June 4th: Fringe-for-all.
by Johanna Nutter
So, it’s 5:30pm. I’m making salad, the phone rings. It’s Lynn. Aphrodite is still in Toronto, we have to back out of the Fringe-for-All. I hear myself saying, “No we don’t, leave it to me, I’ll improvise something”. I’ve got that super-calm, mother-hen, everything-is-just-fine voice, the same one that came out of my mouth in the middle of the attempted coup in Kinshasa. I hang up the phone, grab the script, and find a section of Phaedra that starts with the word “bitch” and ends with the word “fuck”. Perfect. Salad gets tossed and eaten. Phone rings again. Lynn; “We’re up third. they want you here at 6:45”. Mad hunt for blouse that seems to have vanished into another dimension. I search my whole apartment—all 300 square feet—three times over, but it’s gone.
My heart is beating faster and faster. I find it, finally, in my underwear drawer; I had taken it off to change my bra (the right lingerie can be like the right armour when waging war on extreme cases of stage fright). Get on my bike and GO like the wind. Make it to Cabaret du Mile End with five minutes to spare. Funny, no one’s outside. Grab the door handle and pull. Locked. Oh, fuck, of course, it’s at Café Campus. It’s always at Café Campus. Back on the bike, breakneck, make it there, a few minutes late and sweating profusely. Find my way on stage, start putting one word in front of the other, it seems to be going all right. I’m explaining the show, the creators, the participants, and then setting up my scene. I’m even sort of witty, referring to Phaedra as “The Mrs Robinson of Ancient Greece”. I even remember to throw in that bit about how Donovan Reiter, who plays Theseus, appeared naked on the cover of the mirror in the shape of the letter X. Put down the mike, start the monologue; “You bitch---“. The lights go dark. My two minutes are up. Cry just a little in Lynn’s arms, and get on with the task of locating all the members of the Freestanding Jury while scouting for a manly-man to wear a pregnant belly and promote My Pregnant Brother at the Zoofest launch on Wednesday. A 96-act fringe haystack and I find my needle: Sterling Mahwinney. The most least-likely pregnant man. Finally, I can relax and watch the show. Zombie, zombie, hula-hoops, zombie. So far, the offering that most strikes my fancy is a girl with a paper bag on her head repeating “chuis heureuse, chuis heureuse”. Jeremy Taylor sits down beside me. We ask each other, "What did we do for Pregnant Brother for the Fringe-for-All?" And then we remember: we didn’t do the Fringe-for-All.