Day 202-205 – My Vacation (Part 1)

Day 202 – Being plan-less and clock-less is enough to drive me insane.  I try to know where my iPhone is at all times so I can instantly access information that will keep me on track, focussed and on deadline.  It makes me feel safe.

But there’s something about being on holiday that changes all of that.  Other than making sure I was on the right flight at the right time, I barely looked at my watch.  I didn’t care where I went.  I wasn’t bothered by what I saw or didn’t see.  I went where the Manitoba breeze (or lack thereof) took me.  It was great.  Nobody depending on me.  No one to answer to.  No commitments.  Proper ME time.  Bliss.

 

Day 203 – Have you ever been to a restaurant and had a meal so good that you remember is vividly years later?  Almost like you can taste it?  The Mondragon in Winnipeg is that place for me.  So needless to say I was keen on going back there after a four year hiatus.  I was pleased to notice that not much had changed.   It still had the same quirky, mismatched decor.  The menus were still printed on recycled paper.  The menu items themselves hadn’t changed much, but they did expand their book/bulk foods/fresh foods section which looked amazing.

I ate there twice while at the Winnipeg Fringe.  The veggie burger (packed with flavour) and Twister wrap (with beautifully seasoned tofu) were just as amazing as I remembered.  Super fresh.  Great service.  Excellent value for money. 

 

Day 204 – One of the perks of going to a Fringe Festival is that there’s so much going on and you have a huge selection of plays to choose from.  I was only there for 2.5 days (plus travel time) so it was difficult for me to plan what I was going to see, which left me wide open.  I had many dates with (my now even better friend than before) Cat who had heard lots of buzz about shows having arrived at the festival much earlier than me.  She suggested we check out The Bike Trip, because she’d heard good things about it.  I knew absolutely nothing going into it.  Not the performing company.  Not the running time.  Not the genre.  Nothing. 

It was a trip all right.  Martin Dockery has got a performance style all his own, with rapid fire delivery combined with crystal clear storytelling skills and an organic, simple-yet-effective, way of inhabiting the stage space.  The show is a series of short monologue recounting important moments in his experimentation with LSD.  There are no frat-boy or adolescent “easy” jokes here, but more an honest and often hilarious series of observations on the human mind’s dance with drugs and how it can bring enlightenment in ways you least expect.    I thoroughly enjoyed my trip… and I didn’t have to destroy any brain cells in the process!

 

Day 205 – For those of you who have never toured the Fringe circuit, I’d like to introduce you to the Fringe Family Phenomenon.  If you wish to truly turn your show into a tour, the Fringe Festivals in Canada are (for the most part) schedule so you can go across the country from June to September.  One version of it could include Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver.  You’re on the road for 5 months and even though you’re moving from Fringe to Fringe, it’s like starting anew in each city.  What works for an Ontario audience might not read in the Prairies.  You can get 4 stars reviews in one place and 2 star reviews the next.  There’s all of the media calls, postering, flyering, publicising, re-rehearsing… it goes on and on.  But there’s one constant – Your Fringe Family.  Touring artists have a way of becoming really close.  They give you a shoulder to cry on when your van gets broken into in Winnipeg.  They buy you a drink when you forget your wallet at home.  They do brunch, go to movies, promo your show, come see your performance at your crappy timeslot.  These people become your sisters, your brothers, your collaborators and, in some cases, your lovers or best friends. 

I had the pleasure of touring from 2003-2006 in various capacities.  It was always with known companies which meant they had a built-in Fringe Family.  They wouldn’t see each other or even send an email for the other 7 months of the year, but once the tour started it’s like it had never ended. 

I was a bit nervous to come to Winnipeg because I felt that my Fringe Family was gone.  Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I was looking forward to some alone time.  But I wasn’t looking forward to that “Hey super-cool person I had martinis with all of the time four summers ago, remember me? No?  Ok.  That’s cool.  … walk away crying” moment. 

As it turns out, I was worrying for nothing.  Every single person I saw from my past Fringe Family greeted me with open arms.  Some even carried on our conversation from where we left off.  Many assumed I had a show in the Festival and wanted to see it.  Others were just tickled at my surprise appearance.  Even at my favourite local haunt, the King’s Head’s bartender recognised me and threw his arms around me like I was his long lost daughter.  It was amazing to feel so connected to that again. 

The only problem with it all though is that the Fringe Family Phenomenon is a fantasy (and also a serious alliteration I’ve just realised).  It feels very real in the moment, but it’s not actually real.  If you’d move all of us into the same town, we might find each other terribly boring/obnoxious/exhausting/etcetcetc,  Very few Fringe friends truly translate into future project collaborators or year-long friends.  Very few Fringe romances look so idyllic when all is said and done.  The 9-5 grind comes back into the play.  The bills still have to be paid.  And everyone looks drabber in the fall and winter months without the summer flush and glow. 

But still, I got to feel it again… The Fringe Family Love.  So to all of my friends from Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto, Australia, England, Winnipeg and Seattle, thank you for taking such good care of me and making me feel like I was home.  I will miss you.

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Day 190 – Anticipation Part Deux

The last time I wrote about anticipation was the night before I got on a plane for a business trip.  This time, my trip isn’t for almost two weeks but the anticipation is already building up.

I’ve daydreamt about my last two weeks of July for a while now.  I will finally be taking some time off.  Officially.  Definitely.  And it will feel good.

My vacation will be part “me time” and part “family time”.  The “me time” involves going to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival for a few days all by my lonesome.  Granted, I probably won’t be able to walk 5 feet without running into someone I know.  But still, it’s one of my favorite festivals in the world (next to the Ottawa Fringe of course!) and I’m really excited to see as many shows as I can cram into a short amount of time.

The “family time” involves going on a short camping trip with my hubby and the little ladies.  We’ve never gone on this type of adventure with them, so I’m a little nervous.  Luckily, my nerves didn’t stop me from shopping at MEC like I owned the place.  (Wait, don’t all of us who shop at MEC technically own part of the place?)

So all of this to say, I can’t wait!  And my daydreams are keeping the anticipation alive.

Having something to look forward to, no matter how simple, is beautiful.

Day 164-187 – The Joy of Fringe (a photo post)

First of all, apologies for the excessively overdue post.  I had every intention of keeping up with my blog during the beast that was thel 2010 Ottawa Fringe Festival, but the excitement (and exhaustion) got to me.

This past month of June was the biggest in the history of my career.  I may not have made my directorial début at Stratford, but being the big boss behind what I feel is one of the best festivals in Ottawa was a huge event for me.  The Fringe helped launch my career in the first place.  I was (and am still!) honored to be its current Executive Producer.

I barely had time to breathe after our media launch on June 1st and my busy-ness factor only went up as the weeks progressed.  I was working 15 hours days most of the time.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of it but I’m grateful now for the down time so I can think back on how amazing the experience was.

So now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a photo post of just some of the beauty that was the 2010 Ottawa Fringe Festival.

Posters for Fringe productions on the fence outside Arts Court.

The normally quiet office is insanely busy during the festival itself. The craziness makes me happy.

Past Executive Producer Kevin Waghorn passing on the torch on opening night.

The Ottawa Fringe has the best volunteers. And I dare anyone to disagree with me.

Seeing Miss Hiccup in full costume and makeup always brought a smile to my face.

Cat and Brad brought laughter, information, promotion, sexiness and silliness in one big bundle called Chats with Cat Hosted by Brad.

Not only is Jon Lockhart an amazing Technical Director, but he is the greatest at creating a good photo-op!

Kilts are awesome.  Volunteers and Fringe technicians wearing kilts are even better.

Three beautiful people that I loved seeing on a daily basis: Julie (Volunteer Coordinator), Lindsay Sutherland Boal (from Purely Cabaret) and Zelda (volunteer extraordinaire).

Cat and Brad - The Dance Off

Andrew Snowdon live streaming a chat with Tania Levy. Even if people couldn't make it to the festival, they could still feel a part of it.

While I was running around in jeans and my staff t-shirt, my good friend Thea was looking fierce!

The Courtyard was alive on a couple of nights thanks to the Canterbury High School motown band Otis Lives.

My heart filled with joy at the sound of the Mini-Fringers having fun during their drama camp with Orleans Young Players.

Line-ups = bums in seats = happy artists = happy producer

The beautiful Heather-Marie at the closing presentation of the Lunchtime Artist Series.

Me and Pierre, a beautifully talented designer and technician and all around good guy.

I made it on the highly coveted Cat's Crushes list.

One of the perks of being the boss is that I get to make cool announcements, with people waiting on my every breath.

Being able to publicly thank people who saved my behind on multiple occasions is a beautiful thing.

Ottawa Tonite live streamed the closing ceremonies.

I remember this moment vivdly. It was just after I announced the conclusion of the festival. I felt like my knees were going to go out from underneath me. I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time.

Probably my favorite moment of the whole festival. Beatrice and I enjoying some quiet time while watching the Rock the Arts puppet show. I barely sat down during the Fringe, but I'm glad I took time out for this moment.

Day 152 – Getting High

Today, the Fringe was officially launched.  Tickets are now on sale for performances running from June 17th to the 27th.  Forgive me if this sounds like an advertisement.  It’s not meant to be.

…though business-Natalie can’t help but spread the word as much as possible…

I’ve been shaking all day.  The excitement was almost unbearable.  This sounds so cliché, but it was true for me today.  I was so proud of the people I work with.  I was elated at the audience response.  I was exhausted from the prep work.

I was high.

Over 8 hours later, I’m just now coming down.

I’m going to make sure I enjoy this high over the next 27 days, because it will all be over much too soon.

Day 148-150 – Blossoming

Day 148: A seed of an idea was planted last year and it is finally coming to fruition. I don’t want to give too much away for those who aren’t in the know already, but I will talk more about it after the Ottawa Fringe media launch on Tuesday June 1st.

I do have to say that this small idea has grown into much more than I ever thought it would be and that’s thanks, in part, to two people who are donating their time, skill set and passion for the Fringe. Aside from the fact that this idea (these many ideas?) have great business potential, the work is motivated because that they care.

Refreshing.

Day 149-150: It’s been a busy past couple of days in my front and back garden. One day, I was sad that none of the flowers I planted from seed has bloomed yet. Then I took a moment to look at the back garden and noticed how lucky I am that my neighbour’s lilacs decide to come on over for a visit.

The next day, one single flower appeared in my front garden. It looks kinda sad and lonely, but I still think it’s beautiful. I made something grow!

Day 143-145 – HOT

Day 143 – I still log on to Facebook, but I must admit it is quickly becoming less and less appealing to me.  It’s because of the multitude of privacy issues, but mainly I’m bored with it.  It takes up precious family time and there’s not much information that I can’t get from other sources.  However, there are some exceptions.  With the summer Fringe tour season fast approaching, old Fringe friends are coming out of the woodwork to say hello.  A “poke” here.  A quick chat there.  Rehearsals photos posted.  Panicky status updates.  All beautiful to me.

Day 144 – My weight and body shape has see-sawed ridiculously over the past three years, thanks to my lovely children.  I think I’m finally down to my “normal” weight (though I’m still completely out of shape!)  I can hear the taunting cries of mothers everywhere screaming “I hate you!” but that doesn’t stop me from being frustrated because no matter how thin I am, I don’t have any summer clothes that fit.   I dragged out the box of clothes I have stashed away and found, to my surprise, my favorite jean capris that I haven’t been able to wear in almost 4 years.  And they fit!

Now if only I could find a shirt that doesn’t have baby spit-up stains on it.

Day 145 – Since I’ve tried to pay attention to little beauties around me, I’ve noticed how my surrounding affect my memory more.  Thanks to a lovely friend of mine, I got the opportunity to go out to the movies with my husband and a good friend.  When I stepped out of the theatre, just one whiff of warm air brought me back to my Fringe touring days… carefree, adventurous, playful, just plain fun.  Strange how one breath of smoggy city air can do that.

Day 74 – Shopping!

I am such a girl.

Some of my tasks as Executive Producer of the Fringe are making a budget, using my powers of persuasion (and common sense) to get it approved and then spending the funds (with fiscal responsibility, of course!)   If it sounds like fun, it’s because it is.

After many years of absence, Fringe merchandise will make its return in 2010.  I know a lot of people want to have a little souvenir of their annual Fringe fun (other than a hangover) and the Fringe could always use an excuse for a fundraiser.  I’ve been shopping around by phone and online, but I also visited our friends at Promomedia.  The took me around their showroom and I was in awe of the amount of items they had available.  Some silly.  Some fun.  Many beautiful.

I repeat… I am such a girl.

So what would you want to buy as a souvenir from the Ottawa Fringe Festival?