I know I still have Part II of my birthday to brag about but you all know I'm slow as fuck and I have a bunch of photos I need to scan first and this braggy post is actually time-sensitive.
Back when I was in my 20s, Bradley Moss, the artistic director of Theatre Network in Edmonton, started a young person's theatre festival called the "Festival of the NeXt Generation". The big "X" was for "Generation X" OMG WE'RE ALL SO OLD YOU GUYS. I had shows in the festival for its first three years before I both moved to Toronto and aged out of it. Nextfest was a special treat for the keen theatre twenty-something, especially for a playwright used to wearing a lot of hats - director, designer, stage manager, marketing department. At Nextfest, I got to just be a playwright AND get paid!! BALLS THAT ARE AMAZING.
This year is marks 20th anniversary of that first Nextfest and the festival still going strong - it's a 10 day festival these days, filled with theatre, visual art, dance, music, film and more! To celebrate this momentous occasion, two hot young directors got to pull two scripts from the early days of Nextfest and one of them - a young fellow with excellent taste by the name of Andrew Ritchie - chose my lesbian angst comedy No One Showed Up for the Anarchist Rally.
I was pretty honoured that Anarchist Rally made the cut and was super jazzed to go see it. Then, in January, Theatre Network's home, the iconic Roxy Theatre, burned down, leaving the company sans venue for the rest of their season. Holy shitballs!
Of course, you can't keep a good theatre company down and the Edmonton arts community rallied to find venues for the remainder of the shows for this year. I was pretty sure that, of all of the events scheduled for this year, the Nextfest 20th Anniversary Showcase would be the one to be cancelled but I was thrilled to hear that they were going ahead with the show at the Mercury Theatre downtown! Fire shmire. There is THEATRE TO DO.
The show, playing in rep with Leah-Simone Bowen's disturbingly prescient Code Word: Time, opened this past weekend and, because Katr is awesome and offered to hold down the fort and the dog, I got to gallivant off to my homeland to relive my youth and reminisce about the old days with the other olds. It was magical.
Here is a photo of the set of Anarchist Rally, which looks so much like my undergrad apartment that I almost blacked out. Then again, didn't everyone's undergrad apartment look like this? Fortunately, they did not try to replicate the smell.
Here is a photo of the amazing cast. I particularly loved that they changed the original guitar-playing heartbroken lesbian into a ukelele-playing heartbroken lesbian. I seriously just bought a ukelele last month. LESBIANS LOVE UKELELE!! Good work, guys.
The brilliant cast of No One Showed Up for the Anarchist Rally -
(L to R) Paula Humby, Lianna Makuch and Marina Mair-Sanchez
Anarchist Rally was my third and final play to be produced at Nextfest. I wrote it about me and my two weirdo roommates in our last year of university, during a magical time when social-activism-as-mating-ritual, deep lesbian heartbreak and severe eating disorders collided. Shit got real in that apartment. Real and hilarious.
I'm the first to admit that Anarchist Rally is not a perfectly written play but Andrew put together a pretty perfect production. The cast were all brilliant, the costumes were excellent, the set, as I mentioned, was disturbingly familiar and the whole thing is just tight and well done. It still made me laugh - REALLY hard - at all of my own jokes. Don't just take my word for it - the show got a couple of very nice reviews.
If you're in Edmonton and want to relive your angsty college youth, I highly recommend checking out the Nextfest 20th Anniversary Showcase. My show runs in rep with Leah Simone Bowen's Code Word: Time until May 17!
Next time: Back to birthday bragging! Plus, probably additional theatre bragging! Then probably some complaining. But really all I do here is either brag or complain, so you're used to it.