Edmonton treated us well! Our trip was filled with emotion, performance opportunities, personal growth, inspiration, friendship, sweat and even a few tears. After our first week we became familiar with the Fringe grounds. We started recognizing friendly faces whether they be volunteers or artists who were also performing in the festival. After speaking with other artists I found everyone to be extraordinarily supportive of one another. The Fringe provides each show with eight comp tickets, of which you can give away to other artists with a secret comp code. There was little secrecy where that was concerned. On a Facebook group titled Artist Board - Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival all the artists shared their passwords freely and we did the same. I saw approximately thirty performances while I was in Edmonton. Of which, two changed me. I'd like to share their work with you:
Focusing on a group of 7-year-olds, Recess takes the audience into the hearts and minds of children navigating their way through the public school system. In the Bronx, we meet Sherita Johnson, the 7-year-old protagonist of the play whose tumultuous home life sets the stage for her daily battles at school. Recess shines light on the tense and unpredictable interactions of Sherita, her classmates, and her teacher Ms. White. The struggles for power, criminalization of the youth and the effects of a suffocating bureaucracy are an every day reality. We witness how children encounter difficulties beyond their making and still find ways to prevail. Not just relevant to youth, or to those who work with youth, Recess is a story about how and where inspiration can be found if we take the time to listen to the voices of those who typically do not get heard. Recess was created and performed by actress, Una Osato.
To see when RECESS is performing in your city, visit http://www.recesstheplay.com/
LITTLE ORANGE MAN
Prepare yourself for Kitt, a high-octane Danish girl, as she fires up homemade technology to extract and reenact the audience's dreams.
Haunting and hilarious. CultureVulture.
The kind of inventive, heartfelt and unique storytelling you normally only dream about.Visitoriu.
Very Entertaining. CBC. Pick-of-the-Fringe Victoria & Vancouver. Live songs, shadow puppetry.
I reached out to the woman behind Kitt, Ingrid Hansen, an actress who transforms herself and the audience in an hour. As I said before, this performances changed me. I'm honored to share an interview with her about Little Orange Man, here on Enforced Arch.
James Koroni: You tackled a gamut of creative outlets in this performance. How did you come to include each element and why was it essential to telling this story?
Ingrid Hansen: This was my first time creating a solo show. One thing I knew from the outset was that I didn't want to be talking to myself / playing multiple characters that switch back and forth. So, if you don't have a co-actor to interact with, and you're not talking to yourself, who do you interact with? Our answer was: the audience, and your environment. So we wanted everything to happen 'live in real time' with the audience as living participants in the room, and we worked with a lot of different puppetry / object manipulation elements.
Koroni: Did you have experience in all these elements i.e. singing, puppetry, etc., or did you explore new arena's along the way?
Hansen: I worked on a children's TV series for four seasons as a puppeteer, and got to train with a fantastic puppet artist, Tim Gosley. Since creating Little Orange Man, my director & co-creator Kathleen Greenfield and I studied at the Old Trout Puppet Intensive at the Banff National Arts Centre. I cannot WAIT to train with them again.
My main inspiration for wanting to learn the ukulele was watching Taylor Mac perform in The Beast of Taylor Mac. He used the instrument so artfully for intimate and theatrical storytelling, and I wanted to steal that from him as best I could. I still have a lot of learning and growing to do as a musician, even though I've been singing and playing music since I was five.
Koroni: Do you intend to perform Little Orange Man any more this season OR are you looking forward to new productions?
Hansen: YES! Right now we're booked to perform Little Orange Man at The Great Canadian Theatre Centre in Ottawa and then Centaur Theatre in Montreal in February 2013. We tour to the Festival of Animated Objects in Calgary in March of 2013, and then we have applications pending at a bunch of other theatre festivals. We're looking into possibly getting a touring agent to help with bookings. (We'd love to come to your city. Let us know how!)
We're also in the second development phase for our show, Kitt & Jane: an Interactive Survival Guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future, co-created by Kathleen, myself, and Rod Peter Jr. Kitt & Jane is a companion piece to Little Orange Man. It premiered in it's first incarnation at the Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival in Victoria, and we're looking to tour it in the future as well.
Koroni: Little Orange Man has a great deal of comedy but also leaves you with a heartfelt message. What message or messages do you hope the audience will leave with?
Hansen: We always work motivated by our politics. However, I don't like to explicitly state what audiences "should" get from a show, because I love for people to experience things on their own terms and connect to things in their own way. I hope to offer people a space to connect with the freedom and limitless imagination we have as young people before we learn terrible self-oppressing habits in the process of 'growing up.' I hope to make openings, to wedge a little emotional space into our increasingly isolating existence.
Koroni: Which artists are currently inspiring your work?
Hansen: Shaun Tan, Don Kenn the post-it note artist, Taylor Mac, The Old Trouts, our baby cousins, Freaks and Geeks, David Suzuki, Elizabeth May, Atomic Vaudeville, Anne Cirillo, Tasha Diamant and the Human Body Project, Terry Gilliam, Tim Gosley, Sue Morrison and Red Bastard.
Koroni: What book are you reading?
Hansen: Leviathan (comic) by Peter Blegvad, the adventures of a faceless baby and a cat.
For more information on Ingrid Hansen please visit, snafudance.com.