Winnipeg Fringe Festival

Night and Day - Thank you, Winnipeg!


My first experience at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2009 was... not great. I did learn a whole bunch from it, but it took me much longer than a year to come back. In fact, after that particular Fringe experience, though I left things on a positive note, I was burnt and stopped writing for well over a year. It wasn't until late 2010 when I picked up what would eventually become Roller Derby Saved My Soul. So it was with some trepidation that I found myself back in Winnipeg. Yes, RDSMS had been doing very well all over the place, but once bitten, twice shy. Though I had gotten a great 4 star review from CBC Manitoba upon my arrival (they had reviewed the show in Toronto), the 3.5 stars from the Winnipeg Free Press (they reviewed the show in Montreal) did not inspire confidence. And so, I hit the ground running or flyering as the case may be. Actually, the interesting thing about going through my old blog posts in Winnipeg meant that I came across this one that includes some valuable tips about flyering a line-up. Tips that I realize I still use today.

My first show? Sold out in minutes.


I was shocked. 1:45 p.m. on a Friday? Really?

Still. I kept flyering. Connecting. Letting people know, one on one, about my show.

And then, about midway through the week, I found out that I had won "Patron's Pick" for my venue, which meant I would get an extra performance on the last day of the festival. I celebrated with more flyering. In fact, I was still flyering well into the last weekend of the Fringe, when other performers had long since stopped and told me there was no need to do so since my run was "selling out".

The thing is, unless I know for a fact that all my tickets are sold out, I will not stop. And since most festivals keep a certain percentage of tickets available at the door and my advance tickets were never sold out, I saw no reason to stop. Obsessive? Yes. But deep down, I was still that girl from 5 years ago...

Looking back on it all now, I am grateful for both of my experiences. Not that I wish a similar experience on anyone, but I don't think I would appreciate my success in Winnipeg as much if I hadn't bombed so hard the first time around.

So thank you, Winnipeg Fringe. Let's do this again sometime.

What Happens Now?

here's hopingCreative Commons License Robert S. Donovan via Compfight

Most of the major Fringe Festival lotteries have come and gone and, after applying to Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton, I find myself only accepted into Edmonton. Now, don't get me wrong, I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this festival, but it does put a bit of a chink in my summer touring plans for Roller Derby Saved My Soul. I'm also a little nervous about showing up in Edmonton without any kind of advance summer press or reviews.

So what happens now?

Well, while there are still a few Fringe festivals I could apply for - currently debating between Victoria and the Atlantic Fringes; Victoria because it's close to Edmonton and doesn't overlap next year, and the Atlantic Fringe because it brings me closer to home - I've now been setting my sights on festivals and organizations outside the Fringe circuit.

I've got my own list going, and a few applications already in the mail, but this is a fairly new phenomenon for me, so if you have any thoughts or ideas please feel free to share them in the comment section.

We're Going to Edmonton!

Both the Edmonton & Toronto Fringe lotteries were held last night. I didn't get in to Toronto. In fact, much like that time I applied for Edmonton in 2008, I wasn't even selected for the wait-list. With 334 applications and only 53 spots for the Ontario 60 minute slots, the odds, as they say, were ever not in my favour. But Edmonton! Oh Edmonton! How you've decided to be good to me this year! Broken Turtle Productions' Roller Derby Saved My Soul was drawn 6th for the National list.

Getting into Edmonton means that I will definitely be applying for Winnipeg & Calgary Fringes now. Even if I don't get into those other two, Edmonton, who prides itself as the oldest, biggest, baddest Fringe on the Canadian circuit is still a totally viable one-off opportunity.

I've never participated in the Edmonton Fringe before and I can't help feeling a little scared about it all (see: oldest, biggest baddest Fringe comment). I just assume that their audience are these super Fringe connoisseurs who, unlike my über-connoisseur Fringe pal The Visitorium, won't be as enamored by my little show on roller skates. In my head they all wear monocles, look like the Monopoly guy & will tut tut at my Buffy the Vampire Slayer references. ("Do Edmontonians even know what comic books are?" says the girl from the Maritimes.)

The English Gentleman

Monocle via Compfight

Of course, deep down I know this is silly talk. After all, Edmonton is home to the deliciously named E-Ville Roller Derby League, as well as the Oil City Derby Girls, so you know there will be good company.

(Sidebar - True story for those who've seen the show: back when RDSMS was just an idea in the back of my head, I attended a Roller Derby boot camp in Red Deer, AB. Met a lot of cool cats from the prairies, including a lady with a sword tattooed on her chest. I really did tell her I didn't mean to stare at her boobs and she really did say "If I didn't want people to stare, I wouldn't have gotten one there.")


Paolo Marconi via Compfight

So, all in all, I am very excited for what's in store with #RDSMS. Fingers crossed that more festivals will be coming up as well!

Still Think You're Funny?

It seems like ages now that I was at the Big Comedy Go-To in London (ON). I've been wanting to write a wrap up of the event but I dove right into a school tour with A Company of Fools (which just ended today and is the topic of another blog post) and simply did not have the time. If you want to catch up, you can read all about my first day at the festival here.

That Saturday I slept in for the first time in what felt like ages (even more so now that I've been getting up at 5:30-6 am because of the school shows). Something like 10 or 11. It was bliss. The friend I was staying with had left to go teach an improv class, so I went through my morning routine, grabbed some coffee he was kind enough to have made before heading out, wrote my blog post, and went out for some food.

At 4 pm, I was the first one in line for a panel discussion with many of the performers on what it's like to do what they do. I was so ahead of the pack that I actually helped with the chair set up.

I really enjoyed the panel and I'm glad it's become a regular occurrence at the festival. I don't know how non-artistic people find it, but for me, it makes me feel like I'm not alone. It makes me realize that even the amazing, wonderful, talented people out there who do all this super cool and funny stuff have the same doubts and fears and small bank accounts I do. I had taken some really great notes of this discussion, but unfortunately since my phone was stolen (I've now had it returned, minus the SIM card and everything saved on it), I've lost everything I had jotted down.


Just know that I found it all very inspiring. And I still adore Paul Hutcheson.

I then had dinner with Uncalled For and friends before attending their production of This Is All Your Birthdays. As I said in my last Go-To blog post, I had seen this show previously at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, where it had (justifiably so) won the award for Best Ensemble. When I saw it, there were four guys performing it. This time there were three. And some scenes had changed. It was well worth seeing again. These guys can do no wrong.

That was followed up by some cool sketch comedy from many people I had never met before and then some Improv with Sex T-Rex, Fully Insured, and more Uncalled For.

And then, the big one: The Improv Cage Match hosted by Mikaela Dyke (who I only realized later was in Reflections on Giving Birth to a Squid, which I saw in Winnipeg at the Fringe and is the one who I reviewed with "very strong acting from the lead actress whose name I have unfortunately forgotten" - Glad to know I've now corrected that oversight). The Cage Match (which unfortunately was falsely advertised as I never saw a cage) took almost every performer from the evening, threw them into groups that had never worked together before, and had them compete improv style for the publics affection or elimination. The winning team would walk away with 2 pounds of gummy bears. Oh and honour or something, but really we just all wanted the gummy bears. Yes, I did say "we". Mikeala asked me earlier in the day if I would participate. Since I am crazy, I said yes.

How it all worked: 4 teams all do some short form. At the end, the public votes for the best teams. Top 1 & 2 move ahead. Teams 3 and 4 then compete and the audience decides who stays. I got put into a great group, but our improvs definitely weren't the strongest. We'd always end up in an elimination round, but somehow, thanks to some strong people, we'd end up on top.

We got second place! And gummy bears were shared all around.

I had to leave super early the next day (or more accurately, later that morning) since I had rehearsal in Ottawa in the afternoon. That said, the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, the new friends I've made (including a performer I will be potentially billeting throughout the Ottawa Fringe), the new skills I've discovered I have as a performer, and, of course, the great shows and the passion that goes into creating this festival makes it something that I will probably be supporting for the years to come. You should too.

Oh and if the festival organizer is reading this: next year, more Elvis please!

That's a First

If a blog post gets published on the internet and nobody is there to read it, did it really happen? You're reading this right? I mean, I know you're reading this because I've got those nifty little wordpress stats that tell me you are reading this. In fact, in the past two weeks, an extra 50% of you have been reading what I have to say (unless that just comes from the Adorkable Thespian getting an itchy mouse finger with no sexual outlet in sight...)

I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for the discussion my recent posts have been creating. You guys don't comment on my posts very often and so it's not hard to believe that what I say just goes out into some sort of void. Especially when I see my friend's blogs... Yup, I've got comment envy.

Anyway, most of you seem to have been really keen on my recent posts, especially the one on The Value of Me. Rebecca Coleman (her again?) sent me a really great post she wrote a few years ago on putting value on your work (originally for The Next Stage Magazine - another great blog you should be reading!), which I had completely forgotten about.

However, what really amazed me with that post was that another blogger actually picked it up and used it as inspiration for their own writing. Whoa. That's a first.

Michael Di Lauro uses words like "thought-provoking" and "evocatively," and said I speak "plainly and concisely."


That sounds so very very different from the stuff I heard about my writing at a certain Fringe Festival that shall remain nameless (though still linked for good measure).

I thought I was over that. I thought I was optimistically over that. But I haven't been. I've been very bad at working on a new script and I realize now that this was the main reason why. I've been letting the meanies, the bullies, the critics, and all the people who "mean well" win. And I convinced myself that that's all that was out there.

It didn't hit me until I read Michael's post how much I love writing and how I continued to do it from the safety mind zone of thinking no one was reading. Now that I know people are and I know that it actually inspires, entertains, heck maybe helps them in some way, well, I want to do it even more. Critics be damned!

So thank you, dear readers, I'm glad you are sticking around. Just don't be afraid to say "Hi!" every now and then, m'kay?

Just Like Opening Night, Only Cheaper

In an awesome post giving us a glimpse of the behind the scenes adventures of the National Arts Centre's Resident Acting Company's production of Mother Courage, local muckraker Kris Joseph declares: This is a week when I must remind myself that there is a difference between a preview performance (which is still a rehearsal) and an actual performance; and even though we will have members of the public watching us work as of Tuesday, we don’t actually open until Friday. Our preview audiences will, I expect, get a few glimpses of the foundation as we put the finishing touches on the walls.

It's true. When a show has never before been seen in front of an audience, it needs those previews to find its legs. It's not uncommon in New York for a new show to be in previews for a month before its official opening night. That's because the audience is the last key component to any performance. The audience response will affect everything from timing to actor reactions to, sometimes, entire sections of the script.

But what happens when a show has been on tour for years?

BASH'd: A Gay Rap Opera goes into previews tonight and tomorrow at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. It was written by Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow with music by Aaron Macri.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris (can't believe I know someone in the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia) at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival this past year (we were billet neighbours), but Ottawa audiences might remember his writing from the sold out one-woman show, PornStar (and if Brian Carroll is reading this, he will probably have a list of other shows that have also been seen in town).

BASH'd toured the Fringe Festival Circuit in 2007 before being picked up for an off-Broadway (yes, THAT Broadway) run in 2008. Recently, it was seen in Toronto at Theatre Passe-Muraille and it held its dress rehearsal at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre on Sunday. Overheard by one of the guests in attendance at the dress rehearsal: "This is probably the most polished dress I have ever seen on the GCTC stage."

As I said, BASH'd goes into previews tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and these guys are ready to go! So, dear readers, as a special public service announcement to you (and as a part of my promotion work at the GCTC), I'm letting you know that you can see the full production of BASH'd at rates that are heavily reduced from the regular run because, well, that's how things are scheduled.

In addition, I just found out that the theatre has implemented a new Rush Ticket policy for every performance. As of noon (NOON!) on show day, you can contact the Box Office for your Rush Tickets which are $10 for students and $20 for adults.

Since it's about 1 p.m., you could get ridiculously cheap tickets for an amazing performance right now! Call 613-236-5196 to reserve your spot.

I'll be seeing you at the Theatre!

*Side note: I wonder if my blog stats will go up now that I have PornStar in the tags?

Stats, Stats, Stats

I've been inspired by Mr. Sterling Lynch's recent post on his blog's traffic numbers (and absolutely fascinated as well!). He was right: I do find it useful to compare his traffic numbers to mine. After some investigation, I've realized that I'm doing pretty well. Therefore, in the spirit of sharing, I've also decided to publish my blog stats to all of you in the hopes that it might be useful to someone else. I currently don't have any other statistic program running on my site and so my statistics all come directly from Wordpress.

Since 29/08/08 I have had 11, 769 visits to this site. Now, this number is relatively small compared to Sterling's, but that's because I wasn't really all that active on my blog until about March 2008, which is when I started pushing it more by linking the notes to my Facebook account and updates. My individual site visits hit over the 1000 mark in June. In fact my busiest months have been June 2009 - 1,880 and July 2009 - 2,152. This makes sense for a few reasons. First of all, it was around this time that I started using Twitter to promote my blog. It was also during the Ottawa and Winnipeg Fringe Festivals, where I was writing practically everyday and was getting tons of pingback links through their sites. My busiest day was 22/06/09 with 206 visits - right smack in the middle of the Ottawa Fringe Festival.

Not counting this one, I have 117 posts and 235 comments. I don't respond to every comment like Sterling does, so this number is actually pretty close to reality. That said, because he replies to the comments on his site, Sterling encourages discussion, which then brings in more comments and more page views. I can learn from that.

Search engine terms to find my blog usually have to do with some variation of my name or the blog title. Though I was interested to see that a lot of people found me by searching for "Countries Shaped Like Stars" (which sends you to my review of the show) and "Gladstone Theatre Ottawa" (which puzzled me because I went through 5 Google search pages and found nothing about this blog). What terms a person used to find my site is a great source of enjoyment for me. You can find some real gems there including: "hairpulling catfight", "so", "la in me love you long time 9" (not making that one up), "vehicle registration plates in manitoba", and "im struggling upcoming artist?"

Visitors have been referred to my site mostly through Facebook, Twitter and a link from my old blog incarnation. The rest come from something called Alpha Inventions (which I haven't fully figured out) and my friend's blogs. In order of popularity, I get most of my friendly traffic from the Adorkable Thespian, The Many Faces of Wayne, The Ottawa Arts Newsletter, Reverberations, and finally Movement (Welcome to the party, Sterling. Nadine, I owe you a drink.)

Finally, my top 5 most popular posts and pages are as follows:

Nancy's Must See List at the Winnipeg Fringe - 428 Upcoming Appearances - 396 About Nancy - 386 Nancy's Must See List at the Ottawa Fringe - 373 In Loving Memory of my Friend - 161

I'm not surprised by these numbers and they do corroborate Sterling's theory that "When people like a blog post, they often want to know more about the person writing the blog post." I encourage you to read the rest of his theory on the effectiveness of social media tools with regards to personal interactions with the writer. I pretty much completely agree with him on that point.

All in all, this has been a very interesting exercise. Based on the information collected, I'm quite certain that I have approximately 35 to 40 regular readers who check my site everyday for new stuff. When I write a new post, that number easily doubles or even triples.

I'd like to think that this readership also translates into my business world (attendance at shows, networking opportunities, ect.) but I have no way of verifying that information.

So, thank you dear readers, I definitely would not be here on the interwebs without you.


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.

No Absolutes - The Life of the Artist

I have some news. I've been avoiding posting this news because I didn't want to overshadow Evolution Theatre's production of Arabian Night. However, since that show is going into it's second week and the wonderful reviews are now pouring in (more on that soon!), I figured it might be a good time to make my announcement. I've finally been cast, after a year of nothing, in a professional theatrical production! Are you doing a happy dance for me? I know I did.

The play is called Shining City. It's directed by John P Kelly (who was just recently nominated for a Capital Critic's Circle Award) and will be taking place at the Arts Court Theatre from November 17 to 28.

On its own, this is a pretty big deal for me, but this is only a preface to what I want to talk about here.

You see, I was also asked by the production company to do the publicity work for the show (which reminds me, I should probably update the website...). Though I find the part I will be playing to be incredibly challenging, it is a relatively small role and I would therefore have the time to dedicate to this side venture. Besides, who would be better at promoting a show than someone who has a vested interest in it's success?

A while back, I had decided that I no longer wanted to handle marketing a show I was performing in. I found it to quite often be a headache and a hassle. I knew when reviewers were in the audience and, when ticket sales were low, I took it to mean I was not doing a good job. This in turn was awkward and affected my work as a performer.

Recently, however, I've come to realize that it's my own insecurity and not my ability to do my work that's the problem. I didn't believe in myself as an actor (and, in the case of Fringe, as a writer) enough. If I didn't fully believe that people should see me in a show, why should I be surprised when they don't?

It was also a form of laziness on my part or, better yet, a sense of entitlement; the 'I just want to be an actor' factor. To be perfectly honest, I don't want to 'just be an actor.' How boring is that? I want to be a creator, an innovator, an artist. I believe that a true artist is one who is well-rounded and well-versed in all aspects of his art. And yes, even the business side can be an art.

The best example I can think of involve the myriad of people I met on the Fringe Festival circuit. No one there does just one task. Everyone works their fingers to the absolute bone and then spends their nights chilling out, enjoying the fruits of their labour. It's beautiful. It's amazing. It's inspiring. It's exactly where I want to be.

My name is Nancy Kenny and I'm an artist.

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.


Withdrawal (Part Deux)

When you avoid dealing with your current situation, when you try to push it off until later, when you just won't see what's right in front of your eyes, it always comes back to haunt you with a vengeance. Exactly one month ago, I talked about actor withdrawal. I mentioned that one way some people deal with the "Withdrawal Effect" is by immediately jumping into another project. I decided to use this tactic now that the Winnipeg Fringe Festival has come to a close.

As soon, as I came back from the Peg, I had an audition lined-up, rehearsals for Birth (which goes up in less than two weeks), background work on a local film set, grant applications, plays to watch and a few classes to take. I was going to keep busy, I was not going to go into withdrawal.

Unfortunately, my body disagreed with me. It heartily believes that I need to go through this.

I woke up this morning feeling like shit. I'm sun burnt, bug-bitten, breaking out, and tired. My nose is stuffed up, my eyes are runny, and my throat hurts. I'm coughing, sneezing, and generally feel achy all over. I was going to avoid it some more because I had a very full day ahead of me but, piece by piece, things got either canceled or postponed.

The Universe is trying to tell me something along the lines of: "Hey Nancy! Chill. Relax. Chillax even. Sit down and grieve the fact that your amazing, awesome, stupendous adventure is over. If you do this for me, I promise you, the next one will be even better. But if you don't, then I'll just make you sick. Some more. Love always, The Universe."

Easy choice, no?

Nowhere But Up (or Bathroom Wall Wisdom)

I've been home for almost two days now and it's taken me a little while to put my thoughts together enough to recap my Winnipeg Adventure.  It seems like such a whirlwind went by and yet, at the same time, I almost felt like we'd been there forever.  I miss it already and a part of me wishes I was in Saskatoon right now, but this is not "the" show.  This was the learning experience. Producing my own fringe show was something else entirely.  All in all, I probably spent as much money on this show as I would have on one year of university tuition.  I can absolutely guarantee you that I worked harder and learned way more out in the field than I ever did striving for a piece of paper with a couple letters attached to it.  I found strength I didn't realize I had, I made friendships that I know will last, and I gained incredible insight about myself as a person and as an artist.  Plus, I noticed that I also have a pretty wicked sense of humour.

Recently, an absolutely beautiful lady said to me that I am the most optomistic person she knows.  At first, I didn't exactly believe her.  Afterall, anyone who knows me intimately knows that I am incredibly moody and swing from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other multiple times on a daily basis.  However, after thinking about it, that doesn't mean I'm not optimistic.

I probably had the most poorly reviewed show at the Winnipeg Fringe (which I've masochistically now linked here in their entirety for your viewing pleasure):

1 Star from CBC Manitoba

1 Star from the Winnipeg Sun

2 Stars from the Winnipeg Free Press (with a nice comment about my performance, but she spoils the ending of the play...)

1 Star from Ignite 107


D+ from Uptown Magazine (scroll all the way to the bottom and wow D+ isn't even a passing grade!)

Personally, I don't think anyone would blame me if I came home licking my wounds, pulling my hair out at my bank balance, moping around for a bit, ect.  But I really don't feel that way.  In fact, if anything, these reviews now give me something to work on.  When the Ottawa Fringe Festival ended, I knew that there were things about this show that I wanted to fix, but I couldn't figure out what.  Though I believe a lot of what was said about my show was bullshit, there were some parts that rang true and now I know where I need to go.  If anything (and this is going to sound a little sick), Ottawa was too nice to me.

As we packed up the set on our last day there, I took a look around the washroom in our venue.  The walls are covered in various forms of graffiti which I typically barely acknowledged, but this one caught my eye:

& if i didn't fall down if i didn't if i didn't i wouldn't know how to get back up.

So, I fell off the ladder in Winnipeg and hit every rung on the way down before smashing into the ground below.  That's ok though, because I've got nowhere else to go now but up.

See you next year, Winnipeg.

Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride

By Tuesday night, we were feeling pretty down and out.  Natasha was kinda sick (both home and physical) and even I, the energizer bunny that I am, needed to recharge.  Say what you will, but no amount of positive outlook can make it any less draining to play to an average of 10 people a night.  So, we took a break and spent most of Wednesday at our billet's home before the show.  Then we hung around for the Secret Midnight Cabaret (which you can read all about here). By Thursday, we had the energy to keep going and it showed.  Last night was our biggest house of the week (Woo 24!) and today I got a call from someone at Radio-Canada to do a TV interview.

Three more shows to go!

For Brian - The Twitter Experience

Every year, during the Winnipeg Fringe, a Super (not so) Secret Midnight Cabaret is held in the King's Head Pub as a fundraiser for the festival volunteers, the Jenny Revue, and a local charity.  This year's cabaret was titled Archy Bluetooth's Seven Magic Moving Lustnuts, After Jake Lilliput's 52 Sorry Little Fruitpips And Accidentally Murder Lavignia Orwell's Grim Fallflop Jabberanza, Again. If you know your Winnipeg Fringe, you can guess which festival performers will be involved by the title of the show.  People were lining up for tickets to this event at least three hours before they went on sale (which was about an hour and a half befre the show even started). It was nuts. It was also the most creative and entertaining show I've seen all year.  If you're ever in town for the Winnipeg Fringe, you do not want to miss this event.  Oh, and don't forget to bring a flashlight. Also every year, a certain gentleman and his wife come from Ottawa to Winnipeg to attend the entire festival.  They've been doing this for what seems like ages and this is the first time they couldn't be here.  They are both incredibly supportive of the Fringe (in Ottawa, Winnipeg, and elsewhere, I'm sure) and have been a tremendous help to me in my journey.  Therefore, as a thank you, here is my live tweet of the cabaret, including pictures, for Brian and his wife.


For @BrianMCarroll: I shall live tweet the super secret midnight cabaret tonight #winnipegfringe

Performers have gone up. Cabaret starts soon!

I'm Nancy Kenny. I don't wait in line.

Place is packing in. Feel like Elaine saving seats.

Welcome to the cabaret ol' chum! A packed house:

Sold Out!

We're starting! Flashlights out! There's an iPhone app for that.

Up first: Sound & Fury

Sound & Fury have an hommage to Fringe Crushes with a song Everybody Wants to Fuck Our Girlfriends

Amy Lester doing a jem rolls poem:

She's wearing my boots! It's almost like being in the show!

Becky from murder hope plays the saw while Pipa girl and Jono Katz dance!

Oh Rob Gee dancing too

And now the real jem rolls stands up!

Celeste is looking hawt tonight!

Chris Bange - flamenco music, a vest and magic rings. What more can I say?

Gemma Wilcox doing a stellar one woman piece.

Andrew from Putz doing a bit about being a sidekick to She-Ra, Princess of Power.

Julia from Jake's Gift and Candy from Afterlife are next. (ed. note I later found out this was a 1 minute play Julia wrote for a CBC competition, which she won!)

Now for some cello music!

Amazing! Cello, breakdancing, performance poetry and beatboxing all rolled into one giant artgasm! Greatest. Night. Evah.

And with that slam dunk, intermission is earned.

Oh here's She-Ra and her sidekick:

You should have seen him in a mustache and blue tights.

Amy Lester in my boots = hawt!

These boots were made for walking.

Everyone is making sure I'm well "hydrated"

Aaaaaaand we're back! CRUMBS seems to be having technical difficulties

CRUMBS on a date

And now for a song

Jono Katz saves the day with a new microphone for our singer in mid-song.

Lana Schwartz is hungry for Chris Gibbs

More Rob Gee is always a good thing.

Help writing your life story is here with One Man Showman!

If you want a successful one man show, one word: Africa

Kinda confused by the haikus...

Jeff Culbert & Jayson McDonald on touring.

Be the Captain of your own Destiny

Killing ppl on the waiting list to make sure you get into a festival. McDonald makes sure they all have accidents.

Ryan, Jonny P & Tara in not Lavignia, but Lavagina

You know, it's not a real event unless silly string shoots out of a fake plastic penis... Not once but twice!

Chris Gibbs and a sexy hairy chest talks about Desire. And everyone is back for a closing number.

And that's it for my first secret midnight cabaret at #winnipegfringe!

Flyer Her? I Hardly Even Know Her!

Since I can't count on the reviews to help bring in the crowds, I am left with two options: flyers and word of mouth.  Now, word of mouth requires having an initial audience to see your show and spreading the word around. When we arrived in Winnipeg, we tried to set up a volunteer appreciation show.  I would have loved to have one early on in order to fill the venue, but unfortunately all they had left was this coming Friday (which, don't get me wrong, is fine because the volunteers need to be appreciated; I just wish it would have been earlier). So, that leaves us with the flyers.

The often undisputed "God" of the Fringe, TJ Dawe wrote a one man show entitled Totem Figures, which he toured on the circuit last year.  I didn't get to see it when it was in Ottawa, but someone was kind enough to point me to a podcast of the piece.  Part 2 has a really great bit about touring the Fringe for the first time and the gruelling task of promoting your show through flyers.  A big thank you to the friend who forwarded this to me.  I find hope in it.

Flyering is an art form in and of itself.  Some veteran performers have mastered the art of the quick pitch.  For example, jem rolls can be heard saying: "I'm British and say things that make you laugh." Wham, bam, thank you, mam.  Others have reviews they can push.  Gemma Wilcox got a double-whammy this year and can simply throw a "5 Stars from the CBC and the Winnipeg Free Press" out with her flyers.

For me, it's a little more difficult.  First of all, no one knows me here, so I am not a familiar face.  Second, my show can't really be summarized in ten words or less (Hell, I had trouble coming up with 60). Third, I don't have a star rating I particularly want to throw out there. And finally, I've never done this before.

So, I sought out professional help.  And who's more professional that a former psych nurse? The affable Rob Gee had these tips for me:

  • Don't flyer people coming out of a show.  They are probably in a rush to go somewhere or still digesting what they just saw.  You will not have time to speak to them and will basically waste a flyer.
  • Do flyer people waiting in lines.  They have nothing better to do than listen to you.
  • Have at least three variations of your pitch so that the people at the back of the line hear something different from the people in front of them.
  • Take a break every once in a while.  Remember, your priority is to your show.  Don't burn yourself out with flyers.

Other good pieces of advice that I picked up:  know which page in the program your show is on, wear sensible shoes, plan which lineups you will attack ahead of time.

My pitch usually turns into a long conversation.  At first I felt guilty about "wasting time."  Then I realized that I actually enjoyed these talks and that people would probably be more likely to remember me by them.  We all have our methods.

Over the weekend we drained our first batch of flyers and ordered more.  Fortunately, the fine people at Industry Images had them ready for pick-up by 11am on Monday.  I've pretty much been flyering non-stop from noon to showtime every single day.  I'm starting to run into a lot of the same people now.  I'm tired and it was recommended that I don't do any flyering today.  Personally, I haven't seen it result in higher attendance numbers so far, so I didn't argue.  That said, I've got 5 more shows and a whack of flyers to get through so I will probably jump back into it later tonight.

Un p'tit coup de coeur...

It's Because I'm From Ottawa, Isn't It?

Well, the first weekend of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival has come and gone and I must say I have mixed feelings about the darn thing.  There seems to be a bit of a media bias towards some of the Ottawa folks as Amy Lester seems to be in the same boat.  You know, they won the Canal Feud, so why are they still picking on us? As a whole, the festival is wonderful.  Tons of productions (146 to be precise), lots of interesting people to talk to, plenty of socializing... in fact the touring groups have been absolutely wonderful in making me feel welcome.  I feel like the kid sister with her very protective family around her.  Yesterday, someone said the nicest thing to me: "You can't end your tour here.  We want the two of you to carry on the rest of the run with us."  Man, is that ever tempting.  I almost wish I could.


You see, all the Winnipeg reviews for the show are now out and they are just terrible.  The Winnipeg Free Press was actually kinder than the others, but she totally spoils the ending.  If you haven't seen the show yet and were planning on it, don't read the review if you don't want to know what happens.  The WFP reviewer also totally got the existential nature of the piece - something the CBC and Sun did not - but I now realize it's because they saw the show on opening night.

(I'm kind of sick of seeing these reviews, so I won't be linking them.  That said, you can easily look them up yourself through CBC Manitoba, the Winnipeg Sun and the Winnipeg Free Press.)

Opening night was quite the gong show of technical glitches.  In fact, I wouldn't call them glitches, they were outright problems.  The entire beginning of the piece had to be reworked on the spot and some key elements were cut out.  Of course, there were two reviewers sitting in the audience when this happened.

The reviewers also all seem to have a problem with the show being 30 minutes (or shorter depending on which reviewer you ask).  This puzzles me like you would not believe.  In Ottawa, as I was marathon fringing I was always thrilled for a 30-45 minute piece.  It gave me more of a break in between shows and I had time to digest what I saw.  Besides, wouldn't you rather see a quality 30 minute piece instead of a bloated 90 minute one?  Apparently not.  It seems time equals value for money here.  Natasha, while flyering, had this conversation:

"I don't go to Ragpickers (our venue) because it's too hot."

"Oh well, we have air conditioning now.  Besides, the show is only 30 minutes..."

"30 minutes! No, I don't think I'm going to go to that."

Uh, ok.

As of Friday, we had definitely found our groove with the show.  Our performances are better than they have ever been and I'm quite pleased with the rapport we've established on stage.  Unfortunately, our first review also came out this past weekend which coincided with a 60% drop in our audience.  Saturday, only 3 people had paid to see the show; the other 9 were performers and volunteers.  Sunday's audience was similar in size, though half of them stuck around after to talk to us.  They loved the show.  I was also thrilled to notice how young they were and they still understood it.

I guess this is the kind of show you either get or you don't.  I thought Winnipeg was a more understanding theatre town, but I guess I was wrong.  So far, only two people seem to know who Judith Thompson is.  An American woman from Portland and a sweet teenager in a Zombie Prom T-Shirt.  Weird.

Next step: more flyers!

I Am A Giant Star

Yesterday, I got my very first review in Winnipeg.  While I wasn't exactly expecting 5 stars, I sure as hell was not prepared for what I got from CBC Manitoba. 1 Star.

According to the CBC website, 1 star means that this show is "a clunker. Don’t go. Unless you have a family member in the show. Even then, think twice."


For those of you who are just dying to read the whole review, by all means, go right ahead.

I'd really like to say that when I read this review I chuckled confidently, shook out my long blond mane and sexily strutted off  as I continued to flyer...  Or that I pulled a Colette Kendall, all middle fingers of artistic justice blazing among the detonation of righteous F-Bombs... but no, I wasn't that strong.  Once the initially shock wore off, I just kind of melted.  Natasha was the real professional.  She took off to flyer another line-up as I took a moment in the ladies lavatory of Red River College.  And I cried.  Yes, that's right, the CBC made me cry because that shit f'n hurts.

When I was done, that's when I became proactive.  I made a phone call to someone who has been doing this a lot longer than I have.  His first piece of advice: Don't change a thing.  Followed by "this may sound a little fucked but you should actually be happier to get 1 star instead of 3." It makes sense.  If there are 150 shows in town, people will probably be skipping the middle ground reviews.

This conversation also made me wonder about how much importance we place on reviews.  Since I got a poor one, many people swear to me that "no one really cares about the CBC reviews."  However, if I had gotten 5 stars, would they still be saying the same thing?  Who really cares about these stars?  (OK, I do. Kinda. A little.) It is all so subjective.

Natasha and I then started planning our next step.  But first, we watched Rob Gee's Fruitcake, a show the CBC gave 2 stars (a review which I can say was absolute bullshit as the show totally deserves 4 stars - though to be fair he is a psychiatrist talking about psychiatry - something the CBC apprently frowns upon).  It was probably the best thing for me to watch at the moment because it included a wonderful little song with a chorus that goes "It could be worse, it could be worse, it's not time for the herse."

We then set off to own our giant star.  You see, something odd started to happen.  I was telling a fellow performer about the review when someone interrupted me:

"What show is this?"

"No Exit Upstage. The CBC gave us 1 star."

"Good.  I'll probably like it then."

Well isn't that interesting?

While we won't be pushing the fact that we got 1 star at every opportunity, we are delving into a bit of a symbolic homage to the CBC.

In case you're wondering, we're only wearing one earing each.

I'll be wearing a single earing in the shape of a star until the end of the festival.  I've even included it to my costume for the show which was absolutely super magic frakkin fantastic last night.  If someone asks about my new accessory, I will gladly tell them about it, but until then I will just kick the flyering up a notch and do what I do best: talk passionately about the theatre (and myself).

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Ugly Tuesday was an off day for both of us.  The festival hadn't started yet, our posters were up, and it was raining which meant we decided to stay in and relax... with our thoughts.  Let me tell you something, it's never really a good idea to leave me alone with my thoughts.  I am a doer.  I like impulses and following them.  I love being around people.  I don't need to be thinking too much.  When I think too much, I dwell; I worry; I get filled with doubt; I create highly preposterous scenarios in my head and somehow manage to make myself believe them as truth.

It wasn't pretty and the less said about that the better.

The Good

Wednesday was much better!  We missed our bus in the morning (I know, this should fall under The Bad, but keep reading).  Lugged down with our set, props and costumes, we started walking when suddenly a horn blares behind us. There he was, our knight in Chevy armour!  Our billet pulls up to the curb and yells: "I'm going downtown, hop in!"

Best. Billet. Ever.

Somehow, we also managed to finish our tech rehearsal in less than three hours as crews were setting up the space around us.  Our technician and stage manager rocks!

Our SM, the lovely Ms Wyman demonstrating the very complicated "house lights" system.  Apparently you must flick this switch "on" or "off" - I don't get it.

We then found out that Industry Images - our printing experts - were located practically next door to the venue.  This is also where we met handsome firemen IN UNIFORM in the elevator.  Sorry ladies, I was too bashful to take pictures.

We went on a trek to the main fringe office, checking out how our posters fared in yesterday's rain.  Of course, all was well.

The secret's in the magic tape.

I also checked in at the Advance Ticket Box Office and found out that we have bums in seats for almost every show during the run!  I was shocked.  As an out-of-town performer who's never been to the Peg before, I never imagined that people would just, you know, show up... in advance.

After setting up a volunteer appreciation show (Go Go Friendly Volunteers!), we ran into some Ottawa locals and headed out to the Towne Cinema 8 to watch the new Harry Potter movie FOR FOUR DOLLARS!  (my review - it's pretty good though they cut a lot out of the book and the ending feels a bit rushed)

I also bought a belt because my pants were falling off (What? That's good right?)

We then had dinner and headed out to watch our first fringe show, Amy Lester's Little White Lies.  It's a very cute show.  Then, on the other end of the spectrum, we saw Colette Kendall's The Cockwhisperer, a damn funny show.  Colette is incredibly sexy and self-confident.  At one point when she lost her place in what she calls a workshop piece, she told any reviewers who might find this unprofessional to fuck off.  I think I'm kind of in love with her.  Oh! Did I just find my first Fringe Crush in Winnipeg?  Cool!

The Bad

I realized late last night that I lost my bus pass.

Have you seen me?

Ah well, today is another day. No Exit Upstage opens tonight at 7 pm in Venue #13 - Ragpickers Theatre. Buy your tickets now!

Thursday, July 16 – 7:00 PM Friday, July 17 – 9:15 PM Saturday, July 18 – 6:00 PM Sunday, July 19 – 8:30 PM Monday, July 20 – 6:00 PM Tuesday, July 21 – 8:45 PM Wednesday, July 22 – 5:30 PM Thursday, July 23 – 7:00 PM Friday, July 24 – 9:15 PM Saturday, July 25 – 7:30 PM Sunday, July 26 – 6:00 PM

On Your Mark, Get Set, TAPE!

Yesterday morning things were off to a bit of a rougher start.  Both Natasha and I slept poorly in our new surroundings.  I woke up feeling disoriented and lost.  Where am I again? Oh yeah, Winnipeg.  Natasha shook the sluggishness off faster than I did and even had breakfast with our billet while I debated such intellectually stimulating life choices as:  Should I take a shower in the morning? Is today a shorts kind of day? Maybe I should just go back to bed? Do I really want yogurt for breakfast? You are all fascinated with the complexities of my life, I'm sure.  I also realized that my face wash had somewhat exploded in my toiletries kit.  This didn't bother me yesterday as it was easy enough to clean up... or so I thought.  Apparently, some of that soapy goodness seeped into my contact lenses' case and I ended up spending half the day looking like I had been crying because Natasha says mean things to me in the middle of the night... which she totally doesn't! Nope, not like her at all... ;) Having put the pull-out couch away, going back to bed was not an option.  So after a blog post, a shower, a skort, some coffee, and some breakfast, we were basking in the Manitoba sun on our way to the bus stop, ready for a busy day of postering.  We were delighted to know that Winnipeg Transit offers weekly passes which now make it a breeze for us to get around.

When we were nearing the festival area, Natasha turned to me and said something that sent chills down my spine: "Did you bring the posters?"


We checked our bus schedule and realized we had about 40 minutes before we could go back, so we went to sign in to the performer services area instead.  Posters were already covering the vast majority of surfaces as we approached the Manitoba Theatre Centre and I ran into one of the first people I recognized: Jonny P from GRIMMER THAN GRIMM.  He also introduced us to the people we would be having beers with later that night: Rob Gee (Fruitcake - Natasha, the Graphic Designer, adores his poster so it's definitely one not to miss!) and Chris Bange (More Bange For Your Buck!)

Being in a rush, we excused ourselves and hurried in to sign in with a very friendly volunteer. We got our beautiful program, our performer and company cards and then ran to catch the bus, waving madly at Dave Dawson (Jayson McDonald's Trashcan Duet which I didn't see in Ottawa last year, but will probably see now) on the way.

Friendly Volunteer!

Finally, we had our posters and were on our way back downtown to check out our venue: Ragpickers Theatre.  This is also where we were to meet our new stage manager, the lovely Anne Wyman (Jayson McDonald's The Last Goddamned Performance Piece).

Our Venue - 216 McDermot Avenue

It was here that I ran into an old acquaintance from London, ON, Jeff Culbert.  He's involved with two shows:  archy and mehitabel, directed by Jayson McDonald and Fall Fair in which he directed Jayson McDonald. For a guy who isn't even in town yet, Mr McDonald is proving to be very pervasive...

After a great lunchbreak/tech meeting at The Fyxx with Ms. Wyman, where we had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy Baumaung (Homeless - which Anne tells me is the greatest piece of theatre she's ever seen, ever!) and Ryan Paulson (Ryan Paulson: I'm Uncomfotable), we headed off, finally, to poster.

Posters! Tape! Posters and Tape!

This is also where we ran into another Ottawa local: Ms. Amy Lester (Little White Lies).

Hey, it's Amy!

Since we were tired from such a busy day of posters and password collecting (check out Emily Pearlman's Ottawa Fringe Festival blog post for the meaning of the password system), we headed over to the King's Head Pub where we ran into, well, pretty much everyone else we saw today, including some newcomers - the ladies from Inviting Desire, the gentlemen from Advanced DnD, and the producer of The Seven Lives of Louis Riel.  This is also where we met Francis, the most awesome barkeep evah!

Wow, what a day, and the festival hasn't even started yet!

Wish you were here!

Friendly Manitoba (or a License Plate Never Lies)

We were up at 3:30 a.m. I'm used to going to bed at that time, not waking up to it, but it was well worth it. Everything was beyond perfect. The weather was gorgeous. The cabby was incredibly friendly and on time. The airline overlooked the fact that Natasha's bag with the set pieces was "overweight". Since the flight was somewhat empty and we were flying with Air Canada staff, we got upgraded to business class! I've never flown business class before. I'm not sure why you'd pay that much extra for a cup holder (which ok, the cup holder made me incredibly giddy) and some free food, but I'll definitely take it if it's free. Cup Holder! Tee Hee!

Our billet was kind enough to come pick us up at the airport (now 8 a.m. Manitoba time) and this is where everything just kept getting better and better. He gave us a quick drive-by tour of downtown Winnipeg and we got a quick peek at our future venue (among others). Then he showed us around his neighbourhood, offering us bicycles and even the use of his second vehicle if we needed to get around. We arrived at his beautiful home and were directed to the newly renovated basement where we would be staying. It's huge and includes a private bathroom, laundry facilities, television, mini-fridge and a bar... Seriously? After hearing many a horror story about billets from some other Fringe veterans, I just couldn't believe our luck.

We spent the rest of the day getting groceries, napping and enjoying the sun. Everyone smiled at us and would say hello wherever we went. We started joking that it must be some kind of law to be kind to strangers... then we noticed the license plates. Yesterday was incredibly relaxing and I knew we needed it before the festival kicked it into high gear. Things in Winnipeg are definitely looking good.

And we're off!  Natasha and Nancy on their product placement... I mean Fringe Festival tour.