OK, Winnipeg I know you like to watch and I wouldn't want you any other way. Winnipegers are great audiences.
How I wish I was at home this week seeing friends and family and hanging out and catching shows at the Winnipeg Fringe.
The Winnipeg festival is markedly different than Toronto. Far more touring shows play Winnipeg ( and points further West) than Toronto and this gives Winnipeg Festival goers an opportunity not only to enjoy the fine local talent pool but performers from across the country and around the world.
I'm mostly going to talk about road companies here as I am not as plugged into what Winnipeg artists are doing at the festival this year.
If I were in Winnipeg, this is some of what I'd be seeing this week:
Bruce Horak in THIS IS CANCER because it is one of the best shows I've ever seen anywhere by anyone, period. It's an unforgettable theatre experience. Get a ticket and go.
Ken Brown and Theatre Public are in Winnipeg with ANATOLIA SPEAKS about a Bosnian conflict survivor relocated to Canada. A passionate script from a fave writer and skilled director combined with a great performance by Candice Fiorentino make this a must-see.
MAGIC UNICORN ISLAND is written and performed by Jayson Macdonald ( GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT, FALL FAIR) and that's more than enough to get me in the theatre.
FAKE NEWS FANGIRL by Sharilyn Johnston is an utterly original well delivered monologue about late night talk shows, fan culture, intelligence, fear and ambition. I've seen this show twice. I loved it both times and I learned something. Directed by Laura Anne Harris (Pitch Blonde).
THE CANTEBURY TALES by Erik de Waal who is a great storyteller. The chocolate-voiced spell-spinner always takes me on a magical trip. Erik also has AFRICAN FOLK TALES with him if you've got children to entertain this year.
SOUND and FURY brings HAMLET and JULIET to Winnipeg. The divine madness of this bunch of talented fools always leaves me smiling. Go have a laugh for me.
Shelby Bond is so delightful as a performer and this year he's doing ONE MAN BACK TO THE FUTURE.
Tim C. Murphy is doing a story called THE HOBBLING BUDDHAS about a 10 day silent meditation retreat. I've seen Tim before and he always takes me someplace I've never been before.
SAM MULLINS is in Winnipeg this week. I finally got to see him at NSTF here in Toronto last winter. That monologue was picked up for broadcast by NPR. Go: you're in for a real treat and you'll be able to say you saw him when.
I saw SEX, RELIGION and OTHER HANG-UPS in Toronto and it was fabulous. James sold out here and I bet he'll sell out in Winnipeg when word gets out about how touching, honest and flat-out hilarious this show is. Chris Gibbs directed. Need I say more?
PENNY ASHTON is doing a Jane Austen mash-up called PROMISES and PROMISCUITY. I love Penny and from all reports this is good show from the talented satirist and cheekily entertaining performer.
Monster Theatre is doing NO TWEED TOO TIGHT and WHO KILLED GERTRUDE CRUMP?
CRUMP was inspired mayhem and a ton of witty fun and I'm sure NO TWEED, a drunk detective satire of 70's television icons featuring Ryan Gladstone will be a hoot.
Two shows that I didn't get to see last week in Toronto but that had great buzz and are in Winnipeg this week are AIDEN FLYNN LOST HIS BROTHER SO HE MAKES ANOTHER by THEATRE HOWL from Saskatoon and Mark Shyzer in GREAT BATTLES IN HISTORY which had great press about both the writing and the performance. I'd be checking them out.
Christel Bartlse is getting married this summer but that hasn't kept her from Fringe touring. She's a very charming performer and she's brought a relationship comedy SIGNIFICANT ME to Winnipeg. I hear she's already got a 5 star review for it, so I'd get a ticket fast.
RibbetRepublic is doing BEST PICTURE with a massive cast of Fringe stalwarts including Jon Patterson, a man who can do no wrong on a stage. This should be a blast.
DIE ROTEN PUNKTE is back with EUROTRASH. Words fail to describe how sad I am to miss two of my favourite musician/clowns. Go laugh for me and will someone please bring me back a banana t-shirt?
Like roller derby? Want to see a funny, feel-good show? Check out Nancy Kenny in ROLLER DERBY SAVED MY SOUL. I saw it last week and the audience was eating out of her hand.
Kim Zeglinski and Heather Witherden, my old BREAST FRIENDS buddies both have shows this week. Kim is talking about love, life and parenting and career mid-life in a solo show, MITTELSCHMERZ. I'm sure a lot of you will be able to relate to the material. Heather's show is called CHUBRUB and knowing Heather, it will be naughty and fun.
Chris Gibbs, Randy Rutherford, Keir Cutler and Rob Gee are all reprising hits. If you didn't see LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, SORRY (or if you're like me and there's just never enough of Chris' brand of humour to go around) or you missed FRUITCAKE (or you just need a Rob Gee fix) or SINGING AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (a show I love) or you've never seen TEACHING SHAKESPEARE (Keir's first hit) they are all worth seeing.
Mike Delamont is back with GOD IS A SCOTTISH DRAG QUEEN: THE SECOND COMING. I'd be back to see Mike in a flash. Few performers made me laugh as hard as he did last year.
Martin Dockery is doing THE SURPRISE which I missed in Edmonton. Insiders say it is his best show and from the five-star solo performer, that's saying something.
As I mentioned before, JEM ROLLS has a great show this year also.
Finally, my beloved ex, John D. Huston is doing THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS. John is the bomb at this kind of literate satire and I'm sure this show will rock. I'd go see him and I hope you will too.
Have fun Winnipeg. I'll be home in December to workshop a new theatre/dance piece I'm developing with Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers. More on that later.