This Time Last Year, Fringe Festival and the great performers

I have never had a very good concept of time. I am fairly certain that there is nothing linear about it, it feels more like a loop of some sort, but that said, I was thinking back on last summer which might as well be documented as ten years ago because I feel so far removed from all the events and people (as is my fashion, for some questionable and unknown reason).

Last July, I was sharing an RV with four other women in a performance troupe called Inviting Desire. The show has gone on to a new cast and new performances since then, but in July of 2009, the four of us were in Canada performing in Winnipeg. In fact, our first Canadian performance was on July 17th. Right now, I imagine the fringers are heading from Montreal down to Winnipeg to get started pushing their shows. When you first arrive the city is quiet with locals, and the telephone poles and walls are free of posters. Next week the city will be covered with posters from over a hundred shows, and performers, and out of towners will swarm the downtown area looking to take in some of the best performances from the U.S. and Canada, sometimes people come from even farther distances like the U.K and sometimes even farther. For myself, even though I adore acting and it was what I wanted to do with my life, these experiences are a drop in a random hat, and pass so quickly, I am uncertain if I was actually there. Thankfully I was, and I had the chance to meet some amazing people.

I imagine next week Rob Gee will be getting into town early and begin plastering the city with his posters. It is a lot of work handing out flyers, plugging your show, meeting all the other performers and trying to go to shows. It is also a lot of fun. Rob is great, a top level poet and performer. He is so talented, and funny, and talks faster than anyone I have ever met. This is a bit from his show Fruitcake, about his experience working on a mental ward. I saw this show in Winnipeg and it was fantastic.

Some other incredible performers I met while on tour was Bryan Coffee, Jack Dagger and Becky Poole, just as a small intro to the outrageously creative talent from all over the world.

A couple special moments caught in Winnipeg last year in between the shows and the promoting.

Brian has a show going on in L.A. right now and if you are in the area you should check it out. If you happen to never have heard of the Fringe I suggest you take a summer vacation into Canada and experience what it is like when everyone, I mean an entire city, loves theatre.

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TJ Dawe, Chris Gibbs, and Totem Figures

Chris Gibbs Everybody!

It’s been awhile since I have mentioned anyone from the fringe. You know, it is so easy to suck right into yourself like a little rolly polly. You know those little black bugs that look like something that would inspire a Jim Hensen puppet from The Black Crystal? You know the ones I’m talking about; you poke them, and they roll right up, and you can’t get them to open again, even when you set them on the ground, and stare at them for a really long time. That’s what I’ve been lately. “Ouch, no, the world hurts, I’m just going to hang out in here for awhile”. Next thing you know, six months have passed and you forget you ever did anything before you curled up. Thankfully TJ Dawe sent me a link to his webpage and podcasts, Totem Figures.

If you have never heard of TJ Dawe, here is a good opportunity to check out one of his many impressive projects. I had the chance to meet TJ while I was on tour with Inviting Desire in Edmonton. I went to see his show, Totem Figures, and I just fell in love with his writing and his ideas. The funny thing about meeting TJ is that he is one of these guys that asks you a lot of questions. I mean really asks you questions, and he is really listening. I was certain he was taking mental notes, like he has a guy sitting at a desk in his head furiously typing stuff down on an old manual typewriter, like something out of Naked Lunch, “Get this into the files man you never know when you can use this.” It is not extraordinary that a man like TJ would come up with a project like Totem Figures. What’s extraordinary is that people don’t generally think to ask someone, who is your Mount Rushmore your totem figure, and what an interesting thing to learn about a person. Thankfully TJ does ask.

Totem Figures interviews various people, (so far every podcast I have listened to has been from a performer) and asks them who made an impact on their lives, and how or in what way. They can be someone famous you’ve never met or someone close to you, and not famous. The podcasts are based on TJ Dawe’s play Totem Figures. I’m going to interject here – I don’t want to give away too much about the play because you should just go listen to it yourself, but, Star Wars, hello, major impact. I think I got something like five Totem Figures out of that movie alone. Plus, tater-tots (for me) have a direct link to Empire Strikes back. All I’ll say is: Ice planet+ need to keep Luke warm= uh, tater-tots. That’s all you get. The latest podcast interview is from Chris Gibbs. I love Chris Gibbs; I could get a button. Chris is a genuinely kind, kind-hearted person, and it was wonderful to get to chat and have coffee with him. He is a truly funny man, and talented performer. You should jump over and listen to the podcast and watch the youtube clips. Afterwards, you should check out the rest of the podcasts, and get introduced to some talented people, and listen to who inspired and influenced their lives.

I leave you with my Totems: Marilyn Monroe, Star Wars (pretty much Han and Luke), Bugs Bunny, Vincent Van Gogh, Carol Anne from Poltergeist, River Phoenix as Chris Chambers from Stand By Me, The Forest Scene in The Hobbit or “the forest”, Alice in Wonderland, John Belushi (and the first cast in the first season of SNL) and my aunt Gay-Linda.

 

The Inviting Desire show has Ended, and this post actually has pictures.

Now that the show, Inviting Desire is over, I feel I can start to look back on it as the adventure it was. Not even a year ago, when I was so broke I was getting ready to move because I could no longer afford the rent, I thought to myself, “Can’t I just get a job in theatre doing what I went to school for?” Then right after I checked craigslist and found a job for a PA for a new theatre company. I didn’t get the job, but about two months later Eleanor contacted me, told me about a part that needed to be filled and I auditioned. Mind you, I had not acted in about eight years, and a play about female sexual fantasies was not exactly what I had imagined when I was studying Ibsen.

A month later we did a two week performance in Portland, Oregon, and then in July, we packed into an RV and toured the Canadian fringe. I blogged about most of the trip while on the road, but I had never mentioned the final show. We had been booked in what was called the Laugh shop. It was a stand-up comedy stage not good for an ensemble cast of four with movement. We got terrible reviews in Edmonton (the other city reviews loved us) yet we still packed the house every night selling out most of our shows. Our last night was on a Saturday at noon, and we had to break down, and head out of town; personally I was ready to be done.

Three months later, back in Portland, and doing our separate things, Eleanor asked the cast back one last time to really have a final show. Eleanor had an erotic open mic at the Portland shows, this could turn out interesting or… well, this one guy and his girl brought in fire and wanted to burn each other for pleasure in front of the audience. Eleanor jumped up yelling, “You can not bring fire into a theatre!” So the theatre, thankfully, did not burn down, even so I was near the exit doors. It was good to perform two last times, and I will say I had my best performances those final nights. In the acting world I would say, I nailed it, but I am pleased, overjoyed, and delighted to be able to say adieu.

We traveled in Betty, the RV, our home where we sometimes entertained guests. This is in Winnipeg with John and Nancy, two of the many actors we met while touring. Johnny’s show Grimmer than Grimm moved on to Edmonton where we met up with him later but Nancy’s show, No Exit Upstage,  that she wrote and acted in, ended in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg had an Awards show called the Jenny’s. That night Inviting Desire won for sexiest show at the fringe. I’m sitting with John Hefner another actor who wrote his own show called the Hefner Monologues.


I loved Winnipeg. The city is split in half by the Red river, similar to Portland actually, and on one side of the river people all speak English on the other French. This photo was taken in French town after finishing a plate of poutine: pomme frites drenched in gravy and goat cheese.


Calgary’s fringe was small, just thirty shows compared to Winnipeg’s 135, but we still had a great time meeting actors, performing, and watching shows. Here Mary and I are with Sean Bowie who wrote and acted in Drunken Fucker; a show that just came and performed here in Portland.


Tanya’s favorite haunt (Besides a Vietnamese restaurant) in Calgary was a little bar called Swans. They couldn’t make mixed drinks to save your life so if ever visiting Swans (and I’m talking coke and whiskey mixed) stick to beer.


We are saying good-bye to Calgary before heading to our final stop Edmonton.


In Edmonton I had more time to meet and interact with some of the outdoor performers. Here is a guy named Piper and yes he is balancing on a skate board, on a box on a table on a trunk while juggling knives. To get down he would first drop the knives then ease off jumping with the skate board, and landing perfectly on his board.

These gals are from the Ariel Angles and as you can guess from the name they did tricks high in the air.

There were 150 acts going on in Edmonton, and we had to hustle to get people to come see our show. One of our bits was to go into the beer tents to sing, Storm Large’s song, My Vagina is 8 miles wide. I am so thrilled beyond expression that I never in my life have to sing that song again.
I’m certain I wrote about it in an earlier post but I loved Steel Wheels, a pizza place owed by a Korean family. The food was a mix of every thing, but we loved the KimChee soup and the dumplings. One night while there a Korean film crew came in and bought us Korean pizza and shots of soju to drink and eat in front of the camera while yelling, “We love soju.” That footage is somewhere in the internet world.

Some Shots from the show:

And the final bow-