Hamilton Fringe

A 12-day unjuried theatre festival that happens every summer in downtown Hamilton

The Fringe Blog!

Strange Bedfellows: A Play That Will Make You Think, Hamilton Fringe’s WHAT THE FEST?!

written by Alyssa Pratt From Rivers Productions, Ilene Elkaim, Ryan Perera, Ray Rivers, Valeri Kay, and Ridhi Kalra star in the play “Strange Bedfellows” as Donna, Phillip and Malia, a family who end up having to quarantine with Beth and Terry, a couple travelling from Florida.  This play cleverly brought much needed attention to the global pandemic in a way that made you want to keep watching and see how the people in the play would solve the conflicts that arose due to different beliefs during the two weeks of quarantine. Which also allowed the people watching to notice what they can incorporate into their lives to help deal with similar problems. “Strange Bedfellows” is about a family, Donna, Phillip, and Malia, that invite a couple, Beth and Terry, into their home after their car breaks down. Soon after finding out that they have just travelled from Florida amid a global pandemic, the family now has to quarantine with the couple for 14 days according to the law. Following the actors through their experience in this very new and unfamiliar situation, we see the growth and learning that everyone goes through, including their truly outraged daughter, Malia, and how scary it can be to have someone going through the symptoms and stages of what could be covid-19. Throughout the play, the actors address many different problems and attitudes,  specifically differing attitudes towards the severity of covid-19 and how the government has tried to contain it.  The editing and the recording were very well done. It was really interesting to see how the actors and producers came up with a way to create a full production virtually. They were able to make it look like all of the actors were in the same room by using greenscreens and changing the image projected, as well as cutting different clips together,  making it look like everyone was in the same room.  The company made great choices in their topics of conversations in the production. The topics were controversial, but they were brought up in a very natural way that was interesting to watch. The production shines a light on things happening right now and I liked hearing the conversation about how certain people in the states in places like Florida, a state mentioned in the play, aren’t taking things seriously and are putting themselves and everyone around them at risk of contracting covid-19 and potentially dying from complications. Having people in my family that are considered at high risk if they get covid-19, I personally get very angry and upset when people are not following the guidelines like staying 6 feet away from people or wearing masks in places where that isn’t possible and putting other people’s lives at risk. One specific moment that stood out to me was when Terry first started to realize the severity of the pandemic. It was a powerful moment in that he had come so far and opened himself up to a new perspective and idea that then made him become more cautious and caring of the people in his life and others that he may not even know. This specific moment gave me hope for others who may not be taking this seriously and putting other people at risk that they may change their perspective...

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Hamilton Fringe’s WHAT THE FEST?! 2020: Promoting Multicultural Learning Opportunities Through Art

written by Kellin Matthews In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the city of Hamilton has had to cancel numerous annual festivities for this summer. For those working at the Hamilton Fringe, they’ve seen this as an opportunity to put their ingenuity and creativity to use to create an almost completely virtual summer festival. It’s been no small feat, but Hamilton Fringe has managed to present the public with an interactive celebration for the whole family. One of the highlights of the festival is the digital Kids Club Camp, a series of free daytime workshops and entertainment for children of all ages. Each performance is wonderfully unique, with several events sharing multicultural learning and understanding, such as African drumming and dance with Jean Assamoa, Drag Queen storytime hour with Hexe Noir, and particularly Pow Wow Time with Rod Nettagog (‘Bluestone Cloud’, Ojibwe, Bear Clan). On Thursday, July 23rd, Rod provided an entertaining and interactive drum workshop via the Hamilton Fringe YouTube channel. Viewers were provided with the opportunity to sing and dance to pow wow music, as well as to gain insight into the spiritual, emotional fun that Indigenous people have at pow wow celebrations. With over 25 years of experience in the arts, Rod has a fondness for sharing his knowledge and has been on a quest since 2007 to create awareness and understanding of Indigenous culture through his demonstrations in schools from kindergarten to post-secondary.  Rod has previously explained why he is passionate about his demonstrations too: “I want to help bring a better understanding to others about our people. Because of the loss of our history there’s a disconnection to who we are and where we have come from. I want to break that cycle and restore knowledge of our cultural values, traditions and beliefs, starting with the young.” For more information about Kids Club Camp, visit: http://hamiltonfringe.ca/venue/kids-club-camp/...

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HCA Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS 3

HCA Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS An ensemble of young artists who have spent two weeks studying devised theatre will create a piece about the rich history of the Hamilton Conservatory of the Arts. The Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts’ Teen Creation Collective is a 2-week intensive program for students aged 13-18. Students in the TCC study acting and explore collective creation, devising a piece of theatre that will be showcased in the Hamilton Fringe Festival from July 18-28. HCA offers over 100 arts-based programs for children and adults, with specialized theatre training offered in 10 programs for children, youths, teens and adults. Follow along with the HCA Theatre Department on Instagram @HCATheatre.   The HCA Teen Creation Collective closed their Fringe show, CONNECTIONS, on Saturday. The program was originally envisioned as an opportunity for creation and performance for young artists at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts. What we got proved to be far more valuable than ever expected. Many members of the ensemble remarked how much exploring theatre had changed them, and how participating in the arts has led them to accepting and celebrating their own personal identities: “It’s nice to know I can wake up and come to a place where I can do what I want to do and be who I want to be with other people who are totally okay with it.”   “Coming to the Teen Creation Collective, I learned that I can actually be myself, and that it’s a good thing.”   “You have all helped me grow by showing up.” A major theme that rose from our conversation was building a safe space to create. “You are my family.”   “I felt like I could put myself out there because everyone here is so welcoming. I feel like I can be as weird as I typically am, and I’m not embarrassed.”   The experience of performing in the Hamilton Fringe Festival proved a meaningful component to the program: “I feel privileged to be part of the Hamilton Fringe, meeting new people and having new experiences.”   “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s going to be a huge milestone for the rest of my career.”   The TCC is wrapped for 2019 but its inaugural year was an absolute success, showing young theatre artists what is possible when they set foot in an acting studio. Through 2 weeks of intensive theatre studies, personal growth, meeting challenges head-on, and learning to trust their own artistic voices, our Ensemble shared their intensely personal creation in the Fringe Festival and stepped into the Hamilton theatre community in a brave and inspiring way.    CONNECTIONS spanned over 100 years of history in Hamilton, from the 1900s to the 1980s to the present day, and what we learned is that no matter the time or place…    “The voices of youth should be heard. Youth move time. Art changes people. It gets...

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HCA Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS 2

HCA Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS An ensemble of young artists who have spent two weeks studying devised theatre will create a piece about the rich history of the Hamilton Conservatory of the Arts. The Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts’ Teen Creation Collective is a 2-week intensive program for students aged 13-18. Students in the TCC study acting and explore collective creation, devising a piece of theatre that will be showcased in the Hamilton Fringe Festival from July 18-28. HCA offers over 100 arts-based programs for children and adults, with specialized theatre training offered in 10 programs for children, youths, teens and adults. Follow along with the HCA Theatre Department on Instagram @HCATheatre.   On day 3 of the Teen Creation Collective meeting, learning and beginning to create, we checked in with three members of the ensemble for their thoughts on the process. Both questions and answers have been created and answered by youth actors in the ensemble. How has your experience been working with devised theatre in an ensemble? Being able to work with an ensemble group of actors has really been helpful to my growth as well as the growth of my fellow actors. Having a lot of other people working with you on a scene, whether improv or otherwise, helps you gain confidence as well as have other characters or people to bounce off of. I’m extremely excited to see what we, as an ensemble, present.   What’s your favourite activity in Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS? I love the whole ensemble part of this – working with kids to create something that we love is awesome and amazing.   Where is your favourite space to work?  Recently the HCA’s Theatre Department has moved to the upstairs attic, and upon entering you can feel the creativity and history surround you. The attic is full of natural light as well as remnants of the original 1904 building. Hearing stories about how many brilliant ideas, dances, plays and artworks were made in the space just fills you with passion and creativity.   What have you learned so far? Different forms of movement, sound and character development techniques to build story.   Catch these teens at Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, July 18-28. http://hamiltonfringe.ca/tickets/ Show times: July 18 at 7 PM July 19 at 7 PM July 20 at 7 PM July 24 at 7 PM July 25 at 7 PM July 26 at 7 PM July 27 at 3 PM Please note: Some show dates have changed. Current schedule, as of July 12...

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Izzy and The Naz

The Fringe is known for being a space where artists and audiences can take risks, try something new, and dive in headfirst. That can even mean a company from the waitlist getting the opportunity to join the festival late – maybe with less than two weeks notice!   Izzy and the Naz Creators/Performers: Izzy Ferguson, Briane Nasimok A mini-interview between Associate Producer Franny McCabe-Bennett and the artists behind Izzy and the Naz, conducted online with 10 minutes notice: Franny McCabe-Bennett: Who is completing this interview today? Izzy Ferguson, Briane Nasimok: Izzy and Briane (mostly Briane). Our server is waiting – what kind of food or drink would you order? Chardonnay and mojito. Congratulations on making it off the waitlist! What position were you on the waitlist when you got your show spot? Third, then first. What were you doing when you got the call that you could join the Hamilton Fringe as a late add company off the waitlist? Give us the inside scoop! Izzy was taking care of personal business (on the loo) and Briane was frantically trying to remember his lines for his other show at the Fringe, Confessions of an Operatic Mute. Did you think you’d get the chance to perform in the Fringe this year or did we totally blow your mind?? Izzy was quite sure it wasn’t going to happen and was in relative calm while Briane soon realized he would be doing 14 shows in ten days with only one day off. Why did you decide to participate in this year’s Fringe? To prove to ourselves and to the world that we were still alive and capable of telling compelling and humourous stories.  Also to get Izzy out of the house. Why should Hamiltonians search our your show to see? Give us your elevator pitch!  Two storytellers, two chairs… more than two stories.  A pair of raconteurs shares their somewhat humourous views of life. Have you performed in a Fringe Festival before? Tell us a story! This is Izzy’s first Fringe.  Briane performed his other show at Fringes in Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax and Victoria.  In Victoria after performing a show Briane rushed to another venue to work the line and try to get people to see his show.  A woman in that line had just come from Briane’s presentation and asked him if he had eaten.  Briane had not so she gave him her sushi. What are you most terrified of, as a late-add company? That people will not attend without us offering TimBits. Briane’s July 25th show at 9:30 of “Confessions” is TimBit Thursday, Briane is offering the first 37 patrons free TimBits – we are not using such bribery for our shows. What are you most excited about, as a late-add company? People finding us Why do you think Fringe artists are more willing to take risks and jump at opportunities than other folks? Part of their DNA.  They are adventures trying to share their talents, not worried about making money. What advice would you give to another late-add company? Prayer and clean living. How would you describe the Fringe, in 5 words? An intense whirligig of excitement How would you describe yourself as an artist, in 5 words? Two seasoned, still hopeful, storytellers How would you describe your show, in...

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Meet Tammy McLeod-Casey, the Musing Madwoman

The Fringe is known for being a space where artists and audiences can take risks, try something new, and dive in headfirst. That can even mean a company from the waitlist getting the opportunity to join the festival late – maybe with less than two weeks notice! This is your chance to get to know Tammy McLeod-Casey, the artist behind The Merry Musings of a Mediocre Madwoman.     A mini-interview between Associate Producer Franny McCabe-Bennett and Tammy McLeod-Casey, conducted online with 10 minutes notice: Franny McCabe-Bennett: Who is completing this interview today? Tammy McLeod-Casey: I am Tammy McLeod-Casey – writer/performer – the one and only “ranter” in the show. Our server is waiting – what kind of food or drink would you order? I will have a coffee with cream please, and maybe a little “Hello Dolly” square?  Why not add to my voluptuousity with such subtlety? Congratulations on making it off the waitlist! What position were you on the waitlist when you got your show spot? I was stunned because I was 5th on the waitlist; the Creative Spirit has a plan. What were you doing when you got the call that you could join the Hamilton Fringe as a late add company off the waitlist? Give us the inside scoop! I was walking out the door to get my kids from their Performing Arts’ Camp.  I abhor the heat and it was like Hades outside; now, top it off with a “crank call” to make me more irate…but then, Claire’s voicemail happened?  “Tammy, it is on!”  The kids carried it by chanting: “Of course you can Mom!” Did you think you’d get the chance to perform in the Fringe this year or did we totally blow your mind?? I thought it was a “no go” but, then, that call – a week and a half away?  It has to be M-C Tammer time! Why did you decide to participate in this year’s Fringe? I have wanted to do Fringe for 25 years now.  However, this time, I had wrote the show; it was good to go, and road-tested ready – can I use anymore cliches? Why should Hamiltonians search our your show to see? Give us your elevator pitch!  I am in love with the truth: the tantalizing, threatening, terribly, terrific, truth – mine and yours – together. The Merry Musings of a Mediocre Madwoman is an unencumbered, unapologetic, and sometimes, unforgiving foray into thoughts that we all float and often allow to ferment. With my interesting antics, I want to reach and engage others with humour and inspire even small change in the world. What are you most terrified of, as a late-add company? The massive mountain of memorization for me in not so many days.  Also with Mercury retrograde, social media, plus publicity is even more required, and I am just really rubbish at it. What are you most excited about, as a late-add company? Trusting that it is, indeed, Tammy truth time. Why do you think Fringe artists are more willing to take risks and jump at opportunities than other folks? They are crazy, creative, compassionate collaborators cooperating and carrying on for a cascade of causes. What advice would you give to another late-add company? Magic happens How would you describe the Fringe,...

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#HamFringe Trends in 2019

#HamFringe Trends in 2019 by Stephen Near Summer has finally arrived and for many theatre artists, that means the start of another Fringe season. Several Fringe Festivals, such as Montreal, Ottawa and London, have come and gone while others, like Toronto and Regina, are still going strong. Here in Hamilton, mid-July signals the start of our own Hamilton Fringe Festival and the program (a guide to what’s on) has been out for awhile now. So, every year about now, I always take a highlighter to my schedule and see what sort of patterns I can find in the myriad crop of shows. So, without further ado, here are my Top Trends of the #HamFringe. #femmefest #HamOnt Hamilton Fringe has always been home to some stellar female talent and this year will see even more. From one woman confessionals to larger ensembles to full on musicals, you’ll want to catch these shows by new and established women in theatre. Solo shows lead the pack with critically acclaimed stand-outs like Slow Dancing With Mediocre Boys by Grace Smith, Bedwetter featuring Tamlynn Bryson, Squeeze My Cans by Cathy Schenkelberg (direct from Scientology’s Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles), Tammy McLeod-Casey takes the audience on a ride through The Merry Musings of a Mediocre Madwoman, and every animal lover will be clamouring for a seat in Animal Show by Katie Hood. Festival veteran Caitlin Robson is featured in Fairytale Femdom and Calgary’s Wendy Froberg presents A Woman of a Certain Age (R). In the Mini-Series, local Annalee Flint asks Under Where? while Fringe newcomer Emanuella Hall presents My Breast Self. And you won’t want to miss this year’s winner of the Hamilton Fringe New Play Contest We All Got Lost, written by Camille Intson and featuring a powerhouse cast of female performers. The One With the Music Last year’s smash hit Bitch Island proved that the Fringe musical will never die as a raucous, and award-winning, crowd pleaser. But it takes a lot of artists, working at the top of their game, to pull off a great musical for the Festival. Will these shows have what it takes? Why not buy your ticket and find out? At $12 a ticket (even less with a pass), it’s worth the gamble to find a hot new musical ready to explode off the small stage. Coming from their run in Ottawa, London and Toronto, get your tickets early for Fuckboys the Musical. Fans of Jane Austen can catch the acclaimed Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by New Zealand’s Penny Ashton and if Neil Diamond is your thing, then don’t miss Diamond in the Rough by Will Gillespie. If those don’t tickle your fancy, you may consider joining a (Sex) Cult: A Musical (S)Explosion. A Time of Future Tales brings a post-apocalyptic kitchen party to life, while One Last Toast to the Schafer Street Queen follows the plight of a down-and-out Alberta mining town, and You Want It What Way? A Boy Band Tale tells you all you maybe didn’t want to know about boy bands. Hey! Isn’t That…? The arts scene is Hamilton is a relatively small pond. Whether it’s watching a concert at Supercrawl, inside a gallery for Art Crawl, or at the annual Arts Awards, I can always recognize someone who has made a cultural...

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HCA Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS

HCA Teen Creation Collective: CONNECTIONS An ensemble of young artists who have spent two weeks studying devised theatre will create a piece about the rich history of the Hamilton Conservatory of the Arts. Since 1897, the building has housed arts activities, served as a housing facility for troubled youth, been abandoned and has now been returned to a hive of creative activity. This play reflects a cast of local young people’s connections to these stories. This program is facilitated and led by Erica May-Wood and Stephanie Hope Lawlor. Over the course of this exciting process, the TCC will share a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process of devising site-specific theatre for the Hamilton Fringe Festival.   Erica May-Wood: I have just spent a wonderful day planning a unique project and process with the incomparable Stephanie Hope Lawlor: we are going to work for three plus weeks with 10 youth at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts to create, rehearse, and perform a site-specific show for the Hamilton Fringe. I have devised theatre pieces with groups aged 6-60 and I have been a part of the creation of a handful of site-specific shows with my indie company RealSpace theatre – including Fringe shows. But never have I put these two processes together. What am I most excited about in this unique undertaking? To work with three generations of creators (I take the middle-aged mantle in this ensemble) is very interesting to me, as is the layers of history in the building. What is the intersection – connection – between 1890 and 1980 and now? To work alongside an artist whom the Hamilton Spectator this year called Hamilton’s finest actress – and in my books a particularly fine human and teaching artist – is a great honour for me. But I think I am most excited to see what these youth will create – and how they will create as a community- to bring their voice and perspective forward in story theatrically.   Stephanie Hope Lawlor: It’s the calm before the storm: T-minus 1 week until we meet the ensemble of 10 young people who have leapt into an exciting arena of theatre training: the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts’ Teen Creation Collective. Schedules have been organized, lessons have been planned, and the space has been prepared. Soon, the studio will be filled with boundless energy and the creativity of a cast of young artists as they bring the history of 129 James Street South to life with scenes, music and a ton of heart.  By exploring about the history around them and understanding the tenets of theatre making, this brave group of young people gets to take the creation of a piece of theatre into their own hands and tell a story that is important to them, speaking to their own personal interests and journeys. I can’t wait to see the piece they create, and hope you can join us July 18 – 27 at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts.   Catch the TCC at Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, July 18-28. http://hamiltonfringe.ca/tickets/ Show times: July 18 at 7 PM July 19 at 7 PM July 20 at 7 PM July 24 at 7 PM July 25 at 7 PM July 26 at 7 PM July 27 at 3...

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Site-Specific Theatre in the Digital Age

Site-Specific Theatre in the Digital Age

by Khaleel Ghandi Andy Houston, a professor in the arts faculty at the University of Waterloo, poses an important question in a video feature on site-specific theatre (which is available here): “Why is theatre important in the digital age?” Talking about the unique experience of site-specific theatre (in relation to a more traditional theatre-going experience), Houston encourages his students to ask questions about why they’re creating theatre in a more digital-based culture, emphasizing inter-disciplinary approaches when creating site-specific pieces that lie outside of the traditional theatre space. Houston poses a more abstract question, sure, but it is worth further examination when we consider the trends of digital culture in our society. Digital culture has no doubt changed the way we think about theatre performance, but site-specific performances are integral to the artistic experience, providing the viewer with immersive and interactive experiences that can never be replicated on a screen. Site-specific theatre has always been one of those “quirky” types of performing arts – you never really know what you’re going to get. You step out of the traditional theatre setting, no longer seeing a red velvet curtain or proscenium arch. Instead, you’ll likely see something both familiar and unfamiliar. For example, I’ve seen some performances take place in garages, an 1890s schoolhouse, a brewery (and soon, two historic churches along Main Street in Hamilton during Frost Bites 2019) – all of these are familiar spaces. We interact with them all the time under normal, everyday circumstances. But when lights are rigged at the back of the garage, or a sound system is perched in the corner of the schoolhouse, or the open area of the brewery is transformed into a stage, that’s when those spaces change. They become unfamiliar: you walk into the space wondering how in the world the space is going to accommodate a play. You experience the site in a whole new light. But you might ask: why bother experiencing this phenomenon at all? Movies and TV shows, more readily available than ever before, all provide stories that take place in different “sites”. When watching a movie, we see the character interact with the space they occupy in different ways, depending on the type of story. Horror movies might see the characters dealing with a “haunted” house. Detective shows might see the characters interacting with a crime scene and a police bureau of some kind. Plus, movies and TVs are so much more accessible: many of us can either stream shows on-demand or record movies on PVRs and watch them at their convenience. By extension, then, they can experience characters interacting with their environments under much more controllable circumstances and tailored to their experiences. But it should be noted that watching movies, at one point in time, was a site-specific endeavour. Before the rise of streaming services and the ability to watch on-demand, you had to physically go to the movie theatre, sit in the auditorium, and watch the movie. You had to choose a seat, position yourself in a comfortable way, and watch the action unfold in front of you. And many people still do so today, lining up to see their favourite movie in theatres when they are first released. So, it is important for us to recognize that while digital cultures are prominent...

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Tales of a Neophyte Fringer

by Annie Rosenberg When you’re a neophyte Fringer and a relative Hamilton newbie, you decide that in order to take advantage of all The Hamilton Fringe Festival Has to Offer, you should Get Involved. Getting involved means volunteering to be a techie and would-be puppeteer even though you’ve never done the former before. Getting involved means you must see every single show, so you carefully Plot out a Schedule of all the Shows You Will see, determined that You Will Take Advantage of All that the Hamilton Fringe Festival Has to Offer. Getting involved means you accept the kind invitation to appear in Gore Park in the centre of the city to read a five-minute excerpt of a play that you’ve been slaving over for months. Getting involved takes preparation, so you go to Google maps and find every single venue and plot out Day One through 11 of said festival. On Day One, you dig out your black t-shirt and your black leggings and your new black gloves plus two flashlights so you can read the cue sheet you’ve carefully taped up backstage. You’re filled with nerves and adrenaline, cognizant that your role as techie and puppeteer is at least semi-vital to the play. You manage to remember every single one of your cues and then you tear off your black shirt and black leggings and black gloves and go home, heady with success. On Day Two, you manage to find your way to Gore Park in the centre of the city. You sit with your fellow playwrights, battling nerves until they call your name. You smile and pray that the expected thunderstorm doesn’t materialize and that no sirens pass by during your reading. You stand behind the microphone while your fellow playwright kindly holds the script that you blew up to 24 points to make sure you could read it and you somehow manage to squeak out your five-minute excerpt and then you sag into a chair in the Gore Park Club Tent and down a beer, toasting the lack of a thunderstorm and sirens. On Day Four, you decide that you’re now experienced enough to juggle your tech and puppeteering duties and see Every Single Show, so you pack your black t-shirt and black leggings and new black gloves and your all-important five-dollar Fringe button to support the Fringe Festival and you head to the Staircase Theatre, ready to take in Every Single Show. And then you reach into your pocket for your all-important Fringe button and you realize that it’s pinned to another shirt, but it’s in the laundry and you can’t do any laundry until the festival is over and that’s eight days away, so you hand over your five dollars and buy Fringe button number two. Ten dollars and counting. You see two shows, fulfill your tech and puppeteering duties and then you head to Gore Park, telling yourself that of course you will not have a glass of wine because after all, you still have to work the next day. You have chores. You have responsibilities. But then you decide to have just one small glass of wine and you get carried away and tell your friends and anyone else who will listen about all the shows you’ve seen and carefully plot...

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