Monthly Archives: August 2008

Fringe 2008, second day

Overall experience I wasn’t as rushed between shows as on Friday, so I spent some time sitting in a breeze in the shade watching people,and talked to a Japanese tourist in the beer tent (Almost entirely in English, because I don’t remember much Japanese). It’s an interesting slightly-counterculture midway – I realize from visits to Montreal and Ottawa street life that Kingston doesn’t have these vendors even at festivals. I ate a green onion cake – something I’d never heard of till I came here which seems to be a local delicacy – fried savoury dough with green onions. There are so many beautiful tattoos in evidence. When I was leaving The Trojan Women, the actor Raoul Bhaneja who does the Hamlet (solo) was handing out flyers and talking up his play. So I told him that I’d already seen it, on the recommendation of a friend who saw him in Montréal, and that I thought it was great.

I don’t mind being by myself, but I am sure that if I come next year I will meet people I know. That is an interesting thought, because I probably haven’t met those people yet.

The Trojan Women I didn’t see this when they put it on at my daughter’s high school and now I’m sorry. It was powerful and haunting and earthily funny. The Cassandra was especially good.

Learning the Game was another one-person show, the kind of play that gets done for school audiences because it’s about an Issue. I saw it because the topic caught my eye-a teenage girl hockey player with a learning disability: how could I not! Afterwards I told the actor that it made me cry, and I got all tongue-tied in front of the playwright. The actor, Megan Leach, said that one in every three performances she feels herself going deep onto the character and knows it’s good. I guessed where in the play it happened today, and got it right.

Grey/Green Paradise was a short sparse contemporary play about two awkward young guys who are roommates (in Montréal, but it doesn’t really matter). One is kind of an extreme environmentalist, and the other is not quite so extreme and works in a bank. It kind of reminded me of one of my Montréal friends looking for philosophically-compatible roommates for some reason. At the end, the actors said that they were working without a script and it was different every night — so maybe the awkwardness wasn’t just part of the story. It worked, anyway.

There are a bunch more shows I want to see, if I have time and money this week. And if not, well, not.

Fringe 2008, first day

Or, more formally, The 27th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival: The Big Kahuna.

Since I moved to Edmonton the day after the big folk festival my friends talk about, and since this one happens pretty close to my neighbourhood, I thought I’d check it out.

The overall experience I read their website, bought a program book at the 7-11, and bought some tickets on line. There seem to be about 20 stages and 100 different plays over 11 days. At the main festival site, I picked up my tickets, bought a donair, saw some street performers and about a hundred volunteer t-shirts, and decided I didn’t have time to visit the beer tent.

Hamlet (solo) A friend who attends Montreal Fringe recommended this performance, by Raoul Bhaneja. It took me a little while to get into it, and I wished I knew the play more intimately, but after a while it became clear who all the characters were from his voices and body language as well as context. The performance seemed very fast-paced, without any lack of clarity. One weird resonance for me was that because performances of both Hamlet and The Revengers’ Tragedy are described in Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, I kind of had some scenes muddled – like when they started playing with Yorick’s skull, I was expecting the part with kissing the poisoned skull to happen, but that’s in the other play. Anyway, it’s really good and has five more performances.

The “L” Word The program book describes this as Sketch: Comedy/Drama, Music, Mature, Sexual Content, Adult Language, Awkward Topics. It was kind of fun, but light and superficial and basically heterocentric and included gratuitous cheap shots at men. The best parts were the songs (which I think were original) and the skit about women going to the restaurant bathroom in groups – once they got in the bathroom, the strobe lights and dance music came on and they were all dirty-dancing together in their underwear for a few minutes, before getting back to checking their makeup and gossiping again.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to this kind of festival before. I really like the idea of it, and I’ll try to go to more performances. And the beer tent.