- À propos
- FRINGE Blog
PLAYWRIGHTS GUILD OF CANADA: PGC Members at the Montreal Fringe, Ottawa Fringe & London Fringe Festivals - PGC's Group Q & A
14 juin 2012
PLAYWRIGHTS GUILD OF CANADA
PGC Members at the Montreal Fringe, Ottawa Fringe & London Fringe Festivals - PGC's Group Q & A
PGC is excited to have so many members launching plays in the London Fringe Festival (June 6 – 17, 2012), the Ottawa Fringe Festival (June 14-24, 2012) and the Montreal Fringe Festival (June 4-24, 2012) that we had to give our congratulations and chat with them about this wonderful accomplishment, and check in about how having a play in the Fringe feels firsthand.
1. Give us a brief summary of your play.
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: Ex Cathedra - Ottawa Fringe Festival: In a world where homosexuality is punishable by death, a nun working for the Papal Nuncio in Japan discovers her former female lover is the head of government security. The commander claims she is seeking refuge from her own government via the “Lavender Railroad,” which she suspects is operated by the Catholic Church. As the two reflect on their shared past, the nun must choose between trusting in the commander’s sincerity or avoiding what could be a disastrous trap.
KENNETH BROWN: Letters in Wartime (co-written with Stephen Scriver) – London Fringe Festival: Letters in Wartime is an epistolary play that follows the lives of a WW2 Canadian bomber pilot and his hometown sweetheart as they grow and learn, communicating (and failing to communicate) over time and distance.
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: Triple Cross – Montreal Fringe Festival: Ella kicks out her husband Andy when she discovers he has promised to marry Sandy. Sandy shows up and she is pursued by Ricky her ex. It is a farce and every exit and entrance is a laugh.
JANE GILCHRIST: Out of the Fog - Montreal Fringe Festival: An elementary school teacher and a counselor are at odds about the teacher’s harsh methods. They call a truce when a child goes missing and unite to try to find him.
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: Dreaming in Autism – Montreal Fringe Festival: Poignant and written with love,Dreaming in Autism is the personal story of a mother’s ongoing challenge to help her autistic son thrive and achieve a fulfilling life.
PAUL VAN DYCK: The Harvester - Montreal Fringe Festival: Set in a distant future, where the oceans have shifted and salt deserts now cover the earth, one man remains, harvesting his sustenance from machines with the ability to pull time out of the surrounding atmosphere and liquefy it. Not willing to believe that he may be the last person alive, he continues to harvest this precious substance in the hopes of one day encountering another living person and perpetuating the survival of humankind. But when someone finally does show up, it’s the last person he expects, and everything he believes is changed forever.
2. Who do you call first to brag once you find out you are in the Fringe?
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: My husband, of course!
KENNETH BROWN: Brag??
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: It is not something I brag about because it is a lottery and not curated. My bank loan officer.
JANE GILCHRIST: My son in Pasadena.
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: I don’t call anyone. I update my status on Facebook and Twitter.
PAUL VAN DYCK: My Mom.
3. Most shameless Fringe Festival related publicity stunt?
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: I am not actually producing Ex Cathedra at the Ottawa Fringe. An amazing theatre company, Troup de la Lune approached me and asked if they could produce Ex Cathedra at the Ottawa Fringeand I was thrilled! So I asked Troup de la Lune to answer this question, and they said they did some impromptu schmoozing with the Staples employee (and his colleagues) who printed the show’s posters, when he asked what it was about and made the staff promise to attend. We’ll see.
KENNETH BROWN: All my fringe publicity stunts are shameless, although I am fond of having a good harmony song for the cast to sing on the streets.
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: Performed 141 and STILL KICKING ASS at the fundraiser.
JANE GILCHRIST: Cookies to the press in a bag with our flyer. (We are not very shameless.)
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: I’m a boring person. I’m not very adventurous. I would have to say, it’s singing, live, on stage, at the Fringe-For-All this year. You see, I’m not a singer.
PAUL VAN DYCK: In front of a crowd of 400 people, I put on a mini-skirt and had a contest with a drag queen to see who could hold the most pylons between our ass cheeks. I can’t remember who won.
4. Most inspiring part of participating in the Fringe?
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: I’m inspired by the enthusiasm of the two women in Troupe de la Lune, the company presenting the play—they approached me about producing Ex Cathedra at the Ottawa Fringe having heard about the play’s previous production in Ottawa last year. It’s exciting to see their excitement and to hear about their approach to the text—I can’t wait to see the production!
KENNETH BROWN: The direct contact with the audience.
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: The other shows. The quality of the Fringe has really improved.
JANE GILCHRIST: Doing it all as writer, producer, actor, script girl, snack provider, interviewee, sound effects person, etc.—and realizing that you have not gone insane and you are still able to have fun.
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: The support I’ve received from the Montreal Fringe organizers. They’re fantastic.
PAUL VAN DYCK: The Fringe is an opportunity to experiment. To go wherever your imagination takes you. It’s a chance to try what you normally would never try in a regular theatre season for fear of financial and critical failure. The only way you can fail at the Fringe is to not participate.
5. Biggest challenge of participating in the Fringe?
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: Troupe de la Lune shared that it has been the emotional challenge of putting themselves out there for the Fringe audience to scrutinize, and putting themselves up against some extremely talented fellow Fringe performers. They say it can be nerve-wracking and terrifying, but also extremely gratifying.
KENNETH BROWN: Maintaining your artistic integrity while meeting the conditions of Fringe production.
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: Working in English in the Montreal Fringe, when there are so few rehearsal spaces and almost no venues.
JANE GILCHRIST: Not going insane.
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: The 3 hour tech time is like torture. The 15 minute set up time might be even worse.
PAUL VAN DYCK: The biggest challenge is only getting three hours of tech for a play that deserves a week.
6. Why do you love writing a play for the Fringe?
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: As with any play, I love getting the instant feedback—good or bad—from an audience. In the Fringe, that feedback seems more visceral and intense—audience members have so many excellent shows to choose from, so their expectations can be high.
KENNETH BROWN: I get to appeal directly to the public. If they like the work, or find it of value, they purchase tickets and they come. Much of our theatre is mediated through administrations who are beholden to their boards, their season-ticket holders, and others. At Fringe, the artist has access to the audience more directly.
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: Well, first I wrote a farce and then I realized it was Fringe material. Writing this material is a kind of aesthetic sneeze. It really clears the palette.
JANE GILCHRIST: Because it is workshopped/rehearsed constantly and so the lines are always swirling in your head ready to be improved and tried again. It is an invigorating process with no money and no time to waste.
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: I think because it can really be about anything. As long as it’s good.
PAUL VAN DYCK: Everyone involved in the Fringe is there because they love it, the coordinators, the technicians, the volunteers, the artists. It’s wonderful to write a play for an event that’s basically funded by the love of theatre.
7. Words of advice to playwrights embarking on participating in a Fringe Festival for the first time?
LAWRENCE ARONOVITCH: Remember to have fun!
KENNETH BROWN: Don’t try to write a “hit.” Write from the heart, from experience; say what you need to say! If you are true to yourself, that will resonate with the audience.
ANNA FUERSTENBERG: Get a professional director with some experience in dramaturgy. That’s what I did, and it really worked out.
JANE GILCHRIST: Read all the stuff they give you to read, show up for any explanatory workshop sessions. Make sure you have an experienced stage manager.
CHRISTINE RODRIGUEZ: Finish writing your piece as early as possible. Start rehearsing your show as early as possible. Rely on as few artists as you can. And try to keep the technical requirements to a minimum. None of which I did ☺ The show is gonna be awesome.
PAUL VAN DYCK: Where tech is concerned, keep it simple. Don’t try to write a play you think everyone will want to see. This is your chance to write the play that you want to see.
A native of Montreal, Lawrence Aronovitch got his start in the U.S. space program before turning his attention turned to the theatre. His most recent play, Late, was produced by New Theatre of Ottawa in May 2012.
Kenneth Brown is an Edmonton theatrician. He has produced, directed, written, and/or acted in dozens of Fringe plays. His Fringe work includes Spiral Dive, Letters in Wartime, Life After Hockey, Grimmer Than Grimm, Be a Man, and Boy Groove (director)
Anna Fuerstenberg is the first English-speaking woman to be trained as a director in Canada. She has directed in the U.S.A., South America, Toronto and Montreal and was born in a refugee camp in Germany. English was her fourth language. She was one of the earliest members of PGC and a founder of PGC's Women's Caucus. Her plays and films have been produced in Canada, the U.S., Europe, and South and Central America and she is the author and director of Triple Cross.
Jane Gilchrist has been produced at the MAI, the Fringe, the Quebec Drama Festival, infinitheatre, Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival, Theatre Huron Festival and was awarded Hon. Mention, Herman Voaden Competition, Queen’s University, 2003.
An emerging Montreal artist, Christine Rodriguez most recently wrote, produced and co-starred in, The Arrangement at Espace 4001 in October 2011. Dreaming In Autism is her second production, her first show at the Montreal Fringe Festival and her first one-woman show. She’s thrilled to be working with an outstanding team of artists that includes director Liz Truchanowicz, lighting designer Jody Burkholder, set designer Logan K. Williams and stage manager Alycia O’Keefe.
This marks Paul Van Dyck’s 7th time participating in The Montreal Fringe Festival. He has also mounted plays at the Ottawa, Toronto, and Atlantic Fringe, as well as The New York Frigid Festival (like a Fringe Fest but in winter). Many of the plays he has written for the Fringe have gone on to win multiple awards and have been picked up for larger runs in theatres in Canada and the United States.