Two acts of violence at the Fringe

From left to right, the cast of Dyad:
Laura Nordin, Glen McDonald, David Tompa, Margaret Evans.

Two acts of violence
directed by Michael Wheeler

George Ignatieff Theatre
15 Devonshire Place (S.of Bloor)
Click here for a map

55 Min.
Wed, July 4 @ 10:30 pm
Sat, July 7 @ 7:30 pm
Sun, July 8 @ Noon
Tue, July 10 @ 9:00 pm
Thu, July 12 @ 11:00 pm
Fri, July 13 @ 2:15 pm
Sat, July 14 @ 5
:15 pm

Adults: $10 At The Door
$10 Advance ($8 + $2 SC)
Passes: $6.50 – $8.00

A Trouve North production
Produced by Margaret Evans, Philip Graeme
and Michael Wheeler Stage manager Meredith Scott
Lighting design Nicolas A. Greenland
Marketing Ian Mackenzie, Poster design James Morrow

10 questions: David Tompa

David Tompa (L) and Glen McDonald (R).

1) What the fuck is going on?
My allergies are starting to get really get bad now, the heat has moved up the chart from “stifling” to “oppressive”, I fell of a bike and ripped up my shoulder and banged up my right hand, and I’m playing a character in a production of Mojo – which just opened – that spends the whole time complaining, whining and blaming. Apparently it’s worn off on me . . .

2) What do you like about the Fringe show you’re acting in, Dyad?
Quite a few things:

  • I love the status switch. Simon Ogden’s done a wicked job of flipping the status ever so slowly and organically. It’s a gigantic change globally, but an extremely subtle change locally.
  • I love that we’re going to be doing it outside. It’ll make it that much more realistic, almost like the audience is witnesses something they shouldn’t be seeing, or should at least be doing something to stop it.
  • I love that the concept of the piece is so simple: two guys outside a building with some smokes. It takes a very basic moment in two human’s lives and explores that to the fullest. No bells and whistles.
  • I love that I can play with the audience’s natural ability to create first impressions. They’ll assume a lot about my character because of what I wear and how I behave initially, but then I can unwind all that and show them a much fuller human with layers of issues and wants.

3) As an actor, how concerned are you with emphasizing or playing to Dyad’s opposition themes?
Not at all really. I think Simon has written the piece well enough that the themes expose themselves. I’m guessing that [director] Michael Wheeler ensures that they’re being exposed to the audience properly. As an actor, my concerns lie with making this character a human being that lives his life out to the fullest in the given situation.

4) How much does your approach to acting change to accommodate the challenges of site-specific performance?
It depends on the director and the piece. For Dyad we’ll have to make sure that our volume is up because we’re outside. There’s less control over the environment, so we’ll have to be sure to react to whatever happens around us. For example, if a siren passes us, that’s going to influence what we’re doing drastically. Also, because it’s site-specific and potentially feels more “real” to the audience, we’ll have to be ready for them to get involved either spatially or vocally.

I did a show at UW that split the audience into three and put them in different parts of a house. At one point two of the characters left the room to go outside and get into a fight. A different audience group was immediately above them on a balcony and could hear the fight. They all rushed to the railing to watch, completely ignoring the characters in front of them. Then a passer-by started yelling, “Talk it out!” to the fighters. It was the most beautiful chaos that we could’ve hoped for. That kind of surprise is gold, but you have to be ready to go with it.

5) Do you have any unifying theories that have come out of your study of the Meisner Technique?
I’ve read a slew of books of actor’s talking about the craft and the only word or concept that appears without fail is “truth”. There are so many approaches to try to achieve truth; Meisner’s just one of them. Unifying theories or comprehensive “systems” are dangerous. No technique can achieve truth if it’s followed to the letter. They’ll give you a jump start or point you in a direction that is potentially good, but it’s such a complex, yet basic thing to achieve truth, that if you try to force a system on it, it’ll disappear.

From left to right, the cast of Dyad:
Glen McDonald, Laura Nordin, Margaret Evans, David Tompa.

6) To what degree do you think substance abuse is a problem in Toronto’s theatre community?
From my perspective it’s no more of a problem then in any other job. But I’ve got less adventurous tastes than some.

7) Any thoughts on leadership and how it relates to theatre?
We need more leaders in indie theatre and film. We need people to take the initiative to make things happen here for ourselves. We need strong producers. There are so many talented people in Toronto that aren’t working – why not? Just create. Talk to people, meet new people, collaborate, combine resources. Make it happen.

8) How much of your artistic process is informed by a sense of anger?
Less anger and more frustration. Theatre and film can be such powerful mediums. When I see product out there that isn’t really trying then it feels like such a waste. It gives the industry a bad name and gives people permission to expect less when they go out to see a show. We should be constantly pushing to challenge ourselves and our audiences.

9) What kinds of questions do you like to be asked about your work?
I like questions that I start answering with “I don’t know”. It normally means that it doesn’t have an obvious answer to me and I’ll have to spend the next little while thinking about it, talking it out, and then discovering how I feel. I love to talk theory and detailed practicality of technique. I absolutely love talking about what makes characters tick.

10) Where’s the glory?
It lies in realizing what it feels like to go through something that you would never necessarily go through in your own life. Experiencing what it feels like to think like a different human being. Learning to see a different perspective on the human condition. Which is why, when it comes down to it, I don’t care that I’ve been a little whiny lately . . .

We advertise your show for FREE!

Sounds impossible – and slightly suspect – we know. But here’s what we’re thinking: Send us a digital version of your 2007 Toronto Fringe Festival postcard or poster, and we’ll post it here on our blog. Simple.

We get to learn more about your show, look at your awesome postcard, and everyone wins.

Please send your Fringe Festival postcards here. (Hi-resolution versions are preferable, but we’ll gladly take whatever you’ve got handy.)

Thanks a lot. We love you dearly.

10 questions: Bridget MacIntosh

1) What the fuck is going on?
Somewhere along the way I thought that moving to a new apartment the same weekend as the Fringe load-in was a good idea . . .

2) How has the Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival changed since you started working with it?
Definitely more artists are aware of what a useful and affordable development tool the Fringe is. Each year the number of applications we receive grows. This past year we received 550 applications to the Fringe lottery and the ongoing joke in the office was that your odds were better to win $1,000,000 in the Heart & Stroke Lottery than they were to secure a spot in the Fringe.

High-profile success such as The Drowsy Chaperone, JOB: The Hip-Hopera and da kink in my hair have also introduced the Toronto Fringe and the Fringe philosophy to a wider audience and can help explain the huge increases in applications from artists across Canada and around the world.

Here at home, local artists are finding it more expensive to develop work, hence applications from local companies have also skyrocketed as artists look to take advantage of the affordable and supportive environment the Fringe provides for these artists to create.

Also, since I started working for the Fringe I’ve personally made it a point to promote and celebrate the fact that the Fringe remains unjuried and that we return 100% of the ticket price back to the artists. It’s not uncommon to see us referring to ourselves as “Toronto’s Theatre Festival” (since we remain accessible to a much larger cross section of the population) and how we’re “unjuried, unexpected, unforgettable” on all of our marketing material. I think people have responded extremely well to these statements and to what the Fringe is all about.

Over the past seven years we’ve continued to set records in both attendance and in box office revenue and hope to sell over 50,000 tickets this July.

3) How much cross-pollination is there going on between the various members of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals?
Tons. The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals holds an annual conference for Fringe producers to meet and share ideas. We fully support the “stealing” of ideas from one another and all of us all try to make it out to other Fringes to see them in action. It’s a fantastic networking group and from it such initiatives as the CAFF Touring Lottery (that allows companies to tour a minimum of five CAFF-affiliated Fringe festivals by filling in a single application) have taken root.

CAFF is such an attractive networking group that we have several American Fringe members who believe in the Canadian Fringe philosophy of remaining unjuried and returning 100% of the ticket price back to artists. I think it’s great that we have American members but sometimes it can create problems ;) . . . Flashback: two years ago when I spent almost half an hour at customs explaining that I was going to the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals conference in Orlando, Florida. I guess that came across as being a bit dodgy and I realize now that I should’ve just said Disneyworld.

This is what a Fringe Communiqué looks like if you print it out.

4) What are the most common mistakes you see being made by theatre artists participating in the Fringe?
They don’t read the Communiqués . . . by a long shot the most common mistake . . . please please please read the Communiqués.

5) What’s your single-fondest Fringe Festival memory?
At the spur of the moment in the beer tent, encouraging David Miller to put down his beer and appear on the “Late Night @ The Fringe with the Rumoli Bros.” He agreed, I walked him through the back hallway of the Tranzac (as the show was going on) and as the two of us hung out in the wings I waved my arms frantically trying to catch the Rumoli’s attention. They saw me, they saw Dave, they worked it and David made a kick ass appearance at the Fringe Club, complete with the “Mayor Look-Alike Contest” where some guy with no shirt and ripped baggy jeans won and walked away with Miller’s tie as the prize. Awesome.

6) Do you have any unifying theories about the artist-producer relationship?
Maybe not a unifying theory but a word of advice: if you find a good producer hang onto them as they are in serious short supply.

7) Do you believe in ghosts?
Hell yeah . . . I have some good stories, too . . .

8) What theatre-related topic is most likely to propel you into a heated debate?
The loss of smaller to mid-size performance spaces. The Poor Alex and Artword Theatres were HUGE losses not only to the Fringe but to the entire indie theatre community.

Also, there is no reason why the Theatre Centre should be without a stable home, which has been the case for the past year or so. Props to everyone involved in setting up the Queen West Arts Centre.

9) Do you think conservative, right-wing politics are somehow fundamentally at odds with the arts community?
Yes. Ultimately I think it comes down to what our conservative, right-wing federal government perceives as being important in our society . . .

On one hand, there are many astute arguments justifying the importance of arts/culture within the Canadian society and how far-reaching the spiritual, communal, emotional and ECONOMICAL benefits of art are to our society.

On the other hand, our conservative, right wing federal government believes that spending money on a stylist to make sure Harper’s nose is powered properly is important.

Preventing Harper nose glare vs. the preservation and development of Canadian culture.

Sounds friggin’ at odds to me . . .

10) Is the newly minted Next Stage Festival meant to be a companion festival to the Fringe, or something quite distinct?
I think of the Next Stage Festival more as a companion to the Fringe organization and not to the Fringe festival itself. I’ll explain: many other Fringe festivals across Canada are produced by a larger entity. For example, the Manitoba Theatre Centre produces the Winnipeg Fringe and Fringe Theatre Adventures produces the Edmonton Fringe Festival.

Here in Toronto my co-worker Chuck McEwen and I realized that the summer festival itself was bursting at the seams and there simply wasn’t any more room to grow in that particular time slot. With the 20th anniversary of the Fringe festival on the horizon we though it would be an opportune time to re-brand ourselves so that the “Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival” would become like an umbrella organization with a mandate to provide performance and development opportunities for artists.

The summer “Toronto Fringe Festival” would in essence become the crown jewel program of the organization. The newly minted Next Stage Festival would be a companion piece to the organization in that it adheres to the mandate of providing a performance and development opportunity but remtains distinct from its sister festival in the summer in that it is a juried and much smaller theatrical event.