In 2013 I toured a show called Unpossible! across the Fringe circuit, hitting Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Vancouver. In 2014 it was selected for Uno Fest in Victoria, and also played the Victoria Fringe.
It sold out in Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria, was held over as part of the Pick of the Fringe in Vancouver (where it was also nominated for the Critic's Choice award), and won the Best Cabaret/Variety Award in Victoria (also earning nominations for Best Overall, and Best Male Performer).
The show is stupidly stressful to prepare for and to perform, and it only really sings when I get some good luck. So I'm glad to be done with it, for now. But I will say that the handful of shows that really worked—when everything went right and I got all the breaks—those were the best shows I've ever done, and I'm proud of the work.
After the moderately successful Winnipeg and Saskatoon runs, the show started to come together a bit more solidly--just in
time for Victoria, where I had the most success of any Fringe Festival
I've done so far. Lies! won the top spot in the Pick of the Fringe voting, as determined by audience members, and even had a couple of sellouts. A solid review off the top helped a bit, and there were some other good bounces that led to the show being successful in that festival.
The show going well in Victoria was fortunate, since the
key Vancouver theatre critic comes to Victoria to review some of the
Vancouver bound shows. Fortunately, Colin Thomas liked the show
(which felt good, as although I'll occasionally disagree with him, I've
always respected and enjoyed his work--much more so than other theatre critics across Canada), and he included it in the Georgia Straight's top recommendations (it was also reviewed by The Snipe). After a couple of medium houses, I managed to sell out the rest of the run. Not the greatest accomplishment in the world, since the theatre was only 60 seats, but still something.
The prize for winning Pick of the Fringe in Victoria is every bit as glorious as you'd hope:
Another Fringe Festival tour complete. For 2012 I toured a new show, called Lies! which consisted of about two thirds new material, tied together (loosely) by a discussion of lying in the context of a theatrical magic show.
The show started in Winnipeg, where I worked out the bugs, made adjustments, tried to figure out the new material. One show I screwed up the finale (and had already gone over time, so couldn't make use of my backup). Full on screw up, no way to recover. And of course, the CBC reviewer was in the house. Luckily the mistake didn't affect the review too much.
From Winnipeg to Saskatoon, where the show survived some hilarious tech issues. A wobbly, cobbled together stage in the middle of a giant school gym, with a tech person who had never done it before in her life (she was enthusiastic, hard working, and everything you'd want in a technician, just no experience whatsoever).
I was surprised at how difficult it was to get some of the new material off the ground, at just how much work it was taking to get things up to standard.
Edmonton Fringe is big. There are also 180 or so indoor shows. And the indoor shows are only a small part of it--apparently 75% of the people who come down to the festival site never even see an indoor show. For them there are six busking pitches, with world class street performers working all day long. There are also food stalls galore, carnival rides, a dance party tent... it's ridiculous.
The indoor show went well. Good attendance, especially considering it was my first time there. And got a good review from Vue Weekly.
(Before that, a brief visit to Saskatoon where I did not bring my indoor show, but worked the street. Saskatoon was lovely, and though the festival is small, it was worth it to see some old friends and visit a beautiful place.)
This year's Winnipeg Fringe was, I think, a success. The show was well reviewed (Free Press, CBC, Uptown), and attendance was way up from last year, including two sellouts.
I didn't manage to see many shows, but there were some great ones that I did manage to catch. Steve Larkin's N.O.N.C.E. springs to mind right away, as does RC Weslowski's underrated The Wet Dream Catcher. Guess I like the poets.
The best part, though, is hanging around with the other Fringe performers around the site. It's addictive and I didn't get much sleep.