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 really opened his eyes. “I learned about the value of collaboration. I used to try to figure out everything for myself, and yeah, since then things have really changed.”
His whole family is onboard with support for this production as well; they are no strangers to Kras’ ambition. He has been on stage since his childhood, beginning to take theatre seriously in high school. By grade 11 he already had a following for his magic. Multiple performances are up on YouTube . He was only 14 when he created the magic trick called ‘The Destiny Effect’. For sale online, it has done well for him.
“Magic is still a big part of me. I see magic and theatre as the same entity. I use theatre a lot in my magic and vice versa.” Though not, he says, in Jamie’s Gone. Kras has two more years at Humber College. After that, who knows what the future will bring? “I love theatre. And I am a big advocate for people doing what they love.” Here’s betting that if you go to see his latest production – Jamie’s Gone- you will experience some sort of magic indeed.
Contest Time: Where The Heck is Michael Kras? Send your guess and your contact info to: email@example.com You could win two tickets to Jamie’s Gone at the Hamilton Fringe Festival!
On The Fringe is written by 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: