
It is much, MUCH too caught up
In the shows, people, performers, beer, reunions, new connections, buzz, reviews, recommendations, crushes, flings, late night anything, shows, shows, and more shows
That are my reason to live for the next ten days
For the next ten days, I draw breath from a different place
No longer dependent on such mortal reminders as oxygen
And sleep
On the passion, time, talent (and probably tears) that artists have infused into their work
On the societal rules that no longer apply – in this land, you DO talk to strangers; if you haven’t yet, you’re doing it wrong (though really, this is Fringe – be you!)
Yes, I run on apricot beer too (I need *something* to keep my gears grinding)
This festival is good for the soul
Good for the planet
(Probably not good for the waistline, but at this festival, no one cares about waistlines)
This festival is good for HUMANITY
See a show!
See another show!
See twenty shows!
Don’t burn out
Don’t crash
Don’t be alone
Don’t let yourself be let down – ever
Our hearts each beat to a different drum
But during Fringe, it begins to sound like our rhythms are as one
So beat your own drum, and never stop
Drumming circles exist for a reason, and there is plenty of room in this one
Calmness is overrated
Bang on

-June 14, 2012

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chasing the high of a new city
not so much traveling as searching for home
honeymooning in other people’s cities, then moving on like a non-committal boyfriend

packing one big grey suitcase
leaving the house where I’ve lived since I was 6 going on 7
my room looks like I haven’t even left – it seems to say “she’s coming back any minute now, any day now, any time now, sometime soon, sometime…”

I suspend myself in the air, and when I come down to earth, the laws of gravity may be back in effect but time and space have shifted
I am in a new city, a strange land where people speak… English. And dress… like me but with more black. And they walk on the left side of the sidewalk instead of the right.
I am in Australia

I walk into a store and I browse every shelf five times because they’re playing The Beautiful Girls and then Angus & Julia Stone, and then I leave because otherwise I’d be trapped in this Australian clothing store listening to Australian music for the rest of my life. Which wouldn’t be so bad, come to think of it, but the staff might want to go home.

I go to a free outdoor music festival where blocks and blocks are cordoned off for pedestrians only, and thousands of young Aussies in surfer shorts and summer dresses lead the way to the mainstage and as the sun sets and the sky threatens Melbourne thunder, I watch my favourite funk band on a beach in St Kilda and I am happy.

I take the bus to university and I am the only white person on the bus, and then I remember that I’m not white… and it feels weird. But also comfortable.
I take the train just to take the train, and soon I’m avoiding ticket inspectors like a true Melburnian.
and soon I get used to not tipping
and to having coins in my wallet that could murder a man
and to pretending that I’m from Vancouver
and to the incessant clicking that accompanies the clatter of feet across streets and sounds so much more urban than birds

it feels – right. in a way that Victoria – never had.

I fall hard for the State Library and the Forum Theatre and the Town Hall and the Argus Building and Flinders St Station, and every other crumbling monumental 19th century columned gold rush baby
I fall for Fed Square
and rooftop bars with Astroturf
and snails on the sidewalk at night
and comedy rooms in record stores in cafes
and cafes that serve real coffee, and lamingtons
for postmen on mopeds… on the sidewalk
for overnight buses on weekends
for ferris wheels along the river
for the river
for giant fireballs on the hour outside casinos in Southbank
for palm trees and fake beaches
for Amanda Palmer playing her ukulele from the balcony of the Forum
for a peaceful rally 10,000 strong to SLAM, Save Live Australian Music
for Strongbow cider
for 10 degree winters
for giant purse statues
for tram stops
for penguins
for Northcote
for flip flops (thongs)
for Southern Cross Station
for modern art installations that feature 47 specially recruited dachshunds
for freak hail storms
for asshole administrators
for racist politicians, and for Nando’s ads telling racist politicians that “we’re all the same on the inside”
for 12 hour train trips to Sydney – a beautiful but boring city
for returning, after 5 days away, and loving Melbourne all the more

and then, 6 months after burning my nose on a beach in St Kilda watching my favourite funk band, it’s time to go home
but I’m already there

it’s time to leave home

so I pack my one big grey suitcase
suspend myself in the air, going backwards through time – no mean feat
and fall back down to earth

and it is a hard landing.

-March 2012

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Urban Arts Productions present: Nevermore at the Maritime Museum

Listen above, or read the transcript below!

Urban Arts Productions is a new Victoria theatre company that presents historical plays in a unique location. It was started in June 2010 by Pat Rundell, a Victoria-based actor and director, and the artistic associate at Kaleidoscope Theatre.

“Urban Arts is an independent theatre company established just over a year ago, with the sole purpose to provide innovative, imaginative, quality theatre experiences for Victoria in historical settings,” says Rundell.

What sets Urban Arts apart from other Victoria theatre companies is the setting. Urban Arts is the resident theatre company at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, where they present plays in the historic Victorian courtroom on the third floor.

“Going to see an Urban Arts show in the courtroom is a true theatrical experience. We don’t stage in a presentational style; we stage around the audience, above the audience, behind the audience. There’s no privileged seat. Things are happening everywhere. You might not even see everything. Nothing is off-limit for our actors. They’ll be standing on top of tables, in the prisoner’s box, up in the balcony, on the windowsills. Everything is happening all around you,” says Rundell.

Since the company was founded in 2010, Urban Arts has presented four productions at the Maritime Museum, and one at the Victoria Fringe Festival. At the Museum, they have presented Nevermore, a musical about the life and women of Edgar Allan Poe; Marie Antoinette: The Colour of Flesh, a political love triangle set during the French Revolution; and productions of Peter Pan and Treasure Island for kids by kids. At Fringe, they presented a musical about writing a musical called [title of show].

“Our main goal is to present historical productions. Granted, our production of [title of show] at the Victoria Fringe Festival was not historical, but when we’re in the Maritime Museum, we have a mandate to present historically accurate and historically intriguing productions that complement the space. Really, the space becomes another character in the show,” says Rundell.

Urban Arts Productions are remounting their inaugural sell-out show Nevermore this October and November.

“Nevermore is a dark, haunting musical using Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories and poems set to music to tell the story of his life and his shifting obsessions with the women in his life. It’s Edgar and the five women in his life: the ghost of his mother, who died when she was 21; his first true love; his 13-year-old bride and cousin; his mother-in-law; and a figment of his imagination, a whore.”

Urban Arts Production’s focus is always on creating a local production, including casting actors from Victoria.

“For Nevermore, we have a fantastic local professional cast: Tara Britt, Fran Bitonti, Sarah Carle, Stephanie Geehan, Heather Jarvie and myself with music direction by Steph Sartore.”

Rundell has lofty ambitions for his company’s future. He is working on putting on a Christmas production, and is eagerly searching for more local historical content to present.

“We’re looking at commissioning a play about the ghosts of Bastion Square, and we’re also hoping to present a beautiful play called Cause Celeb, which is the story of the murder of Francis Rattenbury.”

Urban Arts Productions is a welcome addition to the Victoria theatre scene, offering something new to Victoria audiences.

“Our main goal is to provide innovative experiences to Victoria audiences. Theatre can happen anywhere. It doesn’t have to happen in the McPherson Playhouse. Theatre can be in the street, in a courtroom. We want art to be everywhere. We’d really love Urban Arts to continue to be part of the vibrant Victoria theatre scene, and continue giving people unique experiences.”

Urban Arts Productions’ remount of Nevermore runs October 27-29 and November 3-5 at 8pm, with a midnight performance on October 29. All performances take place at the Maritime Museum of BC. Tickets are $20*.

*Students can go to the October 28 performance for $10 with valid ID. At the door, or enter the code ‘oct28’ online.

For more information and to buy tickets: urbanartsproductions.com

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Eddie Izzard “Stripped”: Just for Laughs Review

Day 1 of Just for Laughs Montreal’s English shows. I scarf down a bowl of soup at 9:30pm. Haven’t eaten since lunch at 2:00pm. That’s what happens when you go to a show straight from work. By the end of the month, I probably won’t have even one meal a day any more, but I’ve gone pretty hardcore during festivals before, and it’s always worth it.

Tonight I saw Eddie Izzard live for the first time. Going in, I believed that Eddie Izzard was one of the best living stand-ups on the planet. The man is extraordinary. He’s phenomenally intelligent, and his performance skills are surpassed by virtually no one. Plus he’s damned funny. Now was my first chance to see him perform live.

The scene: the Gesù theatre (which is also a church…) in Montreal, in sight of Place des Arts (like virtually all the venues). The theatre only seats 425 people (general admission) and tonight was sold out. Eddie said it was to keep him humble. It’s quite a modern theatre, with weird seats that change position when you sit on them. The ‘Just for Laughs’ logo shone in white on one wall, and the stage was lit a moody green and blue. As soon as the lights started going down, the crowd started to clap and cheer… before Eddie had even walked onto the stage!

The audience remained receptive throughout the evening, laughing often and clapping as well (which I find weird, but they calmed down after the first few funnies). These were clearly Eddie fans: familiar with his past material and his comedic style, and smart enough to get the many and varied references he threw at us.

The show started at 7:00pm, with a short intermission around 8:00pm, and finished just before 9:00pm (he went on to do the same show in French immediately afterwards!). Eddie is such a skilled improviser that it was hard to tell what was prepared material and what was truly a tangent. Regardless, watching him play with his own mind is never less than a delight.

As expected, his mime skills were well on display – and Montreal got in trouble a couple of times for buying into his mimes a little too thoroughly! – and the show was high on energy. It was also high on religious references, scattered throughout the show without much form. That being said, Eddie is a master of the casual throwback, a skill which many lesser comedians often attempt with little success (it’s very impressive when done right, but often feels too rehearsed), and he drew numerous lines of thought all the way through his two hour set.

The second half being shorter than the first, the audience only wanted more, and showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. May tomorrow and Wednesday’s crowds feel the same!

Tickets/info: http://www.hahaha.com/en/montreal/act/1232

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OK Go ‘White Knuckle’ outtakes go to the dogs

A few months back, OK Go (best known for their music video on treadmills) released this video for their song White Knuckle. It was done all in one take and features a bunch of dogs. It’s amazing.

Soon after the release of this video, they also released a full 5 minutes of outtakes. I love outtakes and bloopers. I often have to stop watching them halfway through to catch my breath. These ones are no different!

Also, this:

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