The Calgary Fringe- a minor perspective

Rain has disrupted our planned trip to Bannf, but I’ve been thinking about it, and have decided that although that is a disappointment, this trip is about the fringe and not traveling. This is my first time combining work and travel. To some doing theatre is not work, I mean in the sense that you are sitting in an office, and have to go and have meetings, and lunch dates, and drinks after work to network, sell your product, and then of course work on your project, but it really isn’t that different, the project is different, and in my mind a lot more fun, but the demands are not unfamiliar.

When you get into a new fringe town the first thing you want to do, aside from any of the pre-press releases that you have to get out, you want to get your show out there- you know advertise; guerrilla style. We poster, we poster everywhere, walk into stores to ask if it is okay to hang our poster and/or leave a few flyers, get the word out: “please come see our show you will really like it”, then you spend the rest of your time flyering, unless of course you start selling out right away like Jake’s Gift or Wanderlust, just two great shows that were at the Winnipeg fringe, but if are like us and have a 280 seat house and your show is about womens’ sexual fantasies and your time slots are all around noon, well you have to flyer up till your last show. Then of course there are the meet and greets and the after work drinks for networking with fellow performers. Similar, see. Calgary has been a pleasant respite. We have a small venue, 80 seats I think, but we sell out every night so we have been able to relax a bit. It is hard to tell if there is much attention for the fringe here in Calgary since most of the shows we have been to have been fairly small, like a great show called Drunken Fu@ker, about a man’s battle with alcoholism and a raw account of the kind of person he was when he was drunk, had only ten people. This is an excellent show and I bet it would have been one of the darlings at Winnipeg. Still, not complaining too much since Calgary seems to be interested in sex, thank god. There are 30 shows here compared to Winnipeg’s 148 and Edmonton is up near 200 I think. I’m soaking up the downtime because Edmonton will be Work, which in truth I am looking forward too.

So, I must be seeing so much of the city right? No I’ve been pretty lazy, and the weather has been crappy on our days off. A part of me feels like I am missing out on certain beauty’s since travel is more of an interest to me than acting but this doesn’t feel like travel to me it feels like work, and there is an element of my traveler freedom that has been repressed. Probably self repressed but repressed all the same. I find myself just wanting to write and be lazy. I think another aspect is that in truth I am a loner and this is an ensemble production which means there is very little time alone, and a lack of true independence, really, I wouldn’t mind disappearing for a few days but that is not a possibility. I find that my down time in writing has also affected me. I finally got the opportunity to work on my book one day and as weird as it sounds it outweighed going for a walk, and watching some movies that was a great moment too. Yes, I know very boring, but sometimes not doing is just what I need or sitting and writing is just what I need, and I am getting as much domestic time as possible since Edmonton is going to be a whirlwind of work and performance. I will have to have to come back to Calgary though, but as a traveler, just exploring the city and the surrounding mountains; today it is about the fringe.

From the acting perspective, I have been having an interesting experience. It happened first in Winnipeg, I was on the stage and suddenly I thought: “hey this floor is dirty”, and then I noticed the wings and the cadence of the voice of who was speaking, and the heat from the lights, and I thought, “shit that’s right I’m on stage I’m right here”. Funny thing about acting is that you are presenting yourself in front of people and seemingly so raw but I have a tendency to draw inside and focus on the lines or my feelings like, how is the audience reacting, did I f- up, then I’ ll keep hanging on to how I f-d up and I never really see that I am there alive on a stage with all these sensations. My favorite acting teacher Mr. Bill Johnson would have been so proud of me for snapping back into the present. Acting can have such a zen experience sometimes, like you let go of what you know, and you just fall and trust that things will land as they are supposed to as you have practiced. It is amazing how scary this can be sometimes. I am often on the precipice, and I know this because I will have this thought, “hmm, I don’t know what my next line is or I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing here.” It is best when I relax and just not care, just let what ever happens happen, and what tends to happen is that the correct lines come out and I end up where I am supposed to be. Yet, sometimes fear jumps in, and I start thinking about my lines and then I think, no I”m too relaxed I should be putting more energy into it, and I start critiquing my performance and the performance of my fellow actors and truly this is not fun. It isn’t and I wonder why do I do this? But on those zen days I think, yes, this is nice look how alive I am and how it all just worked. I still wonder why I do this but for different reasons, mainly my quest for the reason for my existence but that’s a whole other blog.

We have two performances left here in Calgary, one today and then another on Saturday and then it is all over and onto the final leg in this journey. One thing I wanted to end with was the names of a few shows I saw and I thought were great. I think I have seen around 30 shows maybe and I wanted to list the ones I most enjoyed, if there are links for them I’ll attach them. Cheers.

Moving Along

Jake’s Gift

Wanderlust

Pig: A Peepshow of Forbidden Acts From the Farm

Drunken Fu@ker

The Power of Ignorance

Wisdom Teeth

Break dance for Solo Cello

Fruitcake

There were so many incredible shows but those were a few of my favs. oh and as little stroking of my own show here’s a link to our review.

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