Fringe companies…missed the video pitch session? No problem…

…you’ve got one more chance to throw us your elevator pitch. This coming Tuesday, September 2 we’ll be holding the out-of-towners video listing session. If you’re a local company and would like to take advantage of this free listing opportunity, please feel free to head on down. Out-of-town companies will be given priority in the line-up, but we’ll definitely get yours shot.

Here’s what you need to do: show up anytime between 1-4 pm on Tuesday the 2nd to the Fringe Volunteer Centre: 1620 Durenleau St, Granville Island. (Please note that this is a location change from the one previously announced.) Have a good idea of what the essential selling point of your show is, but don’t over-rehearse anything. We want the charm of you to come shining out of the computer at us. These are not trailers! You can do them as yourself or as your character, but whatever you do you’ll be communicating the awesomeness of your play directly to your potential audience. We want to know why we should make time out of our busy schedules to experience your work.

That’s it! Check the top of the sidebar over there on the right for all the shows that shot their listings this week for some great examples of what we’re shooting for. This is a quick and easy process, but there may be some short wait times depending on when people show up. It’s first come, first serve, and out-of-town companies get priority this time around.

Email me at vanstage(at)gmail(dot)com with any questions or concerns. Can’t wait to see your pitches…

Where do you sit in the Fringe smorgasbord?

With the Fringe impending and a lot of you participants checking in here at The Next Stage for marketing ops and updates, I thought I’d point you to a great article about theatre festivaling on Ken Davenport‘s Producer’s Perspective blog (mandatory reading for theatre producers, if you’re not already hip). A quick cut…

Festivals are like buffets.  All the shows are lined up next to each other.  The quiche is next to the corn which is next to the strawberry Jello with the marshmallows.

Your job as a Producer in a festival is to make your show seem like a waiter-served entrée that costs a lot more than the flat rate, all you can eat, warming tray heated, slightly stale, other options.

Click on over here for the full article…

The Lost Sole

“Excessive, scandalous, comic, cautionary, and horrifying,
The Lost Sole weaves its magic over your unsuspecting feet”
— Sue Perlative, The Minsk Chronicle

“Funnier than $#*t!” — Maggie’s Dog

“I hang my socks on the clothesline now!” — T Bagger

A twisted yarn about a sock’s journey out of the dryer and into his own skin.

Do you ever wonder what happens to your socks when they go missing in the dryer? Join the Lost and Found Puppet Co. as they present their first production, “The Lost Sole” at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival on Granville Island from September 6th-13th.

Follow us as we weave a tale of a sock thrown from a life of monotony into a world of excitement. Weirdness abounds as he wanders through a crazy world of odd socks. Matchless, shoeless, and drawerless, he travels from the topsy-turvy world of the dryer to the snobbish top-drawer and everywhere in between. Will he cling to a life of predictable patterns, or separate himself from the lint?

Lost and Found Puppet Co. is a new Vancouver Puppetry and Object Theatre collective. Founded by puppeteer and performance artist Maggie Winston, Lost and Found presents the stories of objects through object animation and various forms of puppetry.

Shows: September 6th 5:45pm

September 7th 2:00pm

September 9th 8:15pm

September 10th 5:30pm

September 12th 5:30pm

September 13th 8:45pm

tickets at www.vancouverfringe.com

Audition notice – Rolling Stock Theatre Society

The Rolling Stock Theatre Society, an independent theatre company dedicated to new play development, will be holding auditions for their upcoming production of Chainmail Bikini, a one-act comedy/drama written by Peter Boychuk. The play is set in a store that sells role-playing games and features four young characters:

RAVEN: Female in her late teens. A Goth. Her parents kicked her out of the house for quitting school and she’s been secretly living at the store.

TIM: Male in his twenties. The storeowner and father of the group. He is still haunted by the death of Jordan, a gaming buddy who perpetrated a Columbine-like shooting.

LUCAS: Male in his twenties. Tim’s oldest friend. He found religion after Jordan’s death and is now a youth pastor.

DEREK: Male in his twenties. Tim’s business partner. A geek among geeks. Provides much of the comedy relief in the script.

Auditions are by appointment only and will take place at the Alliance for Arts & Culture (100 – 938 Howe Street) on September 6th, 2008. Rehearsals will take place in the evenings and weekends, and will begin September 16th, 2008.

The play will be performed in the Havana Theatre from Oct. 8-11 alongside Boychuk’s political drama Fortunate Son.

Performers will be paid a small honorarium and will gain valuable exposure. Also, it should be a lot of fun.

To book an appointment, email a headshot and a resume to peter@rollingstocktheatre.com

About the play: Chainmail Bikini premiered at the Calgary Fringe Festival. The Calgary Herald highlighted the play as a pick of the Fringe and described it as:

Well-written, thoughtful…Boychuk has a nice way of weaving his deadpan wit into a pot that’s brimming with social issues.

Peter Boychuk is an award-winning playwright whose one-act play, Afterglow, is published in the anthology Two Hands Clapping by Signature Editions. He trained at Studio 58 and holds a BFA in Theatre from Concordia University in Montreal.

For more information, visit
www.rollingstocktheatre.com.

This one goes to eleven: Jo Ledingham

Next up in a series of interviews with Vancouver theatre critics is Jo Ledingham, who has been consistently reporting on our theatre scene at the Courier for quite some time. Once, years ago, I was putting up a couple of my original plays for their first run and, stupidly, hadn’t bothered to invite any of the press. Jo, whom I had yet to meet at that point, heard about the show somehow and contacted me to see if I wanted her to cover it. I had that review framed.

Now that’s dedication to the theatre. Jo, take it away…

1. In one word, describe your present condition.

Angry. About trophy hunting, logging of old growth, open net fish farming, the war in Iraq, farmland being pulled out of the agricultural land reserve, immigration laws that allow thugs to stay in Canada, litter in our parks – you name it, I’m angry.

2. With no restrictions or editing, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

It’s a mixed bag. Case in point: consider the 2008-2009 season first announced by The Playhouse. The season opener was to be the highly promising Frost/Nixon followed by The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz? Okay, so it was The Playhouse’s Christmas show but does that mean we have to spend it with the likes of Dorothy and Toto? (Fortunately, the rights weren’t available and The Playhouse snagged The Drowsy Chaperone, a fresh, new Canadian musical described as witty and irresistible, a show about which the New York Times said, “It sort of lets you eat cake and diet, too.”) Except for the cancellation of rights, though, we would have been in Kansas for Christmas.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, Vancouver is home to some of the cockiest, most audacious young companies in the country including Boca del Lupo, Theatre Replacement, Electric Company, Radix, Felix Culpa, Western Theatre Conspiracy, Pi, Rumble, Ruby Slippers and neworldtheatre. Thank Dionysus for Blackbird Theatre, committed to the classics and the PuSh Festival that brings international companies to several Vancouver stages.

So the scene ranges – at any given time – from ho-hum to hold onto your hat.

3. What is it about theatre that’s kept you so invested in it?

Anticipation. Excitement. The shaking up of my own preconceptions and my own value system. Living – for a couple of hours – someone else’s life. And the fact that the theatre experience is shared: real people on stage, real people behind the scenes and real people in the theatre. Anything can happen. It’s a rush. Highly addictive.

4. How did you come to start reviewing?

When Colin Thomas took a brief sabbatical years ago, The Straight offered the fill-in job to a friend of mine. He was too busy writing his own plays so he suggested I give it a try. I was terrified at the prospect but since I was working on an MA in Dramatic Literature at UBC, it made some sense. It was – and remains – daunting.

5. What is the current relationship between the critic and the theatre artist in Vancouver?

I hope it’s one of mutual respect. But the relationship is, by its very nature, an uneasy one. Criticism is so public and now, with reviews archived online, so lasting. What recourse does a director, performer or designer have to criticism he/she perceives as unfair? A letter to the editor? A posted rebuttal online?

So it’s really important for critics to be as informed and as fair as possible. It’s so easy – and so cheap – to trash a production outright. It’s a lot more difficult to praise what is praiseworthy and offer constructive criticism – all in the same review. In six hundred and fifty words or less. Sometimes overnight. I think theatre professionals recognize the challenge that critics regularly face.

6. What’s the big adjustment we as companies need to make to bring theatre closer to the mainstream here?

Don’t pander to the mainstream. That’s what (most) TV and movies do. Look what moving closer to the mainstream has done for CBC: dumbed it down.

7. Above all else, what are you hoping for when you sit down to review a play?

I’m hoping the play and the production are so excellent that the review writes itself. I’m hoping that the performances are so fantastic that superlatives leap to my fingertips. If it’s not an unqualified success, I’m hoping I can do justice to the production, that I haven’t missed an element that might have made all the difference in my response. And, finally, I’m hoping I can meet my deadline before eating my way through the entire refrigerator.

8. What is the responsibility of the critic to today’s theatre?

I believe my responsibility is to bring an informed intelligence to the job. To serve as best I can many masters: the playwright; the performers, director, design team and crew; the theatregoer; the reader; and myself. And by ‘serve’, I mean to be honest and to offer intelligent, constructive commentary that might just possibly raise the bar.

9. In terms of content, what are Vancouver companies strongest with, and what would you like to see more attempts at?

I don’t think content is the problem. What does frustrate me is the swing away from good, well-written scripts. Lots of ‘stuff’ – multi-media effects – can hide the fact that a script is skimpy, the story not engaging or relevant. While I wouldn’t necessarily suggest a return to unadorned written word, I think sometimes we have shifted too far in the other direction. The best (or worst) example of this kind of sacrifice of content to style was Hey Girl!, Romeo Castellucci’s PuSh Festival entry that, although visually stunning, left many of us completely cold. More good writing would be great.

10. What are your top 3 theatre reads?

Not necessarily ‘top’ but consistently read are The Straight, vancouverplays.com, The Sun, and, recently added, Plank! Alright, that’s four. My most recent, more academic reading was done a few years ago when I took DD Kugler’s dramaturgy course at SFU and before that, at UBC. But I’m continually reading plays new and old and, of course, reading articles whenever I stumble across something worthwhile. And that’s not nearly often enough.

11. What’s next?

Covering the madness we call the Vancouver Fringe Festival.