Pamela Barker, co-founder of Production Company Accidental Crossroads, and director of their Fringe hit Grounded in Fantasy, talks about how the Fringe really is one big family, why it's unique, and how depression can be funny.
Q: Tell me about the show. How did you get involved? What's special about it?
A: Grounded in Fantasy is a sexy, brand new, one-act ensemble piece. A woman, debilitated by depression, finds herself interacting with fantasy characters from her mind. Confused by this strange and new situation, she battles with these aspects of herself in an effort to find out why she can’t quite overcome her mental illness. Does she need a good job, a good man, or a good f–k.
I wanted to be in the Toronto Fringe for years, and decided back in September that this was finally my year to be a part of this amazing artistic community. I approached Leonardo in early November and he decided to come on board as producer, even though his background was in film and TV. After a couple of months, we realized we needed to do more with our partnership and we started our production company, Accidental Crossroads.
The play is special for so many reasons. For starters, it's a comedy about depression. Everyone can relate to this because in some form or another (directly or indirectly) we have all seen what depression can do to loved ones. P.J. Elwood wrote short stories almost two years ago and then created a narrative around those stories as a response for our need for a play. The stories were then given to local musician Ryan Watson, with the instructions to write music he felt worked with Elwoods' words. Watson didn't have much more direction than that. And now, we have a talented cast performing a funny, yet poignant script, to beautiful, live music. What's more to say? Come to the show and see for yourself.
Q: Why this show for the Fringe? How is it suited for a Fringe festival environment?
A: Grounded in Fantasy keeps things simple. It's not about an elaborate set (we didn't have much of a budget) and it's not about flashy costumes. The play is about the story. To me, that is what Fringe plays should be - there's no time between shows to use elaborate and detailed set pieces. Grounded in Fantasy is bare bones theatre, that cuts to the subject matter. This play will make you smile. This play will make you think. This play allows you, the audience, to create a fantasy world of your own.
Q: What is special/unique about having a show in the Toronto Fringe?
A: Toronto Fringe helps over 150 companies through the daunting challenges of producing a play. For Leonardo and myself, Grounded in Fantasy is our first theatre production. We are learning and growing throughout this process, and we've had Fringe staff support us along the way. Whether we had a small question about technical aspects (such as "what is a gobo" - we learned this at one of the several workshops with Jason Golinsky - or bigger questions about the structure of the festival. Kathryn Westoll has been ever patient with our persistence in knowing everything and anything).
Basically, being a part of Fringe is like being an instant member of a creative family. The support, the encouragement, and the guidance, have been invaluable. Also, Toronto is such a beautiful and vibrant, artistic city. To be involved in something so integral to summer time in Toronto is absolutely an honour.
Q: Why do you continue to do live theatre? What's important about it?
A: Live theatre means every show is unique because the audience has the power to affect the feeling of the performance. Our actors sense the energy of the space and those who fill it and they respond on stage as the show is happening. There is no replay button for live theatre - even if you record it; the truth of the moment lives only within the life of the play and the recollection of those moments afterward.
Live theatre is important because it empowers and stimulates the imagination of each audience member. Theatre is not dead; people crave live entertainment and it is an essential ingredient to the way we connect as humans. The relationships on-stage have a tangible quality that allow for a strong and personal connection of performer to audience that can not be attained in a recorded medium.
Q: If you could offer words of advice/encouragement to a newbie audience member to the Fringe scene, what would it be?
A: For those who want to watch several fringe shows, our advice is simple:
- Get a Fringe program and try to read the synopsis of each play. If something intrigues you, circle it. - Involve your friends and make Fringe Days reasonably packed with a schedule and game plan. - - - Look at the master schedule and give different venues a chance. There are a lot of wonderful productions at some end-stages in the city. Though smaller, you'll get a more intimate experience.
- Go to the Fringe Tent behind Honest Ed's and meet performers from various shows. Be social with us. We would love to learn about what you are looking for and besides that -there's an abundance of fun stuff going on there. Also, go to see Grounded in Fantasy at the Tarragon Main Space. We'll make your Fringe Fantasies come true! www.accidentalcrossroads.com
Grounded in Fantasy is now playing at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman St.),
Sat. July 9 @3:30pm, Sun, July 10 @8:15pm, Mon, July 11 @6:15pm, Tues, July 12 @8:45pm, Fri, July 15 @11pm, Sat, July 16 @2:15pm
Connect with them directly on Twitter (Handle: GRDedinFantasy), Facebook and url (see answer to the last question!)
See you at the show!