Bold at The Fringe…

Sunday was one of the first rainy, cold days we have had in a long time, and it was way too easy to stay home curled up with a book and a cozy blanket. I tend to not do “easy”, so pulled up my socks (actually that is a lie as I tried one more time to go sockless) and got myself to the CBC Fringe venue to see two shows.

The first one by well-established playwright David Mamet, “Romance” starts and finishes with punchy energy. An all-male cast of seven makes for a lot of testosterone to observe but there are a many surprises that also contain touches of estrogen. This Canadian West Coast premiere produced by Queer Arts Society is not for the easily offended person. I liked that! It seemed that as long as we all agreed that what was being explored was far from politically it was a relief to just let go! (remember “All In The Family”?)

And, let go is what THEY did. The scene starts as a slightly confused court appearance, and rapidly deteriorates, guided brilliantly and boldly with the Judge at the helm. I had flashes of films – Network (David C. Jones’ speech rehearsal moment had a taste of Ned Beatty, and the Judge reminded me of Peter Finch, several times), and 12 Angry Men (with a twist).

“Why did you go to law school if you didn’t want to lie?” “How can you have peace in the Middle East if you can’t have peace at home?!” “ I’m a homosexual.” “What is it you guys actually do?”

Directed by Adam Henderson, the actors, Brian Hinson (the Judge), David C. Jones (Prosecutor), Chris Robson (Defense Attorney), Bert Steinmanis (Defendant), Robin Jung (Doctor), Wolfgang Schmidt (Bernard), have many great zingers to deliver. And, many themes to juggle. Not an easy feat, but one they pull off.

A brief break to absorb the crazy exploration of truth in “Romance”, and then back to the same venue for another bold gesture with a completely different taste of truth seeking: “No Tweed Too Tight: Another Grant Canyon Mystery” by Ryan Gladstone and Bruce Horak. This one man show is alternately played by both actors. Sunday evening saw Bruce Horak play the superhero-ish, swaggering hipster insurance investigator. Oh yeahhh. HIS rollicking journey took him through a mysterious adventure that had him waking up over and over again in strange startling places and situations. “Where am I?”

Lines such as “his head exploded like a pumpkin on Easter” or “his head exploded like a boat in Halifax Harbour” or “Shut up… I’m thirsty and your story is too dry” gave a 40’s taste to his delivery. It wasn’t a story to take seriously. Guffaws came forth!

“Romance” and “No Tweed..” certainly made for contrasting outings. I’d say this Fringe evening, for me, was about language and bold statements.

The Vancouver International Fringe Festival continues on to late Sunday evening, September 16. Join the fun, thoughtfulness, and get your imagination rolling. Exercise some laugh muscles, too. Don’t miss it.

(By the way… if you saw these shows, would love your feedback!)

Vive le theatre!

By Trilby Jeeves (writing for the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance)

Fringe Beginnings…

As some of you know, I have a soft spot for the world of bouffon, bouffonerie, buffoonery, so my first Fringe choice on the advice of my friends in the know was “Little Lady” by Sandrine Lafond. Ohhhh…. sweet bliss. She is lovely, tormented, sugary, ugly, bumpy, ritualistic, and absolutely compelling to spy on.

Little Lady

Lafond, who comes from a background of Cirque Du Soleil and dancing for Celine Dion, has produced a dark piece that amongst other observations of life loves to mock our obsession with looks. Her mix of clown and bouffon was divinely scrumptious, and very edible. As Lafond squirms and worms her way around in a trapped space, she isolates her feet, her hands, her legs, her toes, and her shoulders making me reexamine my own feet that night in bed. Her feet seemed to have a brain their own.

“Little Lady” is a multi-media show that keeps its message clear, without any dialogue, and has just enough interaction with the audience to not get us nervous. This show is your dark glee in between other shows.

The Bike Trip” was the perfect opposing piece. Like sweet and sour, like the turtle and the hare, like hot and windy, like acid and pot… Okay, I’ll stop there. Although, actor/creator Martin Dockery, I think, would approve of my going off on a tangent. Unlike “Little Lady”, Dockery is all about words, and storytelling, and tangents! He recounts his travelling tales with such a passionate commitment that you cannot NOT be drawn in.

The Bike Trip

The show is about his quest to create a piece (for the theatre he pre-booked!) about the first historical LSD experience via a journey through San Francisco, India, and Switzerland. And, he did it. Dockery is full of surprises as a performer and a writer, keeping us on our toes. The only problem I can attest to is laughing so hard at one section, you might miss the next gem. It’s a great excuse to go see the show again.

You are not only laughing and spinning around on this verbal LSD trip. Dockery in his equally skilled writing and performing also deals out a breath catching button at the end of each big segment. Thankfully he allows us a few seconds to absorb it before launching into the next tornado.

And, you know, I think Dockery should get some funding from science. He puts out a good case for LSD!

For my first Fringe outing I was inspired, and wired (in a good way). I congratulate both shows for fulfilling their quests of writing and performing and giving us the gift of their storytelling.

I look forward to more of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival 2012 from September 6-16, 2012.

Vive le theatre!

By Trilby Jeeves writing for The Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance

Fringe Onsite

A bridge, a grassy knoll, a big pond, trees, stumps with blankets, odd bits and pieces not normally found in this context, a curiosity, and a sense of mystery all added up to a rehearsal I witnessed two days prior to the opening of site specific show “Relapse” by And The Other Leg Theatre of Vancouver.

The Site of “Relapse”…. Fringe Onsite show

It is one of many onsite shows inspired by all the nooks and crannies of Granville Island, mentored by Kendra Fanconi, the Producing Artistic Director of the Only Animal, and the Fringe’s Executive Director, David Jordan. In 2011, the Only Animal began its exploration of onsite creations and for this year’s Fringe has collaborated with 14 companies to produce the onsite line-up. Each company began their journey into the unknown by attending workshops April.

It’s now opening time, and so far we are blessed with the promise of good weather. After seeing photographer/actor/creator Chara Berk  and clown/actor/creator Kaeridwyn Newman’s gritty piece the other evening, I will pray for warm weather until closing night. And, that’s all I’m saying! See it…

Years ago, I recall the mysterious, titillating, almost religious sensation after I rose at 4:00 a.m. to drive to Two Jack Lake near Banff, Alberta to see the site specific piece “Princess of the Stars”. It was 1985 and I was working at the Banff Centre in costumes. People shook their heads at this “crazy” outdoor project based on Native myths that would commence with the dawn.

Well… it was a beautifully haunting experience that has remained with me: musical instruments and voices singing from across the lake, the respectful silence as we were ushered in the dark to our spots on the grass, winged creatures being canoed through the mist, and the big wolf.

The “crazy” idea was met with mixed feelings, but I can attest that being on location while creations simultaneously unfold can be very exciting. How will nature and man interfere and create an extra dimension. What gems may appear? The expected unexpected will occur keeping us on our toes.

Knowing that, I encourage you to take in some of the Fringe Onsite, and maybe even the same show more than once. Challenge yourself to see what will happen to you. What reactions you might have.

I mean, isn’t that why we go to theatre?

Break legENDS everyone at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival from September 6-16. See you out there!

Vive le theatre!

(Also writing for Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance)

A Conversation with Jeff Hyslop….

What does one limit themselves to asking when doing an interview with one of the most prolific and successful Canadian Triple Threats, actor, singer, dancer, the notable Jeff Hyslop? (Actually, “Quadruple” as he is also a director.) My challenge was to direct the myriad questions I had and the stories he had into the short, but time-stopping two hours we shared. Publicist Cheryl Hutcherson set the scene comfortably and we soon sailed into the creative, exciting, rich world of Jeff Hyslop.

But, before I pull the anchor, let me tell you first and foremost Mr. Hyslop will be appearing in the show “Victor Victoria” directed by Mark Carter, opening at the Metro Theatre on March 17, running through until April 7. This exceptional opportunity to watch, in my opinion, a Canadian icon that has done everything from Gilbert of “Anne of Green Gables” to the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera” and numerous television appearances including the famous “Today’s Special” and much more, is not to be missed. I hope you won’t.

Read the rest of my article for GVPTA here….

Traces… Their Truth?

I’ve been writing for the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance lately and would like to share a couple of my recent articles. After seeing the play “Traces” by Theatre La Seizieme in Vancouver, here were some of my thoughts:

“Brush strokes, tattoos, video testimonials, life scars, legacies….. These are a few of the traces I pondered after watching Théâtre la Seizième’s original production “Traces”, directed (& created by) Craig Holzschuh and Anita Rochon, with collaboration by Gilles Poulin-Denis, (stage manager, Noa Anatot; set design: Julie Marten; lighting: Jeremy Baxter; music, Steve Charles; video, Corwin Ferguson) recently on at Studio 16 in Vancouver.

Coming from a family of artists – father, painter & potter – mother, fibre artist, I was always aware of the marks they were leaving in the world. I was in admiration of their visual contribution that will remain long after they are gone. It made me wonder about my contribution.”

Please read the rest of the article on GVPTA’s blog

A taste of the stage for “Traces”