Pascale Yensen and Anastasia Wansbrough Leap into the Montreal Fringe with a Dynamic Dance Double Bill
We read a lot of new plays at Newborn Theatre. It turns out, across the board, new playwrights seem to forget that their characters have moving bodies. I used to be one of those playwrights. But then a lovely dramaturge of mine, Dahlia Katz, reminded me to indulge in a dynamic I constantly ignored: Movement. Do it. Watch it. Respect it. Learn the art of storytelling through movement, dance, gesture, even if it means editing out some of your precious words. Dancers trust their bodies with concepts that writers can only communicate through wordy-hey-I-have-a-voice-so-hear-me-roar dialogue. We don't realize that amalgamation of the two art forms, writing and dance, brings astounding renewal to old ideas, conventional messages, things we've heard before. It makes sense: If we've heard the same wisdoms over and over again, mightn't it be time to sit back and watch? Pascale Yensen and Anasatasia Wansbrough are two artists who could teach you a lesson in moving messages. Their newest collaboration FRAG/sneak it up your sleeve emerges on the Montreal Fringe scene this year with an interdisciplinary, humorous approach to dancing through their most important intimations.
Their interests merge in this year's double bill with FRAG, the first ever short dance film to hit the Fringe stage and sneak it up your sleeve, a contemporary dance piece which explores shame, taboo and discomfort surrounding the female body.
FRAG, the second film Yensens ever made, is the first love child of her new romance with "dance theatre". The film displays three different dancers in downtown Montreal in their most vulnerable, free, fragmented moments living in their natural environments. The combination of concentration character and narrative as well as choreography prove the fortitude in combining dance with theatre. FRAG is a huge stepping stone for Yensen, displaying her love for making people laugh and symbolizing her emergence out of university.
Meanwhile, sneak it up your sleeve, is Wansborough's investigation of personal and emotional states which better form he human ego. Using dance as a tool for conversation, Wansborough works to merge the line between dance and human communication. Capturing several artistic transmission styles, sneak it up your sleeve uses video work, dance, theatre, lecture style, all kinds of presentational whims and whistles to push issues of the female body to an absurd place wherein you have to laugh at your own discomfort.
The two pieces come together in one mega night of performance and presentation, meant to indulge the audience in a purely enjoyable theatrical spectacle. Don't miss this collaborative force majeure opening June 14!
CHECK IT OUT!!
FRAG/sneak it up your sleeve opens June 14 at the Montreal Improv Theatre.
The show runs
Mike Hughes and Matt Goldberg Step Back Into the Montreal Fringe with an Improvised Elegance
As a playwright, I hate when anyone asks me to improvise. My first idea is my worst idea, that much I know and that much I insist upon if anyone should ever ask me to think on my feet. It isn't any surprise, then, that as an audience member, I love the momentum of good improv: "Listen, accept, speak or act a new offer, and we move forward and we move forward and we move forward" and the narrative never stills. Story is constantly stirred by basic principles and irredeemably quick, courageous and generous storytellers. The journey is the thrill, the destination could be somewhat meaningless, no one will notice. Improv artists are narrative magicians. And Mike Hughes and Matt Goldberg are two of our favourites.
You may know Hughes and Goldberg from their long-term engagement and Fringe presence with Uncalled For comedy troupe. Famous for their 7-years hosting the late-night Fringe Cabaret The 13th Hour, Uncalled For quickly became Montreal's most celebrated comedic coup de maître, knocking audiences out with their stellar collectively devised sketch comedy pieces which have toured between Montreal and Toronto for the past eleven years. In 2011, the collective retired their cabaret from the festival. Now, at this year's Montreal Fringe Hughes and Goldberg, two men who take pride in their 15 year comedy love affair and who have been improvising together since high school, come together to explore high-brow humour through a high-energy kaleidoscope.
The show is completely improvised. There are two mainstays: First, the absurdity. The show takes place in "a quasi-serious, quasi-absurd, quasi-magical world of quasi-men", Goldberg tells me. He then takes back the statement, thinks hesitantly...And remains unable to define the show. "The goal is really to explore a relationship between two men in a somewhat Victorian setting, and take a long time to solve their problems." His statement speaks true to the clown-improv testament: The goal is the journey, not the destination.
The two writer-performers do, in fact, have the perfect blend of clown, improv and storytelling. Hughes recently performed as a clown for several years in Cirque Du Soleil's Dralion and Goldberg is the producer of Confabulation, a monthly Montreal story-telling event as well as co-founder of Montreal's only podcast network No More Radio. These two performers have a unique understanding of how to engage an audience. Live improv is a pleasure when performers commit to loving the audience and to having the audience love them back.
The second mainstay: The show is completely new every night. Completely improvised, the show stands out in the repertoire of Fringe improv and sketch this year because the two performers are focused on creating a world with acknowledged rules. The two characters therefore not only have to exist in the world together but they have to create it together and remain in it for nearly an hour. Absurdities are immediate, so satisfying, and growing, always growing, in the impeding, forceful riot that is this show. Since the show is completely new every night, so too will be the world and the characters, their ticks, histories, loves, hates, favourite idioms and anecdotes. And you can see it more than once. And you can laugh more and more each time. You can be a fan. Join the fan club.
CHECK IT OUT
A Bandolier of Dreams opens this Thursday June 12n at Theatre Ste-Catherine.
Additional runs on June 14-15, 17-19, 21-22.
Book your tickets today!
All ticket and booking information here.
Montreal's Comedy Treasury Will Yield Hoards of Hilarity Tonight at the Fringe
I don't know what the crossover rate is between comedy and theatre: Comedians are actors, playwrights become comedians, comedians write plays , ok ok ok ok ok...we're all would-have-been-Vaudevillian anyways. We're all trying really hard to please strangers. Yet, somehow the line between theatre and comedy doesn't always merge. Strictly comedic plays are rare. Often comedic playwrights and their work are undervalued. Comedies are tossed aside and categorized as fluff, drawing-room, sketch, "too punny", "too clever", overwritten, and this and that, what haven't I heard and what haven't I defended against. I treasure the work of geniuses such as Oscar Wilde, Mel Brooks, Tina Fey, list your favourite old or new, I can promise you this: I have seen Bananas at least four times but I couldn't finish Brokeback Mountain. We all would rather laugh. It seems, however, that laughing loudly, without restraint, nonstop, from the gut is best, absolute best, when it is encouraged, sometimes rewarded, always in tandem with many. Laughing is, without question, best done at a comedy show. Thank the Fringe Gods, then, for inviting There's Something Funny Going On (TSFGO) onto this year's festival.
TSFGO is a weekly show presented at Blue Dog Motel and produced by the outrageous, beautiful and fortuitous team of two of my favourite Montreal entertainment treasures Emma Wilkie and Rashta Kruger. Each week the show features some of the best local talent and ordinarily a selection of out-of-town acts. Wilkie (frankly a comic I always look forward to hearing) will be hosting this week's Fringe spot for what's promising to be a generous display of humour including the talents of Alon Azimov, Kuba K, Jacob Greco and plenty more. If you haven't ever heard of this show, there's no better way to discover it than to include it in your Fringe line up. Complete your day of newly-created theatre with a night of pure, pleasure-inducing, practiced comedy. The greatest news you've ever heard is that, as you leave laughing, you can plan to come back the next week.
Check out TSFGO and discover your newest favourite nightspot in Montreal.
Monday June 9th, 8:30 pm
Show is pay-what-you-can
Beer special: 2 Sleeman or Pabst & CC shot for 8$
Shot special: 4 vodka /10$
All information about the show, including info on reservations, here
Every time I Fringe I have the same problem: After reading through the program, I'm bombarded with redundancies as most of the shows start to sound the same to me. They aren't the same, I know. But they could be (you know?). Of course, then I fell upon Cherry Typhoon and Her Burlesque Ninjas. "Burlesque" and "Ninjas" being two words I've never seen side by side, I was immediately engaged. Need more than a title? No problem. Cherry Typhoon is possibly the most hilarious Neo-Burlesque-meets-traditional-Japanese-what-is-happening-this-is-awesome-extravaganza in the Montreal Fringe Festival this year.
Considering Typhoon's political and stylistic agenda, this is sure to be a show you will have nothing to compare to. It is traditional burlesque with, in the best twist ever, Japanese Burlesque ninjas. You will have to laugh. The sheer edge of it will leave you with no other option. The guarantee? You'll be watching a world renowned burlesque performer, perhaps the only one from Japan you'll ever see. The good news? When you love it, you'll be able to track Typhoon down and see her again. She plans to produce two burlesque shows a year, the next one in the early spring of 2015. I have no idea what that show will be about but, I'm willing to bet it will be something fabulous that I've never seen before.
CHECK IT OUT!
Cherry Typhoon and her Burlesque Ninjas opens June 9 at The Wiggle Room.
Additional performances on June 10-11, 13-18 and the 20th.
All ticket and show information here.
Carina de Klerk and Lynn Kozak bring the Greek back to Montreal
"If you have a problem, there's a Greek poem for you."
That's what Lynn Kozak told me. I didn't laugh but I made a face like I was about it.
Maybe the problem is that nobody knows that. Maybe the problem is that, even if we know that, we're too busy watching contemporary rom-coms, soap operas and Sam Shepard plays to really turn our heads backwards. Maybe the problem is that, we're finicky enough about our contemporaries, finding love for the classics is a whole other haul to the office that we don't feel like taking.
These are the problems of a lazy-young-anybody. Not good problems to admit to.
It's totally fine. Problem solved! This summer at Montreal Fringe, Oimoi Productions is determined to spread their love for ancient Greek texts with their newest piece Ephemer-ilz.
For more information on Oimoi Productions and all of their upcoming projects, check out their Facebook Page and website.
CHECK OUT EPEMER-ILLZ AT MONTREAL FRINGE RIGHT NOW
Ephemer-ilz is a 30 minute show performed at the Espace Freestanding Room.
June 5-8, 11, 13-15, 18-20
All ticket and schedule information here.
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Gillian English escorts us through the ups and downs of love (and falling out of it) in her newest Fringe piece
English's love affair with Fringe theatre began with her company, The Theatre Elusive's, award winning tour of Love in the Time of Time Machines , written by Ned Petrie and David Tichauer and starred in by English and Michael Goldlist. In typical Fringe fashion, though that show was immense fun for the entire company, English also describes the odd challenge. For example "when that drag queen stole my dress off the costume rack in Montreal. I could just go on and on about that..."
Ergo, her current show. Drag Queen Stole My Dress is an autobiographical solo piece that chronicles "the rise and fall of (English's) most significant romantic relationship so far". She writes to communicate hope and remedy when dealing with love and all other lost causes and to insight humour where heartbreak prevails. In a bold and brave burst of artistry, English dedicates her challenging experience towards a cathartic offering to the audience. Drag Queen premiered in New York at the Frigid Festival in March, it is joining the Montreal Fringe Festival this month and it will be up in Toronto in August at The Storefront Theatre as part of a double bill with Jessica Fitzpatrick's Cupidity.
CHECK IT OUT!
Drag Queen Stole My Dress opens Friday June 13 at the Cabaret Du Mile End and runs on the 14th, 17-18th and 20-21st.
For ticket and show information, visit the Montreal Fringe website here.
Also, check out the trailer below.
Johanna Nutter and James Diamond mingle and balance sibling asymmetries in a brother/sister collaboration
Ah, siblings. Individuals married to one another in an obligatory mirage of love and compassion. As a concept, the sibling relationship is a bottomless treasure chest of writer-ly fortune: Tensions are ever-present; Secrets are either non-existent or heartbreaking; The spectrum of love and hate tilts feverishly. Undeniably, whether you like it or not, once you have one (or many) siblings, it's very hard to deny them your loyalty. It is also hard not to write about them. Uh oh. I smell ambivalence. "Should I write about my family? I shouldn't. Oh! But it's SO good. I have to" etc.
My Playwright Sister is Nutter and Diamond's answer to Nutter's 2009 award-winning, nationally acclaimed, solo show collaboration with Jeremy Taylor, My Pregnant Brother. Five years ago, Nutter wrote and performed a story about her personal self-evolutionary experience in reaction to Diamond, her transgender brother's, pregnancy. Though she obtained permission to write the show from Diamond beforehand, he was devastated at the presentation. Diamond hoped for a more balanced version of the account but Nutter had written her story. That is what storytellers do. (See: Above mentioned conflict) As storytellers, the most we can do is share our authentic truths. Unfortunately, when recounting a shared drama, it is impossible for one writer to authenticate perspectives from all parties. After a sequence of stirring criticisms, it became clear to Nutter and Diamond that My Pregnant Brother was born from their trying not to share the drama, building walls, staking claims in it and inviting misunderstandings instead of working together creatively to really indulge in the shared experience of what happened between them. Thus, My Playwright Sister came to the fore.
My Playwright Sister is a repackaging of the story now told both by Diamond and Nutter. Since the two of them are both nationally-acclaimed creators, I have no doubt that the re-telling will be exceptional. The full production is meant to be presented in 2015 but this year's Montreal Fringe will see a very special workshop production. Montreal, take advantage of this opportunity to see two very special (and blood-related!) Canadian artists contribute to your local arts scene. Its one of those Fringe shows that we're lucky to have.
CHECK IT OUT!
My Playwright Sister is being presented at the E-space Freestanding Room as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival.
Shows at 4pm on June 7th, 15th, and 20th are preceded by a performance of MY PREGNANT BROTHER
Extremely limited seating. Buy your tickets today!
All ticket and schedule information here.
Jesse Stong weaves a dynamic, neurotic, romantic tale of park bench beauty in his latest Montreal Fringe show Sense Gentle
Through a series of encounters, a winding repertoire of gestures and conversations and offerings and flirtatious hints, Sense Gentle strings us through 65 minutes of rendezvous between Bambi, a young anorexic runaway and Oliver, an obsessive compulsive neurotic. The two characters meet every day, same time, same park bench until they eventually manifest an intimate bond. The notion is romantic: We value who we get to know and we get to know those who we feel need to be valued, need our engagement, our validation. Overtime, when shared, our secrets, our dramas, our most personal personables glue us to those who we're attracted to and we let them know us because we are, simply, basically attracted to them. In Sense Gentle, Stong examines the kindling of love and bonding between strangers.
Sense Gentle also features an all-star creative team including performances by Gavin Crawford (This Hour has 22 Minutes) and Kyle Travis Young (A Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical) and direction from Kyle Tingley (My First Trip to New York, Endless Smoke).
Just over an hour of two men on stage whose interpersonal tension grows until they absolutely must kiss. WILL THEY DO IT? I don't know. I want to squirm while I wait for it. I want to feel all kinds of things. I have a feeling I will.
Sense Gentle opens June 14 at 8pm at Mission Santa Cruz. The show runs five times in total (June 14-15,17,19,20).
COME CHECK IT OUT!!
More information here.
Cory Thibert and Tony Adams come to Montreal Fringe with their latest coming-of-age-bromance-break-up romp
A flexible writer is a sane writer. Ergo, a flexible script is a grounded script.
New pieces are best if they remain flexible, impressionable, excitable and, importantly, honest. For better or for worse, writers who trust themselves are writers well-written. Cory Thibert and Tony Adams are two such writers.
In Wolves>Boys, Thibert and Adams bring a script to stage with an incredible awareness of its fluidity. As they chronicle the best-friendship between two young men, they take the script from one evening to the next, testing waters, throwing out new edits, new ideas, small things enmeshed into their already solid script. This, I believe, is what the Fringe is about. Keep your work in development and it will grow. Growth is what audiences watch for. There is nothing more strange, chaotic and entertaining than artistic growth especially, as in this piece, when it's decorated with wit, humour and tenderness. Though fluvial, the piece is hardly turbulently crafted. Wolves > Boys has already won Outstanding Duo at the 2012 Ottawa Fringe and garnered a third Prix Rideau Award nomination for Outstanding New Creation. In 2013, both Thibert and Adams were nominated for the Emerging Artist Award by the Prix Rideau Awards jury for writing/performing in the exact same show. This is a polished piece but, with humility, they focus on "the live-ness of the audience" thereby allowing themselves to be affected by new people every night. We like that they're making a mess. And you'll hardly notice.
Thibert and Adams joined forces and founded Maycan Theatre in 2009. The spontaneity of their works excites us and their youthful, vandal, come-what-may, casual type of subject matter paired with a fantastic use of the medium has made them one of our Montreal Fringe picks for this year.
Wolves>Boys has six performances in the Montreal Fringe: June 14-15; June 17-18; June 21-22. Tickets are on sale now! Click the link below for more information.
More information here.
Major Matt Mason brings Geoffery Simon Brown's Control to Calgary this month
We need you to know about Geoffery Simon Brown.
A recent graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, an award-winning playwright, an accomplished director and performer and one of the founding members of the Major Matt Mason Theatre Collective, remember his name because one day soon you'll hear some one drop it at a really cool party and we wouldn't want you to be embarrassed.
Here's what you need to know: Geoffery Simon Brown writes for his generation. His pieces are raw, strange and unabashedly intense as he parachutes large voices and powerful concepts into simple gold-nugget story lines. He is a master of the unusual. His piece Still Still Still, which won the 2013 Playwrights Guild of Canada Post-Secondary Playwriting Competition, escorts the audience into the mind of a man with five-fold synesthesia and a limitless memory. The effect is dizzying and the show exemplifies Brown's relentlessness. Similarly, his most recent piece, The Circle transforms a garage full of reckless teenagers into a tragic rabbit hole for their insecurities and we dive in with them as the show pulses with hilarious disaster. Through comedy, ingenuity and freakish authenticity, Brown makes theatre effortlessly experiential.