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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Friday Five, July 1, 2011

by Jessica Wei

Being that this is a theatre blog, it's not a wild guess that if you're reading this, you hold a certain amount of interest in theatre, particularly theatre in Montreal. Based on that assumption, it wouldn't be unreasonable to then conclude that you've probably been to a Fringe show. And if you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably a little bit over the Fringe buzz – after all, theatre does exist outside of the festival circuit.  

So I'll say very little about the Fringe, except for this – a large percentage of Fringe shows? They kind of sucked. That's okay. They're supposed to suck. Great scripts are never finished, they're abandoned (someone really smart said that). The Fringe is just where many scripts face the chopping block. Say you're a few drafts deep in a script. You think it's pretty good, so you take it out for a test run in the Fringe. If you get picked, you then have a super-elaborate focus group to tell you if your show really must go on. Theoretically, if 40 people show up per performance and you get semi-dece reviews in some alternative papers, why shouldn't you take that script, tweak it to your best ability and go a little bigger? 

Yeah, I'm talking to you, solo performer. You make us laugh, you make us cry, but rarely in the way you had intended.

But this isn't about the plays that broke well over even on their Fringe deposits. This isn't about the shiny stars next to Mirror reviews. This is about the people who poured their hearts and souls (and probably a few tumblers of rye) into getting their life's story on paper, got a spot on Fringe, and did not break even, did not get favourable reviews. The ones who are licking their wounds and are leaving inky fingerprints on re-drafts of that autobiographical retelling of their stints in rehabs. Yeah, I'm talking to you, solo performer. You make us laugh, you make us cry, but rarely in the way you had intended. You're no Anton Chekhov, but thanks to the permanent scars from life's rapier, you can certainly drink like a Russian. And before that faint glimmer of hope emerges once more from foggy failure, before you take out that pen and attempt to write another script, allow me to give you a comprehensive list of what not to do. Here's 5 Fictitious One-Person Performances That Could Accurately Represent 85% of All One-Person Performances. 

[50-ish woman/let's just call her JOY BEHAR]: So I did it for myself. Looked him in the eye, that 15 year old punk, the product of my own ovum, went, “Mom's going out for a drive now.” Grabbed the keys to the Sedan and bolted. To do what? Drive for forty-five, stop at a corner store, buy some Häagen Dazs Caramel Cone Explosion and down the entire fucking pint in my car. Fellated that spoon like I was sixteen again in my boyfriend's backseat at a drive-in theatre. Cooling. Calming. This is me, now. Irrational, tired, hot to the touch, I've got loose fibres of a pair of Spanx permanently fused to my hips after listening to Oprah for 25 years. Get me. Ladies, am I right? Men, say hello to Menopausal Me.

[30-ish overweight woman paces around CR in a STARBUCKS apron smoking a cigarette]: A quad Venti Half-Fat Half-Sweet Cinnamon Dolce Latte for New York Boy. Worth it. Interesting piercings. But no safety word and no leather straps, so that's cool with me. Certainly saves on rent. This is what an English degree from Trinity Bible College will get you. Was I locked in his basement listening to “Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness” on repeat for thirteen hours? Admittedly, yes. Yes, I was. Was it hot? Not really. But did I validate my feminine identity through sexual empowerment? Hell to the yes. Take that, David Somerville, who dumped me in eleventh grade because I refused to sleep with him. I Facebooked him recently, by the way, and he is one bald mother effer.

[Spot down stage, man in tight black clothing perches on stool. Gollum Voice]: We won't let them get away with it, will we? But we should! They're such nice young men- No! The ring shall be ours! [He gets off stool. Frodo voice]: What a good decision to go through the Forest of Crippling Fear And Very Icky Reptiles to get to Mordor! Yes, it would have been faster to take that lift from Legolas' brother's dragon-type thing, but this is such a more scenic route. Also, as long as I don't put on that ring, I'm, like, decently safe, right? [Gollum voice]: Master, you have no idea who I am, but despite my emaciated frame, hollow cheeks and general cracked-out disposition, I am but a lowly shadow-dweller and live only to serve the wanderers of the woods. May I accompany you on your way? [Frodo voice]: My! A woodland creature! Charming, to the last. Yes, kind stranger, if you know the way to Mordor, I'd like to destroy a uniquely magical ring so that no inhabitants of the earth can access the power that it holds. There's a story attached, but it's several novels long. [Gollum voice]: Interesting! You don't happen to be related to Bilbo Baggins, do you? [Frodo voice]: Why, yes! He's my uncle. Why? [Gollum voice]: No reason at all. Shall we continue on our way? [Takes out a machete and hides it behind his back].

[Disheveled flannel-wearing 50-ish Max Tucker-type sitting on the stage]: Bro, I was Charlie Sheen before Charlie Sheen took his first hit from a makeshift tin foil pipe. I was bangin' strippers right and left, running on nicotine, PCP, and nothing else. I was on a police hit list, if that exists. And you know what high I finally settled on? The high of finding a soul mate and puttin' a baby in her. That's why I stopped. LaShaniquiquia was the one who checked me into Betty Ford and that morning, I had my last line. Seven years ago, Jesus. The shakes, man, that was the least of my worries. The hallucinations were kind of cool. All my nurses turned into, like, these blue scaly mermaid saviours, fins bouncing around like a Dollar store fly-swatter. The pills they gave me at first were like Flintstones chewables. But even at my worst, I was, like, “Man, Greg, dope was dope. But you know what's doper than dope? Love.” True story. I still believe that, man. Even after LaShaniquiquia filed that restraining order when I ran off and broke into her house with a hatchet. Which, I mean, isn't totally fair because if you don't remember the incident, it didn't happen, right?

[Obviously inebriated bearded man in sunglasses, Centre Stage, dancing with a mic stand]: Y'all got kids? I got kids, man. I got kids... and they's like nine and 13 and smarter than their ol' pop. It's the technology, man, the Internet. They got Facebook, Myspace, Wikipedia, everybody gets a say. Man, when I was 13 years old, I didn't go running to the Internet every time I was sad to update my status. I had my parents to bitch to, and then they'd be like, “Lonny, shut yo' damn mouth, momma's got a gin headache.” That was what I got. [Pause for applause that will inevitably never come]. Uhm. Y'all like porn? 

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