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Thank you for the tea parties.

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I had cloistered myself up in British Columbia, hid away in school for twenty straight years, I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t get the chances to perform in the real world, once I graduated… so I made a plan. A crazy plan. I decided to write myself a one man show and take it across the country.
       
Andrew Wade 011bI had no idea if I could hold anyone’s attention for an hour. I had no idea if I could write a show that’d work. I threw every theatrical idea into the show, creating a mad, patchwork quilt of ideas, and then threw most of them out. I mostly improvised a run at Vancouver Fringe in 2011. I rewrote the darn thing from the ground up. And then I took a deep breath, spent thousands of dollars, and took my little hat and kettle show on the road. First year, I went to London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon, spent over two months away from where I lived – the longest I had ever been on the road.
       
I got stuck backstage and had to pee in a water bottle a couple of minutes before my first performance. I sold exactly zero tickets to three of my first four performances. I was on greyhound buses for forty-three straight hours. I lost money. And it was worth it.
       
The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONI also met with mentors and brilliant performers who just wanted to help me along my journey. I made friends, colleagues, and talent crushes. I was introduced to the ridiculous art of attempting to smuggle women into your billet’s place without them noticing. I discovered from my billets just how charitable people can be and how awesome retirement is for a lot of people. I traveled the country, flew for only the third time in ten years. I made a man in Saskatoon give me a great big hug, break down, and cry, then loudly whoop at everyone on the street to come see my show.
       
And then, this summer, I brought The Hatter home. ‘Previewed’ it in Port Alberni to an empty town full of good intentions, brought it to Regina and was fed fancy meats while swatting mosquitoes and having a grand ol’ time. Then came the real homecoming tour.
       
Next, I went to Saskatoon, which had welcomed me so warmly, it felt like home. There’s a reason I was able to perform the most personal work I’ve ever written, there: a new show, The Most Honest Man In The World. Me being me. And most people still called me The Hatter, anyhow.
       
Then came Victoria. The big gulp of nervous air, a city of people I had treasured for seven years, then skipped out on when my degree was up. Spent a quarter of my life there. Felt like I was awaiting their judgment, wanting the city, old friends, ex-girlfriends, to tell me I had made the right call, that I’d made something of myself, out there in that bigger ol’ world. And the people who matter, they gave me just that. And oddly, most reassuringly of all, Victoria, well, it didn’t feel like home anymore. The Hatter is a play about searching for home. In its first draft, it was muchly a play of regretting leaving someplace, some people, somewhere. Now, it’s not that.
       
Now, The Hatter is about moving on.
       
And here we are in Vancouver, at home, and The Hatter is about to hang up his hat. No future plans for him. Nothing set. Just one more celebration, tonight at 8:15pm.
       
Thank you for the tea parties.
       
       
The Hat

An interview on The Hatter and life in the real world with The Marble

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
The Hatter onstage in Regina - Photo by Shelby Lyn LoweBefore The Hatter hangs up his hat later today (perhaps forever?) with a show at 8:15pm, I wanted to add here my emailed responses to a rather well thought-out email interview/preview I had with Matthew at The Marble.

The preview can be found here: http://marblevictoria.com/post/95353607472/the-hatter-preview-matts-interview
       
1. Well it’s been a while since The University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre Department. What have you been up to since then?

I have been off in the great wide world! By which I mean, in the past three years, I have moved to the mainland, performed in 26 different productions for at least 16 different companies, taken three self-written one man shows (William vs The World, The Hatter, and The Most Honest Man In The World) to fringe festivals across the country (Victoria, Vancouver, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatoon (x2), Port Alberni, and Regina), directed a talent show and a new fringe musical, got nominated for an Ovation Award, was picked as one of Richmond’s ‘30 under 30’, stage managed or ASMed for five productions, had a story make it onto CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera DNTO, acted in a couple of no-budget films, and learned the true meaning of Christmas. Okay, maybe not that last one. Oh, and I have a half-dozen or so part-time jobs that pay my rent and let me disappear whenever I get a theatre gig. Phew!
       
2. That Hatter’s been following your around a lot in the last few years (or at least that’s how it’s looked whenever I’ve had a chance to peak into what you’re doing.) How did the two of your first cross paths?

The Hatter and I actually first met at The Phoenix at UVic! A directing student, Rene Linares, asked myself, then a mere writing student, and Marynia Bienkowska-Gibbs (another writer), if we could write for him a play about Alice returning to Wonderland as a professional woman. This became a SATCo production. So we did! And as we wrote it, I found myself really connecting to The Mad Hatter, really enjoying writing for him.

So when it came next to write a new one man show, there was a satisfying hook there.
       
The Hatter in Port Alberni - photo by Cara Baldwin 023. I was tickled pink at the mention in your press release that you’ll be exploring the character’s, “serious emotional problems,” which could neatly sum up several personalities in the Alice series. Tell me, how much have you taken from the source material and what did you expand on?

When I was looking to write that new play to try and tour in Fringe festivals across the country, I also wanted to explore anger and what it means to lose control of oneself. If you’ve ever read or watched Alice in Wonderland, you know it can be succinctly summarised as ‘A whole bunch of characters yell at an innocent girl.’

In the story, Alice is rejected by many of the characters in Wonderland, and does all she can to escape it in turn. But what if someone landed in Wonderland, and never wanted to leave? And what if they were forced to go?

My writing philosophy also points me towards whatever scares me, and I remember one moment in high school where, without any thought or decision, I instinctively grabbed someone who was bullying me by the throat and shoved them into a chair. I was the most shaken up person about the whole moment, because… aye… it was like it wasn’t me, doing it. (Note: That’s the only time this has happened to me.)

But what about a character who has moments like that occurring throughout his life?
       
4. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered in your developing of the character, the most frustrating and, finally, the most fun?

The most surprising thing about the character of The Hatter, for me, is how desperately he wants everyone to be happy and jovial and delighted and wonderful. Figuring that out turned the show from a variety act into a story of a man trying his hardest to host a silly, happy party, but everything keeps going sideways.

The most frustrating part has been trying to connect this character with a wider audience. He looks like his should be a show for kids. But it’s not. Out of the first four performances I had in the London Fringe, the first time I really got the show on its feet… only one of those four performances had any purchased tickets. The tour picked up from there, but aye, a somewhat terrifying start. How can people know how good this show is, if no one comes?

The most fun part of developing this character, for me, is that he dives into everything, 100%, be that leading a singalong, telling a poem, summoning a Jabberwock, or trying to improvise a silly song on his own. Nothing quite works out the way he wants it to, but it is so much fun to give it a go. Also, I love those moments – such as when they have to step over broken plastic cutlery to get to their tea – when audience members realize that this isn’t a show like anything they’ve seen before.
       
5. The last time I saw you at the Victoria Fringe (2011) you were directing one show, acting in another and assisting in another. You looked savaged by the time it was over, but (other than the merits of organization) I’d like to hear what you took away from the experience and how you feel about your return to Vic Fringe?

I am SO looking forward to coming back! I consider this whole summer my home-coming tour in many ways; I’m returning to Saskatoon (where I had a 4.5 star review last summer), heading back to Victoria (my home for seven years), and then back to the mainland. And as for the mad experience of directing, stage managing, and writing/performing three different fringe shows at the same time, all I can say is, when I graduated, I was sorely worried that I wouldn’t get chances to work on theatre in the real world, so I made certain to say yes to every opportunity that came my way.

I still, mostly, live that way, and I don’t regret that decision in the slightest. Gotta be at the edge of your abilities to really grow and improve and evolve.
       
6. Tell me more about the actual show, what’s in store for the Mad Hatter?

After Alice left Wonderland, The Hatter found himself troubled by little sparks of memories rushing back at him, triggered by his his interactions with this small girl… and it isn’t long after that, that he wakes up one day and finds himself in the real world, in Victoria, and not in Wonderland at all. So he decides to host a Tea Party, the silliest, happiest tea party ever, a shard of Wonderland, to try and find a way back home. (And you’re invited!)
       
7. Now that’s you’re several years out of theatre school, I’d really like to hear your retrospective as well as any advice to young people starting up there or about to graduate and go into the big wide theatre world?

Be rabidly ambitious, endlessly cooperative, and calmly patient. Very few careers in this world happen right out of school, regardless of the field. Never mind in such a frivolous and amazing arena as theatre. But know that the theatre communities out there are full of people who want to help you, who want to support you, and who would love some support in turn. Find those rent-paying jobs that offer up the flexibility to let you keep pursuing what drives you, excites you, fills your boots with glee. And ask the elders… pick the brains of the theatre people around you and find out where they get their opportunities, where they want to go next.
       
8. So as a performer, is there anyone you’d say you took inspiration from more than others?

Oh, inspiration comes from all over. Sometimes, the reassuring kind, where older actors tell me how much easier it is to find work when you’re one of the four 70+-year-old actors in town, rather than one of a million 20-somethings. At other times, the blistering heat of coming across someone who is so pumped up to get to be doing what they’re doing. Or the reasonable kind, seeing how actors pay the bills and getting that calming feeling of ‘I could do that’.

Honestly, the most inspiring thing is just being able to look back at the last three years and see a slight progression towards doing more and more paying acting, writing, and other theatre work. Slowly expanding that portion of the income pie, until hopefully someday it can reach right around. (Or at least do its very best Pacman impression.)
       
9. Distilling it all down, why should folks come and see The Hatter?

Come to see a 4.5 star reviewed show that has been described as ‘like nothing you’ve ever seen before’. Come to have a free cup of tea, meet a man, have fun, and be moved. Come to help out a fellow trying madly to get home. Come because the best of Fringe Theatre is all about walking into a room, engaging in an experience, and then walking out, saying, ‘I don’t know how anyone in their right mind came up with that, but I am so glad I got to see it.’
       
10. Finally, what tea can patrons expect to be served?

It’s The Mad Hatter’s tea party! You’ll have dozens of options to choose from, and even some mustard and relish if you want to add a condiment or two.

See you at the tea party!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter
   
(Their resultant review can be found here: http://marblevictoria.com/post/95810700942/the-hatter-charming-stranger-review )
       
The Hatter in Port Alberni - photo by Cara Baldwin 01

The Most Honest Man In The World gets Four Stars

August 4, 2014 2 comments

       
It is hard to find the time and energy to blog between performing, flyering, radio interviews, flyering, promoting, flyering, prepping, seeing shows, and trying to escape the Saskatoon sun! As is, I’m writing this at 3am. That said, I did want to mention that my highly experimental, Sam-Mullins-esque-but-weird personal storytelling show, The Most Honest Man In The World, has received a four star review from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix! And from the reviewer whom other performers had warned me about, no less!
   

Photograph by Michelle Berg , The StarPhoenix

Photograph by Michelle Berg , The StarPhoenix


   
Huzzah!
   
For me, the fact that this show works… HUGE confidence boost. One one-man-show (William vs The World), well, that’s an experiment. Two one-man-shows (The Hatter), that could be a coincidence. But to have three now under my belt… that shows that I’m really doing something here.
   
(Not that I want to keep doing nothing but one-man-shows, but hey, maybe one day I’ll even strike gold and put together a show that actually sells well enough to make fringe touring the profitable choice as well!)
   
Anyway, onto the review! : http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Review+Most+Honest+World/10086802/story.html
   

Andrew Wade, who had a Fringe hit last year in The Hatter, bares his soul in this romantic tell-all that spans his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood… The content itself is cleverly arranged… It’s a pretty brave experiment, in both theater and life. If it’s true.

   
All I can say is, I aim to be truthful. I aim to be honest. I wanted to try a storytelling show, be myself onstage. The idea of that terrified me. I also knew I would have to plan for a quick turnaround between festivals this year… I would need to make a show anchored in genuine connection rather than complex artifice. A blank page is the hardest thing in the world, so I threw away the page instead, and grabbed a stack of flashcards. 🙂
   
This rather positive review also has what has got to be the best/worst anti-pull-quote I have had… “His life experiences are just as banal as 99 per cent of the population’s. What we usually see in non-fiction is the one percent, stories so amazing you can hardly believe them.”
   
He then said that it was this very fact that made my show intriguing. Relatable, I hope.
   
So… I am the 99%? Sure. Let’s go with that.
   
I am also the FOUR STAR REVIEW. Let’s go with that too. 🙂

Interviewed by RovingRound – Down The Rabbit Hole

Hello!

Work continues apace on getting The Most Honest Man In The World in shape for the Saskatoon/PotashCorp Fringe Festival! Here’s an interview I did with my friend, Rebecca Zimmer, for her first podcast in her Roving Round series. We talk about what it’s like to tour Fringe Festivals, about The Hatter, and about The Most Honest Man In The World.

Enjoy!

Summer in a Fringe-full World

   
   

Hello!

   
The unfortunate part about keeping a blog is that the times when I have the most to write about are also the times when I am expending all my creative energy being rather busy elsewhere!

I don’t want to leave you all in the lurch, so here’s a quick recap of all the Fringe-ful activities I am up to this summer:

   
   

Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival – June 21st-22nd
The Hatter

Alberni Valley Fringe Poster - The Hatter
Right, this one already happened! In which Andrew learned the difficulty of remounting/relearning an hour-long show in a week’s time, while also acting in five performances of another show (Gay’s The Word with APPLAUSE! Musicals) and while replacing a stolen bicycle. But it happened, it was lovely, and I was awarded the only two awards the festival gave out, the People’s Choice Award and Best Quote (for ‘God Shave The Queen’)!

   
   

Regina International Fringe Theatre Festival – July 7th-13th
(these festivals have surprisingly long names!)
The Hatter
Hatter Poster - Regina 2014 textconverted
A much spiffier poster! Well done, me!
The festival in which I am actually away for more than a weekend. Also the festival in which I don’t have a stage manager… so this’ll be interesting!

   
   

Saskatoon PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival – July 30th-Aug 10th
The Most Honest Man In The
World
(okay, so I am sometimes partial to a long name, myself)
Honestly squareThe festival I was actually profitable in last year! This year… an experiment! A new show! It may succeed, it may fail. My attempt at a personal storytelling show, described as ‘A life-long love story about the pursuit of honesty over all happiness’. Expect me to tape tissue paper to my head, walk around in tap shoes, and neurotically ponder old relationships and what it means to let go.

   
   

Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival – August 21st-31st
The Hatter
The Hatter, picture 1
The first of two home-comings.

   
   

Vancouver Fringe Festival  – September 4th-14th
The Hatter

Photo Credit Lachlan McAdam

Photo Credit Lachlan McAdam

A return! The show was first birthed in a highly improvised fashion in Vancouver, three years ago. Now I’m bringing it back. (Also, now people know who I am in Vancouver! The first time, I had been off the mainland, over in Victoria, for seven years, and had moved back to Richmond a mere three days before Vancouver Fringe began.)

   

BUT WAIT! I’M NOT DONE!


   
   

Vancouver Fringe Festival  – September 4th-14th
Clutter and Contamination: An Obsessive Compulsive Disaster

DSC_0590For the third time in my life, I am a director, tackling my fellow UVic Writing alumni friend Kayla Hart‘s one woman play, Clutter and Contamination. The play will be performed by the lovely Christine Robinson. It has been a pleasure to work with them on the show so far! Directing a show while out on the road will be an interesting experience!

   

 And from there… new adventures and challenges await. Bring’er. 🙂

   
   

Some men run to feel the wind in their hair and the blood in their veins, excited muscles and pounding heart. Others run to get somewhere, or to get away from somewhere. Some run because they don’t know what else to do. Some run to inspire. Some to improve themselves. Some to prove to themselves that they can. And some run because they’re afraid of what might happen if they stood still.

Choose Your Own Blog Post

   
There are so many things that have happened in the past month which deserve their own full blog post write-ups, but as is evident on my front page here, I just haven’t been able to squirrel away enough time and mental energy to do them justice. SO, I figure, why not give a brief summary of the amazingness that has been the past month of my life, and ask you what you would like me to expand upon!
   
Leave a message in the comments here (or on the facebook link, or via a twitter message, whatever) if there is anything below that you’d like me to focus a post on. 🙂
   
– One of the last words of advice our dear Floyd Collins director, Peter Jorgensen, gave us, was to adopt the philosophy of ‘instant forgiveness’. If something goes wrong onstage, AND THINGS WILL GO WRONG ONSTAGE, instant forgiveness, move on with the show. This is far from the first time I’ve heard these words, but it is a piece of advice I really do need to continue working at taking to heart.
   
– Balancing momentary opportunities to work in my career field (such as this amazing 2.5 month contract with Floyd Collins!) with stringing along dayjob employers with the odd shift here and there, whenever I can, so that I can still pay rent when the contract ends.
   
– Working with people who have found a way to drop their day-jobs and do this full-time. How they live. How they’re  not necessarily as dayjob-free as I first assumed.
   
– Our culture’s  unhealthy phobia surrounding talking about our salaries and what we make, where.
   
Jesse L. Martin saw our show!Original RENT cast member Jesse L. Martin came to see Floyd Collins. Yep. What it means to me to get seen by a celebrity, and the strangeness of fandom celebrity worship.
   
– So, in my week off, I MAY have performed, erm, a burlesque routine as the Eighth Doctor at a Doctor Who burlesque show put on by my dear friends at Geekenders. In this routine, I MAY have written up a parody of Mister Cellophane, and stripped down to my underwear. I have also never, prior to this, ever even taken my shirt off, onstage. I am always looking for performance opportunities that challenge me! Geekenders/Fairlith/et all, thank you so much for having enough faith in me to risk letting me out up there. Oh, and my sister may have heard about the show somewhere and attended it. (awkward?)
   
– Burlesque audiences are perhaps the best audiences. I mean, I had just been performing in an amazing musical for three weeks with a stunning amount of talent onstage, but the sheer energy and boisterousness of those three hundred people in the Rio, all loudly cheering and whooping and loving life, the feeling off all that delight just shocking joy into my system as I stood onstage, there… Wow. That is somethin’ else.
   
– It’s amazing what audience expectations will do. A proper hoity-toity theatre musical theatre audience expects strong choreography, brilliant singing, good acting, and at least a passable script. Exceed those expectations, and they will love the show.  That burlesque audience, on the other hand, expected to see from its performers a love of Doctor Who, a solid costume, sexy dancing, and someone stripping down to pasties and underwear through the course of their performance. It was a wondrous thing to see the shock and delight they had to see me actually sing something onstage! With character acting! Something I’d written myself! Wow! Expectations exceeded. (Which is great, because it also allowed me to get away with only a passable costume and less-than-experienced, erm, sexy moves.)
   

Burlesque routine, pre-clothing-removal. Photo: Stephen Gray.

Burlesque routine, pre-clothing-removal.
Photo: Stephen Gray.

– What am I willing to do onstage, and what am I not willing to do?
   
– Fringe festival preparations for this summer, or, How I am managing to make the exact same mistakes and good choices as last year.
   
– How does someone write a show called ‘The Most Honest Man In The World’? Has Andrew developed an ego?
   
– I am consistently surprised at how clearly I regress as a person when in a state of desperately-needing-sleep. It’s almost like it’s a direct regression through the years — I start feeling emotional pangs for old flames, take on old physical quirks like holding one arm behind my back… there may be more truth than I know to the old adage that we are everyone we once were.
   
– I fly somewhere, and promptly am sick. Just like what happened last year with London, Ontario. What’s up with that?
   
– Billeting. What it means, and my experiences staying with people volunteering their homes, across the country.
   
– And finally, this is a thing that happened: http://www.tift.ca/floyd-collins-goes-ahead-without-sets-costumes-or-props-press-release-april-7-2014/ . Essentially, a moving company, Midland Van Lines, picked up our set and costumes and promised us a delivery time of 5-7 days to get those items from Vancouver to Barrie, Ontario, in time for our second leg of our tour. Those items were not delivered, and now we are reblocking the show in a fashion that really is quite reminiscent to the old SATCo black box theatre days as a student at UVic. The show must go on!
   
So aye, there’s a good summary of what I’ve been up to, this past month. Back into tech in an our or so. Anything you’d like me to expand on in a full post?
   
   
Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Fringe 2014: The Rise of the Western World, or, The Settler Makes a Home

January 20, 2014 Leave a comment
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Welp, the dust appears to have settled, the lottery lines drawn, and the anticipation begun its nervous, ever-present hum. While a few elements are still up in the air, it’s sounding like this year I will be off on the road again to five different lands, two exotic and unknown, one a recent friendship, and two returns home.

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Contour flag of Saskatchewan, Canada

Saskatchewan, Canada (Wikipedia)

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This summer, The Hatter shall plead his case in the Alberni Valley, out to Regina, back to my former abode of Victoria, and then return in his entirely transformed state to The Vancouver Fringe Festival, where, three years ago, a draft once saw the stage.

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But I mentioned FIVE, you say! FIVE festivals! Indeed! For in the middle of all that, I shall be bringing a new show to Saskatoon Fringe, a personal-stories-esque show (which I am still in the early processes of writing), tentatively titled ‘The Most Honest Man In The World‘. A brand new, terrifying experiment!

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And so, after spending most of last summer travelling endless greyhound bus hours through Ontario, I find myself instead touring the western reaches of Canada, and bringing my show home, while testing something new in a place that appreciated my work, last summer.

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This is going to be a radically different adventure. Last summer, I packed my bags, props, business cards, and posters, and headed off on the road for two months straight. This summer, due to not getting into Winnipeg or Edmonton, I may be travelling out to each city, then returning home, each time. Which means a few dozen more greyhound hours and transportation bills, I admit. Maybe I’ll see if I can hide out in Regina or Saskatoon for a couple of weeks. Finish writing the new show. 😛

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I’ll also be travelling with an old friend or two. Last summer, I hardly knew a soul in any of the cities. This year, I’ll have familiar faces everywhere I go, be they other travelling performers, locals (including all the Regina-ians, Regina-ites, Reginalds?, who came to Saskatoon for the festival), and other warmly welcome familiar faces. Heck, my dear old friend, Jacqueline Irvine, who sewed the giant hat backdrop, helped me put it together, half an hour before the first trial-run performance in Vancouver, and who acted in the first draft of the show as The Dormouse (before the play became more about a lonely man, as it is now), will be stepping onboard as my stage manager for Port Alberni and Victoria.

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Fringe (TV series)

(Wikipedia)

(And I’ll probably still lose money in the end. But that’s okay. Life and expression are more important than all that. 🙂 )

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I look for narratives in everything. Coming into this Fringe lottery season, I was hoping to be out on the road for at least a couple of months and try my show at the biggest fringe festivals in the country – Winnipeg and Edmonton. And perhaps show it in Victoria and see how it’d be received in my former stomping grounds.

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Instead, the emerging theme appears to be that of ‘a home base’.  Heading out into the world, and then coming home. Bringing my work to the places I hold dearest to my heart.

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In Saskatoon, it’ll be the other way around – bringing myself and my heart even more into my work, within the safety of a distant city.

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( Speaking of telling personal stories, perhaps a sneak peek this week? While I don’t expect this particular story in question to be a part of my Fringe show, this past Saturday I shared a true tale as part of CBC Radio’s DNTO (Definitely Not The Opera): Fast forward to 52 minutes to get a stylistic preview for Saskatoon:   http://www.cbc.ca/dnto/episode/2014/01/16/wanted-what-did-you-find-in-the-classifieds/ )

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And then in 2015, finally hit the big stops and see what everyone’s talking about, and hell, perhaps I’ll go international. Put that American citizenship to good use. But there is so much that is fantastic and awesome before we get there! Five cities! Workshopping a new play elsewhere! And in March and April, Floyd Collins!

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(But that’s a subject for another post. 🙂 )

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Long Live Adventure! Huzzah!

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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