Hamilton Fringe Festival

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

The Fringe Blog!

On The Fringe #3

On The Fringe #3

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: Betting On The Riverman COMPANY: Haywain Theatre DETAILS: Written by: David B. Fraser.  Directed by: Julian Nicholson LOCATION: Hamilton Theatre Inc. SCHEDULE: Fri, July 19 7:00pm; Sat, July 20 3:30pm; Sun, July 21 6:30pm; Mon, July 22 6:00pm; Fri, July 26 6:00pm; Sat, July 27 9:30pm; Sun, July 28 12:30pm     Just another clandestine rendezvous. This time with Julian Nicholson, director of Betting On The Riverman.  And alas, the north side of the café is not so very quiet. The police are enjoying their coffee rather loudly. Over their clatter Nicholson sets the stage: The entire play takes place in a casino hotel room. There, you meet Eddy, a long-time gambler whose luck has truly run out. He is desperate to come up with the money he owes, before the Riverman comes calling. What’s a Riverman, you ask? The Riverman is the person who fishes dead bodies out of the nearby river. Dead bodies of gamblers. Like Eddie. The Riverman is actually a woman, played by Carol Riddel. Nicholson says, “It’s a fabulous role. She uses her sexuality and warmth in order to entrap men into more gambling, so she can go after them for more and more money.” Rick Kanary plays Eddie, Kimberly Jonasson is Eddie’s fed up ex-wife, and Nicholson himself plays Eddie’s rather insensitive father. If all this sounds a little familiar – it should. Betting On The Riverman played at Hamilton’s Fringe in 2009 – that year directed by the play’s author David B. Fraser. If Fraser’s name rings a few bells too, his play Gerald Hilroy’s Guide to the Art of Seduction won the Fringe’s scriptwriting competition in 2008 and, directed by Nicholson, played to packed houses and critical acclaim. “We had a wicked time.” Says Nicholson. “It was great.” Nicholson and Fraser have known each other since their McMaster days. So when Fraser called and suggested a remounting of Betting On The Riverman, Nicholson quickly agreed. Says Nicholson, “This play is more important than ever – because of the debate over casinos. It’s marvelously written. When I first saw it I loved it. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed Dave’s writing. His dialogue really hits the audience with the appalling effects of gambling addiction on a family. It’s an intense play. More intense, this time around. And really, more relevant than ever. It just snaps… It really moves along.” Nicholson has moved around quite a bit too. Originally from Lowestoft, County Suffolk, in England he retains a mild, and charming accent. He landed in Winnipeg originally, then on to Burlington, and finally Hamilton in 1985. He speaks really quickly, but softly, remnants of his accent getting drowned out by the louder cops. For 33 years, Nicholson has acted steadily in community theatre. At McMaster, where he graduated with a BA in Drama, he was Artistic director for the 1990-91 Summer Drama Festival. By 2000 he was in British Columbia, working with Paul Thompson on the Governor General’s Literary Award winning play, Elizabeth Rex, co-created by another familiar name, Timothy Findley. Nicholson continued in independent theatre. In 2011, Nicholson caught a feature part in the police thriller, ‘A Case of Deceit’. “Oh there’s lots of blood and bullets in that one.”  The film, after showcasing in Cannes, is going...

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On the Fringe #2

On the Fringe #2

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: TOM, DICK & HARRY COMPANY:  C.A.S.T. Inc DETAILS: Written by Langille MacGregor. Directed by Byron McKim LOCATION: Citadel Theatre SCHEDULE:  Sat, July 20 6:30pm; Sun, July 21, 2:00pm; Mon, July 22, 9:30pm; Wed, July 24 6:00pm; Fri, July 26 6:00pm; Sat, July 27 9:30pm; Sun, July, 28 12:30pm   We’ve all sat through uncomfortable dinners. You know the ones – full of cringe inducing double-entendres, your partner’s bad puns, drunken uncle dropping his fork in it. Again. The dinner scene in TOM, DICK & HARRY will arouse that memory, but this time you will be safely ensconced in your theatre seat, able to watch as somebody else does the seat-squirming for you. For the past 25 years, Burlingtonian Byron McKim has sat in a lot of seats, dealing with multiple subjects, through drama, dance, and comedy. Taking a break from directing plays for BOTG (Burl-Oak Theatre Group) in order to premiere Langille MacGregor’s TOM, DICK & HARRY, McKim says, “I am really excited! Being back in the trenches, where you have to improv, you have to be sharp, in order to make it funny.” In this modern day comedy, Sally is a recent divorcée with three men in her life: her lover Tom, her ex-husband Dick, and Harry – Dick’s lover. Dick and Harry have come over to Sally’s apartment to tell her that not only are they ready to start a family, they would like her to be the surrogate mother. Cue the squirm. Despite some heavy-hitting themes, McKim promises a light-hearted and insightful show. “Does love go away when you get a divorce? Are certain types of betrayals easier to swallow than others? People will go to great lengths to keep love alive.” For both McKim and writer Langille MacGregor, comedy and love are common themes. Macgregor writes, “We’re not always blessed with the families we want. You can choose your friends remember, but you can’t choose your family. Wouldn’t life be better, for some of us anyway, if you could?” Producing and directing TOM, DICK & HARRY was an easy choice, says McKim, who got his start in community theatre. A successful salesman in the early 90s, he got the bug playing Sam Spade at a dinner theatre. Before he knew it, the expensive car was replaced by a bicycle; his house eventually became a one room unit over a tire store. “I threw everything away to go to Vancouver film school. It was a major shift in my whole life…who I was, what I wanted…I spent a good portion of my time, in my solitary confinement room, just writing.” He stayed in Vancouver for ten years. Through the ups and downs McKim has had some pretty spectacular ups. Through his company Soaring Heart Pictures he has written, produced and directed everything from comedy, to sci-fi, to musicals and dance. Nominated for a Gemini Award in 2005 for Quest, an Aboriginal dance program shown on APTN and SCN, he went on to Cannes with his short film, King of Siam. In 2009, Bravo! Aired his six part Aboriginal dance program, “Dancing With Spirit” which brought two more Gemini Award nominations and a Gold Sheaf Award for the last episode in the series, called Tryptych. Back in the GHA with his wife and daughter since 2003, McKim...

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On the Fringe (WTH?)

On The Fringe with Denyse Terry Where will you be Fringing this year? One fabulous factor of the Hamilton Fringe is the volume of shows to take in from July 18-28. This year, our tenth anniversary, theatre companies from Montreal to Victoria, New York and beyond, join Hamilton’s thespians to present comedies, dramas, satires, love stories, musicals, children’s shows – the list this year is bigger than ever. To help you get to know some of the folks offering up Fringe shows this year, we present our new interview series, On The Fringe. I am meeting around town to talk, in person and via Skype, to a variety of companies. Most of these folks are busy in rehearsals right now, in their home city and here in Hamilton. Every week, from now till July, I will be sharing conversations On The Fringe with you. Enjoy! WTH? How well do you know Hamilton? For On The Fringe interviews, I am taking my trusty old-school-notebook to a different location each time. Can you figure out, from the picture provided, WTH (Where The Heck) I am? Test your knowledge of Hamilton while learning about some of the exciting works we are presenting in this year’s Fringe Festival. Enjoy these previews and, if you guess my location correctly, from the accompanying picture, you could win two tickets to that show! Just email me with the location and your contact information: publicity@hamiltonfringe.ca Have fun! See you around Hamilton – and at the Fringe!     Denyse Terry Denyse is a local freelance writer. A Fringe volunteer for the past 5 years, she has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2011. Her short story ‘Boom’ has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize:   Hamilton Arts & Letters, ‘Boom’ by Denyse Terry...

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On the Fringe #1

Written by Denyse Terry PLAY: Death Married My Daughter COMPANY:  Play it Again Productions DETAILS: Created and performed by Nina Gilmour, Danya Buonstella Directed by Michele Smith SCHEDULE:  Thurs, July 18 6:00pm, Sat, July 20 12:30pm, Sun, July 21 8:00pm, Wed, July 24 9:30pm, Thurs, July 25 7:00pm, Sat, July 27 4:00pm, Sun, July 28 2:00pm One morning last year, just outside Paris, in a dorm room at the prestigious clown school, École Philippe Gaulier, Nina Gilmour woke up with an idea. Quick to share it with fellow student and long-time friend Danya Buonstella, the two took that idea home to Toronto and Michele Smith. Would it work? Could it work? Drawing heavily upon their improv training, the three met day and night to expand and develop their seriously comedic play, Death Married My Daughter. The idea that spawned the theme that travelled home to hatch their production? Two of Shakespeare’s characters, Ophelia and Desdemona, reimagined through Bouffon, in order to denounce gender stereotypes and ‘take the piss’ out of society. On trial here is ‘Man’. Get ready to laugh as they poke fun at some of our more flawed social structures. Along the way, Death Married My Daughter puts some classical touches on modern themes and modern touches on classical themes. A primer:  Bouffon, originally conceived during the French Renaissance and recoined by Jacques Lecoq in the 60s is a performance style that has mockery at its core. The Bouffon were the ‘ugly people’ banished to the swamps, only let out during festivals to entertain royalty, AKA the beautiful people (this time around that’s you dear Fringer). Even via Skype, Gilmour comes across energetically and enthusiastic, “Bouffon really spoke to me -it kind of exploded all our minds! It is still so relevant today.” All three have studied under Gaulier and enjoy the release clowning offers. Says Gilmour, “Bouffon is really needed right now with all the negative things that are going on in the world.” In this time-travelling, role switching carnation, speaking in both classical and contemporary dialogue, Desdemona and Ophelia rise from the swamps to take a swipe at politics, pop-culture, and gender stereotyping. Ophelia, you may recall, was the potential wife of Hamlet. In that play, Shakespeare portrayed both of them as a bit nuts, though Hamlet’s quackery was deemed more socially acceptable for, as a male, he was given far more intellectual curiosities to jam up his synapses. Ophelia wore her madness more blatantly, more hysterically, more…female. In Shakespeare’s play Othello, Desdemona is bracingly strong willed, loving her husband Othello without restraint. Which was also a problem. A female without restraint, nay, with clarity of purpose, was also a dangerous thing. Her husband called her a whore right before he murdered her. “Are you sure this is a comedy?” I ask Gilmour. She laughs through the phone. “It is definitely hysterically funny! It’s definitely biting, too. But we keep it light and comical.” They employ Bouffon, “…at its most charming…it’s meant to provoke thought, to give people something to think about and hopefully inspire change…we paint a broad picture of how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. Michele Smith (from Smith-Gilmour Theatre Company) is a great director! She makes sure we stay on track.” For 60 minutes these two recent graduates, Gilmour and Buonstella, will have you in their tracks. Yes it’s social criticism –staged just for your delight. And speaking...

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