Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the weekend pouring over the Ottawa Fringe Festival program, making a multi-reviewer schedule and coordinating with just about half of the presenting companies for our first advance promo of the festival, but yeah, it’s definitely starting to feel like Fringe Festival time again.
So what Ottawa Fringe Festival coverage can you expect from On Stage over the next three weeks? Pretty much all of it. All right. So I kid. Sort of.
Starting this coming Wednesday, we’re going to be previewing one show from a local company every day for the week leading up to the Festival open. Starting Saturday, we’re also going to be publishing previews on one show from a national company and one show from an international company.
Check in with us every day to see which exciting show(s) we’ll be talking about.
This daily coverage will continue right into and through the entirety of the festival. Once the festival begins, we’ll be posting daily recaps talking about what’s happening at the festival that day. We’ll give you the heads up on what our reviewers are seeing and liking (or not), we’ll tell you what the buzz is around Fringe and which are becoming the hot ticket shows, and we’ll be posting exclusive video interviews with the Fringe artists themselves, letting you hear all the juicy details about their shows.
I’ll be putting my reviewer hat back on and joining Valerie Cardinal and Matthew Champ hitting the ground hard, especially over those first five days, so we can tell you first hand what you can expect from all the shows competing for your attention, time, and money. Did you know there are sixty of them this year?
Finally, in the next Weekly, once I’ve finished thoroughly scoping things out (and finished about 30 interviews), I’ll let you know what my picks are for this year’s festival. These will be the shows which I can be pretty sure won’t steer you wrong. Some of my choices might surprise you.
In short, On Stage is the place to be through the rest of June for all your Ottawa Fringe Festival coverage. Tell your friends. No, really. Please tell your friends.
Learn more about Ottawa Fringe Festival 2014: ottawafringe.com
The 11th Hour of Fringe
I want to take a moment to address the Fringe artists reading. We are Fringe minus nine days. This is the time when, trust me, I know, you’re wondering if you’ll even be performance ready by opening night. Lines might still need to be learnt, blocking is still choppy, costumes need to be sewn, and the paint on the set is still wet — if it’s even been painted yet at all.
It’s the 11th hour. That moment where you’re realizing that all the time you thought you had doesn’t exist and the pressure for things to be finished – yesterday – is rising quick.
Take a second and breathe.
It might not help to remember you’re not alone. That many companies and artists are in the same 11th hour boat that you are. That many, many companies have been there before, and just as many will be there in the future.
But it is important to remember that what they all have in common with you is that, somehow, some way, it will all come together. ‘Cause it somehow always does.
You’ll get there in the end. Because theatre magic.
Take a second and breathe and keep the faith.
It is important to remember that your audience is pulling for you. The programs are out and the patrons are getting as excited as you are. They’re not zombies ready to tear you apart. They’re cute little puppies ready to shower you with kisses. They want your shows to do well. They want to love them. Except maybe that one guy, but screw him.
Take a second and breathe and remember what it’s all about.
When your open comes, you’ll be ready and you’ll get up on stage to live your passion. And that audience will be there and they’ll be ready to enjoy and be entertained.
Take a second and breathe.
Then get back to work. Fringe is almost here for goodness sake.
On behalf of the entire On Stage team, I want to send you our fondest best wishes on your road to show open and wish you all a good run. We can’t wait to see what you have for us this year. Bon Spectacle!
How to Sell Out A Show
With us being Fringe minus nine, and with that 11th hour pressure rising, the timing feels good to be publishing my latest article – a followup to my super-widely-circulated article about putting bums in seats from this past February. (onstageottawa.com/the-reason-nobody-will-see-your-fringe-show)
This latest article is all about love (yes, really) and gives you the one surefire way to guarantee yourself a sold out run of your show.
It’s the age-old question. The playwright writes. The producer produces. The director directs. The actors act. All the countless busy hands do their jobs behind the scenes. But when all that is said and done, the curtain opens on an empty house unless there are people in the seats. So, how do you sell out a show?
Learn How to Sell Out A Show: onstageottawa.com/how-to-sell-out-a-show
On Stage This Week
Only a few stages are lit up this week. An impressive sounding one shot from the Ottawa Storytellers and the season enders from the Great Canadian Theatre Company and the Ottawa Little Theatre. Without further ado:
The Burden of Self Awareness
A man desperate to give away his fortune and his wife – desperate to stop him – go to extreme measures to get what they want in the world premiere of George F. Walker’s The Burden of Self Awareness.
From Valerie Cardinal’s review: Paul Rainville is a highlight as the worst psychologist ever. He bumbles through everyone’s problems, making them worse instead of better, and manages to seem good-natured even through his character’s descent into depression. Eric Coates’ GCTC acting debut is well done. His character does come off as a little cold, but I feel like this was the intended effect. Sarah McVie is magnetic as Judy, the wife who is going just a little crazy over this whole situation. (onstageottawa.com/theburdenofselfawarenessreview)
I agree with just about everything Valerie pointed out in her review. The cast is wonderful. Paul Rainville is especially a treat and Eric Coates himself carried the show well.
I thought that the show was funny. The Burden of Self Awareness has a lot of very humourous and laugh out loud moments, mostly brought on by the absurdity of the situations and the character’s attitudes.
Yet it all still left me feeling kind of empty. As Valerie points out, the show doesn’t so much end as trail off in an elipsis. Like a commercial break they should probably come back from to wrap things up. That, though, is just the cap to what wasn’t doing it for me through the whole play. The world of Burden of Self Awareness felt like a surface only, with nothing behind it, just as there was nothing behind the sparing set. Even the characters felt more like cut-outs than real people of any depth.
So check it out because it is a pretty funny show (in a darkly comic way), but turn your brains off along with your cell phone and don’t get fooled into pondering the existential or ethical questions it presents, because it stays well in the shallow end of the pool.
The Burden of Self Awareness runs at the Great Canadian Theatre Company now through June 22nd. Learn more: onstageottawa.com/theburdenofselfawareness
Touch and Go
The Ottawa Little Theatre is closing off it’s 101st with Touch and Go, a British farce by Derek Benfield about deception and mistaken identity.
From Sarah Stack’s review: It was really when the actors made their performances bigger and sillier that it became a laugh out loud comedy. I give credit to director Geoff Gruson for recognizing the need to break up the dry British humor with some more goofy physical laughs lead by Jarrod Chambers as George and Josh Sparks as Brian. (onstageottawa.com/touchandgoreview)
Touch and Go runs at the Ottawa Little Theatre now through June 21st. Learn more: onstageottawa.com/touchandgo
The Iliad (one night only)
Check out the NAC’s fourth stage on Saturday for a twelve-hour storytelling performance of the Iliad of Homer, recounted by 18 performers.
Echoing down the centuries, The Iliad brings us war in all its passion and its horror, its tenderness, its glory, and its shame. On June 14, experience it in twelve hours of truly epic storytelling performance live for one day only in Ottawa. Achilles, Zeus, Aphrodite, Helen – all the great heroes and all the gods are there on Homer’s stage.
- When: June 14, 10am-10pm with intermissions and meal breaks.
- Where: The NAC Fourth Stage
- Tickets: $40-$60 from the NAC Box Office and Ticketmaster.
If you’ve read this far down, I owe you a high five or a hug. What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fringe Festival? You can get in touch with me through any of the usual channels. You can find me at the other end of this email address, or simply join the discussion by leaving a comment below.
Until next time, have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you at the theatre.