#395 – Fringe Performer Roundtable

To kick off 2024, Stageworthy host Phil Rickaby convenes a round table discussion of Fringe Festival performers. The months of November and December are when a lot of the festivals on the Canadian Fringe circuit hold their lotteries, and so a lot of performers are planning out their summer touring schedules. In this round table discussion, Phil is joined by Keith Brown, Jess Gorman, Tim Murphy, Sarah Ivanco, Kendall Savage, Georgia Findlay, and Evan Bawtinheimer. These performers share the shows that they will be bringing to Fringe festivals this summer, seasoned touring artists share secrets and tips with artists newer to Fringe touring, and everyone talks frankly about the trials and triumphs of the Fringe experience, spotlighting the excitement and nerves that accompany taking a show on the road. From the logistics of coordinating tours between Montreal and Ottawa to the strategic planning necessary for North America’s largest fringe in Edmonton, our guests reveal the behind-the-scenes efforts that fuel their passion for performance. So, whether you’re a theatre enthusiast or an aspiring artist, this episode offers a front-row seat to the dreams, doubts, and determination that shape the exhilarating world of Fringe Festivals.

Keith Brown
http://www.absolutemagic.ca
Instagram: @keithhbrown

Jess Gorman
Instagram: @jra.gorman

Tim Murphy
Twitter: @timcmurphy

Sarah Ivanco
Twitter: @IvancoSarah

Kendall Savage
http://www.kendallsavageclown.com
Instagram: @kendall_savage_clown

Georgia Findlay
Instagram: @_georgiathejungle

Evan Bawtinheimer
Twitter: @MrEvanRussell

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Transcript

Transcript auto generated. 

0:00:04 – Phil Rickaby
I’m Phil Rickaby and I’ve been a writer and performer for almost 30 years, but I’ve realized that I don’t really know as much as I should about the theatre scene outside of my particular Toronto bubble. Now I’m on a quest to learn as much as I can about the theatre scene across Canada. So join me as I talk with mainstream theatre creators you may have heard of and indie artists you really should know, as we find out just what it takes to be Stageworthy. If you value the work that I do on Stageworthy, please consider leaving a donation, either as a one-time thing or on a recurring monthly basis. Stageworthy is created entirely by me and I give it to you free of charge, with no advertising or other sponsored messages. Your continuing support helps me to cover the cost of producing and distributing the show. Just four people donating $5 a month would help me cover the cost of podcast hosting alone. Help me continue to bring you this podcast. You can find a link to donate in the show notes, which you can find in your podcast app or at the website at Stageworthy.ca. Now onto the show.

The months of November and December are when a lot of the festivals on the Canadian Fringe Circuit hold their lotteries and a bunch of performers just found out which festivals they’ll be performing at this summer. I thought it might be fun to sit down with a number of fringe performers and talk to them about the shows that they will be bringing to festivals near you. Also, in this conversation, seasoned touring artists join artists that are newer to touring and share what it’s like fringing across Canada. Joining me are Keith Brown, Jess Gorman, Tim Murphy, Sarah Ivanco, Kendall Savage, Georgia Findlay and Evan Bawtinheimer. Here’s our roundtable discussion.

All right, I want to thank you all for joining me. All of you are artists who have almost, for some of you, just found out that you are part of the Fringe Festival some Fringe Festival on the Canadian Fringe Festival Circuit. We have a number of them, a number of you. I want to thank you all for joining me, so I want to start. I’ll call each of you if you don’t mind. I would like to tell you to tell me a little bit about who you are, what show you are going to be presenting at a Fringe Festival Some of you may have more knowledge about that than others, because it is early days as far as that goes and what Fringe Festival or festivals that you’ll be attending. I’m going to start with first person to my right, with Evan.

0:03:14 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
Hello everyone. Thank you for inviting me, phil. My name is Evan Boddenheimer. I’m a bipolar playwright from Toronto, ontario, and the only Fringe Festival that I intend on going to as of right now is the Toronto Fringe Festival. I have a TYA play, a theatre-free audience play, called Paddy Picker. It’s about a high school student who is just living her ordinary life until her deep, dark secret shame becomes public to everyone in the school. She picks her nose.

0:03:49 – Phil Rickaby
Thank you for that. We’ll come back to that. Keith, tell me about who you are in your show and what Fringe Festival is that you’re going to Sure.

0:03:58 – Keith Brown
My name is Keith Brown. I do a magic and storytelling show. Right now I’m in the Saskatoon Fringe and that’s the first time I will ever have done. That festival is this summer. This summer is also my 10th year touring in a row and I’m going to be in a bring your own venue in Edmonton. I’m exploring Winnipeg and we’re waiting for the rest.

0:04:26 – Phil Rickaby
Awesome. Thank you so much, tim yeah.

0:04:32 – Tim Murphy
I’m just doing Ottawa Fringe next year. I’ve been doing Fringe for a long time, but I have twin girls now and so I can only do so much. Happily. My show is Babylon. I did it maybe four years ago, but I’m rewriting it. The tagline is talking is easy until it’s with someone you love, and it’s pretty much a love letter to my parents, with a side of a lot of cheesy breakup ballads, attachment theory and lessons from my roommate at a mental health ward, who at the time was an active member of parliament.

0:05:04 – Phil Rickaby
Wow. Thank you, sarah Hi.

0:05:09 – Sarah Ivanco
Thanks for having me. My name is Sarah Ivanko. I use she they pronouns. I am a producer, performer and creator with Tripoli theatre Collective. This year we’ll be going to Montreal Fringe, ottawa Fringe and Winnipeg Fringe, which is very exciting. It’s our first kind of little tour as a collective. We just started doing Fringe last year, and so our big show that we’re doing is called Nui. It’s a devised dance theatre piece that follows four queer characters night clubbing. It’s a really bright, fun adventure.

0:05:45 – Phil Rickaby
Nice, nice, jess, please tell me a little bit about your show and about you and about the festivals that you’re going to.

0:05:55 – Jess Gorman
Okay, hi, thanks for having me. I’m Jess. I’ve only done Fringe this will be my third time but I will be going to the Edmonton Fringe Festival. I did apply for Hamilton as well, so cross our fingers there. I am working on a solo show called Boxed and this will be my second solo show. But this one is going to be exploring the time I got diagnosed with ADHD. It was a late diagnosis. I’m going to be mixing autobiographical elements, but I really want to explore fiction and get into a different plot than sticking with my own narrative. But the show deals with a character who has packed up their entire house and they are all done the night before the big move and they realize that they have forgotten something very important and they need it now. But they can’t remember what that is. And now they’re faced with a decision of unpacking all the boxes or try and figure out what it is by following a paper trail, so to speak.

0:07:11 – Phil Rickaby
So kind of a bit of a mystery.

0:07:14 – Jess Gorman
Kind of my real life.

0:07:18 – Phil Rickaby
Kendall, please tell me about you and your show.

0:07:22 – Kendall Savage
Hi, my name is Kendall Savage. I am currently located in Toronto, but I will be going to the Montreal Fringe with my show A Truck Stuff Diner in the middle of nowhere on the night shift. It’s a clown show. I’m the former co-creator and artistic director of the Montreal Clown Festival and it’s someone looking for love on the night shift and a lot of jello.

0:07:49 – Phil Rickaby
Sorry, I’m stuck on Jell-O. We’ll come back to that. We’ll come back to that. Georgia, tell me about your show.

0:07:58 – Georgia Findlay
Hi, I’m Georgia Finley. I’m an actor, playwright and producer. I’m going to be doing a show at the Edmonton Fringe this year. I did Toronto back in 2022, and it will be a remount of the show that I did in Toronto in 2022. It’s called Joan and Olivia a Hollywood ghost story and it is based on the real-life feud between old Hollywood movie stars Joan Fontaine and Olivia DeHavilland, who were sisters who had this lifelong rivalry. I kind of take a supernatural twist and see what they’re doing in the afterlife If they’re up to no good and they influence some new children who move into their house. It’s a bit of a dramedy. It’s got some high personal stakes but also a lot of sort of quippy fun.

0:08:56 – Phil Rickaby
That’s great. Okay, there’s a couple of things that I want to touch on for a couple of people. Actually, georgia, I want to ask you about the fact the show that you did in Toronto it was a four-person cast. A lot of times when people tour, there’s a lot of solo performing. There’s a lot of maybe two-person casts. You don’t see a lot of four-person casts. We just thought of a big group per se, but for a touring show it’s a little bit on the large size. What are your feelings about the logistics of that and are you frightened? How are you feeling about that aspect of it so far?

0:09:37 – Georgia Findlay
Well, I think I might be a little bit naively optimistic. I don’t know. I understand that it is a bit more of an undertaking and I do think about oh, if I only had to worry about one plane ticket or two plane tickets for me and a stage manager. Something that is very reassuring for me is that when we did the show in Toronto, we had a very successful fundraising campaign that honestly gave us more than enough to put the show on in Toronto. I learned a lot from that experience and I want to take what I’ve learned in the past two years about that as well and work towards that.

I’ve been budgeting how much our flight is going to cost. I know that they also provide a lot of billets in Edmonton and a lot of the people that I’m working with know people in Edmonton. I’m not too concerned about places to stay, at least for the budget. We have things like we already have costumes and a lot of it is already sort of pre-made, because the hustle and bustle of frantically writing the show happened in 2022. Now I can really focus on producing and making sure that we can all get there. I’m feeling optimistic, but check in with me in, I don’t know, five months and maybe I will be singing a different tune, but I feel like we can do it. I’m excited and I think it’s going to be really fun. You know a bunch of collaborators who enjoy each other and each other’s work, basically taking time off work, going to a new city and having a slumber party every night.

0:11:20 – Tim Murphy
I’m stoked.

0:11:22 – Phil Rickaby
Nice. Now are you working with the same cast as you did when you were doing it in Toronto?

0:11:27 – Georgia Findlay
It’s a little bit up in the air right now. I have one person who has confirmed that she cannot do it for completely reasonable reasons, and we had a conversation and left on very, very friendly terms. There’s no hard feelings at all. But something that I think for me has grown a lot since that first fringe is I feel like that was a great introduction for me into the you know, the vast Toronto theatre scene and I feel like that daunting word like my network has grown a lot more. So I already feel like there are people that I can go to who might show some interest. I’ve already been sort of courting an actor friend of mine and I’m hoping for the best.

But it’s an evolving conversation. Right now it seems like we will be having the same director, but there are definitely shakeups that are going to happen. But I’m kind of excited by that. I think there is something refreshing about seeing something that I wrote through new eyes and how different people might interpret it. So I absolutely loved the work of the first cast and I’m so grateful for everything they contributed. But if there is a reason that they can’t participate, I feel like it’s just an exciting new challenge to see what we can make of it this time.

0:12:49 – Phil Rickaby
Now, on the flip side of that, jess, you are going for your first time to Edmonton with a solo show that you’re still working on. But you’ve done some fringes before, but there’s something different about this time. What’s new about this time going first off, you haven’t been to Edmonton before. What else is new for you in this instance?

0:13:17 – Jess Gorman
Well, I find that with my first show, this is step one. I performed that in London and Ottawa and that was completely autobiographical, from beginning to end. Oh, my goodness, I can’t talk from beginning to end. With this one, it’s not so much that I don’t want to present myself on stage, it’s that I actually want the challenge of now developing myself as a character and seeing where these stories can go, because this diagnosis came while I was on maternity leave with my little guy and it was such a beautiful, wonderful, messy period of my life.

There was a lot that I underestimated, like thinking that I could just jump right back into these projects that I love after three months, and that was not the case. But being able to explore that more with some fiction is new for me and instead of taking it purely from a storytelling perspective of I’m going to tell you little segments and they’re all going to tie together nicely I really want to explore the five act play in 60 minutes so that’s relatively new and to take it to Edmonton. Oh, my goodness, what was I thinking?

0:14:43 – Phil Rickaby
Well, I mean, the other thing is, I think that you mentioned that in previous times, when you’ve traveled, you haven’t like done a show, gone by yourself, and this time you’re going in without your husband, without your usual support network, you’re just going completely solo to Edmonton.

0:15:00 – Jess Gorman
Yeah, that’s terrifying. We were originally going to frame this, as you know, a family vacation, so to speak, and we were all going to go, but my husband approached me one night and thought you know, just discuss the idea of me going alone. And I felt guilty for so long. I didn’t want to go because I don’t want to miss that time with my kiddo. But at the same token, though, I feel like I need this as an artist, I need to have that. I’ve never gotten that before to go venture off on my own.

0:15:35 – Phil Rickaby
I mean it’s pretty exciting. I know that. I know that both Keith and Tim have done plenty of going off on their own for their time when they were on the circuit with Tim who hasn’t you know reducing the amount of fringes that you did. But when I was in 2012, when I was on the on the circuit doing a couple of fringes, you were very heavily into a yearly, yearly circuit and Keith, 10 years on the circuit. What do you, what do the two of you have? Do you have advice that you could give to Jess for going in completely solo?

0:16:17 – Tim Murphy
I’ll jump in. It’s one thing I didn’t realize when I started in 2009,. It’s just and I know you’ve experienced it, I think more so. It’s just, the community is just, they’re so supportive. It’s and I find Edmonton it’s very daunting, very daunting, but yeah, I mean from the first night. It was it next act, I think right.

0:16:37 – Keith Brown
Is that what’s?

0:16:38 – Tim Murphy
called, or then steel wheels and yeah, and I think actually maybe being on your own without your family, as a new dad, I think it’s might be a blessing actually, just that you can just go out at night and then see other and seeing other shows and supporting that’s the biggest to meet as many people as you can, yeah.

0:16:57 – Keith Brown
Edmonton will definitely not be a vacation because it is the biggest and you are working and everyone you know will be there and everyone you don’t know because you’re gonna meet them. But like you’re all so busy doing the thing that like Edmonton’s one of the few times on tour that I’m like hey, like you’re not gonna hear from me for the next two weeks, like I’m gonna be busy, you’re gonna have to check my social media to see what I’m doing, or like I’m gonna have to. We’re gonna have to connect at the right moment when I actually have a break and you’re not talking to someone about your show and this and that. But also like as much of a grind as it can be Edmonton isn’t as big as it used to be since the pandemic like they’re not back at 289 shows. They were like 180, 190, which is still a lot, but it’s not as much of like, oh my God, I have to talk to more people, I have to do this, I have to do that, and it can be a grind and it can wear you out, but also it can be so incredibly rewarding beyond other festivals, because it is operating at that level and they do have a great community where, like most artists go to steal wheels at night, they also have a late night cabaret that’s unlike any other cabaret on the circuit. Montreal is like a close second, in my opinion, that they have similar things going on but different, but like you can go see an incredible cabaret show, see stuff with your friends, and there’s always things to go see. And yeah, I know we’ve already talked in private a bunch about Edmonton and you’re looking to ask me more stuff about that because I have like little ideas for Edmonton kind of thing.

So here’s one is Edmonton has a theatre goers club. They have a giant group of people who organize meetups to go see shows year round, but during the fringe that’s like their Olympics, and before they used to, they would like go to the beer tent, set up a little table top, be like this is the theatre goers club and you just meet there and you drink beer, and then they’d be like, hey, what’s the next discount show on that one, let’s go to it. And then they meet there again. So, like throughout the day, people come, people go, but you can reach out to them and you can say, hey, I have a show, would you like 30 tickets to it?

And they will fill seats, like I’ve given them 30, 40, 50 tickets before and they’re like, hey, can we have some more? And you’re like, sure, especially early on in your run, like if you want to paper your house one time, these are the people who will help you and because they’re theatre nerds and they go to all of the shows, they’re going to be walking around talking about your show. So that’s like a great partnership that you can make in Edmonton is find someone in the Edmonton theatre Goers Club or ask me because I have a person and I always just like connect artists to them give them some tickets on a day that isn’t the greatest or early in your run, and they will go out. I’ve been doing that for like four or five years and it’s awesome.

0:20:17 – Jess Gorman
Like that’s brilliant, just absolutely brilliant, that that network even exists.

0:20:22 – Keith Brown
Well, yeah, like Edmonton also has the pump of the volume, the comp tickets that they’re. Like you can give these out and like I give one to you and then you buy two tickets, whatever it’s a deal. But you have to find those people. You talk to one person and they bring 30 people to your show. It’s like it’s a no brainer. To me it’s so much less effort than a lot of the marketing and hustling. And then you have a bunch of people talking about your show.

0:20:47 – Phil Rickaby
Kendall, I’m going to go to you because I mean, first off, you’ve got a whole lot of exciting stuff coming up, you know, being back in Montreal, which is sort of your clown heart being at the head of that, the clown festival there. For so long, In addition to you’ve been touring a very successful turn to your hot dog act where you have been, I mean, you’ve done it in Vegas, in New York, You’re shortlisted for the Absinthe show at Caesars Palace to do it there. So I have two questions.

0:21:30 – Kendall Savage
Not to do the hot dog act.

0:21:32 – Phil Rickaby
No, no, no.

0:21:35 – Kendall Savage
I’m going to just to make that clear. For the character of Wanda I’m shortlisted. I actually have to retire the hot dog act for reasons that I’m not allowed to share. For those of you who don’t know, I have a very notoriously fantastic hot dog act where I serve hot dogs out my vagina A little out of context. I have been toying with the idea of doing it for the very last time at one of the midnight shows at Montreal, so it’s going to be really special.

0:22:08 – Phil Rickaby
but so the question that I have for this show in Montreal is there anything you would tell us about what Jello has to do with this show?

0:22:26 – Kendall Savage
I don’t want to give it too too much weight. It’s still. The show is still in process of being created with my director, jed Tomlinson, from the Clown Duo Cislin Spurk award-winning Clown Show, a couple duo. One of my hobbies is the passion for aspects. So aspects is any kind of vintage food that’s been gelatinized. So because the show takes place in like a 1970s truck stuff diner at about 2, 3 am in the morning, I’m just trying to include her world that we’re creating on stage time-related era-themed recipes in the show and that and Jello naturally because of my passion for aspect recipes was at the top of my list to use.

0:23:25 – Phil Rickaby
As a child of this 70s who grew up in the 70s, I do recall everything being in Jello at some point. So every kind of food that you can imagine went into Jello and it was disgusting.

0:23:40 – Kendall Savage
Yeah, it’s great.

0:23:44 – Phil Rickaby
Sarah, you in this. As far as the group here goes, I think you’re the only person doing a primarily dance physical show. Which festivals are you doing?

0:23:56 – Sarah Ivanco
So we are doing Montreal, ottawa and Winnipeg. Nice, okay, which is gonna be a lot, but it’s gonna be really fun.

0:24:04 – Phil Rickaby
Wait, montreal and Ottawa, cause those two? Yes, they overlap, they can overlap. I knew somebody last year who had to drive from Montreal to Ottawa to do their show in Montreal. Drive to Ottawa to do their show and then go back to Montreal. That’s a big thing. How many people are in your cast?

0:24:28 – Sarah Ivanco
Four, so we have a four person cast and then we have our stage manager and director that come with us. So it’s a big group of us but it’s a lot of fun. But luckily we are Ottawa based, so a lot of us have gone back and forth to Montreal and it’s not too big of a deal, but we are super excited to bring Nui back. We did it at Ottawa Fringe and Guelph Fringe last summer. But yeah, dance theatre is a bit odd, like there is a lot of movement based and physical theatre within it and there are specific, just solely dance numbers. But we have a lot of just dialogue scenes. We have musical scenes. We have scenes where it’s just regular dialogue and we are walking but doing really weird movement at the same time while having this conversation. I really like it. It’s a really dynamic art style. It’s not something I had done before I’ve only about two years into it at this point but yeah, it’s a lot of fun and I’m very excited to be bringing it to so many cities this summer.

0:25:37 – Phil Rickaby
Nice. Is this your first time doing a tour of any size?

0:25:43 – Sarah Ivanco
I would say, depends what you constitute a tour. Last summer it was only two fringes and one of them was Guelph, which is fairly small, it’s only about four days, but it’s lovely, lovely community. Guelph, fringe, I cannot hype them up enough. But yeah, this will be like our first big tour, nice.

0:26:03 – Phil Rickaby
I personally consider anytime you leave your home city to be a tour. Yes, so that’s your one city. That’s a tour. Evan, I think that you were the only person in the group that is doing a theatre for young audiences show and you’re doing that at the Toronto Fringe at the kids fringe there. What’s your fringe history as far as producing shows at fringe festivals?

0:26:31 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
This is the first play I will have done ever since graduating university, of any capacity of any kind. I have not done anything in the last 10 years but read and write. So, in terms of my first fringe, this is my first thing.

0:26:51 – Phil Rickaby
Okay, big deal, big deal Congratulations on that. That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

0:26:56 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
So I’m going to ask you, what was the impetus for doing, for submitting this show, to try to do this show Well about six months ago I got into contact with a local TYA touring company and we just hit it off and I said I would love to write something for you and so I came up with a first draft at about 48 hours and they said they loved it. And it was a really easy because once I knew that TYA touring shows have to be small, cast, low budget, touring, friendly, under 45 minutes and really simple and dialogue based, everything just clicked and I was able to come up with a script really quickly and I’ve been working on it for the last few weeks and I eventually spoke to the AD there and said this would make a great fringe show. So I applied to Toronto Fringe, nice.

0:27:52 – Phil Rickaby
Nice. Okay, a lot of people that I haven’t really talked to about their shows. Tim, your show. You know you’re doing the Ottawa Fringe rather than the epic tours that you once did. As far as like, what’s your history with Ottawa Fringe? Is that like coming home for you? What’s your history with that festival?

0:28:18 – Tim Murphy
Yeah, I first was 2009. At that point I was teaching overseas in Kuwait and come home in the summer and then later on in Toronto. But I think I’ve done Ottawa Fringe five or six times now, with three of my shows and a few blind happiness. I’ve done three times actually over the years, because I kind of revamped it in 2016 from 2009. So I’ve done Ottawa. I’ve been lucky with the Ottawa. Well, the first two times I did BYOD, but other than that, lucky in the lottery and it’s nice to be. I’ve been home for four years now, back in Ottawa, so it’s nice to be back performing regularly at the Ottawa Fringe.

0:28:56 – Phil Rickaby
Yeah, thank you, keith. As far as you are doing, as far as you know, you’re doing one Fringe festival this summer. No, you’re doing Edmonton, you’re doing the. Are you doing it at the French school?

0:29:11 – Keith Brown
Yeah, so I got pulled in Saskatoon for the first time and I’m going to be in the French Quarter Hub, which is run by John Patterson, and I’m going to be in Campus Saint John, which is across the street from like Looney Theeter and Lassie Tay Auditorium, where that like half circle shaped building is. Yeah, I’m in, like the school across the street. They have a nice auditorium there that’s a little bit bigger and yeah, If you’re doing two Fringes, is this a small tour for you?

0:29:46 – Phil Rickaby
Is this smaller than what you would normally do, or is that? And of course, it’s just the luck of the draw right, and that’s the thing.

0:29:52 – Keith Brown
It’s very stupid that we have a business plan that relies off of someone pulling your name out of an actual hat and like congrats on getting in Toronto. 800 people apply, 80 to 90 get in. So, yeah, like it’s not, like the odds are in your favor, but they’re meant to be there that way, right? So, yeah, I didn’t get into Edmonton and I’ve done BYOV before as well as like that’s actually what I did my first year there and took all my Winnebake money and kissed a goodbye, but now I’ve been enough that people will come see the show, which is nice and it’s worth taking that extra risk. But, yeah, I’ll be in the French Quarter for Edmonton, but part of it is because of it is the draw.

Like I think the most I’m looking it up is what I’m doing right now is the least I’ve ever done is one in a summer and that was the pandemic year. Like that was 2021, because Edmonton was like the only festival doing stuff. Beyond that, I think four is the smallest number and then the most is seven in a summer. So, yeah, this is like a smaller tour as well, as I really want to hit five this summer because that’ll bring me to 50 festivals. So I’m like. I was like it’d be real nice to hit 50 on your 10th anniversary of touring. But yeah, we’ll see what the lottery gods have in store for me, absolutely.

0:31:26 – Phil Rickaby
I think, evan, I think you had something that you wanted to say.

0:31:28 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
Yeah, I do agree completely with what Keith says about the hat based fortune of your of the lottery. That being said, the Toronto friends did something very particular this year that I thought was quite interesting for anyone who applied to Toronto friends this year. You could apply to the general lottery, the Ontario, the National Lottery, the international lottery, and then they have subsections for demographics, but there was like the dance one, and then there was one specifically for TYA, specifically for teens TYA, specifically for I think there’s one for BIPOC as well. So one one. While there was like 800 or so people who applied it generally for Ontario, I applied for the teens friend, teens TYA French. Do you know how many people apply for the teens TYA French? Not a lot, nine. Okay, how many people from that nine got in?

0:32:28 – Phil Rickaby
Four, the odds are pretty good for that one. The odds are pretty good. You had a teens Toronto play.

0:32:34 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
Your odds were one in nine of getting it. Their category is interesting.

0:32:42 – Keith Brown
They also do have the diversity lottery where they’re having anyone from a minority like be chosen first and then after they and they have, 50% goes towards this, this marginalized community lottery. And then once they do that 50% of the slots available, then they throw everyone’s names in. And Toronto also doesn’t have a local category. Ontario is their local category because people would use their grandma’s address in Hamilton and get a second application and things like that. So to get around that they’re like, hey, everyone on Ontario gets to apply, kind of thing. But yeah, they have some interesting categories like Over 65.

0:33:22 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
Yeah, over 60. Yeah.

0:33:25 – Keith Brown
They had international 60, national 60 kids fest, team general 90, ontario, which included dance senior and Ontario 60.

0:33:31 – Phil Rickaby
Yeah, yeah, wow. Now, keith, you bring up a very interesting point about keeping about a business plan that relies on, essentially, chance. And you know, you, there are two reasons to do friends. Number one you would like to get your work seen. Number two you would like to not go bust. You would like to make some money. You’re probably not going to make a lot of money, but you would at least like to break even, which is hard to do with a business plan If you’re not sure what your, if you’re even going to get into fringes and things like that.

In Europe they do it a different way, where you apply to a venue when you pay the venue, although a lot of times people will say that the only people who make money in those fringes especially say, for example, the Edinburgh Fringe, are the venues. So there’s like it’s a there’s a bit of a give and take there is. Do you see, do any of you see a better way than the lottery for doing for selecting fringe, or is lottery, basically, I think, the most egalitarian thing that we have?

0:34:41 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
I guess the better question is how would you choose?

0:34:45 – Keith Brown
Yeah, like one of the tenants of Fringe is that it’s uncensored, like it’s raw and cup kind of thing, so they don’t go. Hey, we like you, we don’t like you, we like you, we don’t like you. Whereas the like Edinburgh, australia, hollywood, fringe, those venues curate themselves and you’re like, hey, I’ll pay you for a show a day and I want seven o’clock or I want nine o’clock. You have the same time slot. Right, it’s like a rare month and those festivals are massive, whereas the Canadian ones, like there’s, there’s, there is like a magic to having your name drawn. I’m like, oh my God, I got in.

There are also ways around that, like, bring your own venue where you find your own venues, show up anyways, and not everyone has that.

Like Toronto has the unconventional spaces, which is more hey, my show can’t be in a theatre, it has to be in this bar, and here’s why, or whatever the site specific thing is.

But that’s part of the beauty of it is that there are people that you’re like, oh my God, like there are people like Mike Delamond and Chase Padgett that are up there, who are, who have massive draw, who do Mervish, who you’re like why, why don’t I see you on TV kind of thing that they might not be there the next year. But you also have the person who is the first time doing the fringe and they get a shot and they get a crack at it and they get to produce their show for a small amount than they would normally independently, and the Canadian ones. There’s something special of like hey, you get a noon, you get a midday, you get a five, you get a late night, like you get a prime time. So like it is pretty equal all the way through and you’re going to get stuff that’s great and stuff that’s complete garbage. But everyone deserves a crack at it. So yeah, Sorry.

0:36:36 – Kendall Savage
I just think it’s interesting in the sense of when it comes to how many people now are involved for shows and how they’re chosen. There also used to be off fringes that would sort of tag on to the fringes, which I thought were pretty magical. And I don’t know about all the fringes, but Montreal had this wild off fringe where anything went and it wasn’t part of the fringe, it was like the anti-fringe. And, as I recall, years ago Toronto had something similar. So you’d be going into these teeny, tiny people’s apartments where they had pushed all the furniture away and you’d see this one woman show and it would be fantastic. And I think it would be a lot more magical if some of those sort of events came back too, and that would give people more opportunity to perform and perform maybe some a little more interesting things too.

0:37:29 – Tim Murphy
Yeah.

0:37:30 – Phil Rickaby
Toronto did used to have BYOVs, in the same way that Montreal and a lot of other fringes had. This is maybe 15 years ago or more. They hated it. They hated the idea of somebody being able to pay to perform to skip the line. At least that’s the reason they give, although they have had shows that they sponsor and do a fundraiser with, and they’re not always upfront with what those shows are. So those people get like a prime shot in the prime space when that occurs.

0:38:04 – Kendall Savage
But they did used to do it and then they decided they wanted to go for something more like what they do now, which is the specific fringe, which is not easy, sorry, but I tried to apply for a site specific last year or the year before because I have several plays written in the back of a car and they don’t make site specific easy at all to get into. It’s shockingly difficult and I think it takes. I don’t know. I’m a bit of an anarchist in the sense that I want to see theatre, not just in theatres Like Montreal a couple of years ago had a food truck pull out and there was a puppet show and they let someone do their show out of a food truck, which I thought was incredible. I want to see some more interesting stuff. I want to see a show in the back of someone’s 1959 National Metropolitan car which is what.

0:39:03 – Keith Brown
I wrote, orlando has had a bunch of shows in cars, so I think that’s the city you got to do it in. I also do know with Toronto and their venues is they get a lot of grant money, whether that’s municipally, provincially or federally, to make the venues accessible. So any fringe proper venue must be fully accessible and that includes washrooms, otherwise they won’t put a show in there and a lot of B-Wild Beans is like, hey, this is a great spot, but there’s stairs, it’s not accessible. And they want to be more inclusive and they have put a lot of work into their accessibility in the last few years, which I do really, really like, because not every festival provides you with those resources.

0:39:48 – Phil Rickaby
No, and one of the things I remember a couple of years ago, at the Winnipeg Fringe, they had their big awards. The Jennies occurred at a space that was not accessible. It happens upstairs Big awards. I know it’s not really that, it’s like you get a donkey, but it was upstairs and that was not an accessible space, so there were people who couldn’t access it. As far as for those of you who are not what I would call, who might be fringe veterans, if it’s your first time, or your first time, sort of like, going out on your own, what is the thing that scares you the most right now? Is it? What is it that? I mean? It can also be exciting, because it’s exciting too, but like it can be frightening. I know I am terrified of Edmonton as far as the performance thing. So those of you who are going to Edmonton, good for you. But as far as what you are nervous about or frightened of, tell me what are those things.

0:40:52 – Jess Gorman
I can say it right now there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t say I made the biggest fucking mistake of my life. What have I done? Oh my gosh, like I was in Home Depot when I found out that I got drawn and my face of shock was so many emotions. But besides from coming to a whole other city I’ve never been to, I work from home, but my work is primarily in Edmonton, so I’m excited to go see a city I’ve never seen but work out of it’s also. I mentioned this to Keith.

Actually, keith and I was very generous with this time and giving me some advice about it, but it was a. How am I going to keep up with this tiny little solo show that’s half fiction, half autobiographical, while not getting lost in the crowd? And how am I going to market this thing and make it interesting enough? Because I’ve done the solo show before and the question that gets asked through my own work is why the show? Why should somebody come and invest an hour of their time to see you? What is it about you? That’s interesting, and I think getting caught in that cycle is vicious and it can be a hindrance to your work, because then you start asking is this interesting enough? Is it interesting enough? And you don’t need to keep asking yourself that. I think if me as the performer, if I find it interesting, then I hope that by sharing that it makes it interesting. So I think that’s my overall fear is getting caught up of if I’m interesting enough.

0:42:30 – Phil Rickaby
I’m going to encourage Evan. Evan, I think that you sort of feel along the same lines as Jess. What are your feelings about being a first time, first off, first time doing something in first time at Fringe?

0:42:43 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
I have an inflated sense of self-esteem regarding my work, so I do not have that kind of sense. Where I am, I feel good about my work. I’ve been working at this for about 10 years. My concern is similar to Jess’s in the sense of I’m worried that this may be the biggest mistake that I’ve made, because all I have is a script. I literally have nothing else and I have no one else. I have no team. I have no performers. I have like two people, three people who’ve read the script say it’s good and that’s it. I’ve paid my participation fee, so I’m in this. I have no intention of performing, I have no intention of reading this.

I wrote this for. I would love to give this to two young women out of theatre school who want to perform and one young woman who wants to direct, because it is like low budget, like regular costumes, a couple of props and it’s really quick and it’s a really good challenge, I think, for a performer and I know no one, especially now as we’re recording this podcast. It’s December 18th and I have what? Seven months, seven, eight months to get people to commit to that timeline is so difficult, and that’s just for Toronto. If I wanted to apply to a fringe out of the city I live in. That’s next to impossible because I know no one.

The Hamilton Fringe is open. I got an email just this morning from a Ventura on saying the Hamilton Fringe is open. I think we all got that email. Will you apply? And my answer is a swift no, because I don’t know anyone there and even though this the project that I have, it travels really light. Three people could get into a car and go anywhere with this show. It is so incredibly tourable and fringable, but I don’t know anyone. That’s my biggest fear is that in the seven months that I’ll be asking, I’m asking co-workers if they can help me with this. I’m asking, I’m pulling every favour in my hat from everyone who I’ve met in the last 10, 15 years to say I’m finally doing this, can you help me? And it’s whether or not it adds up.

0:45:16 – Phil Rickaby
That is great, my work is great.

0:45:18 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
My work is fantastic.

0:45:21 – Phil Rickaby
That is the essence of fringe. I have a script and I need some people to do it. Sarah, a question for you. Yes, sarah, go ahead. Kendall.

0:45:29 – Kendall Savage
I would love to read your script. If you want to send it my way, we can exchange emails and I’ll see how I can help you.

0:45:38 – Keith Brown
Awesome. Also, toronto Fringe has like a board of people. So if you’re looking for a videographer, a stage manager, an actor, they have like an index of people in the community that you can reach out to. You could. Also there’s going to be like a Toronto Fringe participation group. There’s also other Facebook groups, like Beyond the Fringe, where artists talk about festivals outside of those festivals as well, as you’re both like hey, what if this is the biggest mistake I’ve made?

But what if it’s the best fucking thing you ever did? Right, as much as you might fall on your face, what if you fly? What if you fly Right? You have no idea what could happen or what you will make happen. And you need all those people? Probably not.

You already made the show by yourselves, so anytime you do have that doubt creeping into you. One thing that I’ve learned is that only highly qualified people experience imposter syndrome. So if you’re questioning yourself, you’re smart enough to not be the bottom of the barrel. Who’s so dumb that they are just like the blind confidence Right. So it means like you’re human as well, as if you weren’t afraid of this thing. That means you don’t give a shit.

And if you don’t give a shit, why are you doing it? Because you care. You care about this work, you care about putting in front of other people, you care about what they think and what’s going to happen with it. So like, use that, use that to put more work in and to talk to more people and find the people in your community who can make it happen for you. So like, sometimes you got to tell that voice in your head to fuck off and you do it anyways and you see what happens as well as like, it probably won’t be your best the first time round, but if you keep showing up, you’re going to get better and better and better and better and those people are going to remember you. Like, hey, I saw their show last year. They were funny, they were this, they were that. I’m going to give them my money again and I’m going to tell friends about it.

0:47:44 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
I’m going to use SERP, the round table, for a quick second to tell my Keith Brown story. Oh no, so this was last summer. We have a mutual friend, carl and Raimi. Yes, yes, we went to go see your show and it was a great show. That’s fantastic. I’m a magic person. It’s wonderful to see your show. So you did a fantastic job. But what I loved more about the show was the inspiring messages that you pepper in throughout the performance, especially one that you did about the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

0:48:23 – Keith Brown
Oh Iceland, yeah Iceland.

0:48:24 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
Iceland. Sorry, but that’s another story within a story. But you basically said the message where it’s like if you, if you want to do something, go for it, because the worst thing that could happen is it doesn’t happen. But if it does happen, imagine if it does. So after your show, I went for a drink with Carl and I thought about what you said for a very long time and I literally asked her I have a show I want to write. I don’t know where and I don’t know why, but I want to write it. It’s about a little girl who picks her nose and gets ostracized for it, and she’s like you should write that show. And so I held in the back burner and I’m like, oh, maybe not, maybe not. And the opportunity came up so I wrote it and that’s the show that is going to fringe this summer and it’s because you inspired me to write that play.

0:49:15 – Keith Brown
Well, you’re welcome. I was going to say thank you for that nice comments you said about me, but I guess you’re welcome.

0:49:21 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
So it’s no more fault.

0:49:24 – Keith Brown
I’m so sorry that you got dragged into all this and for all of the pain and suffering you’re about to endure.

0:49:32 – Evan Bawtinheimer.
Yes, I blame you, and only you, or?

0:49:35 – Tim Murphy
everything that has happened.

0:49:40 – Phil Rickaby
I want to jump in because I want to get to a couple of other people. Sarah, I wanted to point out the fringes that you are doing. You’re doing Montreal, ottawa and Winnipeg. So as far as the fringes go, you’re kind of going to little fringe, little fringe, massive fringe. Have you been to the Winnipeg fringe before?

0:50:00 – Sarah Ivanco
Nope, first time.

0:50:02 – Phil Rickaby
Okay, okay.

0:50:04 – Sarah Ivanco
We only started doing fringe last year. I am like very, very new to this.

0:50:08 – Phil Rickaby
Now, when you applied for the Winnipeg fringe, did you know about its size? Were you prepared for that?

0:50:14 – Sarah Ivanco
Oh, yeah, we had friends who did it last year and we’ve known a bunch of people who’ve done it, so we were very well aware of what we were getting ourselves into.

But yeah, getting six people from Ottawa to Winnipeg is going to be a lot. But we’re really, really excited and we’ve met a lot of people in the fringe community, even just from doing it last year, that have given us wonderful advice for going to a big fringe. And our director her name is Sophie is probably the most marketed minded person I’ve ever met in my entire life and it’s very in your face about it. So I’m very happy to have her on our team for definitely that part of Winnipeg fringe. But yeah, very excited but pretty nervous I’m the same kind of things.

0:51:08 – Phil Rickaby
I want to jump over to Kendall for a second before I jump over to Georgia and Tim Kendall. You are essentially going home for this festival. You are returning to Montreal after living in Toronto for a few years. What does coming home to the Montreal fringe with this new clown show mean to you?

0:51:31 – Kendall Savage
Well, it’s fantastic. I’m no way how excited I am because the clown community themselves haven’t really seen me perform. I stopped performing clown to focus for many years on the festival, and the last time I really performed clown in Montreal was at least a full show was 2013 or 2012,. Gollumini cry, my award winning clown show at the Montreal fringe. And then I went off to do my master’s degree in clown in Edmonton and then came back to Montreal and pretty much started producing and stopped performing. So I’m really excited to be returning as a performer and not as a producer, like I can begin to tell you it’s magical, it’s going to be magical and I’m very fortunate that I already have like a huge community coming out to see the performance, because they’re also curious and I just I like I’m counting. The show is not ready but by any means it’s kind of gotten written a little on paper. So it’s going to be really exciting and I just I can’t wait. I can’t wait to go home.

0:52:46 – Phil Rickaby
What does the Montreal fringe not just Montreal, but the fringe itself in that city mean to you?

0:52:53 – Kendall Savage
I think it is. I think to me it means a really supportive, wonderful, safe place for people who may not often have the opportunity to perform. Like fringe itself is so vital in my opinion, because sometimes it’s the only performance someone might do for the entire year, and that sort of cathartic experience is what feeds the soul. Like if I performed once a year I’d be grateful, I’d be performing at all, probably, but my, my soul wouldn’t be fed. So if someone doesn’t have the opportunity for the rest of the years to do it and they, they venture out and they get in. So I think that’s what I’ll need to have, if that made any sense.

0:53:50 – Phil Rickaby
Absolutely it did. Absolutely it did. I saw nodding heads. I saw nodding heads. Georgia, you’ve done. I believe that when you did Joan and Olivia at the Toronto Fringe, it was your first fringe festival. How do you feel about going to the biggest in North America as your next stop with this show?

0:54:13 – Georgia Findlay
Excited, nervous. I was not expecting it, obviously, I think. Talking before about the randomness of getting into a fringe, it’s always really exciting. I always encourage pretty much everyone I know who has an idea to apply for any fringes, because what are the odds? I’ve applied to a bunch more this year and so far, other than Edmonton, it’s all been nosed. I’m very, very happy I got into Edmonton. It’s intimidating for sure, but I think something a benefit of having done a production of it.

I have a different kind of nerves but they’re more, I guess, logistical, in the sense of getting plane tickets for everyone. I think someone mentioned this before, but I think it was Evan actually getting people to sign on this far in advance because I have to buy your plane ticket and I can’t last minute just switch whose name is on the ticket. That’s something that I’m worried about. But I do realize I feel like I have a long time to before we’ll start rehearsing or anything like that. Like I said, I’ve reached out to the previous team and I’m just letting them know the offers on the table. But you have time to get back to me, but it’s not infinite time. There is a certain point where I need to know if I have to look elsewhere. But again, that’s why I’m so grateful that the person who had to pull out of it was able to tell me in December for an August show. I’m so grateful for that respect and that forethought because now I can start to brainstorm and start to sort of core other people and see what’s the right fit for this next iteration.

But I think one of the biggest advantages is it was an untested show before and I was an untested writer. I’m a performer first and it was my first play that I’d written and I didn’t know if people would like it. From everything I heard and experienced, they did. Now I have the knowledge that there is an audience for this and that we have quotes from reviews that we can use in advertising. We have the production stills. We have video of it. We have evidence that this is worth your time and, as much as it may seem crazy to bring five people to Edmonton, that’s five people who can split up and go around the festival and independently promote it. So it’s not just me doing all the legwork, which I really appreciate.

I’m not going to ask everybody to do too much extra work. I am the producer for the show, but I think I’m going to be spending the next few months just focusing on marketing and fundraising and grant writing. I’ve got some fun ideas for fundraiser type things. I’m thinking about just writing a lot of the copy ahead of time of ways to advertise the show so that when we get closer to it we can just focus on the art and getting there and then message people like crazy and I don’t know anybody in Edmonton personally. I know of people in Edmonton, but I know people who know people in Edmonton, and so I want to use this time to really pull on my resources and I think, compared to last time, I’m just a lot less scared to do that because I feel like I have some kind of place in this community now. And it’s again like anyone saying you’re worried that this is the biggest mistake of your life. I feel like I can almost guarantee that it’s not like.

Getting into the Toronto fringe in 2022 honestly changed my life. I am a completely different artist now and I feel like it was my way in to my career that the pandemic felt like it had completely cut off, so I’m really excited to be doing it again. I went to the Toronto Fringe for 2023 as a patron, and I went to see 18 shows. I just love it. I love the community, I love the experience. So to get to do that in Edmonton, which is so huge, I just really want to just experience it all. I’m sure I’ll probably, you know get absolutely exhausted, but it’s an exhaustion that I very much look forward to.

0:59:09 – Phil Rickaby
Every fringe festival is a rollercoaster for the performers. I think years ago, I think, I was doing a couple of cities and I had a moment in the middle of a fringe festival where I said to myself if you don’t feel completely demoralized that at some point in the fringe and feel like a complete failure, then you’re really doing a fringe tour. It happens it is such a rollercoaster, tim, as somebody who is a fringe veteran, who’s done festivals for quite some time, but now you’re sort of pulling back. What’s your relationship with fringe like now? Is it something that you look at as something from the past that you do occasionally Like? What’s your relationship with fringe itself like?

0:59:55 – Tim Murphy
Yeah, it used to be such a big part of my life. Now it’s so I mean it was really the pandemic that really started it. And so now I mean auto fringe is great, I’ll go there and I’ll go when I don’t perform. And now I just live vacariously through everybody and I’m so happy I can follow a whole new group of friends here and I mean I just I think some of you said it really changed my life. I know you said, keith, like it’s dependent on the lottery. I just think the lottery is so beautiful that it gives everyone a chance. And yeah, I’ve got a huge. I love fringe so much and I joke that I’ll take a Davian Juniper and my partner Grace on a trip to Edmonton, winnipeg we’ll see. So I just know I’ll continue doing it.

I have to rewrite some shows because I’ve aged myself but I just keep aging the character. But now I’m doing some more storytelling so that can work and I have ideas for new shows. I just think fringe is beautiful and I do miss it, but I’m so happy with the life I have now that I wouldn’t change it in any way. But I just think I’m so glad it’s flourishing again and seeing so many young people. In Ottawa. I was just so amazed at the number of young people where I just felt when I was there, it wasn’t, it was people that were a bit more in the industry, but people just jumping right in and just saying, yeah, yeah, let’s create a show in the community that’s built, and a lot of us were solo performers, but there’s much larger groups. I think there’s a new regeneration that’s happening. That’s just that’s really fun to see.

1:01:33 – Phil Rickaby
One of the things that I’ve noticed and it excites me this year is I was looking over the names of people who got into like a Toronto fringe, for example. I think there’s not a single name that I know. From the entire time that I’ve lived in Toronto and been involved with fringe and been a fringe goer. I think there are no names that I know, which is really exciting because that means that a whole lot of new people get to do this festival and to have the fringe experience. We are almost at the end of our time because I don’t want to take up everybody’s time. I know people have lives to get back to. I do want to say thank you to each of you for joining me and I look forward to talking with you all as we get closer to the festivals themselves.

This has been an episode of Stageworthy. Stageworthy is produced, hosted and edited by Phil Rickaby that’s me. If you enjoyed this podcast and you listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, you can leave a five star rating, and if you listen on Apple Podcasts, you can also leave a review. Those reviews and ratings help new people find the show. If you want to keep up with what’s going on with Stageworthy and my other projects. You can subscribe to my newsletter by going to philrickaby.com/subscribe, and remember, if you want to leave a tip, you’ll find a link to the virtual tip jar in the show notes or on the website. You can find Stageworthy on Twitter and Instagram at StageworthyPod, and you can find the website with the complete archive of all episodes at Stageworthy.ca. If you want to find me, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at PhilRickaby and, as I mentioned, my website is philrickaby.com. See you next week for another episode of Stageworthy.