Saskatoon Fringe Festival

A Few of my Favourite Things

Was I really just in Calgary? I'm writing this on the bus, on my way to my first day on set for the feature film House at the End of the Street, and it all just feels like a blur. Especially after two days of catching up on Lost - Season 3 (What do you mean "We have to go back"?!?! - rhetorical question - please no spoilers!) But, it did happen, and it was wonderful!

The Calgary Fringe was just grand.  I don't think I know of a single performer who had any major complaints.  And catching up on my friend Amy's blog about her Saskatoon Fringe Adventures, I really don't feel like I'm missing out (no beer gardens or place for performers to hang out?  Tsk tsk, Saskatoon!)

My only issue with the entire Fringe didn't have anything to do with the  festival, but rather the neighbourhood it was located in: It was impossible to get any food after 11 pm.

That said, there were so many other amazing things, including really responsive patrons, wicked cool volunteers, a Fringe Festival app for your smartphone, two reviews for almost every performance, and an executive director that gives hugs instead of handshakes and, well, you can be sure that I already want to go back next year!

And if/when I do, here are a few things I want to remember for the future:

Best Coffee - Wildernest Dream Cafe - you get your coffee in an individualized French press with a little timer - the place also includes free WiFi

Best Food (Quality & Price) - Eat Eat - my personal fave is the homemade buffalo chicken burger - also includes free WiFi

Best Place to Hang Out: The Fringe Club - enjoy some late night cabaret performances at The Stroke! - oh and more free WiFi

Best Beer - Wild Rose Raspberry Ale - it gives the Apricot Wheat Beer in Ottawa a run for it's money

Best Bike/Running Path - all along the river near the festival site - go north instead of south

If you were in Calgary for the Festival, what are some of your favourite things?


I've never been a big fan of ultimatums. Not in relationships, in work or in life in general. They're just so... final. As you may know, I've been working on a one woman roller derby show that I would like to tour cross-country next year on the Canadian Fringe Festival Circuit. Applications to the majority of festivals is by lottery. To make touring a tad easier on the performer, an organization called the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals holds their own lottery every fall for the chance to participate in every festival of your choosing. You may or may not get in, but if you do, your entire touring schedule is now secured for the summer, months ahead of most local lottery deadlines.

The only hick? You need to have the cash for every single festival you want to apply to upfront. In my case, a potential 7 city tour, that comes up to almost $5000. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of money lying around (and if you do have that kind of money lying around, we should talk!). If I did, I wouldn't have been emptying out my cupboards of all canned goods since I've come back from China because my bills need paying and groceries seem to be a luxury at the moment.

So, I did the only thing a starving artist can do: I called my mom.

My mom was somewhat open to the idea. After all, I did get a grant from the City of Ottawa to write this piece. I talked to her about the lottery and how if I did not get in there would be no charges on her part. I would then apply individually to the various festivals and try my luck there. And of course she would be getting her money back by the end of the summer once my tour is done. However, my mom may have misunderstood my initial request. She seemed to think all I needed for the tour was $5000. After reviewing my budget plan, which brings expenses closer to the $20,000 mark, she did what all good moms would do. She kinda freaked.

And that's when the ultimatum reared it's ugly head. I've got until March to make this work. March is approximately when you can drop out of most festivals without incurring too much of a penalty.

I'm waiting to hear if I've received some grants that I've already applied for in December and there are new deadlines for other funding opportunities as well, but I'm scared. There is so much in this that involves chance and I've never really been that lucky before. This project means so much to me, but will it sell? Audiences across Canada are fickle. If I knew what they wanted, I'd be the greatest publicist on earth. But I don't know. All I can do is go about on blind faith (with a strong dash of hard work) and pray that it all pays off. My mother does not doubt that a Fringe tour would be a wonderful, soul-fulfilling experience. She just does not want me to go into a 5-digit debt load to accomplish that.

I guess there's no use in worrying about this right now. With my lotto luck, I may not get into a single festival next summer.

Nancy's MUST SEE List at the Edmonton Fringe

I will not be at the Edmonton Fringe Festival this year. My journey with No Exit Upstage ended in Winnipeg. That said, since my most popular blog posts of late have been for my MUST SEE LISTS in both Ottawa and Winnipeg and since I have many friends who will be performing at the festival, I thought it would be a good idea for me to throw a plug their way. Since this is suppose to be the largest festival in Canada (we'll know by the end of the run if Winnipeg beat them or not) and I've seen way more shows on tour than I thought I would, my list shall be a tad bigger than the one for Winnipeg. My requirements for this list? That I saw the show and I liked it. Trust me, you can't go wrong if you see anything on this list.

So without further ado, in alphabetical order, Nancy's MUST SEE list at the Edmonton Fringe:

Boat Load I've plugged Jayson McDonald's shows before and I will do it again. Boat Load was my favorite show at the Ottawa Fringe last year. The guy is an amazing writer and performer and this show is the best showcase for all his talent. Do yourself a favour and see it in Edmonton.

CHAOTICA A cool show which turns one woman's life into a board game. Worth it for the tap dance number alone!

Fruitcake Rob Gee has an amazing show that's part spoken word performance and part therapy. The whole thing is hilarious and culminates with a little song and dance that you just won't be able to get out of your head for at least three days. I wonder if the voice of God will still be there? Someone let me know!

Grandpa Sol and Grandma Rosie Saw this touching piece in Ottawa and I hear it's gone through some positive modifications throughout the run. The puppetry work is excellent and Lana gives an incredibly charming performance.

GRIMMER THAN GRIMM To be fair, I saw this show on a special fundraiser night and they allowed, nay encouraged us, to drink throughout anytime someone got maimed or murdered. Drinking games exponentially increase my enjoyment of a show. Who knows, maybe they will serve drinks here too?

Inviting Desire DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW. It's incredibly hot and sexy, but also very beautiful and touching. Hands down my favorite show at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival this year.

Little White Lies My girl, Amy Lester, representing for Ottawa. She had some trouble in Winnipeg which is a shame since she has a decent show that's worth seeing. Most of all, I want her to do well because I absolutely admire her strength and bravery. How many 19 year olds do you know who have the guts to tour a one person show across the country on their own? Oops, sorry Amy! I meant to say almost 21 ;)

More Bange For Your Buck Magic, mystery, and a little Back to the Future thrown in for good measure. Tell Rocky the Raccoon I said hi!

murder, hope A stunning and captivating show by the multi-talented Becky Poole. I love non-linear theatre when it's done well and this show is done VERY well. This is exactly the kind of risky show Fringe Festivals should be all about.

Reflections On Giving Birth To A Squid I saw this show in Winnipeg on a whim without knowing anything about it or anyone in the cast and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This was a very original show with an interesting concept that never got too hockey or sentimental. I believe this was due to some very strong acting from the lead actress whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. In the spirit of Fringe, take a chance on this show.

Spiral Dive: Episodes One AND Two I was lucky. I got to see both these shows mere weeks apart and therefore got to properly indulge in this slice of epic theatre. The people in Edmonton are even luckier. You are actually able to sit and watch both shows in a row! My only disappointment? Episode Three won't be out for another year.

The Seven Lives of Louis Riel Natasha's absolutely favorite show at the Winnipeg Fringe. More fun than educational!

Unfortunately, this is a list of shows I've seen. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't some other good stuff out there too!

Honorable Mentions: Circumference Though I haven't seen Circumference, I have seen Amy perform before and she is incredibly funny and engaging. I've also heard really great things about this piece, so I did not want to leave it out in the cold.

G-MEN DEFECTIVES Placed in this category since I never got a chance to see it when it was originally performed in Ottawa with a different actor. But how could I not plug the hometown team? Ray and Sterling are two very fun guys and I heard they did incredibly well on the first leg of their tour in Saskatoon. pornStar I didn't get to see this show because it sold out in Ottawa. However, Anne Wyman (Why, man?) was my stage manager in Winnipeg and I had the pleasure of watching her shine in Jayson McDonald's The Last Goddamned Performance Piece in Winnipeg. She is absolutely beautiful. Also, the show is called pornStar. What more do you want?

The Domino Heart I saw a solid non-fringe production of this show in Ottawa a few years ago. I don't know anything about this current incarnation, but I did like the script.

Totem Figures Though I've never seen the show, TJ Dawe's podcast of the play helped me get through some tough times in Winnipeg.

Who's Afraid of Tippi Seagram? Though she never knew it, Colette Kendall was definitely my Fringe Crush in Winnipeg. I really enjoyed The Cockwhisperer (and the fact that my iphone recognized the word as I was trying to tweet it). I love it when she drops F Bombs.