Roller Derby Saved My Soul

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!

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...