Theatre Director and Canadian Stage Artistic Coordinator, Joanne Williams, answered a few questions for me about her upcoming Fringe show, FINALLY: AN EPIC CYCLE and what it all means to be in the Toronto Fringe Festival. Recognize her name? She was recently featured wearing a super cute outfit in The Grid. Check that out here.
Check out the Q&A right here:
Q: Tell me about the show. How did you get involved?
A: Finally: an Epic Cycle is a new play by Sarah Cody. It is a comedy about relationships, bike messengers, and underdog hockey franchises. We suppose the Leafs are in the Stanley Cup finals, and our protagonist loses her tickets on the day of the final game. We follow her on her epic journey to recover her tickets, which includes a nerdy roommate, pretentious coffee shops, elusive bike messengers, and self-realizations.
I got involved after directing Sarah in a short comedy by Neale Kimmel at Alumnae Theatre's New Ideas Festival. At that time Sarah was developing the script as she had landed a spot at the Fringe, and she asked me to direct. We started working on the show just over a month ago, and we gathered the rest of the team (actors Luke Marty, Derek Perks, Cassie Muise and Michael Rode plus stage manager Neal MacLean) from our various artistic circles.
Q: Why this show for the Fringe? How is it suited for a Fringe festival environment?
A: In my experience, Fringe audiences react best to comedy. There's a populism to the festival, and I would be wary to attempt to present a piece that's experimental. Timelines are shorter than professional pieces, and technical possibilities are minimal, so a contemporary piece that relies mainly on the dialogue and character relationships are the best suited to the festival.
Finally: an Epic Cycle is a smart comedy set in Toronto which connects the worlds of bike messengers, the Maple Leafs, advertising executives, and freelance writers. The engaging characters make it a perfect show for Fringe. For me, it was an opportunity to direct comedy where I tend to be more drawn to drama.
Q: How do you think your Directing work and your Arts Admin work at Canadian Stage compliment each other?
A: I'm exposed to the practices of professionals at the top of their game in our country at Canadian Stage. My approach as a director is informed by my work there, and the development of my skills as an artist feeds into my approach to arts admin. Working for a company with an ambitious vision helps my personal drive and commitment to artistic values.
Q: What is special/unique about having a show in the Toronto Fringe?
A: The Fringe enables productions to be mounted that wouldn't otherwise get a chance at this point in their development. At its best, Fringe is a chance to stretch your limits and to learn on your feet. Audiences are for the most part looking to be entertained, and it's a great challenge to try to satisfy that desire. The community surrounding Fringe is quite strong too, as you see when you visit the Fringe Tent!
Q: Why do you continue to do live theatre?
A: Live theatre has always been the art form that struck me the most profoundly and stayed with me more than other medium. For the most part, a film's plot escapes my mind once the credits roll, but I'll remember an actor in a live piece's costume perfectly, and be able to recall specifically how she moved. To work in a discipline that stirs me as much as theatre does is rewarding. I don't think live theatre has enough champions in our society and that also keeps me focused.
Q: If you could offer words of advice/encouragement to a newbie audience member to the Fringe scene, what would it be?
A: Ooo! The first time with Fringe is a lot of fun. Try to go to shows at non-traditional times: how great is it to get to see something like an emerging choreographer's homage to The Yeah Yeah Yeah's at 11pm at a downtown theatre? Go to venues you haven't been to before, & be honest with yourself about what kind of show you're in the mood for. I like to take a couple shows in on my own and go out of my comfort zone. Oh, and of course, I advise you to see Finally: An Epic Cycle
Finally: An Epic Cycle is on at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse on:
Friday, June 8 @1:15pm; Sat, July 9 @9:15pm; Mon, July 11 @10:45pm; Tues, July 12 @4:45pm; Thurs, July 14@9:30pm; Fri, July 15 @5:15pm; Sat, July 15 @1:45pm
Check them on Facebok, Follow 'em on twitter, or visit their url: www.phoneitinproductions.com