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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Robin (The Only Bar) Henderson's Fringe Blog

June 11, 2011

Hey Fringe,

And they are OFF - full Fringe style!!!  

The second night at “The Only Bar” unfurled itself with far less violence that our opening.  No fights tonight.  Not even any loud tonsil hockey between the Verres Sterilises regulars and our actors.  Game 5 between Boston and Vancouver was on in the back half of the bar last night and a wonderful thing happened:  the guys that had come in to watch the game watched us instead!!  They sat there attentive, focused and even shushing each other if anyone got too loud.  Most interestingly, some of them started to move forward into our “half” of the room, hanging out against the wall near the washrooms with full attention on the stage.  

If you think about it, for the Verres Sterilises regulars – last night was their second show too.  They too are getting used to our group of (mostly) anglophone theatre weirdos in their (mostly francophone) space.  Have you ever hung out at a taverne like the Verres Sterilises or “The Only Bar” before?  The regulars often feel very possessive of the room, the booths, the lotto machines and especially the staff.  And while we have been made to feel very welcomed, the regulars will gently flex their “this is our place” muscles every so often.  

Often this is done by breaking into conversations that we may be having with the staff – which cracks me up every time it happens.  I even had a guy the other night interrupt my conversation with the lovely Roseanne (who has been working there for 8 years).  Roseanne and I were clearly speaking in french when he came up to her with a cheeky grin on his face and said: “Tell your friend in English that she has a nice bum”.  Yup, its that kind of place.  And while normally, if that kind of thing happens I’m really put off, but in this case it was utterly hilarious and absolutely appropriate for the situation that “The Only Bar” has put ourselves into.  Roseanne and I just rolled our eyes and laughed.  Its small moments like that one that is helping to break down the walls between us theatre weirdos and them there regulars.

Alain in particular is fantastic at chatting up the regulars in a way that I never could.  He’s a man and Verres Sterilises is a man’s bar.  The dynamics between me and the regulars are necessarily different than what Alain can share with them.  As the dramaturge and the director, I want Alain to sit at the bar, have some pints and talk to these guys as it will absolutely influence the next stage of our script.  We’ve already integrated real moments that have happened to us at the taverne into our current script (watch for the wallet moment) and I’m positive that the more he gets to know the real players the better material he will have to be inspired by.

And speaking of Alain, it is freaking him out a bit that I am blogging about us and our “Only Bar” experience.  Alain is from the Theatre St Catherine world that often exists in its own amazing, beautiful and stellar improv/comedy bubble.  But I am busting us out with this blog and with “The Only Bar” as there is far too much talent in that theatre that deserves to have a spotlight shone on it.  Comedy is relevant in this city and TSC does some amazing work that is worth paying attention to.  

Want to see why I like hanging out with the TSC crowd?  Watch this back alley video clip to catch a glimpse of why working with these guys always brings a smile to my face. 

Okay, I’m signing off for now.  This blog post went in a completely different direction that I thought it would when I sat down to write.  I’ll close with Alain’s parting words from last night:  


Robin x

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