A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers

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A First Fringe Tour by the Numbers: For my 2013 inaugural tour of The Hatter.

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London audience numbers:
# of performances: 10
# of comps to media in audience: 4
# of comp VIP tickets: 13
# of comp Trouper tickets recorded: 1
# of comp performer tickets: 16
# of paying audience members: 54
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 5.4
# of audience members (total): 87
Average size of audience: 8.7
# of shows without a single paying audience member: 3
# of advance tickets sold: 0
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.94$

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Ottawa audience numbers:
Number of performances: 9
# of comps to media in audience: 4
# of comp VIP tickets: 2
# of comp Promo tickets: 2
# of comp volunteer tickets: 9
# of comp performer tickets: 3
# of advance tickets sold: 9
# of paying audience members: 81
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 9
# of audience members (total): 101
Average size of audience: 11.2
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.35$

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Toronto audience numbers:
Number of performances: 7
# of comps to media in audience: 8
# of comps (poor friend): 1
# of comp volunteer tickets: 11
# of comp 10x10x10 tickets: 33
# of comp VIP tickets: 8
# of advance tickets sold: 23
# of paying audience members: 90
Average # of paying audience members: 12.86
# of audience members (total): 151
Average size of audience: 21.57
Average size of audience, not including 10x10x10: 16.71
Average ticket price paid to me: 8.92$

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Saskatoon audience numbers:
Number of performances: 7
# of comps to media in audience: 3
# of comp staff tickets: 1
# of comp company (performers with password) tickets: 27
# of comp volunteer tickets: 20
# of comp promo tickets (???): 16
# of advance tickets sold: 15
# of paying audience members: 118
Average # of paying audience members: 16.86
# of audience members (total): 195
Average size of audience: 27.86
Average ticket price paid to me: 11.20$

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EXPENSES:

Failed Fringe application fees:
Edmonton: -36.75$
CAFF lottery: -25$
Winnipeg: -20$
Vancouver: -50$
Nanaimo: -25$
Victoria: -28$
San Francisco: -35.60$
Total: -220.35$

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Pre-tour expenses:
Photographer for promo shots: ~-100$
New hat: ~-25$
Hot water urn: -68.95$
Pocketwatch: -13.44$
Total: -207.39$

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London Expenses:
Festival fee: -650$
Props/supplies: ~-11.37$
500 Handbills (business cards): -34.47$
25 posters: -20.95$
Stolen bike light (bought for use in London): -20.33$
Beer for my techie: -11.25$
Total: -748.37$

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Ottawa Expenses:
Festival fee: -632.80$
Cider: -6$
Stage Manager: -100$
500 Handbills (business cards): -34.47$
25 posters: -20.95$
Props/supplies/tea: -7.94$
New backpack (other one broke in so many ways): -58.76$
Extremely generous BYOV venue fee: -80$
Gift to billets: ~-15$
Total: -955.92$

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Toronto Expenses:
Application fee: -27.50$
Festival fee: -750.00$
Stage manager: -80$
Props/supplies/tape/tea: -20.41$
Timbits offered at last four performances: -13.56$
Beer: -14.60$
500 Handbills (business cards): -34.47$
25 posters: -20.95$
Weekly transit pass: -38.50$
Total: -999.99$

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Saskatoon Expenses:
Application fee: -30$
Festival fee: -670.00$
Stage manager: -100.00$
Props: -11.03$
1000 Handbills (business cards): -51.41$
25 posters: -20.95$
Beer: -23.50$
Gift to billet/volunteers: -7.74$
Total: -914.63$

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Travel costs to each city:
Plane ticket from Vancouver to London, through family friend: -120$
Suitcase-full-of-props as extra bag on Westjet: -21.00$
Greyhound to Ottawa: -59.33$
Cost to take suitcase-full-of-props on greyhound to Ottawa: -16.95$
Gas money to artist for ride to Toronto: -20$
Transit tokens in Toronto while waiting for Saskatoon: -53$
Greyhound (43 hours) Toronto to Saskatoon: -139.56$
Cost to take suitcase-full-of-props on greyhound to Saskatoon: -15$
Greyhound (25 hours) Saskatoon to Vancouver: -110.78$
Cost to take suitcase-full-of-props on greyhound back to Vancouver: -15.75$
Total: -571.37$

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Expenses back home:
Rent/storage costs in Richmond for 2.5 months = ~550$
Total: -550.00$

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INCOME:

London Income:
Donation: 5$
Ticket sales at door: 532.00$
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.94$
Total: 537.00$

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Ottawa Income:
6 two-for-one ticket sales (5$): 30$
17 five/ten show passes (7$): 119$
9 Advance ticket sales (10$): 90$
40 ticket sales at door (10$): 400$
stage managed a show twice: 30$
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.35$
Total: 787.00$

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Toronto Income:
23 advance ticket sales (9$ to me): 207$
41 ticket sales at door (10$): 410$
3 Five-pack (7.5$): 22.50$
17 ten-pack (7.5$): 127.50$
6 performer (6$): 36$
Average ticket price paid to me: 8.92$
Total: 803.00$

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Saskatoon Income:
Ticket breakdown made very complicated with 2$ deducted from each ticket for administrative fees, plus GST removed from payout on each ticket. (Saskatoon is the only Fringe Festival that does this.)
Donation: 47.75$
Paid by drunks for a photo taken with me: 3$
Payout from festival: 1322.11$
Average ticket price paid to me: 11.20$
Total: 1369.86$

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Other numbers:
Hours on greyhound buses: 8+43+25 = 76 hours.
Food not considered: Grocery/food bill, as it was kept to my usual 200$ per month.
Days away: 71
Homes graciously opened to me to stay in: 5
# of stars in London review (London Free Press): 3 (out of five)
# of stars in Saskatoon review (The StarPhoenix): 4.5 (out of five)

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Total Expenses:
Failed Fringe application fees: -220.35
Pre-tour expenses: -207.39$
London expenses: -748.37$
Ottawa expenses: -955.92$
Toronto expenses: -999.99$
Saskatoon expenses: -914.63$
Travel costs to each city: -571.37$
Expenses back home: -550.00$
Total: -5168.02$

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Total Income:
London income: 537.00$
Ottawa income: 787.00$
Toronto income: 803.00$
Saskatoon income: 1369.86$
Total: 3496.86$

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Cost/Tuition for a two and a half month cross-country adventure: 1671.16$

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The numbers are bit surprising. I’ll put my thoughts/reactions in my next post in a few days. Hope this is useful for some of you out there to see as well! Feel free to leave your feedback/advice/comments below. 🙂

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Emotions of Fringe

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These are a number of little thoughts and phrases I jotted down throughout my tour. The emotions of being on tour.

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I literally collapsed within my first few days on the tour. Stress, sickness, low blood pressure, and a particularly poorly chosen hot bath.

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“Damn you for making me cry.”

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Someone in Toronto told me they loved me. In that way. They meant it, with all the power of sincerity.

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Two starred reviews. 3 stars in London, 4.5 stars in Saskatoon. The first, other artists apologize to you for, for some reason. The second, they cheer you on, all day long.

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English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Wikipedia)

That giddy grin for no reason whatsoever.

That giddy grin for oh so many reasons.

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Laughing home on a borrowed bicycle at 3am.

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Performing for three people (two performers and a volunteer) in London. Performing for 45 people in Saskatoon. Getting the standing ovation.

I don’t care if standing ovations don’t mean what they used to. They still mean a lot to me.

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Getting teary-eyed onstage. Having your story honestly hit yourself in the feels.

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For the past decade, I have been asking myself, ‘where is home’? This summer, I felt kisses of it all across the country. Let me tell you stories. Lead me into your home. Let’s be together, and if it’s only for a short time, then we’ll make that time mean something. Home is a loving invitation.

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“If you haven’t seen The Hatter, GO SEE THE HATTER! It’s incredible.”

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A guy came to see my show. Throughout the week, he was staffing a street store as a favour to a merchant friend of his. After the show, this man went out of his way to track me down and get a stack of handbills from me, so he could pitch my show to people who came to buy things from him.

He later told me he used to work in a prison. The job took its toll on him, including him finding a number of suicides, which traumatized him quite severely, to the point where he didn’t leave his house for years. Eventually, slowly, with many tiny steps, he began to reintegrate with the rest of the world, a process he is still working through. The street crowds intimidated him, but to be out in the sun left him gloriously shouting joy to the heavens. He told me he could really relate to Earnest and The Hatter, to the idea of hiding down a rabbithole. That my show really touched him.

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“Oh yeah, that actress told me she might hook up with you.”
“Why didn’t she tell ME?”

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“My last bus comes in twenty minutes. Am I taking the last bus home?”

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The Hatter is the story of a man trying to get home. Desperately, desperately trying to get back home.

In hindsight, I would’ve thought that taking such a show on tour would have made me more homesick.

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“You have so much talent, and it would be a shame for you to miss out on even one opportunity to hear that. You are a brilliant actor, but also a positively amazing writer. Your show made me feel something, and that’s what good theatre should do. Thank you for that. I hope you know how much your art matters.”

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My show gets emotional. I imagined it, I wrote it, and I’m performing it. Which means that through all of it are real emotions, which, when shared through the art of storytelling, create a sort of lopsided level of intimacy between myself and each person in the audience. Which is an odd way to kickstart a relationship.

I say kickstart, because after the show is over, these lovely audience members already now know enough about me to know whether or not they want to have a conversation with me, before I’ve even met them. I don’t need to go through the other half of ‘here’s who I am’. They’re strangers to me, while I am now someone ‘known’ to them. This means I can keep the first conversation I have with them, about them. It was really quite refreshing to jump into conversations with complete strangers with an eager curiosity, knowing that that they’ve already seen much of what makes me, me.

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They’ve already seen my heart.

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The Hatter is a 4.5/5 star show! Wow!

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I don’t really have a blog post to go along with this, other than to say that for all we artists aren’t supposed to listen to reviews, it is SO validating to see the work I’ve put into this show over the past couple of months take it from a three star show in London to 4.5/5 stars here in Saskatoon!

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Go take a read!

Actor Andrew Wade shows fantastic range, flipping a switch between wackiness and depression.

“Why can’t we let fantastic things be,” he asks in tears.

Perhaps because they weren’t meant to last, is the silent reply.

In short, you’d be mad to miss this play. – The StarPhoenix

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I would like to contrast this with the first review I ever received for a fringe show, back in 2011, when I performed William vs. The World at Victoria Fringe, and my only review said that “Even sympathetic narcissists should avoid this show.”  Why do I want to contrast it in this way? Because I love the feeling of progress, I suppose.

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The Hatter began as a cobbled together series of experiments in Vancouver, two years ago, and then went on to London Fringe, where for three of its first four performances, THERE WASN’T A SINGLE PAYING AUDIENCE MEMBER IN THE HOUSE. That’s right, three of my first four performances this summer went to tiny houses of strictly media/volunteers/other-performers, all of whom were watching it for free. And since then I have worked on the show, refined elements of it, added in a scene previously cut, and through Ottawa and Toronto, figured out just what its emotional core, its soul, really is. Financially, in both cities I didn’t quite break even, but the show was progressing. I could feel it. And my pitches on the street were also improving.

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Not going to lie, I am loving it here in Saskatoon right now. The street festival atmosphere is fantastic, people yell things at me left and right on the street (due to my costume), the locals are lovely, I’ve had many people ask to take photos with me, people are enjoying my show, and now a review that just blows me out of the water.

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Well played, Saskatoon. Well played. I shall certainly come here again. And I get to enjoy your company for four more performances and seven more days!

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Cheers,

Andrew Wade

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The Hatter vs. The Reviews!

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Okay, not so much The Hatter VERSUS The Reviews, given how positive they have been!

Let’s look at how The Hatter has fared with more write-ups from Ottawa and Toronto!

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The HatFirst, a late review from Meaghan Flaherty at New Ottawa Critics:

The script is well written and interesting, as Wade jumps from one creative medium to the next: songs, to poetry, to monologues, to audience participation. He manages to keep the audience guessing about what exactly it is that he’ll do next.

Wade also successfully plays many of the most beloved characters from Wonderland. He gives each one just enough of its designated personality so that the audience is able to recognize each one without the Hatter having to tell us.

She admittedly does mention the limited technical side of the show, but that’s what happens when you perform in a church gymnasium without a lighting rig!

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Post-show eyes.
Post-show eyes.

Next up, the lovely Charlebois Post’s Lisa McKeown had this to say:

The Hatter is a kind of sad clown – trying to befriend the audience but clearly suffering from some kind of internal conflict that he’s attempting to avoid.

The writing is clever and Andrew Wade’s performance is comedic but containing a depth that allows the audience to identify with him despite the clownish façade.

Definitely a good one to catch, especially if you’re feeling whimsical or are in the mood for a little audience participation.

Personally, I LOVE that she called me a sad clown! I’ve never gotten to be a clown before! I mean, sure, I have played physically over-the-top characters before, but to be called a clown fills me with an illogically grand amount of glee. Been spending too much time with actual trained-as-clowns performers like Aji from Geek Life and Ask Aggie’s Christine Lesiak, clearly. 🙂

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The Visitorium didn’t write up a full review, but he sent me this kind twitter comment:

@AndrewActs ‘ HATTER is a good time indeed…great storytelling, fantasy, and a lovely cuppa tea. #ottfringe

So that was kind of him.

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Hatter Poster - Saskatoon - for printerAnd finally, Mike Anderson at Mooney on Theatre wrote me an appropriately strange and wonderful review, written as a personal letter to me:

Did you notice how, any time you got to improvise, the audience would involuntarily lean forward in their seats? I know actors who would kill their own mothers to have an audience do that for them. It’s great!

We want to ride that wave with you, Andrew. We want to share in the joy you clearly take from working with a lively audience, from the unpredictability of live theatre, from the freedom you have when you aren’t dependent on light and sound cues to convey your message. When you get out there and act freely, the effect is phenomenal.

Seriously, possibly my favourite review I have ever received. I even took it as constructive criticism and used it to improve my run in Toronto! Heresy, I know! But that’ll have to wait for another blog post (possibly in a few days time!)

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Thank you everyone for all your support; this tour has been a wild and crazy ride thus far! Only Saskatoon remains! Bring on the 43 hour long greyhound trip.

Wait, HOW LONG DID I SAY THAT WAS? Really wishing I could have afforded that train-ride or plane ticket right about now.

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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The Day it all felt Normal

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Today’s the day it all felt normal, the planning for the next step on the strip, for the next place, deciding how to say goodbyes and to whom. Who to connect with online to keep a presence in some distant corner of their heart or mind. A continuation of a cycle of coming and going, beginnings and endings held so close together so as to almost be the same thing, life a series of events instead of an ongoing flow of chapters.

Life touring alone with the Fringe is short and lovely, because you need to pounce on any love that’s available and seize it for now, because tomorrow is too close for planning.

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(This post is what happens when you combine a first fringe tour with a first read of Neuromancer by William Gibson. Apparently.)

Andrew Wade answers The Question (London+Ottawa Fringe)

This week I was asked by The Charlebois Post to answer a question. I thought I would post my response to it now, as I wrote it a few days ago, and it is already a little out of date, as Ottawa Fringe has just come to a close. Enjoy!

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The Question:
Since you’re half-way through touring The Hatter, how would you describe the overall experience of presenting it in London and Ottawa. Any differences in audience reaction or in any other way?

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It’s hard for me to separate my experiences of performing in each city from my feelings towards being on a Fringe tour overall. London Fringe, as my first stop, was all about getting my bearings. I haven’t travelled much, and I fell ill for three days right off the plane, including passing out, naked, on the floor of my billet’s bathroom. Not only that, but it was a new show! My first London performance was the first time I had ever performed The Hatter. I was memorizing lines up until showtime, with scenes jumping around and switching places for the first few performances.

Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2That being the first time I had presented the material, during my time in London I was also feeling out the character of The Hatter and his personal arc. Some of the aforementioned accidental scene switch-ups, I decided I liked, so I have since implemented them. I also found a slew of other lines which I didn’t really need to say, managed to reintroduce an old scene, and occasionally enjoyed my on-the-spot paraphrasings so much that I’ve edited them into the play. So everything onstage evolved rapidly in London.

Due to being given a small venue, they also allotted me more showtimes, which meant I was performing essentially almost every single day – only one day off – so most of my time was spent in pre-show prep/flyering and post-show recovery. While I did once manage to meet up with an old friend, but there was far less downtime to this whole ‘performing in Fringe Festivals’ thing than I had previously anticipated.

Other than my lovely billets, I also didn’t interact much with the locals. A few nice conversations, but mostly I hung around with a handful of other performers who I knew or was getting to know. Quite a lot of solitary time – which I didn’t really mind, surprisingly.

By now, with only a few days left in Ottawa, I think I am finally adopting the necessary mindset towards socializing while touring – something I’d been missing in London. Ordinarily at the back of my mind with every conversation I’m having is a radar scanning along, looking for hooks, ways to continue the relationship between myself and the other person. How can this association, this friendship, this relationship, be maintained, continued into the future? But that doesn’t work so well when you know you’re leaving town in a week’s time, and aren’t sure you’re ever coming back.

Hattersquare600x600So instead, Fringe is making me be more present than before. This conversation with a local which I am having right now, this conversation is its own encapsulated moment, never to be repeated. It can only be enjoyed now for what it is, because it isn’t the precursor to something else down the road. It just is what it is, straight up, hold the ice. And it’s the same for them! I am just a travelling performer, rushing through their town, and yet they still want to talk to me. I guess that makes me interesting.

Being in a BYOV, I am still performing almost every day here in Ottawa, moving from ten performances in London to nine here, to seven in each of Toronto and Saskatoon. One big personal goal of my fringe tour was to allow myself to enjoy travelling, and while I’ve gone to the house of commons and the supreme court, I’m finding I’m more engaged by chatting with people and asking them what they think of their city. Ottawa’s winters are too long but they couldn’t imagine a life without snow. The only jobs are government jobs, but the place throws great parties and is kept young by all the universities. I’ve never seen a city with so many police cars, but I suppose that makes sense.

As to the show itself, adapting it from a tiny room to a church auditorium had its share of surprising elements. I still find myself occasionally waiting for lighting cues which existed in London, but couldn’t be done in Ottawa, and due to the resonating echoes of the room, I actually need to perform more quietly in the auditorium than I ever did in London.

The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONAs for the audiences… to be honest, I am just over-the-moon thankful that I have audiences. My first two performances in London, the only people coming to the show were volunteers, fellow performers, and media. Not a single ticket sale. Great for workshopping, not so great for not-becoming-financially-destitute. Then on the third day, fifteen paying audience members. I can’t say I kept up the third day’s numbers for the rest of the run, but until then, I admit my worries were getting the best of me. Ottawa’s audiences, hopefully due to the generally positive press I’ve been receiving, have been slightly more numerous. With BYOV venue fees, I won’t break even on this stop, but this trip was always designed as my ‘tuition’ for learning how to tour with a show. Next year I’ll earn my profits. 🙂

I love meeting people on the street in Ottawa. London-folk are lovely, but the number of times Ottawans have asked if they can have a picture with me (in full Hatter garb) really brings a smile to my face. Yet for all that gregariousness, Ottawa audiences are also far less willing to sing along with The Unbirthday Song. Interesting divide, there. (NOTE FROM FUTURE ANDREW: My final audience in Ottawa was LOVING singing that song. Go figure.)

In both cities, I have made fans of my work, and with every other performers’ shows I see, I get little glints of inspiration, ways to continue to explore this play, tweak it, refine it. Watching Nancy Kenny‘s excellent Delores reminded me to pay attention to the main relationship within The Hatter, while Kurt Fitzpatrick’s Cathedral City and Bruce Horak’s Assassinating Thomson have a new show slowly building itself in the sunshine nook of my mind.

Which I suppose means I’ll need to do this crazy Fringe Festival thing again next year. What a daunting, exciting, intimidating, and thrilling notion.

Before then, however, I have seventeen performances in two and a bit Fringe Festivals (FUTURE ANDREW: Okay, two festivals. Plus possibly Nanaimo now?), one theatresports performance on Canada Day (FUTURE ANDREW: Which was AWESOME), at least fifty-five dreaded hours on greyhounds, and whatever else crops up (Nanaimo?) before this summer ends.

Hope to see you in Toronto or Saskatoon.

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter

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Andrew Wade’s The Hatter – More Reviews!

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONNow that my run in Ottawa is more than halfway done, a look at a couple more reviews for THE HATTER:

Allison Vanek at Apartment613 didn’t love everything about the show, but they did enjoy quite a bit of it:

“Inevitably, solo shows live or die on the abilities of their performers, and The Hatter is no exception. In that department, writer and performer Andrew Wade doesn’t disappoint.

Wade embodies the character of the Mad Hatter perfectly. He’s high-energy, even with a pretty low-energy audience, he never breaks character, and his impressions of the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland are fantastic. He’s also really wonderful at improvisation.

The themes are dark, powerful, and frighteningly mundane.

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And Josh Chenoweth at Production Ottawa loved the show, but didn’t care for the venue. Widely varying venues is always a danger of Fringe.

Despite suffering from an overly large venue, Wade’s heartfelt performance shines through.

Andrew Wade’s The Hatter takes the titular character… and humanizes him right before the audience’s eyes.

From the start, the appreciation Wade has for the character and the source material is very apparent… You honestly feel for him as his sanity begins reconstructing itself.

It’s a fun journey and Wade’s charm is undeniable.

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I look forward to seeing what Toronto and Saskatoon have to say!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter

Andrew Wade’s The Hatter – Reviews!

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And now, a quick look at some of the kind comments I’ve received about The Hatter.

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At the preview in London:

The Hatter drew an enthusiastic applause at the showcase.

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Yes, well, that’s all good, but what about the show itself? Well, according to Susannah Joyce at Beat Magazine, who gave the show three out of four stars…:

Much of the writing is… clever and funny, with a polished, lyrical style. An invitation to sing “A Very Merry UnBirthday”, with words thoughtfully printed out in the Program, was well received by everyone.

Story is important to the Hatter.

The battle with The Jabberwocky is enjoyable theatre, with very good use of audience participation and well designed costumes and props to enhance the visual effect.

The Hatter is an admirable effort and a worthwhile visit inside the mad workings of Wonderland.

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The London Free Press and Joe Belanger later followed up with a review of their own:

Wade’s performance as the jaded, lonely Hatter is a delight, convincing and poignant, not quite what one would expect, which is perfect for a Fringe festival.

The Hatter is a fun show that children might find entertaining, although their parents are sure to feel a little on edge from the tea party upon their arrival through to the opening scene and the show’s poignant conclusion.

You quickly learn to expect the unexpected, which can only be attributed to Wade’s fine acting skills. To maintain that tension for 50 minutes is no easy feat.

The Hatter is a show well worth catching.

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During the run, perhaps my favourite comment which I personally received was:

At the end there, it really got me in the feels.

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And finally (for now), I received a lovely email after my last performance in London:

Hi Andrew or Hatter or Ernest.
My boys (one of whom put ketchup in his tea by choice) and I really enjoyed your show at The London Fringe.
You have a great voice, a terrific imagination, good tea and hilarious songs.
We loved your impromptu song about trying to get elephants to fly.
Thank you for the story about the Albatross. It gave me an opportunity to tell my boys about The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Hope you enjoyed your time here in London and made some good dough.
And we hope you continue to act and sing and create.
Come back to London next year.

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Makes all the hard work worthwhile. I look forward to seeing how Ottawa receives the show! Thursday beckons! (Tickets available here!)

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Hatter National Tour – Ottawa Edition

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Nine hours of Greyhounds later, I arrive in Ottawa, lugging my two giant suitcases out of the bus, wishing I hadn’t packed such a props heavy show. But it’s a good show.

Hatter Poster - Ottawa - for printer 2The bus was an hour late, but my billets only live what should be a half-hour walk away. Outside the bus depot, I stop and put on an extra shirt to cover up from the chill night air, an hour chillier than I was expecting. While there, a taxi driver offers a lift. At a cost, of course, but as a minimum wage worker who expects to lose money during his stay in this town (due to Bring-Your-Own-Venue fees), eh, I’ll save the money and walk with all my gear.

I forget in that moment how uncomfortable it is to have a backpack heavily laden with a huge brick of a laptop. A backpack whose straps have each broken earlier in my tour, and so now are held on by uncompromising, unextendable duct-tape, so that one strap is longer than the other, creating quite a lot of strain on my left shoulder.

I immediately regret my decision not to just take the taxi.

Three or four short but-oh-so-long blocks later, I am passing by a Subway sandwiches restaurant when a woman in the parking lot, a propos of anything, offers me a ride to wherever it is I’m going. Clearly she could see my Sisyphian struggle rolling my body’s weight across the pavement, and took in my Mad Hatter’s hat, perceiving that I wasn’t a threat to her or her daughter.

I swear, traveling is just improving my already high opinion of strangers, tenfold. Just so gosh darn nice.

We stop at my new billet’s place, where the couple I am staying with, Dean and Ruth, are waiting outside on the porch to greet me. Them and their giant black dog. I thank my ride and leave them with a business card and promise to offer them comps, but they want to pay for tickets to support me. Hopefully I hear from them.

At this point, all I know about my billets are that they have a giant dog, that they don’t own a vehicle, and… and that the man looks and dresses like the prototypical Amish gentleman. Like someone who would be right at home at a barn-raising, right down to the impressive and impressively sculpted facial hair. I have an immediate wonder as to whether or not their home will have electricity.

Half an hour of conversation later (in the well-lit, not-at-all-a-barn home), I discover that my billet is a storyteller who will be performing a version of Moby Dick. Which explains the facial hair somewhat. (Though his wifi internet password DOES relate to Amish communities, not to be any more specific about it.)

(He is clearly a complex man.)

But here I am, in the nation’s capital, eager and ready to take in a new environment. I mean, London was nice, but if you had told me I was off in a corner of Victoria or somewhere slightly inland from Abbotsford, I might have believed you.

Jervis Tetch/The Mad Hatter as depicted in Bat...
Jervis Tetch (Wikipedia)

Thus far, I’m finding that people are genuine and kind to me wherever I go, and that most of the stores are the same across the country, or have near to identical analogues, anyhow. Far more similarities than differences, in all but the wildlife. Which makes sense. With the ready ease at which people can travel across this country, similarities and homogenous communities are bound to emerge. But the porcupine crossing the road outside Ottawa won’t make his way into Richmond any time soon, nor the beautiful magpie stuck in the Calgary airport terminal, or the large turtle outside the rest-stop midway between Toronto and Ottawa, unwilling to decide whether or not he dare try to cross the highway.

I’ve got a startling two more months left in my own migration pattern this summer. The odds of me actually going Mad doing all this traveling by myself are still rather high, for those of you taking bets. And this is apparently an absolutely no gluten household, which also doesn’t have a blender, so there goes essentially how I make all of my meals. SO! Got to figure out how to survive on more than apples and bananas. Hrmm.

This should be quite an interesting two weeks! With all that’s ahead of me, I really am looking forward to sharing The Hatter with this city, the capital.

In London, I was visiting a small city solely for Fringing purposes. In Toronto, I will be exploring the city where most of my classmates moved to, post-graduation, seeking a world of greater performing opportunities (both stage and film, nowadays) and greater government funding and support. (My beloved BC has more artists per capita than any other province, but by FAR the least amount of funding per capita for the arts.)

But Ottawa is different.

I don’t have a lot of childhood memories, I don’t think. But I do remember with some details my father’s ill-fated run for office with the Reform Party, back in, oh, 1994 or so. It’s only natural for boys to admire their fathers, but I had good reason to – he really wanted to be a public servant, to represent and help his constituents on the national stage, and while he may not have achieved that dream, that noble goal still resonates with me. In the background of my life I find myself quietly, slowly, training. A few years on Senate at UVic. A leadership role with Peer Helping. Studying political blogs and current affairs. All awaiting for that day when I’m in my 40’s when I may very well aim to be public servant in some capacity, at some level, myself. So, to find myself in Ottawa! Time for a little exploration, another building block to mount atop another.

But that goal is some sixteen years away. Let’s get back to the present. Back to a tea party. Back to a bed lined with giant dog hairs, my kind, not-Amish hosts, two overflowing suitcases, and three fringe festivals to prep for.

Hello, Ottawa! I have so looked forward to meeting you.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,

The Hatter.

(P.S.: You can buy tickets to my show here!: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/the-hatter )

London Fringe – Gratitude (The Hatter)

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

A hearty hello from overcast London, Ontario!

My first week on tour with The Hatter has been a whirlwind, strange and dangerous and wonderful and trying. But above all else, I am grateful.

So much to say and so little time to type it out, so I shall be rather stream of thought with this post. Let’s start with the flight from Vancouver to London, with a stopover in Calgary.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #1: When boarding an airplane, take note of how long they expect the flight will take. Consider that for the first and last half hour of the flight, you will NOT be allowed to go and use the restrooms. For a flight lasting only an hour and a half, this means a relatively short window during which you can relieve yourself. And YES, that turbulence on the way down will make the landing seem awwwwwwwfully long as it plays hopscotch with your bladder, and turn that seatbelts-on light into a demon dancing a merry jig above your head.

Magpie at the Calgary Airport
My first photo ever shared from my new i-Thingamabob.

I was only in Calgary for a couple of hours, so I stayed in the airport. In the terminal, a magpie (so someone said) was flying about, stealing fries and generally having a wonderful time.

For the flight from there to London, because I was flying stand-by… Westjet gave me one of the nice seats with extra legroom, and I even had the whole row to myself. Ah, economy class luxury. I decided to embrace the moment by watching some Business News Network on the back of the seat in front of me, to celebrate my economic upgrade in society.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #2: Flying stand-by isn’t difficult! And if there’s a better seat on the plane, they’ll probably give it to you! But if there isn’t a seat on the plane… well, make sure you have a phone number for your ride waiting at the other end.

Upon landing in London, as I waited for my luggage to come off the carousel (PRO-TIP #3: give yourself time to pack. Or you may end up doing it all in a frantic huff the night before and end up accidentally bringing three small towels), I was immediately confronted by another Fringe performer, the lovely Tara Travis, who recognized me from somewhere! Hah! So that was fantastic.

One of my fantastic billets (billeters?), Allister Cameron, who, along with his wife Carolyn, recently had one of their life experiences turned into a play by their son, Ken, picked up Tara and I from the airport, gave us a tour around town, and dropped us by the Fringe office. There, the lovely Kathy Navackas, whom I have never before met in person, immediately exclaimed my name and gave me a hug. Seriously. So much love.

So I went from the worry of traveling on my own to a city where I know no one except the performer I’m sharing my venue with (the marvelous Jeff Leard)… to chatting with a fellow performer at the luggage carousel, being toured around town, and given hugs by near-strangers!

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #4: Hugs are awesome.

On the other side of the coin, throughout the flights and over the first couple of days, I was rather frantically trying to learn all my lines. Apparently speaking for fifty minutes straight is a lot of words. 😛

It really does help when they are YOUR words, but even still, it helps your tech person a lot in terms of hitting lighting and sound cues when you… paraphrase a little less than I was for the first couple of performances. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I landed in London, coming off the plane, I had a headache. Ah well, no worries. Three days later, come opening performance, the headache was STILL there. So, half an hour before my first performance, I did the reasonable thing and swallowed a tylenol, washed down with a glass of water, to ease the headache so I could perform without significant head-pain.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #5: DO NOT DRINK A LARGE AMOUNT OF LIQUID BEFORE GOING ONSTAGE. Rookie mistake.

So here we are, five minutes before my opening performance, and I am doing that two-year-old gotta-pee dance backstage. Unfortunately, the washro0m is located THROUGH the stage, THROUGH the audience, over by the front door. I think I can make it. I’ll forget all about it when I’m onstage. I can make it. I can make it. I can make it.

I don’t think I can make it.

en: A glass of water / de: Ein Glas Wasser / t...
The Enemy.

PRO-TIP #6: Water bottles are not intended as receptacles for urine.

Yep. Pee’d in my water bottle before going onstage. Like a boss.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #7: That’s just gross.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

The next day, I STILL had that headache, and my lovely billeter, Carolyn, suggested it might be tension, nerves and the like, which makes sense, given the situaton. So she suggested I go have a nice hot bath to ease my muscles. Seemed like a good idea. And I hadn’t had a proper bath in probably two years! (There isn’t a tub where I live.) So I ran the water for entirely too long, had to wait at least half an hour for the water to cease being at scalding temperature, then submerged myself and tried to relax my weary bones and muscles. To some success.

Then… something dangerous happened.

As I stood up to get out of the tub, I immediately felt far too heavy, my head was swimming, and I immediately recognized that this was a trouble situation. Somehow, I managed to flick the fan on, stick my head under the shower, and turn the cold water on. Which was cold… for a moment, then I realized I had set it to hot accidentally… then I realized that I couldn’t stay vertical to turn the water back to cold and that I needed to get down to the ground now or I would fall down and smash my head on something, so I slunk down onto the fuzzy mat beside the bath, incapable of moving from that spot for several minutes, barely staying awake, not able to keep my eyes open.

Essentially, I passed out, or went right to the verge of doing so. Never had that happen before.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #8: Don’t die.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

Half an hour later, I was fine. No worries there. I think a combination of a strange sickness, all the hot water, and my naturally low blood temperature just meant that there was no blood in my brain at that point.

Later that day, I asked a kind gentleman which way it was to the bus stop, and he offered me a ride to the stop. He was driving off that way anyway, he said. He was giving a chipmunk a ride to the park anyway, so why not drop me off down the road? This is when he brandished a cage containing a trapped chipmunk. Part of an ‘infestation’, apparently. Anyway, at the bus stop, I realized for the first time that my headache may be accompanied by a fever.

So, my first few days were a little rough, physically. That said, all the performers around me have been no end of supportive, with hilarious NO Shows every night (not to be confused with no-shows or Noh shows), kind words, and an all around happy atmosphere. The incredible magician Keith Brown (whose business card is a playing card HOW COOL IS THAT), is even letting me use his bike to get around town! And now I am healthy! Yay!

Something that I find startling about all this is not just how grateful I am to be out here, but how grateful traveling is making me feel for everything I have at home in BC as well. I’m thrilled to be continuing my educational and adventurous experience here on the tour, but also suddenly SO EXCITED for all the amazing opportunities and people waiting for me back at home. Considering I am performing a play about a homesick man, perhaps this isn’t so strange. But still, the future is bright.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

PRO-TIP #9: You’re never alone in your battles.

I have six more performances to go here in London, and then, off to Ottawa! Then Toronto! Then… a mystery spot (perhaps New York for a week), then Saskatoon.

Almost impossible to believe I have only been here for a week! Right, now it’s time to make some event pages for the other cities, head downtown, and hand out handbills in the hopes of finding a few more audience members to have some fun at my performance tonight.

I leave you with a comment left by a happy audience member: “It got me in the feels.”

As has this trip, for me, thus far.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

Stay grateful,
The Hatter
(aka Andrew Wade)

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Posters for The Hatter!

Hello!

Just wanted to share with you my posters for my upcoming tour of The Hatter! I have a pack of posters for each city sitting and waiting for me to pick up from the printer downtown, and I can’t wait to see them in person!

Hatter Poster - London - for printer 2 Hatter Poster - Ottawa - for printer 2

Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2

Hatter Poster - Saskatoon - for printer

Hope to see some of you at the show!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade 

Beggar’s Opera – The Newgate Prison Scene

Hello!

As part of his project EveryDayMusic, Rod Matheson filmed some of our closing matinee performance of Beggar’s Opera! And now the footage has gone live, so I wanted to share it with all you lovely folk!

(I’m the shorter masked prisoner who is singing at the very start of the clip. My chief role was as Filch, but the happy prisoner was my favourite. 🙂 )

The show was adapted and directed by David Newham, with music composed and directed by Daniel Deorksen.

Enjoy!

Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.

This post is featured in The Charlebois Post, as can be seen here.

 

Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.

The Hatter - 900x1350 300dpiThat’s all I wish someone had told me. Though I admit that if someone had, I would have sunnily ignored their wise words and continued on my merry way, because I, the eternal optimist, know I am a very capable individual. After all, I’ve pulled a couple of Fringe shows out of my hat before! How hard can this next one be?

And with that thought, I entirely overlooked the fact that putting on a local Fringe show and putting together a solo tour across several provinces are two VERY different beasts. The Hatter is driving me Mad.

(The name of my show is ‘The Hatter’. In case that wasn’t apparent.)

We are t-minus three weeks until I head to Ontario for the very first time (aside from once as a child being locked in a small room at the Toronto Airport for five hours). T-minus three weeks until I begin a tour of London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon over the course of two and a half months – the longest amount of time I will have ever been away from where I live. And for the life of me I have not been able to work on the show for more than an hour or two.

Oh, I’ve worked long and hard on the PRODUCTION, squeezing time between my minimum wage day-jobs and evening performances of other shows (eight shows a week of Beggar’s Opera, most recently) to fit in promotional photoshoots, to fill out of endless tech forms, to construct press releases I haven’t yet sent out, to conduct desperate searches for stage managers for each city (still looking for London, Ottawa, and Toronto, if you’re in one of those cities and interested!), to schedule performances, to make travel plans, to design posters and handbills, to figure out what to do with my worldly belongings while I’m away, to get costume pieces fitted and created, to figure out props…

But do I have a script? Nope. Do I have lines to learn? Not yet! No time. Just. No. Time.

I only have myself to blame, really. Sure, I could have turned down a workshift here or there, but my rent this month won’t get paid on future possible-maybe-hopefully-ticket-sales.

And there are the timeframe issues. The play doesn’t need to be performed until June 5th. But the production aspects need to get done long before then. I need to figure out how I’m getting out there. I need to print promotional materials, and I need to have stage managers in each city. Everything else seems to need to happen first.

Hattersquare600x600
Care for a cup?

I am still ever the optimist. This show is, after all, based on a show called The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party which I essentially improvised at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe. (The one review I received seemed to like it: http://tiny.cc/194sww .) To be honest, that show mostly came together in the four days between Victoria Fringe and Vancouver Fringe, as I ran out of time there as well, when Victoria Fringe proved all consuming what with my directing one show (BFA: The Musical!), stage managing another (Sonnets For An Old Century), and writing/performing a third (William vs The World).

I was also MOVING from Victoria to Vancouver in those four days. Half an hour before the first performance, a friend and I finally finished making the final set piece. It was that close. But this time was supposed to be different.

This time, I was supposed to swoop across the country with a well-built, well-tested, emotionally and intellectually deep show about The Hatter remembering who he once was, with all the grief and desperation which comes with a man trying to forget his past and be gleefully, cheerfully Mad again.

It can still be that. But right now it is a play about a man desperately trying to find stage managers and wade through technical forms. About a man who somewhere along the line has gotten far too distracted away from the real goal – to create a strong, highly entertaining piece of theatre that has the potential to move people and change lives.

I still have plenty of time. Three weeks to find time to stop being such a producer and to remember how to be an award-winning playwright and actor again. Time to grab some post-its, a sharpie, a pen and a laptop, and remember how to have fun again. How to create again. How to play again.

I miss playtime.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Beggar’s Opera – Quick Update

Hello all!

I have been trying to get a proper post about Beggar’s Opera out for some time now, but it just hasn’t happened between working every day and performing eight times a week! I would love to inspire you with stories about the wonderful group of actors I have had the pleasure to share the stage with, about how Linden has been a great mentor for me, about the joy of having your own theme song, about SPACETEAM!, about how I see my future self a few years down the line in Gord and Nick as they discuss touring horror stories while sitting backstage with their very pregnant wives, about the kindness that infects the backstage area, about the thrill of going out and performing a show that wants nothing other than to be the most entertaining show on Earth… but there just isn’t time! No time at all! Even now, I steal minutes away from my workplace to ramble as I am!

Only three days remain – we close with a matinee on May 5th! Performance Works! Loving this show so much. I’ll miss these fine folks.

Cheers!

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The Richmond Review’s 30 under 30

Candace Meyer photo.
Candace Meyer photo.

One reason I keep a blog is to keep people apprised of what’s happening in my life! Unfortunately, when I have the most to say is also when I am busiest, and therefore don’t make enough time to write blog posts, so sometimes awesome events fall through the cracks. Such as this one!

In late February, I was highlighted in The Richmond Review as one of Richmond’s 30 under 30. Every year, they choose thirty notable Richmondites under thirty years old to shine a light on, and this year, I was flattered to be chosen.

Andrew Wade has fingers in acting, stage managing, writing plays, science and even police work.

Wade grew up in Richmond before heading to University of Victoria to complete a degrees in theatre and writing. He’s now back, working part-time at Science World while pursuing his true love of the arts.

http://www.richmondreview.com/entertainment/193653971.html

In all truth, a lot of the credit for this goes to The Cultch, as last May, as part of their publicity blitz for the IGNITE! Festival, they reached out to Richmond newspapers with fodder for profile stories. My play, The Romantics, was being workshopped as part of the festival. Clearly, Matthew Hoekstra and The Richmond Review remembered me!

Funny thing? Last year, my younger brother was chosen (for biking across the country to raise money for prostate cancer research). So our sister and other brothers have some catching up to do. 😛