Hamilton Fringe Festival

An 11-day unjuried theatre festival that happens every summer in downtown Hamilton

The Fringe Blog!

Theatre Workout: Theatre Aquarius GYM

Written By Laura Ellis I recently attended the first session of the new Theatre Aquarius GYM program. It was a huge success, and we are getting tons of positive feedback, as you’ll see throughout this story. The GYM program was created after “Stage Directions”, an open space meeting held back in March at the Player’s Guild. That meeting facilitated discussion amongst the members of the theatre community in Hamilton. It sparked conversation about building a better, stronger theatre community within our amazing city. A topic that specifically caught my interest was: Local Training –What is the need? What resources are missing? As someone who has lived in Hamilton the majority of my life, but has also lived and trained in Toronto, I realized how little professional theatre training we have available in our own community. Professional performing artists, emerging artists, theatre students, and anyone interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts have traditionally been obligated to travel to Toronto to receive quality instruction (and usually for a hefty price for us poor starving artists). So what could we do to move forward and change this? “Actors, directors, writers, or anybody else in theatre, need a place like this where they are both taught and given time to explore new ideas and refine old ones.”  -GYM Participant This is when I met Luke Brown, the Artistic Associate for Theatre Aquarius. It was exciting to hear that someone who has the knowledge, the tools, and a strong influence on Hamilton theatre was just as interested in making something happen. Through the group discussion, I noticed we had a lot of similar viewpoints and shared a great passion for the subject. I approached him afterward and volunteered myself if he was ever serious about investing the time to put this into action. I received an email four days later. I guess he was serious! Over numerous coffee-filled meetings, we decided we wanted to focus on providing a creative space that is accessible and affordable to all artists in the community so that they can give their creative muscles a workout (hence calling it the GYM). Our mission would be to support artists by providing monthly mentorship and training led by skilled instructors and experienced working professionals. We would offer workshops, panels, and keynote speakers as part of our program. Better yet, session fees would only be $10 (hooray for not breaking the bank!) and 100% of the fees would go directly to the instructor. “I enjoyed the workshop and it was nice that everyone got a chance to get up and do something. I think the GYM nights will be a great way to stay involved and feel active in theatre even if you don’t have a role in an upcoming production.” -GYM Participant In addition to having a monthly session in place, we would provide an hour of “open floor” discussion and creation. Artists would be invited to work on personal artistic endeavours including artistic experimentation, developing new work, scenes, monologues, etc. With the constant influx of new artists deciding to make Hamilton home, this open floor portion is designed to infuse the new artists with the existing. If all goes according to plan, it will encourage theatrical communication and instigate collaborative relationships among peers in our community. The Theatre Aquarius GYM plans...

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ArtsVote Hamilton – How You Can Get Involved

Written by Denyse Terry In March we told you about ‘Stage Directions’, an Open Space meeting that brought Hamilton Theatre folks together around the central theme of imagining the next steps for theatre in Hamilton. Many many ideas were born that day, and you can count on hearing about some of those developments here. Today’s post is from a new group in town, called ArtsVote Hamilton. Here they start the conversation about the need for an advocacy group in our city and how you can get involved right away. The goal of ArtsVote Hamilton is to raise awareness about the importance of the arts in a vibrant growing city. We are doing this by encouraging local politicians to get behind funding for the arts at City Council. And how will we achieve this? By educating city councilors about the benefits of a vibrant arts scene. How will we do that you ask? Good question – and we need your help.     Hamilton is a city known for its diverse social scene, with a pulsing mixture of upper, middle and working class people. Hamilton has a proud history of being on the side of workers and recently has focused on tackling poverty issues. How can a city that must focus on poverty find the time and money to spend on the arts? The two issues need not be in competition. The arts in Hamilton not only bring a brighter spiritual life to the city but naturally encourage the revitalization of older, poorer neighborhoods (witness the recent Renaissance of James Street North)! The truth is that cities such as Birmingham, England and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have recently discovered an important principle: both cities, like Hamilton, have seen the demise of heavy industry, but both have also focused on the arts as a way to actually improve their city’s economy. The arts not only improves the quality of life in the city by providing venues and opportunities for artists to create inspiring work, but the arts positively impacts these aspects of city life: JOBS BUSINESSES OUR INTERNATIONAL PROFILE! In a 2012 Hill Strategies study of arts funding Hamilton ranked 7th out of 8 Canadian municipalities (compared to Toronto, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Halifax, Windsor, London). That’s $3.08 per person. A city with a vibrant arts scene creates jobs, and encourages the growth of the service industry, and many other city businesses. Hamilton can look back on a proud history of being a tourist destination due to its gorgeous scenery and very special bay location. The ARTS offer another very good reason for people to come here to visit, and pour money into the economy. The arts, most importantly, help to build a civil, spiritual life for its citizens. But beyond that, and on a much more practical level, the flourishing arts community increases investment, attracts tourists, generates revenue and boosts our city’s international profile. Here’s what you can do: ArtsVote Hamilton needs volunteers for the May 9 Artcrawl to ask folks in the street what questions they would like to ask their councilors about art funding in Hamilton. We’ll have some newly designed postcards, with the gorgeous picture above provided by Clarence Porter. Mark your calendars: On June 4, 7pm, ArtsVote Hamilton invites city councilors to 121 Hughson St. where host Jeff Mahoney from the...

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Opening Doors

Opening Doors

Written by Denyse Terry Photography by Rhonda Cline The Hamilton Fringe recently hosted, with the support of the Player’s Guild, Hamilton Arts Council, Theatre Aquarius and Cobalt Connects, an Open Space meeting called Stage Directions: Imagining the next steps for theatre in Hamilton. The Book of Proceedings is available by request at info@hamiltonfringe.ca  We heard from a lot of folks that missed this. We hope to see you for the next one.   Behind the big red door that fronts Player’s Guild Theatre on Queen Street were a lot of people. Of that I was sure. For weeks the folks behind the Fringe had excitedly planned the first ever ‘Open Space’ meeting in Hamilton and within two days we were full. Stakeholders from professional, semi-professional and community theatre, reps from Hamilton, Toronto and Buffalo, all together, in one room, tasked with raising the bar on theatre in Hamilton. What could go wrong? Right? Open Space meetings, in various iterations, have been around for about 20 years. Developed by Harrison Owen they are designed with specialists in mind: a central theme brings seemingly disparate experts together and fully respects their ability to govern themselves; to pick agenda topics, hammer out the highlights, democratically choose future steps, and pinpoint available resources. Yeah, I was nervous. I had bugged Claire about our facilitator for weeks, “This guy knows what he is walking into? Right? We aren’t cold-cocking him?” “No worries.” I was assured. “We have a great guy from Ancaster. He trained under Michelle Cooper of the Courage Group” And sure enough, when I met Brian Ross I was impressed. His explanation of the day’s proceedings so embraced and embodied the philosophy behind the technique, I imagined the backs of his eyeballs tattooed with, “Ommmmm.” There is something to be said for process.     Back at that big red door, while working my way through the throng, I tried to pick up on the energy in the house. Because it felt, well…weird. Not what I expected. Everybody seemed so….chill. But there they were. Over 50 folks gathered around for the morning circle to hear about the process and the guiding principles.   This seems to be the year of 11’s. 11 topics were chosen. For the Fringe’s 11th Anniversary – the traditional gift is STEEL btw, if you are in a buying mood – from July 17 – 27th, you have 11 days to pick something out. The 11 topics were ambitious and specific. Here’s a sampling: What does a stronger, better theatre community look like? Coordination and Amalgamation of Community Groups Local Training – What is Missing? What is the need? How does Hamilton theatre fit into the broader Canadian and International contexts? Is there a place in the Hamilton theatre scene for challenging, innovative, professional (ie government funded) theatre?   The ‘breakout rooms’ were set up throughout the Guild. Always a circle. Always amazing conversations. While the topics differed, there were a few words that were heard again and again, words of inclusion, and transition, “Us…We…Let’s…Yes…I smell pizza.” (pizza lunch was served!) Reports came in from the morning sessions. Pooled and printed they were plastered on a ‘Newsroom Wall’ for all to see. Already the elephants in the room had been addressed. First up: Toronto or Toronto-phobia. It is a thing. I was awe-struck by how easily...

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On The Fringe #10

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: Everlasting Slumber COMPANY: Hercinia Arts Collective DETAILS: Written and directed by Emily Hughes, Kirsten Harvey, Jasper Empson, Molly Keczan. Music by Waylen Miki LOCATION: Citadel Studio SCHEDULE: Fri. July 19, 11:00pm; Sat. July 20, 8:30pm; Sun. July 21, 1:00pm; Tue. July 23, 9:30pm; Fri. July 26, 5:00pm; Sat. July 27, 6:30pm; Sun. July 28, 3:00pm Aerial silk performances are gaining in popularity – and for good reason. They are spectacular. The performance involves artists who – without the use of safety lines – climb, wrap, suspend, swing and drop from silks, spiraling their bodies into and out of various positions. The creative folks at Hercinia Arts Collective are bringing their silks and hoops, their ropes, dance, puppets, and animation to deliver a dramatic fairy tale at this year’s Fringe. Their show, Everlasting Slumber, “a storybook come to life,” is about a little boy who gets lost in an enchanted dream-world. Two-time Dora award winner Waylen Miki is the music man behind the original show, which is light on dialogue but bursting with movement.  Created by Kirsten Harvey, Molly Keczan, Jasper Empson and Emily Hughes, with puppetry and projected animation by Hamiltonian Evan DeRushie, the group says that it is an all-ages show. “The adults come for the ‘wow’ factor and are intrigued by the theme and metaphor. Kids love it because of the fairy tale aspect.” “We do deal with grief, and the adults will get that, but it’s not so obvious to the kids, they aren’t hit over the head with it.” When the show debuted in London last year, kids as young as four filled the seats and, “…they were engaged, happy, excited, asking questions – it was great!” says Keczan. “I would encourage everyone to see this piece because it is so inventive and because this group is exploring the idea of what constitutes theatre.” Lesleigh Turner, beat magazine, 2012 Performer and co-creator Keczan grew up in Beamsville, Ontario and was a member of the Hamilton Ballet Youth Ensemble in 2013 dancing at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts. A Ryerson graduate, she was drawn to aerial work because it combines dance and gymnastics. Hughes started in circus at age 8, and now teaches everything from aerial to acrobat, trampoline, juggling, and tight ropes. Harvey, originally from Vancouver Island, spent three years in dinner theatre, then Ryerson, then hoola-hooping because, well, why not? Now a teacher of hoops, Harvey says she gets pure enjoyment and, “learns something everyday” from the children she works with. A Collective since 2009, Hercinia Arts performed the aerial theatre children’s show, “Gurgle, Splash!” at the Hamilton Art Gallery’s family fun day in 2011. Together with Natalie Parkinson, Hughes and Keczan wanted to use the collective to explore new ways to combine the physicality of circus with the theatrics of storytelling. “Circus connects people to their childhood. We are turning fantasy into reality.” says Keczan. Their home base is a bit of fantasy turned reality by itself.  Three of them live upstairs from their charming studio. Coming down the stairs every morning to their rehearsal and work space, complete with silks and hoops and more, their kitchen counter over-flows with specialty teas and welcoming mugs. The idea for Everlasting Slumber started with a talk about fairy tales....

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On The Fringe #9

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: The Gore Mis-Fits COMPANY: Majik Man Productions DETAILS: Written by Robert LP Savoie. Directed by Patti Cannon LOCATION: Citadel Studio SHOW TIMES: Fri. July 19, 7:30pm Sat. July 20, 4:30pm; Mon. July 22, 9:30pm; Wed. July 24, 6:30pm; Thurs. July 25, 5:00pm; Sat. July 27, 4:00pm; Sun. July 28, 4:30pm   “Alone a mis-fit, together a family.” Those words came to Robert Savoie one day while standing at the water fountain at Hamilton’s Gore Park. They are words he uses to inform his own life and they are at the heart of his play, The Gore Mis-Fits. Savoie is almost as familiar a figure in town as the historic fountain in the Park.  A couple of years ago he started hanging out there more often. “And one grand day, I was looking at the fountain a very long time and all of a sudden a thought crossed my mind that it would be interesting to write a play about this particular space.” Savoie researched the Gore’s history, “And then I paid more attention to the people I was around. I went out to dinners with them. I invited them out. I heard their stories, their triumphs, their failures, loves lost. A remarkable story was there and I just had to tell it.” Savoie’s first two plays also opened at the Fringe, Escape and Out of Mind! – Back in Five tackled social issues (child abuse, drug addiction) and The Gore Mis-Fits is no exception. He has cast some familiar faces in this social commentary on love, loss, friendship and family. The play features five seemingly disparate characters, all composites, who are going to a wedding later in the day. Gord Nelson plays ‘Blue Hat’, the man getting married. He is joined by singer/actor Jamie Taylor as the bouncer Joe, AKA Fat Man. Joe’s belief in God has been shattered; he is angry and disillusioned. Actor/director Luis Arrojo (Paul & Marie, Amigo’s Blue Guitar) plays pro-wrestler and single father Johnny O. Shilo Nelson (Out of Mind! -Back in Five, Santa’s Big Sleep, Oliver) plays Maggie, a young widow who has a brotherly relationship with the story’s main character Josh, played by local musician and singer Jonny Kerr. Josh is a wheelchair bound father with cerebral palsy, who narrates and keeps the action going.  Enjoying preparations for his acting debut, Kerr says his character has, “A good outlook on life.” Arrojo agrees, “It’s a rare thing to see a positive portrayal of a person with CP.” Director Patti Cannon, co-founder of Northern Lights Theatre Company, has extensive Fringe experience. She directed the popular show Interface in 2011 and says The Gore Mis-Fits is mostly a character study. “It’s dialogue driven. It’s really a very tender story. We’ve got some strong, good actors. Some characters have a bit of an edge to them. It’s about their interactions and to show that this is a group of people who for one reason or the other are down on their luck or they have certain other challenges, or their life didn’t go the way they planned it. Maybe it is going the way they planned it, but outsiders sometimes have a tendency to see the people that are downtown in a negative light. We just want to show that...

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On The Fringe #8

On The Fringe #8

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: Around Miss Julie COMPANY: Hopegrown Productions DETAILS: Written by: Harry Standjofski. Directed by: Norah Paton LOCATION: Citadel Studio SCHEDULE: Thu, July 18 6:30pm; Sun, July 21 2:30pm; Mon, July22 6:30pm; Tue, July 23 8:00pm; Thu, July 25 6:30pm; Fri, July 26 10:00pm; Sat, July 27 2:30pm   Five folks from Hopegrown Productions recently piled in to their rehearsal space to skype- chat about their upcoming play, Around Miss Julie, and their extensive travel plans for the summer. The 45 minute show recently opened in Montreal and was nominated for Centaur Theatre’s Best Production: English Theatre Award. From Montreal they head to Ottawa, then London, Ontario. On to Burlington, then  Hamilton in July and, after taking a two week break, Around Miss Julie opens in Edinburgh Scotland. What a road trip! What a summer! Hopegrown Productions was founded last fall. Co-founders Miriam Cummings, Lindsey Huebner, Samantha Megarry, along with director Norah Paton, are all recent grads of the Theatre Performance program at Concordia University in Montreal.  Having picked up a fifth, Mitchell Cohen, they all have roots in Ontario and are excited to be returning in what they call their “Hometown Tour.” Megarry grew up in theatre in Burlington. She became familiar with the Hamilton scene as a volunteer for Theatre Aquarius. The team has a solid sense of what they wanted their premier project to be and some strong talking points: “We want to play our own age and gender, we want to explore themes and experiences that are underrepresented in Canadian theatre, and we want to tell womenʼs stories, not menʼs stories featuring women. “Hereʼs a dirty theatre secret: the majority of theatre school graduates are women, yet there are very few good plays full of strong roles for young female actors. We were looking for female characters that were interesting and engaging. We soon realized that finding a play with three fully-developed female characters was challenging to say the least. This was alarming to us. Why don’t women have story lines that stand alone, independent of a male protagonist? Why aren’t women portrayed as comedic, in the way that men are?” So they went back to their Concordia professor and mentor, Harry Standjofski. Standjofski is a well-known actor, playwright, and musician and has been just as frustrated with the lack of female roles in contemporary theatre. He is known to write original works for his classes so female students don’t have to play guy’s roles. Hopegrown commissioned him to write an original play and Around Miss Julie is it. It’s a clever premise, starting with August Strindberg’s classic, Miss Julie. Standjofski has written a play within a play -or rather a play about putting on a play. It is a multi-layered comedy that blurs the lines between rehearsal and reality, “…the cast tangles with themselves, each other, and a …dead bird.”  Yes, they laugh, there are a few surprises built into the story. “Our designer (Sonya Vallis) is going to do something very funny with that.” Around Miss Julie looks at, “…the uncertainty of being 20 something, the hilarious and sometimes manic process of putting on a play and the relationships we develop or destroy along the way.” You don’t need to be familiar with Strindberg’s Miss Julie to be in on the...

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On The Fringe #7

Written by Denyse Terry Play: The Whirlwind Company:  Street Opera Productions Details: Written by: Doug Massey, Directed by:  John Addison Location: Citadel Theatre Show Times:  Fri. July 19, 6:00pm; Sat.  July 20, 3:00pm; Sun. July 21, 6:30pm; Wed. July 24, 8:00pm; Thurs. July 25, 10:00pm; Fri. July 26, 8:30pm; Sun. July 28, 10:00pm   If you want to learn about Hamilton’s history, I recommend a sit down with historian Doug Massey. A Fringe veteran, he played the acclaimed role of Mr. Kane in a trilogy of Hamilton Fringe plays: The Right Turne (2007) The Left Turne (2008) and Turne Around (2009). He also produced Robert Savoie’s play Escape at the Fringe in 2011. Massey admits he caught the Fringe bug.  This time around he has another fascinating story to tell – and a unique way to tell it. His new play, The Whirlwind, is a drama based in history, that shines a new light on some of the controversies surrounding the Battle of Beaver Dams. Working from first-hand accounts in The Journal of Major John Norton, Massey crafts characters that challenge the notion of Indigenous people as warriors. “Social Justice is at the root of everything I do.” says Massey. The idea for the play came from his extensive work on the film, The Battle of Beaver Dams: An Uncommon Courage. Co-written with Jeremy Major, the docudrama tells the battle story primarily through the eyes of the Grand River people. These Indigenous troops were greatly outnumbered but employed psychological tactics in order to triumph over the Americans during the war of 1812. Many battles were fought in this area; the Battle of Beaver Dams took place just west of Niagara Falls, in what is now Thorold Township, on June 24, 1813. Advancing American troops, planning to surprise the British at Beaver Dams, made a fateful rest-stop at Queenston Heights, home to Laura Secord. Secord then set off on a 27 km trek to warn the British that the Americans were coming. There has been some controversy over the significance of her trek. Nevertheless, the U.S. troops were ultimately ambushed by Indigenous warriors and surrendered. Massey says the battle was won as much by words as it was by weapons. When he finished working on the film, “There were still issues left over, issues that people need to know about. The Whirlwind is the final piece of the puzzle.” With a grant from the Hamilton Bicentennial Committee, Street Opera Productions set to work. Massey wanted to explore themes like courage, wisdom, humility and spirituality. He asks in the play: What it courage?  Is it the strongest fighter?  Is it the last one standing?  Or is it more?  Massey loves weaving film and live theatre so expect a segment from the film. Carla Zabek (Imaginary Invalid, Escape, Suddenly Last Summer) plays Laura Secord, “It was a role I just couldn’t refuse.” Zabek has also done extensive research on her character. Of the controversy over whether or not Secord played a significant role in the outcome of the Battle of Beaver Dams, Zabek says, “She made that trek two days before the battle. So she had to be significant.” Massey himself plays Colonel Charles Boerstler, who lead the 14th U.S. Infantry at the Battle of Beaver Dams.  Boerstler apparently reviled one Dr....

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On The Fringe #6

On The Fringe #6

Written by Denyse Terry Play: Bridezilla vs. the Apocalypse Company: BrainDeadPan Productions Details: Written by: Aaron Middlemiss. Directed by: Steff Bishop Lampman Location: Citadel Studio Theatre Show Times: Thurs. July 18, 9:30pm; Sat. July 20, 1:00pm; Sun. July 21, 8:00pm; Tues. July 23, 6:30pm; Wed. July 24, 9:30pm; Sat. July 27, 8:00pm; Sun. July 28, 1:00pm I wasn’t sure what to expect when I set off to meet the folks behind Bridezilla vs. the Apocalyyse. I have never, ever, met a zombie before. That day I was tired – and a little frazzled. I was late – thanks bus! I had grabbed the wrong notebook (red! because zombies!). It was just one of those days. Whatever I was expecting – what hit me, when I first walked in, was a massive air-wave of camaraderie. A most friendly and hospitable bunch: these folks are having a good time making theatre. Writer Aaron Middlemiss and director Steff Bishop Lampman have collaborated on a dozen shows in the last 15 years.  A horror aficionado since childhood, Middlemiss got the idea of marrying a wedding day to a zombie apocalypse after proposing to his own wife. Thankfully she has a sense of humour too. Bridezilla vs. the Apocalypse premiered at Blackbox Fire’s Emerging Artists Series last summer. For the Fringe production there are more characters, more zombies, and, “We’ve definitely ramped it up. There’s quite a few technical changes.” Technical? He smiles slowly, “The blood and guts.” Truly a part of the fun, and the culture, the first two rows of the studio will most likely be designated a ‘splatter zone’.  They have a pit crew for cleaning in between shows. A pit crew. Has anyone ever thrown up or fainted? Middlemiss deadpans, “No. And I feel like we failed.” One of his favourite stories is of him making intestines in the kitchen sink. He was a little worried when his bride walked in and said, “What are you doing?” “I’m making guts”, was really the only possible reply. Over rising laughter, Middlemiss explains zombie culture further, “Zombies have always been the archetype for ‘the other’ and how we view ourselves against it. They are like the original 99%.” Also intrigued by themes of self-identity, and exploring which ‘side’ ultimately supersedes the other, even he was surprised at how graphic his writing got. Going over scenes with Bishop Lampman he says, “We were killing ourselves laughing.” Bishop Lampman likes that the characters are multidimensional. “I also like that there’s a strong woman in the play who is confident with her sexuality. She owns who she is, even though she is still figuring it out.” Local support has been fantastic, she adds, with Copydog, Sweet Ice Snow Cones, Jack & Lois’s Diner, Killer Cupcakes Goremet! and the Baltimore House helping out on their recent fundraiser – where many dressed the part – and none more willingly than John Migliore, Hamilton’s resident celebrity zombie. At 1am, on his way home, Migliore was driving up the mountain when he got stopped by the R.I.D.E. program. The officer takes one look at him and says, “What the hell is this?” Migliore tried to explain his zombie situation. The cops says, “Okay I want you to drive up to the next officer, she needs to see this.” He drives...

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On The Fringe #5

Written by Denyse Terry Play: Frankenstein Fragments Company: Blue Ceiling Dance Details: Choreographed and Performed by: Lucy Rupert Location: James North Studio 328 James St. N Show Times: Fri July 19, 6:45pm, 8:15pm; Sat July 20, 3:45pm, 5:15pm, 8:30pm; Sun July 21, 4:30pm, 7:45pm, 9:15pm   The Gallery Mini-Series is a first for the Hamilton Fringe, the concept simple and inviting: it is BIG ideas in SHORT shows in SMALL spaces. Three galleries on James St. North are hosting a wide variety of shows over 2 weekends. On the first weekend, Lucy Rupert , founder and Artistic Director of Blue Ceiling Dance, brings Frankenstein Fragments to the James North Studio. Over the phone, Rupert tells me she has danced in some unusual places: a hospital, a museum, staircases, window wells; she likes to take advantage of every aspect of the architecture with her choreography. We talked about life, motherhood, her turning forty –  and being at the top of her game; we talked, at length, about Frankenstein Fragments. “This is a nice piece for people who haven’t seen a lot of contemporary dance.  You don’t have to worry it’s going to be too abstract. In Frankenstein Fragments I’ve literally stitched together choreography from my early years to more recent works and I reinterpret them. I am literally sewing myself up.” Rupert often juxtaposes  the ‘dark’ with the ‘shimmery’. “I like the idea of Frankenstein – he’s accessible, he’s gangly, he can’t quite cope with life. He’s a clumsy monster. So it’s a little sad, too. We all know Frankenstein in some way, as campy, as a part of pop culture. The story is like a modern day Prometheus. I am definitely making fun of my former self a little bit, the angsty teen thing, but the shimmering aspect to me is always about trying to find the beauty in things. ” Rupert says her teen years were pretty unhappy. She was bullied and teased a lot. She lost both parents at a young age.  “So I’ve had a lot of darkness in the earlier parts of my life and the only thing that would get me through it and not be really morose and sad – as an artist and as a human being – was to try and illuminate the dark parts, illuminate the sadness.  By putting myself on stage, in terms of Frankenstein Fragments, as a bit of a clumsy monster, illuminating that through art, I can maybe make a little bit of beauty for the world and maybe provoke a little bit of empathy.” Born with one leg longer than the other, she was dancing by age four as a way to avert potential postural issues. She loved it. She fell in love with the piano as well, and completed the first and only Joint Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Music at the University of Waterloo, training as a classical pianist and singer as well as ballet and modern dance. She completed her Masters in History in 2003, “Just for the joy of learning!” the same year she founded Blue Ceiling Dance. Described as, “one of Toronto’s dance intellectuals” by the Globe and Mail, Edmonton VUE magazine goes on to say, “Lucy Rupert offers a supple spine and liquid arms crowned by an...

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On The Fringe #4

On The Fringe #4

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: Jamie’s Gone COMPANY: Broken Soil Theatre DETAILS: Written and Directed by: Michael Kras LOCATION: Citadel Theatre SCHEDULE: Thu, July 18 6:00pm; Fri, July 19 7:30pm; Sat, July 20 8:00pm; Sun, July 21 12:30pm; Tue, July 23 9:30pm; Fri, July 26 4:30pm; Sat, July 27 11:00pm   Michael Kras is a busy young man. Just turning 20 years old, he has taken turns as a magician, an actor, playwright, director and blogger. For him, it’s about the stories: “I haven’t stopped telling stories since I was born. And I’ve always looked for different ways to tell them. Even as a little kid I would create theatre, try to take on something like juggling or singing, or something – some way to express myself and my stories.”  The naturally talkative Hamiltonian grins, “I was the attention seeking child between my sister and I – I still am to some extent.” His sister Megan Kras doesn’t seem to mind. She has helped out on publicity before, designing the poster for Jamie’s Gone, and the logo for Kras’ new company, Broken Soil Theatre. Founded to give a place for young artists to grow and express themselves, Kras clarifies, “We are ‘youths’ in theatre, but this is not ‘youthful’ theatre.” Jamie’s Gone is a bit of a dark piece, with a large ensemble cast of emerging theatre creators: Matthew Blackshaw, Alisa Blanchard, Robert Brown, Devin France, Jesse Horvath, Danny Johnston, Philip Krusto, Kayla Mazepa, Concetta Roche, Kit Simmons, and Hannah Wayne, all in their late teens to late twenties, all from the GHA, playing a wide variety of ages and characters. Kras says Jamie’s Gone is, “A true collaboration – the set, costumes, script…everything.” He started auditioning in early March, getting an early start on a project that is very near and dear to him. The play has been staged twice before, first at Kras’ high school, and then again at the Sears Ontario Drama Festival where it was nominated for the Wayne Fairhead New Play award, and won the Award of Excellence for Playwriting and Direction in 2012. This incarnation has been, “Completely re-imagined.” In Jamie’s Gone, Kras takes the disappearance of a young boy and uses that as a framework for some larger themes and commentary: deceit, fear, narcissism, faith, and the struggle for power and redemption. It’s a surreal journey into the small town of Vernon – a made up, isolated town full of outcasts who, having failed at numerous other tasks, set upon building a town for themselves. There are experimental elements and a lot of physicality; original score by John Salib. Kras’s passion for this project runs high – though you get the sense that Kras pours his heart and soul into everything he does. His first theatre company, ‘Steeltown Players’ was founded in 2011, opening with a double bill at the Staircase Theatre. The two plays, award-winning Shut Down and the newer Wasp’s Nest, “…went well. I was just beginning to write my own work and I kind of wanted to see if I could take it to a more public venue. “That was hard. It was a lot of work. My family helped a lot. I’ve learned a lot since then.” Since then Kras completed a year at Humber College, which he says...

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