June 17th, 2006


Welcome to the Fringe

Aphrodite's Turn played at theatres across Canada in the summer of 2006. This entry was used during that time as a welcome speech, and is now archived for historical purposes.

If you're coming to this journal by way of the link in your Aphrodite's Turn program, congratulations! Letting your curiosity get the better of you is probably the best decision you've made all day. The only thing I can think of that could be greater is if you proposed to someone. That's right. I'm comparing my writing to the holy act of matrimony. What can I say?

Right now, this is a theatrical journal, chronicling my various adventures at Fringe Festivals across Canada. But before that, it was an exercise in wildly eclectic writing, especially over the last twelve months when I was enrolled in Scriptwriting at Algonquin College. If you're interested in reading all of it, the best place to start is probably after I went nuts. Or check out some of these links if you're just looking for a quick taste.

Mike vs. Acid Tim: Spider - They're like The Odd Couple, except Tim's been poisoning his circulatory system for the past six years, and Mike's the definition of patience.
Google Image Search Movies: The Murder Car - Scrapbook creation runs in my family. This was easier than cutting pictures from magazines and glueing them down, though.
The NDP Drinking Game - Self-explanatory.
Wolf Attack Simulator V. 2.0 - I promise this isn't a virus.
Future Dinobot Comix - It seems like everybody's got a webcomic these days, doesn't it? I didn't even mean to do it, I just sort of started making them and I accidentally fell into a schedule. Currently on hiatus, which means this would be an excellent time to catch up on the archives.

So that's what it's all about. You can leave comments, even the anonymous kind, about the play; heck, you can leave a comment just for the time of day. They're always appreciated.


Strange fears come with the territory on the first performance. Waiting for showtime to finally arrive. Running the checklists over and over again, like an astronaut and her crew prepping for launch. Wondering, "will I blow it?"

And then the house manager closes the door, and it's go time. Everything else melts away. There's an actor and an audience. And behind it all, cloaked in darkness, silent except for "standby" and "go," there's you - immersed in the illusion, making the magic happen.

It felt goooood.

Next show goes up tomorrow evening, probably with less trouble than this one. We had several unexpected challenges before the show: an Italian car parade passing us on Colonel By Drive; a new technician who we'd never met, not even at the tech rehearsal; and a cell phone going off halfway through, held by one of those "don't reach for it and maybe they'll blame the person sitting next to you" types. On top of that, I nearly got into the elevator without getting the money from the front-of-house. But the show went off without a hitch, garnering three curtain calls (admittedly we were milking it because half the audience was friends and family) and loads of praise from the press reviewer who showed up, calling it "one of this year's top five."

Plus, now we can officially claim to have performed professionally, and I got that little thrill of knowing that I'm the Stage Manager and I'm infalliable. I've been telling myself that all the way through rehearsal, but today is the first time I've actually believed it. By the time we hit Toronto, I may well be drunk on my own hubris.

Review: Can't Get Started

Black Sheep Theatre - Ottawa, ON
By Tom X. Chao

First of all, I've never been in the Mercury Lounge for a show. I'm not even sure they've used it as a venue before. I like it; more plays need to be held in bars with retro-funk lighting in the bathrooms. You could hear the cars going by in the market below and someone dropped a beer bottle, but other than that it gave more of a personal touch to the show, as well as opening up new options for people who don't feel like drinking at the beer tent. (Note that I'm not one of these people. Steam Whistle in a plastic cup all the way.)

The show itself is one of those jumpy what-should-I-write-well-let's-just-write-everything kind of play that goes from "angry female monologue" to "cliche-defeating sci-fi" in a matter of minutes. Tom, the writer, can't understand women, and Sarah, the actress, can't explain them to him. Hilarity ensues, right? Well, yeah, it actually does, especially when the puppets arrive. Mr. Chao's got a sharp wit, and it serves him well for a while, as the plot spirals about like a King Crimson song (did I use that allegory right? I haven't actually listened to King Crimson in a while, I moved on to Yes and then switched abruptly into a Burlington rock outfit called Jersey, which is the musical equivalent of going off the diving board after spending fifteen minutes in the hot tub.)

The endless sensation of loneliness is immediately recognizable to anyone who remembers spending (or is still spending) that interminable amount of time that seems to pass before the relationships start, although it sort of ends on a downer, as though the final few scenes were written by someone who hadn't heard from the guy who wrote everything that had come before. But I still find it kind of optomistic, perhaps because I saw a bit of myself in this play, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who wrote one just like it.

Final Verdict: Good Play.

In other non-Fringe news, I ran into popular Internet good person Ryan North at the Ottawa Small Press Fair today. He is really damn tall. There's no other way to describe it; I'm six foot one and a half, and he towers over me. He's also really incredibly nice, which is great, because if he were evil then he'd probably use his height to stuff people like me in garbage cans and so on. He gave me a tattoo - "are they free?" "they are for SimonBob!" - and then offered to sell me a sticker and a Utahraptor button for just one Canadian loonie. A two-dollar value! I gave him two dollars anyway because he gave me the tattoo for free. I also got some more buttons, one of which says "artificial gentleman," the other presumably depicting the artificial gentleman in question, and I have no idea who I got them from now. They just looked cool! I assumed that I could find them by searching on Google, but I was wrong. It feels odd to not be able to find something on Google. And there were some 'zines and chapbooks and things, and I was kind of sorry that I didn't bring my father, because he loves that stuff even more than I do. I didn't even bring enough money to buy any expensive stuff like books or whatnot. But on the plus side, I've got a new dream: I feel like I should be printing a 'zine, or at least attempting to contribute to one. I spent most of the inbetween time after meeting Ryan but before seeing the play trying to think of names for blogs and 'zines that weren't "blog" or "'zine."

Tonight on Hockey Night In Canada, the announcer said that "being Carolina in Rexall Place tonight is like being a jackass in a hailstorm - you just gotta stand there and take it." Emphasis mine. Come on, CBC! I thought hockey was a family game.