Ottawa Fringe Festival

Summertime Blues


How appropriate that it's raining right now as I write this. It's been over a week since my last Fringe adventures in Toronto. I was just a patron, but I still felt like I belonged. Over at the New Ottawa Critics, Brie MacFarlane pretty much hits the nail on the head:

What is it about the Ottawa Fringe that feels so, for lack of a better word, magical and inclusive for ten straight days? And why are we all so dang sad when it’s over?

There's a reason many of us keep coming back year after year. I've finally come to the realization that Fringe isn't the thing I do and then go back to my real life once it's over. Fringe is my real life. The rest is just the stuff I do in-between. I try to take solace in the snippets of film I get to see from last year's tour while I finish off a few grant applications.

After almost two months of various guests coming and going, my apartment feels empty and quiet. Too quiet. I'm grateful for the flexibility I get in working from home, but it can become very isolating. I feel lonelier than I have felt in a very long time and yet it takes incredible effort to go out there and meet with people. I've forced myself to start working out with people, otherwise I just won't bother going to the gym.

I've consciously stopped drinking. It's been 10 days (only 10? feels longer) since my last sip of alcohol, which may be a new record. I don't know how long I will keep this up, but for now I'm telling myself just one more day.

I've been battling with fear, depression and learning to trust that I am on the right path. I'm meditating everyday now and walking more. Trying to enjoy my own company. I'm in transition. I know that and it's not a bad thing.

It hasn't been easy to shift gears into a slower pace. I'm learning to embrace it. The world is going to speed up soon enough anyway.

Photo Credit: caruba via Compfight cc

Hanging Out at the Ottawa Fringe


Oh, Ottawa Fringe Festival, I love you so! It's taken me this long just to recover. The quality and caliber of shows this year was incredibly high, which probably accounts for the multiple sold out houses and record breaking box office numbers. I saw a grand total of 22 shows, which is not too shabby if I do say so myself. They were, in viewing order:

We would love to receive a quote on "write my essay online" from you and provide you with the best writing assistent ever!

Uncouth I think my boyfriend should have an accent The Nature of Things of Nature Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo Hootenanny Mars Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Against English Giant Windmills!! Three Men in a Boat The Orchid and the Crow Whose Aemelia The Untitled Sam Mullins Project The Sink Two Girls, One Corpse Supervillains Don't Wear Stilettos Sh!t I'm in Love with you Again Screwtape Die Roten Punkte: Best Band in the World Inescapable Pachiv! Hannah and George Working Title: Undecided Northern Daughter

And this not counting all the ones I had already seen.

While hanging out at the Fringe this year, two questions frequently came up: 1) How does it feel to just be a patron this year? and 2) Will you be doing Roller Derby Saved My Soul again?

Here were my answers:

1) It's surprisingly great. I get to see a bunch of shows, hang out with all my friends, and drink like it's... well like it's Fringe, but I have none of the stress that comes with producing your own show. Though I missed performing, after the incredible amount of pressure I was under last year, this was a breath of much needed fresh air.

2) I had at least a dozen people come up to me and ask about Roller Derby Saved My Soul. My director, Tania Levy, also told me how inspired she was to revisit our collaborative effort after seeing all these new shows. The script has changed a lot over the summer and she has yet to see this new version. I was also inspired by some of the design elements I saw during this festival (track lighting from The Orchid and the Crow anyone?) So the short answer is yes, I will be doing Roller Derby Saved My Soul. The how, when and where of it will take up another blog post all on its own.

A couple shoutouts/cool things from this year's festival:

  • Congrats to Pat and the team for getting a couple suitable alternatives to the Beer Tent this year. Both The Albion Room and Club SAW were a lot of fun.
  • Awesome to see the ticket price go up to $12 this year making Ottawa a city with one of the highest payouts for Fringe on the circuit. For those of you who don't know, artists only make money through ticket sales so this is a fantastic thing.
  • It was down to the wire. I thought for sure my Fringe crush this year would be the perfect bangs and chiseled jaw of the Mars crew. But on the last day of the festival I caught Working Title: Undecided and Tamlynn Bryson caught my heart. A well-deserved emerging artist award is now in her bag!

Don't make me choose!

  • It turns out I'm still young enough to stay out until 5 a.m. multiple nights in a row.
  • Hanging out with Hiroshi Shimizu and introducing him to various Canadian cuisines.
  • Looking forward to the remount of The Elephant Girls in the Arts Court Theatre. Since it sold out its run, this was one of the few shows I really wanted to see but missed.
  • 4 out of 5 Best of Fest shows were created by women. 2 out 3 shows that sold out their entire runs were local.
  • Wes Babcock is my hero.

Hey Kevin, look over here!


Next Stop: Toronto Fringe!

Nancy’s Must-See List at the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival


Wow, Fringe already? It feels like just a year ago that I was packing up a car and heading out on a four month tour of the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit... Oh wait, that was a year ago. One year ago...

This year, I am taking it easy. For the first time in about 12-13 years, I am not involved with any Fringe show in any way. This year, I am but a patron and I am excited to see what is coming my way at this year's Ottawa Fringe Festival.

The Fringe preview start tonight, so new things might catch my eye, but for the moment, as is my yearly wont, here is Nancy's Must-See List for the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival:

Usual disclaimer: These are my opinions only. If your show is not on here, it does not mean it isn't any good. Feel free to add your show and why we should see it to the comments below. Also, please don't hate me.

The Stuff I've Already Seen so I Probably Won't See it Again but you Should

Magical Mystery Detour

Caught this one in Edmonton. Gemma Wilcox is an incredible shape-shifting performer. You may have seen her in The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over and Shadows in Bloom, two shows that have more awards and recognition than Meryl Streep has Oscar nominations.

The Cockwhisperer... A Love Story

Caught a working version in Winnipeg and then the whole thing in London. Colette Kendall is one of the fiercest women I know. The first time I saw this show, during an incredibly rough time I was having at the Winnipeg Fringe, I wrote about how much I admired her and her presence. I think this may be her first time in town, so show her some love, Ottawa!

The Untitled Sam Mullins Project

Saw this one in Montreal last year. I loved it, even though Sam told me he was not happy with it. He then went and made major rewrites and proceeded to sell the shit out the rest of his Fringe Festival tour in every single city. My title for this section is now misleading as I will totally try and catch this one to see what changed. He also beat out Roller Derby Saved My Soul for a Canadian Comedy Award, so there's that.


Caught this one in Toronto. Tonya Jones Miller shares an incredibly personal and incredibly true story about her mother in Vietnam. Go see it and then spend the rest of the night in disbelief wondering if that really happened. Answer: Yes, it really did.

Bursting Into Flames

Caught this one in Toronto as well. Marting Dockery is an excellent story teller and this was one of the first pieces of fiction I saw him do. Once again, he blew me away in what quickly became my favourite of all his shows.

Keith Brown: Exchange

Another one I saw in London. Keith is both super charming and super magical. This is a great show, good for the whole family. Sidenote: If you hear me yelling "Burn the witch!" at the Fringe grounds, Keith is around.

The Stuff I Missed the First Time Around


I wanted to catch this one in Edmonton last year, but fell victim to burn out and bad timing. John Huston is a mainstay on the Fringe circuit and always impresses with his performances so I'm looking forward to this one.

Three Men in a Boat

Missed this one when I was in Toronto because it was selling out ALL THE TIME. While I wish the same for them here, could everyone wait until I have my ticket before you go? I really don't want to miss it again.


The Super Incredible People Who Are Doing Super Incredible Things

The Elephant Girls

Margo MacDonald. That is all.


Oh wait, I did have something to add. Her promo photos for Shadows in 2010 were outstanding and she really outdid herself again this time around.



Hannah and George

Even if I hadn't seen a workshop version of this piece at the Fresh Meat Festival. And even if it hadn't been charming as fuck. And even if it didn't include the wonderful Madeleine Hall who both worked for me that one time and blew me away with her acting skills during an event I saw at the Clocktower. And even if their posters and publicity materials were some of the best ones I've seen so far this year... I would be going to see this show because of one Kevin Reid. Let's be honest folks. If you are in anyway involved in theatre or Fringe, Kevin was right there, front and centre (quite often literally), supporting you and your work and then writing incredibly nice things about it. So get off your seat and go see a show by a man who not only discovered in his 40s that a life in the theatre is actually what makes him happy but turns out he's also really good at it too.

Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Against English Giant Windmills!!

I will see this show based on the title alone.


Kate Smith is an incredible performer who created a really lovely Fringe show a few years ago that I still bring up to this day (and not just because she was naked in it that one time). Will Somers impresses me more and more each time I see him on stage. His piece with David Bennedict Brown at last year's Fresh Meat Festival was one of my absolute favourites. Add Cory Thibert, director of On the Fringe as a videographer to this project and you've got a killer team I'm looking forward to checking out at this year's festival.


Speaking of Cory Thibert, he's also directing his May Can brother from another mother Tony Adams, as well as Chelsea Young in a show at the Bronfman Amphitheatre. If that wasn't enough, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that amphitheatre is outdoors. I love it when the traditional venue system is challenged!


Martin Dockery again teaming up with RibbitRePublic's Jon Paterson. Also known as that super talented guy I spent weeks travelling with in a van as we toured The Little Prince out west. Long time Ottawa Fringers might also remember him from his fantastic take on Daniel MacIvor's House. Brian Carroll will also tell you that he is one of the reasons every single show at the Ottawa Fringe Festival now gets a review. Go see this show and then talk to Brian. Seriously, talk to Brian, it's a good story.

Sh!T I'm in Love with You Again

First the title totally caught my eye. Second, the name Rachel Elie. She was here with JOE: The Perfect Man, a hilarious show that taught me that there are different types of clowns out there.

The Inventor of All Things

Jem Rolls is back! And I'm told this time it's with something different from any show he's done in the past. Guys, there's actually a poster! With a picture! I spent an entire summer with this man and I am genuinely surprised and absolutely delighted to see where this one goes.

Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo

I'd be remiss if I didn't include this one since I am billeting the actor. Jeff Leard's The Show Must Go On was one of my favorite shows on the Fringe; one that I thought about a lot as I did my own children's theatre tour. He's a fantastic performer and I'm hearing great things out of the London Fringe about this one.

The Orchid and the Crow

From Daniel Tobias, one half of super mega group Die Roten Punkte. Every once in a while, you hear the other artists talk about a show they saw that absolutely everyone needs to see. This is that show.

I Think My Boyfriend Should Have an Accent

Emily Pearlman is back with a solo show! It's been a long time since we've seen this. I fell in love with her alone on stage talking about her tapeworm so I'm incredibly excited to see what she has cooked up this time around.

Supervillains Don't Wear Stilettos

Ok, I think I lied. I am involved with a show in some way. This show was originally part of the Youth Infringement Festival and I was a writing mentor for the group. Sock n Buskin picked it up as their Fringe show so it had to drop out of YIF. I am excited to see how everything turned out for these young playwrights and budding directors.


Wow, not including the other categories, that's already 10-12 shows that I absolutely need to see. And I haven't even mentioned the return of Sterling Lynch with Autoerotic, Rick Kaulbars promising me a bawdy good time with "Finished Girls" A Tale of Colonial Sex Trade, local Fringe favourite Richard Hemphill's Junior Sleuths, Tim Oberholzer's final Ottawa performance in Whose Aemilia?, Jayson MacDonald's Mars, and countless other shows that I'm sure I've either missed because I've been staring at the program too long or will pick up along the way. This isn't so much a list anymore as it is a rehashing of the program.

Well, there is a lot of ground to cover, so what are you waiting for? On your mark, get set, FRINGE!

No Fringe for You


I didn't want to tour again next summer. I'm still burnt out from this past one and I've been tapped out creatively. Only now am I starting to feel alive again. To not sign up for any Fringe lotteries after the epic tour I just had was a bittersweet decision. After all, it's the glorious devil I know. So I cheated a little bit. I signed up for one Fringe lottery and only one, my favourite on the circuit, my home base: the Ottawa Fringe Festival. But the odds, they were not so much in my favour and I ended up 9th on the Local Waiting List.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I was slightly relieved. I have an idea for a new show that I want to work on and 9th is not that bad. I heard that last year the 10th person on the waiting list got in and there is always the possibility of a BYOV. But right now it just feels all too soon.

I've been reading and writing a lot lately and it's nice to just get back to creating without a specific deadline in mind. I've got so many projects running through my head that the days just don't feel long enough to get to it all. This is also the first time in a long time that I don't know what my summer will hold. I've been doing Fringe almost every year for the past 12 years and I'm excited to see what else might be out there for me.

Nancy's Must-See List at the 2014 Ottawa Fringe


time flies

Creative Commons LicenseRobert Couse-Baker via Compfight

Well, here we are on our last day at the Montreal Fringe. I have one last performance of Roller Derby Saved My Soul tonight at 9:30 p.m. where I will close the MainLine Theatre, before heading off to the Cabaret du Mile End for what I am sure will be one heck of an after-party. It's weird. No matter how many times I told myself I would be going to bed at before 5 a.m. every night, somehow that almost never happened...

But that's a blog post for another day. In the meantime, as we get ready to head back to Ottawa and start filming the last main group we will be following throughout our documentary, Martin Dockery & Vanessa Quesnelle, I have put together a list of shows that I am really looking forward to catching in the very limited amount of time I have in town.

Honestly, this is just my personal opinion, so it should be taken with a Grain of Salt (see what I did there?). If a show isn't on the list, it doesn't mean it's not good and if a show is on this list, it doesn't mean it's any better. For most of these, I simply have no idea and I've decided to stay away from reviews. Also, you may simply not like what I like. But I do know certain things from my past experience On the Fringe (see what I did there?). I'm like the hooker friend who teaches the Pretty Woman a thing or two about hooking up with Richard Gere... I think that's how that movie goes. It's been a long time since I've seen it.

Anyway, without further ado, please don't hate me, and go see:


One of the few Ottawa shows I've actually seen, I caught Jessica Fitzpatrick's show in Halifax last year. My first reaction after seeing the show was a big ol' fuck you. Fuck you for being so incredibly funny, talented, gorgeous and so damn young to boot. Oh and to top it all off, she had to go and be an awesome person too! Gah! Yup, this show made me grin from ear to ear and, pushing all those envious feelings aside, Ms. Fitzpatrick became one of my closest gal pals on the road. I'm still hoping some of her sparkling energy rubs off on me. See this show if only to see the show I'm totally jealous of. You'll be smiling too.

Chase and Stacey Present: Joyride

You haven't met Stacey yet, Ottawa, but you remember Chase from  6 Guitars if you were able to even get tickets to that one. Honestly, don't make that mistake again. This show is probably already selling out and if it isn't it damn well should be.

First Words

The big return to the stage of Natalie Joy Quesnel, former Ottawa Fringe Executive Producer, in her own one-woman show no less! I am very excited to see this one and support Natalie and her work.


Because you shouldn't be afraid of French shows and trying something new.

2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrows Investigation

Saw it in London. Was lots of fun and won a few awards. An evening of easy entertainment for sure.


Super curious about this one. I've never seen a show created by Nicholas Amott before and it is probably time to rectify that situation.


From the folks that brought you the super popular Duck Wife a few years ago, which I missed. I've heard great buzz about this from Montreal, so I don't want to miss out on what may be another hot show.

Kitt and Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near Post-Apocalyptic Future

Because all the feelings.

Silent Party Interlude

Another show I saw in London that made my heart all gooey. I also can't wait to download Devon's EP.

Who Killed Gertrude Crump

Monster Theatre is back, this time with the incredible Tara Travis and a whackload of puppets.


Ok, that's already ten shows and I still haven't told you to check out jem rolls and the barrage of Martin Dockery-ness at the festival - slightly biased as they are included in my documentary, but that doesn't make them any less talented. Plus, I know there's Jayson McDonald show somewhere in there but I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it as it doesn't fall under his usual Stars and Hearts banner. I also haven't even touched on the barrage of hometown heroes who are sure to delight: Dave Brown & Ray Besharah, Tim Oberholzer, Richard Hemphill, the Dead Unicorn gang, Tess McManus, Nicolas Alain, the ladies of Rachel and Zoe... ZOMG! So much Fringe and so little time! Seriously, just stop reading this now, grab your beer mug and head on down to the tent.

I'll be seeing most of you there on Tuesday!

Hey buddy, you wanna make a movie?

he took her to a movie

when i was a bird via Compfight

I realize this is probably the worse possible day to announce this, since many of you will now doubt if it's true or not. Heck, one person in question might currently be wondering if this is some elaborate April Fool's prank on my part. Wouldn't that be funny? "Hey pal, let me toy with your dreams and aspirations for a bit."

Oh, but you guys are probably wondering what I'm even talking about.

A little while ago, I mentioned that I would be creating a feature-length documentary based on my summer Fringe tour, currently titled On the Fringe. We've been mad at work behind the scenes to get all this together. More announcements will be coming out in the following days, but in the meantime, I wanted to introduce you to the two crazy people coming along for the ride:

First up, there's Natalie Watson, my co-producer and an incredibly talented film editor who's a graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology Broadcasting Program. Natalie and I have been in pre-production for some time now and I am thrilled to have someone like her onboard.

Just check out her mad skillz with this Day in the Life project she did for her school and tell me you're not as excited as I am at the thought of this documentary.

Day in the Life Project - Jeff Gladstone from Natalie Watson on Vimeo.

Which brings me to the new guy on the team. Many of you might already know Cory Thibert as one of half of the fun and engaging May Can Theatre duo, but did you know he was also a talented filmmaker? His short films are currently getting rave reviews and making the rounds. Be sure to check out Stiff Quickies a fundraiser film festival for the Ottawa Fringe Festival and you'll know exactly what I mean. Cory is going to be directing the film as we travel across the country and I couldn't be happier. I also repeat, this is not a joke.

We're going to be making movie magic together. It's going to be an awesome summer.

The Evolution of a Show

2009 - The idea of a roller derby show  comes to mind. I start researching the sport, interview people involved and writing scenes. My show is nowhere near ready for Fringe so I decide to do something else. Something else bombs and I give up writing for a whole year. 2011 - Opportunity to be in the Ottawa Fringe Festival presents itself and I take it. I dust off the old scenes and start writing a show. It goes... not that well at first.

Uh... something something roller skates.

Regardless, it becomes an unquestionable success. And after Ottawa, I took all the feedback I got and wrote another draft for the Hamilton Fringe, where things also went well. Did one more performance in Ottawa that year with a few minor changes and that was that. As I needed money, I took a self-imposed break from the arts to work a few full-time jobs. I was not going to tour in 2012.

2012 - A roller derby lady in Swift Current, SK had heard about the show and wanted it for a theatre festival she curates. Barely any changes are made to the script. If it ain't broke don't fix it. I set up a successful Indiegogo campaign to take the show on a full cross-Canada tour in 2013.

2013 - I only get into two festivals - three after all was said and done. I decide to finally get a proper sound design for the show. There's a few more minor script rewrites with some Toronto dramaturgy help, but the main focus is on sound. Once more, the show does well, but I end the year with an unsettled feeling. I decide to tour again next year and apply to the big Canadian Fringe Festival lottery. I put in almost every city on the tour because I don't think I will actually win.

2014 - I win the lottery and start preparing for the biggest tour yet. I've hired a choreographer and we've changed the show's set design, but the unsettled feeling has returned. If it ain't broke don't fix it, but... Parts of the script just don't feel right anymore. I have a chat with my director and she agrees. I've grown up and, if I want to keep doing it, the show has to grow up too. In fact, this sums it up pretty well:

THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.

My taste is so high and, as good and fun as RDSMS has been, it's not as great as it could be. This is a scary thought. The show is a proven entity. It does well. If I leave it as is, I will have a good summer. It won't be a creatively fulfilling summer, but it will be a good, safe one.

But I didn't get into this business to be safe. So, I've decided to go back to the beginning and dig deeper. Will you like it? I hope so. In fact, I think you will because I'm still going to be a charming little presence on stage. But my goal is to be a truer one in both my writing and my performance.

Will I ever be satisfied? I don't know. I'd love to hear from other creators on that one. Are you ever done? Is a painting done when you finally hang it on a wall? Is a song complete just because it's been recorded? Is a writer ever satisfied when he or she has scribbled out the last page?

I, in the meantime, will go back to a writing exercise that my lovely creative partner has asked me to finish before our story meeting tonight. An exercise I have judiciously procrastinated on by doing my taxes and writing this blog post. Because when I know something is good for me, I'm going to put it off as long as I can.

Stay tuned...

Halifax: You Should Go!

Prior to leaving the Edmonton Fringe Festival, a lot of fellow Fringers told me they were looking forward to hearing all about the elusive Atlantic Fringe Festival in Halifax. Probably due to the fact that the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit tends to push west instead of east and travel costs being astronomical at times in this country, it isn't quite on most producers' radars. Quite the feat for a festival that's been around for 23 years now. Here's hoping I can shed some light on this one for you. So should you do the Atlantic Fringe Festival? Short answer: Yes. Yes, you damn-well should.

2013-08-31 12.35.14

A few years ago, from the rumblings I heard among many Fringe performers, the Atlantic Fringe seemed to be a bit of a mess. But over the past few years, a new team moved in and, in my opinion, has really made this a festival to be proud of.


Let's start with the numbers. Since it's my hometown Fringe, I found it easy to compare the festivals in Ottawa and Halifax. Both festivals had over 50 productions and a similar number of venues (9 for Halifax, 13 for Ottawa). According to the Ottawa Fringe Festival, this was a landmark year for the festival. Overall attendance was 13,500 (growing from 12,100 in 2012) and over $90,000 paid to artists. For the Atlantic Fringe, attendance was a record-breaking 11,600 (an increase of 24% since last year) and $68,727 was paid out to the artists. Though that may seem like a fairly big discrepancy in payout numbers, it should be noted that almost all shows in Ottawa go for $10, whereas some shorter shows in Halifax went for $4 to $8 (I charged the typical $10 for mine). Oh and when it comes to festival fees, the Atlantic Fringe has some of the cheapest on the circuit and they are based on how you customize your production. You get to choose everything from ticket price ($1 to $10), number of performances & number of seats in your venue.  Name me one other Fringe that would let me do 9 performances in a 70 seat venue at $10 per person for under $600.

Oh and at this festival, not only to artists get to see all the shows for free, but the Fringe will actually give the producing company half the ticket value for that seat. So for every artist that saw my show, I got $5. This is an incredible perk!


Critic's Favorite: Roller Derby Saved My Soul

I'll be honest, when the festival first began, I was worried. The Fringe preview/media call was at 7 pm and I was one of 4 shows opening that night at 8pm. For my very first show, I had about a dozen people in attendance: my mom & 3 family members, 3 media/jurors, two people I didn't know who bought tickets, a couple of artists and my volunteer. And that first weekend, the numbers didn't increase all that much. But I lucked out with that first show with media in attendance. I had two solid reviews come out early during the festival. And here's the thing you are guaranteed 2 and could have up to 4 reviews during the run. I got 3. I also want to give a huge shout-out to Amanda Campbell & Kate Watson from The Way I See It Theatre Blog & the Halifax Coast, respectively. They saw and wrote about every. single. show at the Atlantic Fringe. Most festivals require an entire team of reviewers, but these ladies did it all on their own for their respective publications. And somehow, even with their busy (some might say "insane") schedule, they managed to be some of the most positive and gracious people I ever met on the circuit.


I was worried going in. In every other city, I had two people running my show. One did lights, the other sound. In Montreal, the venue had one technician, but a friend set me up with a stage manager. In Edmonton, you get two techs per venue. Going in to Halifax, I made a mad search for a stage manager, but couldn't find anyone. I contacted the Fringe's technical director and asked him if he thought my venue tech would be able to handle two jobs. He said yes and I headed in, still hanging on to some minor trepidations. I was worried for nothing because my technician at the Museum of Natural History was absolutely brilliant! Calm, professional and tons of fun, Ben would often have my floor taped before I'd even arrive for my call, giving me plenty of time to set up props and check my gear. Honestly, I'd have no problem seeing him right at home as a roadie for a major rock band, because he has that rock n roll spirit at heart. A special shoutout also goes out to Sean in the adjoining venue for saving my show with his MacBook when I forgot mine that one night... (Yes, again.)

Posters and Flyers

For Edmonton, I had 100 posters and 1000 flyers. There I went through all of my flyers and probably could have managed another 500, but posters were another story. Since my posters arrived late, most spaces around the fringe were already occupied and fading into a background of over-saturation. I was lucky to get through 50. Instead of printing up what was left, I brought the leftovers with me to Halifax. The thing is, I could have used more. Turns out you can poster all over the utility poles in town. And trust me, there are a lot of utility poles. Bring a staple gun.

Perfect Placement

Though surprised at first, most Atlantic Fringe patrons were more than happy to be flyered. I printed 500, which was enough. And yes, flyering totally works in Halifax! For example, I had two people who sat in the front row of my show and absolutely loved it. They came to see me after and told me how happy they were to have run into me earlier in the day. I also made a point of flyering the often sold out line-up of Once More With Feeling (aka the Buffy Musical) since my show revolves around a Buffy fan. I can honestly say I've had nothing but positive experiences flyering at the Atlantic Fringe. Many locals were actually very impressed with my constant hustle.

The Locals

I met some really great people at the Atlantic Fringe. I do want to say thank you to my front of house manager, April, who is a board member and was on the job for the entire run of the festival. I also have to say that the Fringe is very lucky to have Board Chair, Kevin Kindred. This guy was absolutely everywhere! From hosting the opening/closing festivities, as well as the late-night talk show, to attending about 75% of all the productions, volunteering at front of house, participating in the Panel Show, and just making all of us touring performers feel welcome, this guy was beyond amazing. The perfect artist liaison! Oh and I think he also had a full-time job as a lawyer somewhere in there... Seriously, Atlantic Fringe, whatever you do in the coming years DO NOT LOSE THIS GUY!


My quibbles were minor. Both venues at the Museum of Natural History had shows scheduled at the same time, which was unfortunate since you could hear what was going on in the other room through the door. If this space is used again in the future, I would recommend alternating the schedule. I would also suggest having some sort of festival bar space. I loved the lobby at the Bus Stop Theatre. It was cozy and offered the perfect environment to drink and chat.  If they could get a liquor license that allows them to sell alcohol all the time, instead of simply a half hour before and after shows, you could really have something there.

You can tell the board and staff really care about making this festival the best it can be. When they seemed to have run out of volunteers on a certain day, everyone pitched in. Even Festival Director Thom Fizgerald, who was probably beyond busy, found himself selling tickets at the door. It was pretty awesome to see.

Atlantic Fringe Festival - ****


Nancy's MUST-SEE List at the 2013 Edmonton Fringe (Part 1)

I am hours away from the launch of the 2013 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival and for once in my life I have nothing to worry about. Yes, there is still plenty of work to do, errands to do, lines to run, and choreography to attempt with new equipment, but everything has been going smoothly (QUICK: everyone knock on wood RIGHT NOW!) It's been so smooth that I've started worrying about how smooth it is. Advance ticket sales are going better than I could have imagined - I've already made back my festival fee - and the roller derby support in town has been incredible. Not only have I received some great sponsorship/help from Bad Girlfriend Skates in Sherwood Park, but members of all three Edmonton roller derby leagues, yes even the junior girls, will be joining me tonight for the Fringe Parade, which starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. near the Kids' Fringe. I cannot wait to try out these shiny new outdoor wheels of mine on the fringe grounds! And if you were wondering, my posters finally did arrive.

But enough about me (sort of). You're here for one reason and one reason only, to find out what you should be seeing at this year's Fringe (or to find out if I put your show on my list). With over 200 productions, that is no simple task. In fact, this festival is so big, I've had to break down my list into a few parts. Part 2 will come out later on.

This list is not the be all and end all of fringe lists and it is based solely on personal preference, what I've seen, and what I've heard about. What you will not find here: musicals, dance and improv. There are some really great acts at this years festival in all three of those categories, but I'm not the one to tell you about them. And I can guarantee that there are some amazing shows that I just don't know about yet. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section at the end.

First up: the Ottawa Connection!

When they think "Amazing Fringe Show", I'm not quite sure "Ottawa" comes to mind for the fine folks of Edmonton, but this year they are in for a treat. All the way from our Nation's Capital, you've got 3 (THREE!) incredible fringe shows, all with their own strong pedigree.

Roller Derby Saved My Soul Of course, you simply must see my show first. Not just tooting my own horn here when I say this show has been loved by everyone who's seen it. It's fun, it's lighthearted, I spend half the performance on roller skates. It speaks to that awkward and shy little guy hiding in all of us.But don't just take my word for it.

Countries Shaped Like Stars It's rare for me to see a show more than once, but I've seen Countries Shaped Like Stars three times already, I own the soundtrack and I would definitely go and see it again. Read my impressions after the first time I saw it.

RiderGirl One that I have not seen but that has been taking the Fringe circuit (and Rider Nation) by storm. I'm told you don't have to be a football fan to enjoy this one. Can't wait!

Up Next: the stuff I missed in Ottawa

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is it's own incredible thing. Unfortunately, this year I was incredibly busy and didn't get to see nearly as many shows as I would have liked to. Fortunately, many of these fine fine folks are here in Edmonton as well. These are all productions that had incredible buzz & sold out houses, so you might want to get your tickets now.

Ask Aggie: The Advice Diva How much do I love Christine Lesiak? She is an incredibly funny woman with a quick wit that is sure to make this show quite the experience. From what I've been told, audience members write down questions they want the "Advice Diva" to answer. So think up some good questions and meet me at the show!

Be A Man I was so hoping to see this one in Ottawa, but an accident marked an early end to the run. Fortunately, everyone is ok and the show is here in Edmonton. The preview I saw was incredibly funny and I can't wait to see more.

The Pit Unless you've been living under a rock where no Fringe or anything wonderful ever enters your life, you know who Martin Dockery is. Now he doubles the amazing with the lovely Vanessa Quesnelle. This show completely sold out in Ottawa, so you better start camping out for tickets now.

The Show Must Go On I saw a preview of this show in Ottawa and I was immediately hooked by Jeff Leard's storytelling abilities and character work. I've been dying to see the full performance ever since. I also hear he just got a 5 star review from the Calgary Herald which is pretty darn impressive.

Monster Shout-Out-Out-Out

Monster Theatre was my first introduction to the Fringe life with the Canada Show way back in 2002 and I have adored them ever since. This year Edmonton gets not one, not two, but THREE Monster productions and you should catch them all.

Assassinating Thomson Caught this one in Ottawa, got the painting from the show and I would definitely go and see it again. Bruce Horak is an incredibly charming & personable performer who mixes stories/coincidences from his life as a legally blind artist and the mystery of Tom Thomson's death. Oh and he happens to paint a portrait of the audience while he does it. Bonus: this one is also happening in my venue - Venue 4 Academy at King Edward School.

Hockey Night at the Puck and Pickle Pub Honestly, if it wasn't a Monster Theatre show, the poster itself would have sold me on it.  It also brings together two of my favorite people: Ryan Gladstone and Jon Paterson. Not to be missed.

Seriously. This poster is so good!

Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII Tara Travis wowed me when I first saw her in The Shakespeare Show. She's an absolute chameleon and this is one show that has been on the top of my list for a few years now. Another one that's been selling out all summer, so get your tickets ASAP.

Venue 4 - Academy at King Edward aka My Venue There are some great great shows happening in my venue. Along with Roller Derby Saved My Soul and Assassinating Thomson, I'm looking forward to the following:

Sex, Religion and Other Hang-ups James Gangel won last year's Canadian Comedy Award for Best Solo Show with this one and it is also directed by the fantastic Chris Gibbs. I've missed this show every time it played in Toronto so I was super excited to find it here.

Tap Me on the Shoulder Nerd girls unite!

Unpossible! Deep down, I'm still a dorky little kid who wants to believe in magic. Don't tell me how it's done, just make me believe. No pressure or anything.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this guide!

Thoughts on Success and Failure

Insomnia II - explored Julian Schüngel via Compfight

It's almost 2 a.m. and I can't sleep. Chalk it up to still being on Fringe time, or the post-show crash I feel urging me down into a pseudo-depression. Or perhaps it's the stress from producing the upcoming Roller Derby Saved My Soul at Zoofest in Montreal that's got my guts tied up in knots. Heck, it's probably a combination of all of the above.

I was going to write this post tomorrow once I had finalized my numbers for Dolores at the Ottawa Fringe, but the insomnia has me itching to write down all my thoughts now or never hold my peace.

Listen folks, for all intents and purposes, the premiere of Dolores at the Ottawa Fringe Festival was an incredible success. Things I have to be proud/happy about:

  • This was my first theatrical translation and all feedback indicates that it was a really good one.
  • This was my partner Martine's first professional theatrical performance and, night after night, she was absolutely phenomenal.
  • This play gave me the opportunity to work in French, something I have been dying to do for years now, and gather a few more UdA credits for both myself and Martine.
  • By staging the show in a real kitchen, I created a site-specific theatre experience that people aren't soon to forget.
  • Everyone who saw the show loved it. Including an anonymous patron who bought 11 tickets to one single performance. I cried when I heard that.
  • I got to work with Tania Levy again, helping her solidify her crown as a Fringe Festival directing queen. Tania is definitely an actor's director and I'm going to work with her every chance I get. You should too. And pay her lots of money to do so because she's worth it.
  • I have a new stage manager that I can call on now whenever I have a project on the go. Jess Clark is definitely the unsung hero of this show... I didn't mean to make that rhyme.
  • We got some great preview coverage in various media outlets.
  • We got some great reviews, including my first 5 stars ever.
  • Dolores won the award for Outstanding Drama at the end of the festival.
  • We raised $520 for two local women's shelters, L'autre chez-soi in Aylmer and the Interval House in Nepean.

Dolores director, Tania Levy & I with our Outstanding Drama Award

These are the things that I am desperately trying to hold onto at this late hour when the doubts come creeping in. Because here's the thing, even though Dolores was awesome and the buzz surrounding it was even better, I lost a lot of money on this production and my insecurities about myself as an actor reared their ugly head with a vengeance. I played to mostly empty houses (and in a venue that seats only 17 people, that's saying something), had to cancel one show because no one showed up, and closed the production with our strongest performance yet to an audience of three (three very appreciative people, but three nonetheless). And on days we did have a bit of an audience, most people didn't pay for a ticket since they were either media, volunteers, artists or VIPs. Definitely not complaining about having these wonderful souls in the audience, because as an actor this was, insecurities aside, the most creatively fulfilling thing I've done in a long time and I was thrilled to have anyone there, but as a producer I was tearing my hair out.

And yes, I understand that the odds were stacked against me: French play at an English festival, drama when folks prefer summer comedies, BYOV instead of mainstage, ect. It was an experiment that I undertook, perhaps naively thinking that my name and/or the site-specific nature of the piece would be enough of a draw for the English audiences and that the French audiences in Ottawa would be like the ones in Toronto who come out in droves to every improv show and community theatre production.

Could I have done more? Possibly. I could have flyered more, I'm sure. Many of the anglophones who came to see the show told me that they understood what was going on, even with the language barrier, so maybe I could have tried harder to convince more people of that. Maybe I could have called more people, asked for more help? Maybe. Hindsight meet 20/20.

Part of me likes to think that had I known my audiences would have been so small, I would have scheduled less performances, but I know that's not true. As hard as it was playing to 3-4 people at a time, it was such a joy to work with Martine and I grew so much as an actor in those 10 short days that, if anything, I'd want to do more. And we will. I don't know when or how yet, but Dolores will happen again. Maybe in Ottawa, but definitely in Montreal and Toronto.

I know how this game is played. Sometimes absolutely fucking brilliant shows don't get the audiences they deserve for a variety of reasons that are completely out of your control. As much as the Ottawa Fringe likes to toot the horn of "record-breaking year", I know plenty of people who had an experience very similar to mine. It happens. It sucks. And it can make you want to crawl into a hole with a pint of Haagen-Dazs, never to return to the light of day until you've burnt through six seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If that's how you're feeling right now, I just want to say don't. Don't do it. Don't give up. Don't let it happen to you. I've been here before. For every Roller Derby Saved My Soul, there's a No Exit Upstage. That flop scared me from writing/producing for well over a year. And the silly thing is, that show wasn't even that bad, but I'd convinced myself that it was. Because if I created the worst play ever, then I can understand why it flopped, but if it was actually ok to pretty good, well then the world just doesn't make sense to me and that thought can be too scary to accept right now.

I'm not worried about the content of my shows. Dolores was amazing and Roller Derby is always a hit. But like I said, it's late and I'm alone in a damp basement apartment, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, wondering if I go into the bathroom, will it be the spider or the centipede today? That's when the doubts come in to get me and I start wondering why I quit my day job (again, some more), left my beautiful bed in Toronto, uprooted my entire life (again, some more) for one on the road...

I can't pinpoint exactly what it is that keeps me going like this. Good friends like the ones I find in my travelling circus of a Fringe family is one. Rethinking success is another. Perspective is everything. Every scar makes me stronger, every attempt makes me better, and I have a lot to be proud of. I'm doing this for me, but I'm also doing this for you who might be reading this right now.

Like I said to my mother once Dolores was all over, some people go on vacations, I put on plays.

Moving Along

The Ottawa Fringe Festival has come and gone, and I will have a full recap of Dolores in the next few days once I get my final numbers, but all in all, it was a very positive experience. I saw only 6 shows this year, way down from my usual 20 to 35, but I found myself with a very busy performance schedule and a slew of computer issues that kept me preoccupied during most of the run. With this year's Canada Day a thing of the past, I throw myself back into work. So much to be done. Along with the Dolores wrap-up, I'm prepping to take Roller Derby Saved My Soul on the road. Upcoming cities include Montreal, Edmonton and Halifax, but I may very well be doing a few performances for the fine folks in Ottawa. Details are falling into place as I type this, so please stay tuned. Or you can always sign up for my new MailChimp newsletter here:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Halfway Through Ottawa Fringe

Well, here it is, Thursday. I don't know about you, but I am feeling a bit Fringe-burnt right now. So after another wonderful 2 show day, I've decided last night to forgo my usual Beer Tent activities and go home for some much needed rest. Back at it again tonight though. Still plenty of performances of Dolores left for your to see. Don't let the greyed out times on the Fringe website scare you. They only sell 50% of tickets in advance and cut off ticket sales at 5 p.m. the day before, so trust me when I say you can still get tickets at the door.

The reviews and feedback for Dolores has been incredible. Very positive comments all around for the venue, performances, and my translation. See below for more in English and in French.

Oh and just in case you didn't know, we are collecting donations after each show for local women's shelters and I am thrilled that we will be hitting my goal of $300 by the end of the day today. Let's try and make it $500 now for the end of the run!


En français:

5 étoiles ***** - Originalement écrite en anglais par Edward Allan Baker, la traduction de Nancy Kenny ne déçoit pas. Les performances sont fortes. Martine Roquebrune est très sympathique dans le rôle de Sandra, qui a toujours été un peu déçue par sa sœur Dolores. Nancy Kenny est tout aussi bonne dans le rôle de Dolores; une fille qui pensait que la vie avait plus à lui offrir qu’une succession de maris niaiseux.

J’ai été complètement absorbé pendant ces courtes 45 minutes. Dolores est fort sur les émotions, joué avec passion et mis en scène parfaitement par Tania Levy. - Valérie Cardinal, Production Ottawa


Kenny et Martine Roqueburne offrent toutes deux d’excellentes performances – des performances nuancées – dans une atmosphère tout à fait intime. Les deux comédiennes nous font passer à travers plusieurs émotions – pitié, colère, doute, et même quelques bonnes bouffées de rire.

La pièce se déroule dans la cuisine de l’église St Paul, où il y a de la place pour environ 15 spectateurs, qui sont littéralement à quelques pieds des comédiennes. La cuisine, située au sous-sol de l’église n’a probablement pas été rénovée depuis bien des années et est le cadre idéal pour cette pièce. Chapeau à Kenny pour une pièce qui ne semble pas traduite, tant elle est fluide. - François Levesque, Apt613


Presque du Michel Tremblay... Une pièce très bien faite, un dénouement profondément émouvant sans trop de sensiblerie, tout y était pour en faire un spectacle parfait. Martine Roquebrune est très convaincante en tant que Sandra, la sœur dépassée par les événements, une femme minée par le secret qui la ronge. - Alvina Ruprecht, Capital Critics Circle

In English:

5 stars ***** - Somewhere in the middle of Dolores, I forgot I was watching a play. I forgot I was sitting in the kitchen of a weird-smelling church on Cumberland Street. I was just living it.

Nancy Kenny and Martine Roquebrune give powerful performances. Roquebrune is sympathetic as the weary woman who has always been disappointed by her sister. Nancy Kenny disappears into the role of Dolores, a stylish woman stuck in a pattern of marrying abusive men. It’s staged wonderfully by Tania Levy, who allows you to see the emotions on Roquebrune and Kenny’s faces no matter where you’re sitting. Nancy Kenny’s translation from the original English to dialect-heavy French is note perfect. - Valerie Cardinal, Production Ottawa


I’d have to say this one was my fav’rit.  And I didn’t even understand all the words. Dramas aren’t always a big draw at the Fringe, but DOLORES proves why that’s a dumb thing indeed.  At a short-ish runtime of just over half an hour…this show packs the emotional wallop of shows three times its length.  Martine Roquebrune is an absolute revelation as Sandra, and if she and Nancy Kenny don’t have you fighting off tears at the end then you may very well lack the capacity to cry. - Kevin Reid, The Visitorium


...impeccably constructed and very moving two-hander. A taught drama that Kenny has translated into Acadian French and that takes a few minutes to plug into but the text and the translation work very well. Martine Roquebrune was convincing as the distraught sister who seemed to be living something real in this gut-wrenching naturalism. - Alvina Ruprecht, Capital Critics Circle

Fringe 101 - Un guide pour les francophones

Chers.ères confrères et consoeurs francophones, vous êtes amateurs de théâtre et festival, mais vous pensez que cette bête noire de "Fringe" n'est pas pour vous? C'est faux! Je comprends: vous voyez une programmation majoritairement anglophone, un site web et un guide unilingue et cela ne vous intéresse pas. Et bien, je suis ici pour vous aidez à trouver ces petits bijoux francophones au festival et vous initiez à toute la beauté qu'est le Fringe.

Tout d'abord, c'est quoi un Fringe?

Un Fringe c'est un festival multi-disciplinaire qui encourage les artistes à prendre des risques. La programmation se fait par lotterie, donc vous y retrouverez un peu de tout, et 100% des revenues reviennent aux artistes impliqués. Le festival d'Ottawa fut fondé en 1997 et comprend plus de 15 salles de spectacles et une cour extérieure où vous pouvez prendre un verre, écoutez de la musique et même jasez avec les artistes.

Puisque 100% des revenues reviennent aux artistes, le Fringe vous oblige à acheter un macaron pour accéder au festival. Ce petit $3 aide à financer le festival-même. Pas de macaron, pas de spectacles pour vous. Aucune exceptions.

Les spectacles

Cette année, le festival comprend 54 spectacles avec plus de 400 représentations dans le centre-ville d'Ottawa. Côté francophone, vous retrouvez une pièce de théâtre et un opéra, mais je vous suggère aussi de la danse.

Dolores (Théâtre)

Dolores homepage

Théâtre in situ dans la cuisine de l'église St Paul's Eastern United au 473, rue Cumberland. Ayant finalement mérité une journée de répit, Sandra voit sa quiétude troublée par l’arrivée de sa soeur Dolores. Un drame d'Edward Allan Baker. Traduction originale de Nancy Kenny. Mettant en vedette Nancy Kenny & Martine Roquebrune. Mise en scène de Tania Levy.

Pour plus d'info, voici une superbe critique de la pièce.

La voix humaine (Opéra)

De Toronto, un opéra de Francis Poulenc & Jean Cocteau. Une fille. Un gars. Une corde de téléphone. Avec Rachel Krehm et Patrick Hansen. Mise en scène de Aria Umezawa.

Passages (Danse)

Une fusion de danse celtique, de chant et de théâtre, c'est l'histoire d'une jeune fille que se sauve de la guerre en Écosse pour ce rebatir une vie au Canada. Quoiqu'il y a des morceaux d'histoire en anglais, la danse et le chant en font une expérience que tout le monde peut apprécier.


J'espère que ce guide vous encouragera à venir visiter le Festival Fringe d'Ottawa. Ce serait bien d'avoir un festival bilingue ici à Ottawa et cela ne peut ce produire sans vous.


Nancy's MUST SEE List at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe

The Peptides were amazing! I'm slightly hungover. Can it be? Fringe already? I guess that means it's time once again for Nancy's MUST SEE List at the Ottawa Fringe. Going through the Fringe program, this year was harder than most to narrow it down to 10 shows. This is a very good thing indeed! Little disclaimer: unlike in past years, I actually haven't seen any of the shows in the list below so none of these are reviews, just shows I'm looking forward to for various reasons. What I'm saying is that these shows could suck. They probably won't, but that's the beauty of Fringe and boxes of chocolate: you just never know what you're gonna get.

But first, if you happen to have a basic understanding of French, I hope you will check out my show, Dolores. As my wonderful director, Tania Levy, puts it: 'I think the show's accessible to people who understand but don't speak French. Otherwise, it's a visual event.' Good stuff!

Now with that shameless plug aside, here's what you really came here to find out:

Assassinating Thomson Monster Theatre is back, this time with a solo show from Bruce Horak. Now if the company pedigree wasn't enough to bring you out, how about the fact that the performer is legally blind and paints the audience during the production? Very few shows make me break my cardinal fringe viewing rule (never go see a show that runs over 60 minutes because it wrecks havoc on your marathon viewing schedule), but for this one, I'll have to make an exception.

We Glow Ok, fine, two, two shows make me break my cardinal fringe viewing rule this year and here's the other one. My uber Fringe crush Emily Pearlman is back, this time with uber talented Brad Long. I really need to learn how Emily gets all the best boy partners... Anyway, it's site-specific, which really tickles me these days and it's directed by Kevin Orr, who gave us the wonderful Bifurcate Me not to long ago. I just hope I will get to see it as much of the schedule conflicts with mine.

The Bike Trip & The Pit Fer cryin' outloud... another over 60min show? And yet, another one well worth it. Martin is an incredible storyteller and last year's Wanderlust sold out before he even got to town so you might want to buy your tickets now. And his other show with partner Vanessa Quesnelle is sure to be a treat as well. I saw Vanessa in a solo show at the London Fringe last year. She is a delight to watch.

HappinessTM & The Tragicall Histories of Nick Wade (And Other Fuck Ups) You guys... it's a May Can Double-Bill! After the sweetness of Subdivision, I... just can't, you guys. I can't even explain it. They make my heartbone hurt. Oh and if that wasn't enough, the second show is also from Jonah Allingham's Backpack Theatre and includes the stage debut of the biggest fringe fan on earth. I'm just going to go see the shows and then be all awkward around them at the beer tent.

Superhero Showdown I saw Rock the Arts at the annual Ottawa Theatre Challenge a few years ago and they had one of the funniest pieces I had ever seen in a long time. I really can't wait to see what the puppets have in store for us now. Oh and bring the kids because this one is family friendly.

Sappho... in 9 Fragments This picture:

Credit: Robert Piwko

slut (r)evolution A late addition to the festival (so late she's not even in the program), Cameryn Moore returns to Ottawa with a show I can't wait to see. Oh and if you missed Phone Whore, you're in luck! She'll be presenting it at the Gladstone for One Night Only on June 22nd. She's an absolute inspiration for me as the hardest working lady on the Fringe today.

Die, Zombie. Die! Richard Hemphill is hilarious and the set is made of people. I'm pretty sure real-live zombies were harmed in the making of this production.

Chesterfield Guys, after Die, Zombie. Die! my bloodlust will not be quelled. I want to see a couch eat people... preferably people I don't like, but I'm not picky.

Under the Mango Tree I love me a solid one-woman show and from what I've been told this one is pretty fantastic. I honestly don't know anymore than that, but I'm looking forward to it.

Be A Man This show just won funniest show at the London Fringe Festival, is directed by the wonderful Jon P, and it has a lot of funny guys in it... I'm in trouble.

******************************* Oh gosh, this list is already getting too long and I have things to do before I open my own show tonight. I'll just leave you with a couple more mentions ok?

******************************* Red Bastard - I'm not a fan of bouffon, but I'm told this guy is one of the best. And dammit if he didn't sell me on his show last night.

Cathedral City - someone told me this is the best damn thing Kurt Fitzpatrick has ever done.

In the First Place - props for using such a unique venue as the Bytown Museum


Ok, that's all I can do for now. Happy fringing everyone! And let me know what you're seeing in the comment section below!

Repost: My First Fringe


While I try and resolve some massive computer issues before I release this year's MUST SEE list, here's a repost from a few years back about my first experience at the Ottawa Fringe Festival.

Picture it: Sicily Ottawa 2002

A young and naive theatre student by the name of Nancy Kenny answers an audition notice posted on a bulletin board (where audition notices went long before this thing called the “internet” existed) in her Theatre department at school.

The show: Tuesdays and Sundays by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn

(Little did I know at the time that this was a huge hit on the Fringe Festival Circuit back then. Heck, I didn’t even know what a Fringe Festival Circuit was. I just wanted to be in a play outside of school. The director of our production saw it done somewhere out west and got the rights for it in Ottawa. I believe that this was the only Fringe Festival that wasn’t done with the original creating team.)

The show is rehearsed over a few weeks and put on in the Alumni Auditorium at the University of Ottawa (which is no longer a Fringe venue at this point in time).

Attendance? Is terrible in this 300 seat auditorium. One midnight show pulls in only 4 people for this cast of 2. (Fortunately, the next Executive Producer of the Fringe, the awesome Kevin Waghorn will later make some very beneficial changes, including cordoning off a section of the theatre so everyone sits in one clump and abolishing midnight performances. But, until then, shitballs for us.)

The company also only gets 5 performances instead of the usual 6 since Nancy Kenny’s scene partner had to attend a wedding in Windsor at the end of the week.

However, the reviews are incredible and rave about the performances of the two young students from the University of Ottawa Theatre Department. Nancy Kenny has fun, discovers something called the “Beer Tent” and makes friends with lots of performers from out of town. She also meets a bearded man with a big laugh who tells her really nice things about the show and has been an avid follower of her career and a dear friend ever since.

Somehow, the show wins the coveted Best of Venue prize and gets an additional performance on the closing night of the festival. The director had rented risers for the performance and had returned them by that point thinking the run of the show was done. Milk crates and planks were used to replace them.

(I still remember sitting backstage, 15 minutes to showtime on a Sunday night, wondering where the heck my partner was as, upon hearing the news we had an extra show, he guaranteed he’d be back from the wedding on time. I also remember how relieved I felt when he ran in, out of breath, with less than 5 minutes to spare.)

No money was made by anyone, but the director bought her actors a beer and an Ottawa Fringe Festival hat. The run NOW officially over, everyone really went their separate ways. Nancy Kenny ends up at the Beer Tent and sits around for the closing festivities. As awards are handed out, she is shocked to hear her and her partner’s names called out in the “Outstanding Performance” category.

Nancy Kenny starts to think this “Fringe Festival” thing is not bad. Not bad at all.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Nancy Get Your Gun

BrickArms Lewis gun and Brodie helmet prototypes Andrew Becraft via Compfight

I've never been a fan of guns. They've just never been my thing. I've never had any interest in hunting and, if video games are any indication, I suck at shooting moving objects. And frankly, at the end of the day, I've just always found guns to be a bit scary. But in the wacky and wonderful world of film and TV, guns make some fairly regular appearances and if I want to portray the characters using them truthfully...

My upcoming production of Dolores at the Ottawa Fringe does include the use of a firearm. It doesn't go off, but it's there and the Fringe had some pretty strict regulations in the Performer's Handbook with regards to using firearms on stage. So, after a lot of research and negotiations, I spent the past weekend taking the Canadian Firearms Safety Certification and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Certification. I will probably upgrade the certification to a Possession and Acquisitions Licence (PAL) a little later in the year too, even though I have no intention of ever purchasing a gun. It turns out many unionizes theatres require it if your show includes a firearm and, since I want to tour Dolores after Fringe, I don't want to go through a situation where I may have to compromise my show because I just don't have the right coverage.

Nancy Kenny: Armed, but not really Dangerous

Dolores au Festival Fringe d'Ottawa

Well folks, the Ottawa Fringe Festival launched last week, tickets are on sale and I am finally ready (ie. I've finally updated my own website) to talk to you all about it. Poster design by Mikaela Dyke

Dolores is my first theatrical translation from English into French. The play, by Edward Allan Baker, is written in a slang-y, blue collar type of English that I found transposed itself very well into my native Acadian French.

The show itself is being done in a site-specific BYOV (or Bring Your Own Venue) at the Fringe. The play takes place in a kitchen so I rented the kitchen at St Paul's Eastern United Church. Why? Because I don't want to put on a show just to put on a show. I want to create an intimate experience for you, the audience member. You really can't get more intimate than this.

This means that seating for the play is limited to 16 per performance. The Fringe sells up to 50% of tickets in advance on their website so only 8 tickets are available for pre-purchase with the rest available at the door one-hour prior to show time. I definitely recommend you buy in advance in order to guarantee your spot. There is a $2 surcharge for tickets purchased online that goes back to the Fringe. The other $10 comes back to the production.

You may have noticed the large number of performances currently available - 19 in total. This is mostly due to the limited seating. Even if everyone paid the full $10 for the performance (and with complimentary media & VIP passes, as well as discounted Fringe vouchers that's highly unlikely), it would be impossible for me to break even with a typical 6 to 8 performance schedule. Fortunately, the play is also fairly short, which allows for additional scheduling.

Though I don't have the final run time (since we don't get into the space until the week prior to Fringe), it does look like it will be approximately 35 minutes as opposed to the 45 written in the Fringe program.

Already, we're getting a lot of good press and buzz in the mainstream media. You can check them out now:

Fringe Festival opens the stage for many uOttawa artists this summer - uottawa Gazette

Ottawa’s Fringe Festival whoops it up inside and out - Ottawa Citizen

Surprises in Store @ Fringe-O-Ween - Ottawa Tonite (where I talk about BYOVs)

I'll be updating the Dolores page on this site fairly regularly with new information, photos, and such as it comes up, so be sure to bookmark or follow along with this blog. Also expect more French posts in the upcoming days. If you have trouble following along, I recommend using the Google Translate bar in Chrome to make it a little easier on you.

I won't lie, I would be thrilled to sell out of advance tickets before the festival even starts on June 20th, so why not head on over to the Fringe site and buy your tickets now?


En route vers le Festival Fringe d'Ottawa

Ottawa Fringe Logo The fun thing about having a blog means that I can go back an search for things I may have talked about before that I want to bring up again. The annoying thing about having a blog means remembering that you said you were going to do something almost 3 years ago and are only getting around to it now.

Well, better late than never, non?

You did click on the link above right? I'm not going to have to repeat myself, am I?


Ok. Fine.

In 2010, I took an acting class in English, but my teacher had me speak most of the dialogue for my scene in French. It was an exercise. Go with it. My teacher thought that the play I was working sounded great in French and, by the end of class, suggested I translate it for myself. Time kept marching on, but by December 2011 I had completed a first draft of the translation.

Working at the Ontario Arts Council in 2012 meant that I couldn't participate in the Ottawa Fringe Festival, but I am under no such restrictions now. That said, the 2013 lottery came and went and Ididn't applied. Why? Because I didn't want to produce this show in a stereotypical venue. Yes, I actually wanted to do a Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV).

What first attracted me to the show was the realism I found in the text. As an artist, these days my interests lie in creating a real sense of intimacy between the audience and the performer. My favorite kind of theatre is the kind that makes me feel like a fly on the wall which is why, since this play takes place in a kitchen, I always envisioned doing it in a REAL kitchen.

The past few months have just gone by in a blur of finding a venue, paying fees, getting rights, scheduling, union negotiations, getting a director and a fellow actor...

Which all brings me to today. Today I handed in my program information for the Ottawa Fringe Festival and I am ecstatic to finally let you in on what I am doing after all this time.

Ladies and gentlemen, coming to the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival:

Dolores by Edward Allan Baker Original translation by Nancy Kenny Directed by Tania Levy Featuring Nancy Kenny and Martine Roquebrune

Dolores by Edward Allan Baker Featuring Nancy Kenny & Martine Roquebrune Photo credit: Tania Levy

Venue: St Paul's Eastern United Church - Kitchen - 473 Cumberland St, Ottawa, ON Tickets: $10 - seating extremely limited

***************************************************** Ou bien en français:

Théâtre in situ de l’équipe acclamée de Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

Ayant finalement mérité une journée de répit, Sandra voit sa quiétude troublée par l’arrivée de sa sœur Dolores. Traduction originale de Nancy Kenny Mettant en vedette Nancy Kenny & Martine Roquebrune Mise en scène de Tania Levy


I have so much more that I want to say about this show, including options for all my anglo friends, so stay tuned to this blog for all the updates.

Are you excited yet? I know I am.

Cool People Doing Cool Things

Meet Jayson McDonald. I've mentioned him within these pages before, mostly as the producer of one of my very favorite little festivals - London's Big Comedy Go-To (coming up in an April near you!) But Jayson is also the creator of some of the most awesome Fringe shows I have ever seen (including one that I was so very proud to be a part of The Last Goddamned Performance Piece). The first McDonald show I saw was in Ottawa in 2008. It was called Boat Load and it just blew me away. In a previous post I said of it that "I never realized until then that one person could do so much on stage with so little and still tell a beautiful and compelling story."

I remember talking to everyone I knew at the Fringe Tent about Boat Load and how amazed I was by it, so much so that I think I saw it twice. The general response from people in the know was along the lines of "well of course it is, haven't you seen him in Robot?" Oh Giant Invisible Robot, how you have haunted me since then.

Giant Invisible Robot was Jayson McDonald's first solo Fringe show and it has always been an incredible success.  It had played at the Ottawa Fringe Festival the year prior and, somehow, I had missed it (if you can believe it, there was actually a time when I didn't see everything).  In 2009, I started my own touring adventures on the Fringe Circuit and Jayson became a good friend. He's produced Giant Invisible Robot multiple times to unbelievable success everywhere he's gone, but somehow I always missed it. I would never be in the same city at the same time. Robot became my Polkaroo. This went on for FOUR goddamn years. It got to the point where I was asking Jayson if I could just give him some money RIGHT NOW would he just do the show for me.

One person shows work that way, right? Unless they take place on roller skates, in which case I will tell you I am wearing the wrong pants and can't give you a personal performance of Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

I thought this trend was going to continue even after hearing that Giant Invisible Robot would be clearing a path of destruction all the way to the Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa, because, BLAST, I was going to be in Toronto. But then Fate intervened. It just so happened that I would have an audition in Ottawa on the very same day that Robot would be opening. Now, my plan was to attend the audition and then boogie back to TO in time to catch my roommate's opening night of Dying Hard because, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I love my uber talented roommate very much. When she caught wind of my plan and realized that I hadn't seen Robot yet ("What do you mean you still haven't seen it? How is that even possible?" - see my response above), she convinced me to stay in town to watch it. I'd be able to catch her show later on in the week anyway, but this could be my only chance to see Giant Invisible Robot. And, in her words, I just HAD to see this beautiful show.

And you know what? She was right. So right that I sent her flowers. The show is as worth it as everyone has told me it was.

Well, what are you waiting for Ottawa? I waited FOUR years to see Giant Invisible Robot, you shouldn't wait another minute. It's at the Gladstone Theatre until Saturday. And if you're feeling extra keen, stick around on Friday or Saturday night and catch another personal favorite of mine, Paul Hutcheson, in Third Time Lucky, right after Robot. That is one awesome night of theatre right there!

I'm Going to Need a New Dress

Last night, the nominees for the 5th Annual Les Prix Rideau Awards were announced and I couldn't be happier. My little Roller Derby Saved My Soul received FOUR nominations!  They are Outstanding Fringe Production, Outstanding New Creation, Emerging Artist for myself as playwright and Emerging Artist for my director, Tania Levy.  This is all for the production that took place at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this past June. I'm also really pleased that Evolution Theatre walked away with a whopping SEVEN nominations and that my director for the upcoming Mary Magdalene and Adventures in Sobriety, Andy Massingham is so well recognized.

To tell you the truth, I kind of expected the Fringe nod and I had hoped that Tania or I would get the Emerging artist nomination, but I never thought that both of us would, nor did I even expect the New Creation one.  I mean fer cryin out loud, I'm now nominated in the same category as PIERRE BRAULT. That, to me, is just unbelievable.

Maybe four or five years ago, I remember wanting to do a one-person show. I had a theme. Something about roller derby. That was about it.  I had no idea where to even begin, so I contacted the one person I knew who might.

"Hi Pierre, do you ever give workshops on creating a one-person show?"

"Not really, but if you have an idea you want to work on, we can meet for drinks and talk about it."

Now, at the time, I wasn't the NancyKennyRockStar you all know and love. More like NancyKennyRoadie. So contacting the man who created a show that blew me away so much I actually went back and paid for it twice was no small feat. And just like that we were going to have drinks? (Lesson learned: you can pretty much meet any local artist you want if you buy them drinks and maybe lunch... well, at least you can with me #hobokenny)

I still remember the very first thing he said to me when we met.

"Why? Why do you want to do this? Do you really feel the need to sleep on someone's couch in Saskatoon?"

Yes. Yes, I do.

We talked for about four pints and the rest, as they say, is history.


Pierre's advice was a big help in pushing me in the right direction for what was to become Roller Derby Saved My Soul so to even be nominated in this category with him? Whoa.

So much thanks to you, Pierre, my friend and colleague. As they say, it's an honour just to be nominated, but this one feels just a little bit sweeter.


Full list of nominees below:



For Immediate Release - Ottawa, February 27, 2012

Founded in 2006 to celebrate, encourage and promote French and English locally produced professional theatre work and its artists, the Prix Rideau Awards is proud to announce the nominees for 2011.  Artists and supporters gathered earlier at Le Petit Chicago, where the nominees for outstanding achievements in the year 2011 were unveiled.  During the 2011 calendar year, two teams of local arts professionals juried 36 English productions and 12 French productions. Nominations were submitted by secret ballot and tallied by independent accountants.

The Prix Rideau Awards will be handed out on Sunday, April 22, 2012, at the Shenkman Arts Centre, in Orleans.  Tickets are on sale now at


The nominees for English-language productions are:

Outstanding Production

Strawberries in January, Great Canadian Theatre Company

The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions

The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Twelfth Night, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School


Outstanding Direction

Joël Beddows, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre

David S. Craig, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Janet Irwin, Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School

Kevin Orr, Bifurcate Me, Theatre 4.669

Craig Walker, Twelfth Night, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival


Outstanding Performance, Female

Mary Ellis, Dreams of Whales, New Theatre of Ottawa

Annie Lefebvre, Under Milk Wood, Ottawa Theatre School

Rose Napoli, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Kate Smith, The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions

Beverley Wolfe, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre


Outstanding Performance, Male

Richard Gélinas, The 39 Steps, SevenThirty Productions

Andy Massingham, Exit the King, Third Wall Theatre

Andy Massingham, The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Andy Massingham, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre

John Muggleton, Speed-the-Plow, Plosive Productions


Outstanding Design

Martin Conboy, Lighting Design, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre

AL Connors, Sound Design, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre

Ivo Valentik, Set Design, Speed-the-Plow, Plosive Productions

Ivo Valentik, Set Design, A Midwinter’s Dream Tale, a Company of Fools

Sarah Waghorn, Set Design, Dreams of Whales, New Theatre of Ottawa


Outstanding New Creation

Tony Adams, Erin Lindsay and Cory Thibert, Sounds from the Turtle Shell, May Can Theatre

Lawrence Aronovitch, The Lavender Railroad, Evolution Theatre

Pierre Brault, The Shadow Cutter, Great Canadian Theatre Company / Sleeping Dog Theatre

Nancy Kenny, Roller Derby Saved My Soul, Broken Turtle Productions

Julie Le Gal, Andy Massingham and Kevin Orr, Bifurcate Me, Theatre 4.669


Outstanding Adaptation / Translation

A Company of Fools (Adaptation), A Midwinters’ Dream Tale, a Company of Fools

Henry Beissel (Adaptation), Antigone, Third Wall Theatre

David S. Craig (Adaptation), The Fan, Odyssey Theatre

Mishka Lavigne (Translation), Little Martyrs, Evolution Theatre

Charles McFarland (Adaptation), Hamlet 2011, Ottawa Shakespeare Company / Ottawa Theatre School


Outstanding Fringe Production

Glitch…, Ottawa Theatre School

Playing for Advantage, Black Sheep Theatre

Roller Derby Saved My Soul, Broken Turtle Productions

Sounds from the Turtle Shell, May Can Theatre

THE WALK, Moon Dog Theatre


Emerging Artist Award

Katie Bunting, Actor

Pierre Ducharme, Set Designer

Nancy Kenny, Playwright

Mishka Lavigne, Translator

Tania Levy, Director


The nominees for French-language productions are:

Production de l'année

Adieu Beauté, la comédie des horreurs, Théâtre Belvédère

Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

Taram, Théâtre du Trillium

Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre


Mise en scène de l'année

Caroline Yergeau, Adieu Beauté, la comédie des horreurs, Théâtre Belvédère

Joël Beddows, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Isabelle Bélisle, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

Pierre Antoine Lafon Simard, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium

Pier Rodier, Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre


Interprétation féminine de l'année

Geneviève Couture, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage,  Théâtre de l’Île

Jocelyne Zucco, Les Fridolinades, Théâtre la Catapulte /Théâtre français de Toronto

Lina Blais, Les Fridolinades, Théâtre la Catapulte / Théâtre français de Toronto

Marjolaine Beauchamp, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium

Micheline Marin, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium


Interprétation masculine de l'année

Nicolas Desfossés, Autopsies de biscuits chinois, Théâtre du Trillium / Théâtre Belvédère

Alain Doom, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Pierre Simpson, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Richard Bénard, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

John Doucet, Ti-Jean de partout, Cie Vox Théâtre


Conception de l'année

Geneviève Couture, costumes, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île

Brian Smith, décor, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Guillaume Houët, éclairages, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Julie Giroux, décor, Les Papillons de nuit, Théâtre de l’Île

Pierre-Luc Clément et Olivier Fairfield, environnement sonore, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium


Nouvelle création de l'année

Annie Cloutier, Antoine Côté Legault, Marie-Pierre Proulx, Autopsies de biscuits chinois, Théâtre du Trillium / Théâtre Belvédère

Diane Bouchard, Dragon glouton, Gestes théâtre

Michel Ouellette, adapté par Joël Beddows et Marie Claude Dicaire, Frères d’hiver, Théâtre la Catapulte

Philippe Landry, Retour à Pripyat, Théâtre de Dehors

Marjolaine Beauchamp, Taram, Théâtre du Trillium


Prix artiste en émergence

Marjolaine Beauchamp, dramaturgie

Mary-Eve Fortier, interprétation

Lisa L’Heureux, direction de production

Frédérique Thérien, interpréation

Caroline Yergeau, mise en scène et interprétation


Derrière le Rideau Award

Mathieu Charette, régie, Feu la mère de madame et Un bain de ménage, Théâtre de l’Île

Julie Grethen, régie, Les Étoiles d’Angus, Théâtre de l’Île

Lisa L’Heureux, direction de production, Les Papillons de nuit, Théâtre de l’Île



For general information:               Source:

Les Prix Rideau Awards              Élise Gauthier, Communications Coordinator

C.P. 1087, Station B         

Ottawa (Ontario), K1P 5R1