June 8, 2015

This article appeared in the June 8, 2015 edition of Tales from the Dark Side Cafe

I started writing this latest post while playing Yatzee on the St-Ambroise terrasse with a bunch of fellow-Fringers; some of them are Fringe staff, some are long-time friends of the festivals, others are volunteers, but we are all playing this game for the first time. In this at least we stand on common ground. I was the only Fringe newbie there in that first hour. I was the token first time Fringe artist and first time Fringe volunteer. Yeah, I signed up as a festival volunteer. Since I still have no employment lined up, no money coming in yet, I figured I might as well give this a try too — first, as an opportunity for networking and making friends, and inviting them to my show, and second because volunteers are rewarded with ‘Fringe Bucks’, which can be exchanged for show tickets! What have I got myself into now?…

There is so much to do during the festival, so much to see, not just shows but a bunch of events at the Fringe park (which, the rest of the year, is known as Parc des Amériques, on the corner of Rachel and St-Laurent). The park will be opening this Thursday (I’m helping with set up), and that is where we’ll be living and partying and peddling our humble stories through flyers for the next week and a half. There are too many things on my list, of course, nearly 50 shows and events at last count. I will probably have to narrow it down to my top 5 or 10 shows – and a few park events, those I catch when I can. But in the meantime, here’s the top 17 shows on my wish list. Hopefully some of you will get the chance to see the show’s I’ll miss…

  1. Top of the list — and the only one I’ve actually been able to see so far – is Allie Weigh’s Inn. It’s playing at the same venue and on the same nights as ours. I had gotten a few brief glimpses in the weeks before the Fringe during rehearsals, and had already fallen in love with Allie’s powerful and soothing voice. It was so great to see the finished product at last. I saw it on Saturday (the 6th), its first representation — which, by the way, was the first full house of the festival this year! She gives us insights into everyday life, moments of becoming and internal monologues of decision and identity — much like Carole’s pieces in our own show, Myth Mirrors Punk — but combined with musical beats and violin solos to keep the rhythm going. #AllieWeighsInn
  2. Mark Twain in the Year 300 / Einstein Through Time, that title should say it all. It’s a musical comedy burlesque, with a geek flavour. This will in fact be my first ever burlesque show. I was told that their two minute teaser from the Fringe For All was amazing — I didn’t see it myself, but one of the two girls was getting ready in the bathroom at the same time as me before that (there was a silver time traveller’s outfit and comically large bushy grey glue-on eyebrows, which looked promising). Note also that they give a discount on tickets for people who show up in scifi costumes, so they’re encouraging cosplay – which is always a plus in my books. Then again, I’m always a sucker for a cool genre concept. #MT3000 #timestein #rocketbear
  3. Oni, a shadow play about 18+ Japanese mythology and folktale. Shadow puppets and mythology, these things bring the show to the top of my list. #Oni #SexyJapaneseShadowShow
  4. SwordPlay: A Play of Swords. Even the troupe’s name seemed designed to draw me in – hard to resist being interested in something ‘made by Sex T-Rex’). And I’ve been told by some more experienced Fringers that they always put on a great show, full of comedy and practical stunts/effects, which already sounds very promising. But once again the concept is enough to draw me in: sketch comedy parodying the conventions of swordplay in fiction. *I’m hoping for Princess Bride levels of silliness. #sextrex #swordplay
  5. Obscura, the combination of magic show and dark fairytale storytelling intrigued me. I wonder what I’ll learn from this new type of storytelling… #Obscura
  6. The Inventor of All Things. Jem Rolls is a famous storyteller, supposed to be very much worth seeing in action. He will be telling the true story of forgotten WWII era genius Leo Szilard.
  7. Please Like Me, another storytelling show, this time by another veteran of the Montreal storytelling scene but, I think, also a Fringe first timer, Britt Dash. *This will be playing at the same venue as SwordPlay, so I’ll probably be going to see the two back to back.
  8. A Nightmare for Oberon, a girls’ night out for the much abused and misused female characters of Shakespeare’s plays, for some commiseration and drinking. Again, a good concept. And their Fringe For All preview had eccentric mime passes of ladies in beautiful dresses stealing a bottle from each other. #girlsnight
  9. Captain Aurora: A Superhero Musical. Superhero. Musical. ‘nuff said. #captainaurora #superheromusical #skyguard
  10. Convergence. A second shadow play, this one inspired by bizarre encounters in the Montreal metro. *This one’s in French (there’s not too many in the mother tongue on my list… sadface). #convergence # ombres
  11. 2056: A Dystopian Black Comedy. I usually enjoy black comedies – and anything with the word ‘dystopia’ in it is bound to be up my alley. This one is about a world where humanity is reduced to a single culture and language, English. From their Fringe For All preview, this seems like it will be very creepy and gloomy in places, obviously allegorically critical of the world in other places. #2056
  12. Le gentleman perdu, one man’s musings on the nature of the ‘gentleman’ in the modern world. This guy actually called for people’s definitions of the ‘gentleman’ during his creative process, so I’m hopeful the end product will be informed by a variety of interesting perspectives. Another French show, hope I can catch this one. #gentlemanperdu
  13. Trantasy. From the Fringe For All teaser, this seems to be a one-woman stand-up comedy show about her experiences and musings as a trans person. The term ‘modern day Cinderella’ was used. #trantasy #trannawintour
  14. Die Mutter. This is another show that caught my attention more from the Fringe For All teaser than the initial description in the program: 2 very pregnant ladies in black skin-tight outfits, screaming intellectual remarks and jokes at the crowd in German accents. Just seemed like it was going to be both weird and smart. #DIEMUTTER #mutterlover
  15. Je pense donc je suis. French show. I met some of the artists for this one, and they seemed like really interesting creative people. 5 characters competing and dancing around each other to define themselves, through various things in life that might lend one individuality. Their Fringe For All preview also had a lot of weird physical comedy, seemed very promising.
  16. Maelström, parodying and deconstructing the criticisms thrown at our so-called ‘generation y’. My notes from the Fringe For All for this one includes the phrase ‘fear of millennials eating pie’. Also in French.

Among my honourable mentions: Is This Pretentious?; Prométhée Inc.; Dating & Taxes; The No Bull$#!% History of Canada; Parallèle; Laureen Queen of the Tundra; Little Miss Understood; 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche; In Search of Mrs. Pirandello.

There are many more, but I’d be here if I wanted to list them all. Please see the Montreal Fringe website for the rest of the line up — 200 shows, 500 artists, and they all need your love! And that includes our show too, by the way: Myth Mirrors Punk – true tales and mythology, spoken word and storytelling, check it out!

I’ll be letting you know in the aftermath what my favourites were, but in the meantime, feel free to check out the rest of my blog — and enjoy my cluttered brains!

Hopegrown Productions — 2015 — A Nightmare for Oberon