Kevin MacDonald, a Toronto-based actor, talks about his Fringe show Tuymen, Then; why he still does live theatre and how prepping for the Fringe is the best chaos in town.
Q: Tell me about the show. How did you get involved?
A: I got involved a bit later in this process. Andrea Donaldson the director and Adam Underwood the writer had been approached to do a show as a fundraiser for the Fringe Festival. I have known Adam from Studio 58 theatre school days and he had thought of me for the part and Andrea knew a great actor named Lyon Smith she wanted to bring on board. We weren't sure who was going to play who but we knew that Adam Lazarus, a well known actor and clown in Toronto, would be playing Lenin. We got together and read the play one afternoon and it was excellent. I think we all gelled very well as a group and realized we were going to be able to make something really great and have a lot of fun along the way, so we all signed on and away we went.
Q: Why this show for the Fringe? How is it suited for a Fringe festival environment?
A: It's always nice to take new material to the Fringe as it is meant to be a place to experiment, to try things out and see what works and what doesn't. Without some of the constraints of doing a show at an established theatre, it's a place where you can take more risks both personally and professionally. Tyumen, Then has what I think is quite a unique tone. It is dark (at times very dark), but it also has a great levity and hopefulness in it. It poses serious questions and covers serious subject matter but is also very strange and absurd which hopefully in the end is funny! When you're exploring tone it's always fun to try it at Fringe because people will tell you loud and clear what's working and what's not!
Q: You’ve performed extensively in the West-Coast theatre scene; how does the Toronto scene differ? What would you change about it if you could change anything?
A: The main difference really is the size. In Toronto there are just more people and therefore more theatre. Beyond that, sensibility does come to mind. I feel like Vancouver is slightly more experimental in their work and often more physically based and Toronto theatre is a bit more cerebral, established, if you will... of course these are gross generalizations and both cities offer rich theatre if you look in the right places!
Q: What is special/unique about having a show in the Toronto Fringe?
A: Fringe artists are a crazy bunch. I admire the work people put into their shows, almost all done for no money with lots of sweat equity. Fringe is a great place to get a theatre fix and absorb as much theatre energy as possible. It's always fun to make a discovery of a new group of actors you like or a new writer you haven' t heard of before because more and more these festivals are becoming feeders for the larger stages. It's a bit scary rehearsing a fringe show around everyone's schedules so it can all be a bit hectic making it to opening night and I always find Fringe to feel like a place of discovery and adrenaline (and maybe just a little bit of barf in my mouth)!
Q: Why do you continue to do live theatre?
A: It is getting rarer and rarer for groups of people to get together to share an experience. When acting on stage, there are the other actors and all of the audience that work together in a wonderful kind of dance. Live theatre has more than the best computer gaming could ever offer and is more interactive than anything technology can bring us. It's live, real people breathing and interacting together. That's becoming a unique experience these days. I love it.
Q: If you could give advice to a Torontonian who wants to experience the Fringe but has never been, what would it be?
A: Previews and reviews in the papers are a good start but by no means should they be your only source of info. I find many of them are written by people with different tastes than I my own, so one must take them all with a grain of salt, good or bad. Next it's word of mouth - the Fringe Tent is always a great place to mingle and find out what other people are liking or not liking. The Fringe is also a great place to just go with your gut; read a show's synopsis and if it peaks your interest, GO and check it out! That's the beauty of the tickets being so reasonable - you can risk seeing a few duds before being invigorated with a great find! Happy Fringing!
Tyumen, Then is on at the Robert Gill Theatre (214 College St) at these times:
Mon, July 11 @8:45pm; Tues, July 12 @4:30pm; Wed, July 13 @12:15pm; Thurs, July 14 @7pm; Fri, July 15 @6:15pm; Sat, July 16 @1:45pm
Visit their site: www.sometimesandrea.com