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Personal Reassurance – State Of The Andrew

August 1, 2016 Leave a comment

I don’t feel like a writer unless I am writing. I don’t feel like an actor unless I am auditioning or acting. And if I am not actively writing or acting, I can feel like I’m not doing much of anything with my life.

So with that in mind, every once in a while I need to remind myself both of what I’ve done recently and what is set as still to come. A career-wise State Of The Andrew, if you will. So as I feel all insecure and whatnot, let’s take a look at what I’ve actually been involved with this year:

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Several months: Cassie And Friends
Puppeteered a show about Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in elementary schools (yes, with puppets) once a week for a while!

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January: The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson
A sold-out run of a socially important (and darn good) show that zero members of the theatre community saw. It was fascinating to work mostly within the Sikh community on this piece, both in creative collaborators and audience attendees. I also loved getting a chance to be in a non-musical show – only the second one I’ve had the opportunity of acting in (other than shows I’ve written myself) since I came back to Vancouver in 2011. (The other show was The Boys In The Band.)

January: OVATION! Awards
I performed a song from Carry On at the OVATION! Awards. And lost the best new musical award, alas. Three time nominee! Gotta get to Leonardo DiCaprio runner-up level status!

20160327_230122March: Richmond Arts Coalition
While not a creative exercise in itself, my part-time job at the Richmond Arts Coalition is 1000% about supporting other artists. Which is nifty.

 

March: The 2nd Annual 24-Hour Musical Theatre SMACKDOWN Competition
My team won! In the span of a day, we put together a 20 minutes+ musical with required elements such as The CN Tower, the 1930’s, a rubber horse head mask, and a song style that I can’t remember. I was the head book-writer for our group. SO MUCH FUN. And I am frankly astonished that our team took the prize, given that the stiff competition included incredibly talented and witty theatre creators like Sebastian Archibald! (I am now the only person to be on both winning teams from year one and two!)

April: The Mad Tea Party Cabaret
Performed The Unbirthday Song as The King of Hearts at a fundraiser cabaret.

May/June: VanDeca performances
I took on the challenge this year of performing in a choir (alongside my little sister!).

AndrewWade_Diamond'sEdgePhotography_WEB

May: People Like Us
A chance to sing songs I’ve always wanted to sing (Quiet from Matilda, Falling Slowly from Once, Sea of Pebbles from TITUS), and to raise money for a good cause (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia), as well as an opportunity to connect with a grassroots opera company run by friends.

June: The Solstice Arts Festival – The Hatter and William vs The WorldIMG_20160618_140119
I offered to perform two different one-man-shows in two days, which was perhaps not the best for my sanity, but it made for a solid challenge. It turns out that relearning two hours solid just-me-talking takes a lot of hard work! Especially as I hadn’t performed The Hatter in two and a half years, and had only once taken this version of William vs The World to a festival. It was lovey to get another chance to perform in Port Alberni, especially in this otherwise fringe-tour-less summer.

 

June: TITUS!: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus – Edits
Finished the words side of rewrites for TITUS, coming to The York Theatre this month! The show is my dear, dear baby, in two act form for the very first time.

June: Elkwalk
Puppeteered some giant Irish Elk skeleton puppets around downtown at 3am one night. As ya do.

July: Student Films
In July I began auditioning in earnest for student film projects in order to get more screentime under my belt. Nothing has been filmed yet. There have been complications around scheduling due to my dayjobs and other performance commitments — apparently all student films only want to record on Saturdays and Sundays!

July: La Serva Padrona
Opera Mariposa asked me back to be in an actual opera! Admittedly in a non-singing, non-speaking clownish servant character role, but I was onstage for the majority of the show. I never saw a script, and only vaguely knew what the other characters were saying (in archaic Italian). I functioned off a loose set of ‘be here when this happens, there when that happens’ choreography, and otherwise follow the specific instructions to steal focus from the singers and try to be as ridiculous as possible. SO. MUCH. FUN.

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August (to come): TITUS! The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus
Come! Please do!

August (to come): Gorepalooza IV
I am currently slated to wrestle in a kiddy pool filled with fake blood as an over-the-top pro wrestling character. Too fantastic to NOT do.

September (to come): The Mad Hatter
I will be roaming around the Richmond World Festival as The Mad Hatter for a few hours.

September (to come): Who Killed Kraft Bier?
I will be a character in a one day site-specific show that has people travelling around, drinking beer!

WilliamvsTheWorld - image 01September (to come): William vs The World at Vancouver Fringe
Come! Please do!
Here’s the blurb:

William has built for himself a perfect fortress of solitude. A dream job at a geek store and all the time he could want to watch superhero cartoons, become the ultimate Dragonborn, and avoid other people. But how will William and Chuck (his cactus) survive when their perfect world collapses?

Performing September 7th-17th at Arts Umbrella on Granville Island, as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival!

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Looking at it, I feel I would be happier now if I had devoted more time this year to writing (perhaps at the expense of a few paying-the-rent dayjob shifts) and I need to get better at making this screenacting thing happen. That said, while I haven’t worked a long contract this year, I can’t say I haven’t been active.

What do you think – Am I adequately maintaining my theatre creator credibility? Am I accomplishing anything at a rate at which future accomplishment is inevitable? Am I just spinning my wheels? Inquiring insecurities want to know! 🙂

Cheers,
Andrew

My 2014 Fringe Tour: By The Numbers

October 4, 2014 4 comments





My 2014 Fringe Tour: By The Numbers!


The numbers wherein Andrew Wade travelled to five different cities and performed in their Fringe Festivals. Last year, my first summer touring, I estimated that I spent 1671.16$ more on my tour and expenses than I earned. How about this year?




Port Alberni audience numbers (for The Hatter):
(audience numbers not provided by festival)
# of performances: 2
# of paying audience members: ??? (estimate: ~27)
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: ??? (estimate: ~13)
Average # of audience members (including comps): ??? (estimate: ~20)


The Hatter onstage in Regina - Photo by Shelby Lyn LoweRegina audience numbers (for The Hatter):
# of performances: 5
Total # of audience members: 110
Average # of audience members (including comps): 22
# of comps: 9+9+7+5+2 = 32
# of paying audience members: 22+14+10+16+16 = 78
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 15.6


Saskatoon audience numbers (for The Most Honest Man In The World):
# of performances: 7
Total # of audience members: 219
Average # of audience members (including comps): 31

# of comps to fringe staff: 3
# of comps to fellow performers: 30
# of comps to media: 2
# of promo vouchers (?): 23
# of volunteer comps: 15

# of advance tickets sold: 20
# of paying audience members: 146
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 21


Victoria audience numbers (for The Hatter):
# of performances: 6
Total # of audience members: 14+19+29+12+9+9 = 92
Average # of audience members (including comps): 15

# of comps: 4+6+12+3+2+6 = 33

# of full price advance tickets: 2
# of discounted advance tickets: 5
# of Muncher tickets (could be advance or at door, full price): 5
# of full price tickets at door: 20
# of discounted tickets at door: 23
# of Frequent Fringer (extra discounted) tickets: 4
Total # of paying audience members: 59
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 10


Vancouver audience numbers (for The Hatter):
# of performances: 6

# of media comps: 1
# of volunteer comps: 6
# of performer rush comps: 21
# of artist comps (ones I gave out): 14
# of miscellaneous comps (?): 19
Total # of comps: 61

# of full price advance tickets: 50
# of 1/2 price advance tickets: 13
# of paying audience members: 133
# of total audience members: 194
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 22
Average # of audience members: 32

Photo: Erin Aberle-Palm

Photo: Erin Aberle-Palm



EXPENSES:


Failed Fringe Application Fees:
Edmonton: -36.75$
Winnipeg: -20.00$
Montreal: -55.00$
Seattle: -28.42$
CAFF Lottery: -25.00$
Total: -165.17$


Port Alberni Expenses:
Application fee: Free (First come, first serve)
Festival fee mailing: -0.66$
Festival fee: -200.00$
Cost per performance = -100.00$
Tea: -3.56$
500 Handbills (business cards): -29.39$
Travel to Port Alberni (ferry): -16.90$
Travel away (ferry): -16.90$
Ride from ferry to Port Alberni: -20.00$
Total: -287.41$


The Hatter - Port Alberni newspaperRegina Expenses:
Application fee: -25.00$
Festival fee: -575.00$
Cost per performance = -120.00$
Packing tape: -13.43$
Tea/batteries: -3.20$
Styrofoam cups: -4.49$
Booze: -8.05 + -6.50 = -14.55$
1000 Handbills (business cards): -50.92$
25 posters: -22.62$
Gift to billet: -9.69$
Gift to fellow performer: -3.14$
Travel (Flights to Regina and back home to Vancouver): -388.76$
Extra flight travel cost (to and from) of taking a second suitcase full of props: -42.00$
Total: -1152.80$


Saskatoon Expenses:
Application fee: None (first come, first served)
Festival fee: -710.00$
Cost per performance = -101.43$
Prop (book ・Homeland): -8.35$
Props (Batteries) / grooming: -15.86$
Asparagus for spoof night skit: -0.40$
1000 Handbills (business cards, late getting them printed): -57.74$
25 posters: -18.67$
Gift to billet: -5.48$
Travel (Flights to Saskatoon and back home to Vancouver): -365.66$
Total: -1182.16$


Victoria Expenses:
Application fee: -28.00$
Festival fee: -572.00$
Cost per performance = -100.00$
Board game cafe day: -5.00$
Beer: -6.50$
Props (styrofoam cups): -3.74$
Bowling and pool with fellow fringers: -12.85$
Medical expenses: -38.12$
1000 Handbills (business cards): -35.93$
25 posters: -18.67$
Travel to (ferry+bus ticket): -19.25$
Travel away (ferry): -16.75$
Total: -756.81$


Vancouver Expenses:
Application fee: -50.00$
Festival fee: -750.00$
Cost per performance = -133.33$
Styrofoam cups: ~ -6.00$
Beer: -5.00$
1000 Handbills (postcards ・so I could fit a map on them to the venue): -83.84$
My portion of venue handbill (shared with other companies): -60.00$
25 posters: -18.67$
Bus tickets to reach my venue: -19.20$
Food bank donation (a percentage of ticket sales): -39.65$
Total: -1032.36



Expenses not considered due to working shifts between festivals:
Rent back home, groceries both at home and on tour.


IMG644b

INCOME:


Port Alberni:
Ticket Price: 10$
Artist take-home of full ticket price: 10$
Full festival pass (84$ for 115$ value) = 27% off ticket price
# of full festival passes used = ???
Average amount per ticket paid to me: ???
Total payout from festival: 246.50$
Total: 246.50$

The Hatter in Port Alberni - photo by Cara Baldwin 02
Regina Income:
Ticket Price: 10$
Artist take-home of ticket price: 10$
Average amount per ticket paid to me: 10$
Total payout from festival: 780.00$
Donation from a lovely and beautiful friend to get me to fly rather than greyhound: 200.00$
Total: 980.00$


Saskatoon Income:
(all numbers confused by additional GST reductions)
Full Ticket Price: 14$
Frequent Fringer Ticket Price: 12$
Admin fee per ticket = 2$
Artist take-home of full ticket price: 12$
Artist take-home of Frequent Fringer ticket price: 10$

Advance ticket sales (14$ – 2$ = 12$ per ticket): 20 tickets = 240.00$
Frequent Fringer (12$ – 2$ = 10$ per ticket): 44 tickets = 440.00$
Ticket sales at door (14$ – 2$ = 12$ per ticket): 82 tickets = 984.00$

GST awkwardly deducted: -93.13$

Progression of income per performance:
75.43 —> 73.62 —>290.76 —> 294.48 —> 298.38 —> 330.48 —> 207.72$

Average amount per ticket paid to me: 10.76$
Total payout from festival: 1570.87$
Total: 1570.87$


Victoria Income:
Full ticket price: 11$ (+ 6$ Fringe Button)
Students/Seniors discount ticket price: 9$ (+ 6$ Fringe Button)
Frequent Fringers discount price: 8$ (+ 6$ Fringe Button)
Artist take-home of ticket price: 11$/9$/8$
Advance ticket sales (full price): 2 tickets @ 11$ = 11.00$
Advance ticket sales (discount): 5 tickets @ 9$ = 45.00$
Ticket sales at door (full price): 20 tickets @ 11$ = 220.00$
Ticket sales at door (discount): 23 tickets @ 9$ = 207.00$
Munch card ticket sales: 5 tickets @ 11$ = 55.00$
Frequent Fringer ticket sales: 4 tickets @ 8$ = 32.00$

GST awkwardly deducted (5%): 4.81+5.90+8.14+4.05+3.29+1.48 = -27.67$

Scary Progression of income per performance:
96.19 —> 118.10 —> 162.86 —> 80.95 —> 65.71 —> 29.52$

Average amount per ticket paid to me: 9.85$
Total payout from festival: 581.00$

Total: 581.00$


Vancouver Income:
(complicated by having one half-price performance)
Ticket Price: 14$ + 5$ Membership
Admin fee per ticket = 3$ (+membership)
Artist take-home of ticket price: 11$

Advance full price ticket sales (14$ – 3$ = 11$ per ticket): 7+6+7+12+13= 45 tickets @ 11$ = 495.00$
Advance half-price ticket sales (Half of 11$ = 5.50$ per ticket): 13 tickets @ 5.50$ = 71.50$
Advance 4-pack Frequent Fringer ticket sales (10$ to me per ticket): 1 ticket @ 10$ = 10.00$
Advance 10-pack Frequent Fringer ticket sales (9$ to me per ticket): 2+1+1+3= 7 tickets @ 9$ = 63.00$

Day-of full price ticket sales (14$ – 3$ = 11$ per ticket): 9+5+5+12+18 = 49 tickets @ 11$ = 539.00$
Day-of half-price ticket sales (Half of 11$ = 5.50$ per ticket): 8 tickets @ 5.50$ = 44.00$
Day-of 4-pack Frequent Fringer ticket sales (10$ to me per ticket): 5 tickets @ 10$ = 50.00$
Day-of 10-pack Frequent Fringer ticket sales (9$ to me per ticket): 5 tickets @ 9$ = 45.00$

Happier Progression of income per performance:
199.00 –> 115.50 –> 167.00 –> 179.00 –> 273.00 –> 388.00$

Average amount per ticket (excluding half-price day) paid to me: 10.77$
Total ticket payout from festival: 1321.50$
Minus food bank donation: -39.65$
Total: 1281.85$

photo credit: Michelle Berg

photo credit: Michelle Berg

Total Expenses (including travel costs):
Failed Fringe application fees: -165.17$
Port Alberni expenses: -287.41$
Regina expenses: -1152.80$
Saskatoon expenses: -1182.16$
Victoria expenses: -756.81$
Vancouver expenses: -1032.36
Total: -4576.71$


Total Income:
Port Alberni income: 246.50$
Regina income: 980.00$
Saskatoon income: 1570.87$
Victoria income: 581.00$
Vancouver income: 1281.85$
Total: 4660.22$


Final financial verdict: A positive financial figure of 83.51$ !
Compared to last summer:
 1754.67$ better off.




Other numbers:


Hours spent flying or on layover in airports: 4h13m + 2h10m + 5h11m + 5h35m = 17h9min.
Hours that I would have otherwise spent on greyhound busses: 26h+26h+29h+29h = 110h
Extra money spent flying versus greyhounding: 754.42$ – 388.46$ = 365.96$
Money earned in Richmond/Vancouver on days that would have been spent greyhounding/recovering = ???


Dayjob shifts worked in the 12 days while back home between Regina and Saskatoon fringes: 5.
Dayjob shifts worked in the 8 days while back home between Saskatoon and Victoria fringes: 9.


Days away: 3 + 10 + 15 + 12 + (home during Vancouver Fringe) = 40
Homes graciously opened to me to stay in: 4.


Last year, in its first year as a festival, the Alberni Valley Fringe Festival had 929 people attend performances. This year, it had only 488 audience members.

Courtesy of Shelby Lyn Lowe

Courtesy of Shelby Lyn Lowe

Vancouver is a lot more expensive for both audience members and performers, per performance, than any other fringe festival. Most festivals opt for EITHER a membership/button fee, OR a portion of each ticket, but Vancouver is taking both. Its put-your-name-in-the-hat fee of 50$ is the second-highest in the country (Montreal has a 55$ fee). Both seem expensive  for what they are – an ‘are you serious’ fee for putting a name in the festival’s lottery. And at  least one other performing group expressed surprise to me, after the festival was done, that Vancouver was taking 3$ from each ticket. This detail was not effectively communicated to artists. All that said, Vancouver  was still one of my two profitable festivals this summer.


# of stars in the first ever (and only) review for The Most Honest Man In The World (StarPhoenix): 4 (out of five)
# of stars in a review for The Hatter that came out four days after my tour ended (The Peak): 4.5 (out of five)


Pay for directing  Clutter and Contamination  for Vancouver Fringe: 125.00$


Not sure half-price and discounted tickets are worth it. I didn’t see an appreciable-enough bump up in audience numbers. I probably won’t try them again.


Total # of times performing one-man-shows at fringe festivals: 11
(William vs The World  = 1,  The Hatter  = 9,  The Most Honest Man In The World  = 1)
Total # of fringe festivals I have been involved in: 12
(2011: Victoria, Vancouver. 2012: Victoria. 2013: London, Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatoon. 2014: Port Alberni, Regina, Saskatoon, Victoria, Vancouver.)
Total # of fringe shows I have been involved with (acting, stage managing, or directing): 15
(includes directing  BFA: The Musical!, acting in  Henry V,  and  stage-managing  Sonnets for an Old Century)


# of awards given out, total, at the 2014 Port Alberni Fringe Festival: 2
(People’s Choice Award, and Best Quote)
# of awards won by  The Hatter  at the 2014 Port Alberni Fringe Festival (total): 2
(People’s Choice Award, and Best Quote:  ‘God Shave The Queen’)




Assorted Thoughts:


To get an accurate gauge of my anxiety meter as each fringe festival went on, look at the progression of income in each festival from performance to performance.


Compared to last year, a sizeable improvement! In the black! Huzzah!
I mean, that still means I am essentially working for free here, but still, progress! Even with adding the expense of flying!


The Hatter  is 2/9 when it comes to making a profit at fringe festivals. The Most Honest Man In The World  is 1/1 thus far!


All summer long, people were calling me a ‘Fringe Veteran’. While on my second tour ever? That makes me a veteran? I mean, perhaps if I were in the ARMY that would be true, but for fringing? Really?


Handbills and posters, and the art of how many to print:
Port Alberni – It was hard to give out 100 handbills, honestly. There just weren’t enough people there to make handbilling worthwhile. And a mere two posters, one per venue, might have been fine. (I didn’t bring any, and arrived to town too late for posters to make a difference.)
Regina – Only needed 500 handbills. If that. And 25 posters were plenty.
Saskatoon – Such a simple festival to poster… even if I DID have the business district upset with me for postering atop the top of their posterwheels. 25 posters is fine, and 1000 handbills was the right number for a busy promoter like myself.
Victoria – Postering does next to nothing here. No fringe hub, and nightclubs poster over anything fringe-related. So handbills are all you’ve got. Handed out more than 500 handbills, but not a lot more. I would print 1000 again.
Vancouver – Unfortunately, I was working shifts at my workplaces on days when I didn’t have shows, so I wasn’t able to handbill or poster very much. Difficult to put up 25 posters in/around Granville Island. Handbilling = inconclusive.


My Saskatoon numbers at least partially increased because people there actually knew who I was, from my performing there last summer! I handbilled a number of people who instantly decided to come see  The Most Honest Man In The World  once they heard that last year I was The Hatter.


That said, people knowing who I was in Victoria, didn’t seem to offer anything like a boost. I suppose three years is a very long time to be away from a university town. And most of the few people I know who still live in Victoria were performing in their own fringe shows.


I definitely felt a home-town advantage in Vancouver, though! Thank you SO SO much to every dear friend who came out to the tea party!


A career is made up of far more baby steps than large leaps. And steps in the right direction are worth celebrating!


Onto next year’s adventures!




Cheers,
Andrew Wade




The Hatter in Port Alberni - photo by Cara Baldwin 01

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

Hey Vancouver! What people have to say about The Hatter:

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

   
   
Hey Vancouver Fringe! Here are a few things people have to say about my show, The Hatter:
   

“A frenetic explosion of a well loved literary character…This was one-man theatre as I’ve never seen it… You must buy this ticket. You must take this ride.” – The Marble Theatre Review (Victoria)

   

Andrew Wade shows fantastic range, flipping a switch between wackiness and depression… you’d be mad to miss this play. 4.5 / 5 stars! ” – The Saskatoon StarPhoenix

   

Wade embodies the character of the Mad Hatter perfectly.” – Apartment 613

   

People’s Choice Award! – Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival

   

The effect is phenomenal… It hits the right notes: it never takes itself too seriously; it shows a clear mastery of the style and text… a fascinating, frantic, engaging character who can draw our attention by simply being in the space… the Jabberwocky alone is worth the price of admission.” – Mooney On Theatre (Toronto)

   

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… you quickly learn to expect the unexpected, which can only be attributed to Wade’s fine acting skills.” – London Free Press

   

Clever and funny, with a polished, lyrical style.” – The Beat Magazine

   

Wade’s charm is undeniable.” – Production Ottawa

   

 What do YOU think? Come check out the show at Studio 16 on the times in the poster below, join the tea party, and then let me know!
   
The Hatter returns home… tonight until the 13th!
   
Hatter Poster - Vancouver 2014 02 fontsoutlined
   
   

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter

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.

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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The year Twenty Thirteen – That’s Life

January 4, 2014 Leave a comment
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Twenty-thirteen was the year I toured a show of my own for the first time, the first time I visited any part of Canada outside of BC, the year I went out on dates and put myself out there, the year I got perhaps a little too subsumed by day-jobs, the year I accepted Richmond as a home base even as I became intoxicated by being out there performing on the road. It was the year I designed lights and called the shots for a Diversity Talent Show, gave tours of a National Historic Site, and was given the delightful  news that “we’re going to write you a song”. It was the year I performed a creepy puppet show while a guy did cocaine off a passport in the front row, had the biggest role in the opening number in a musical (in concert), became a bartender, worked for nine employers (and myself), auditioned for one show both in Vancouver AND Toronto, was nominated for an OVATION! Award, and was picked as one of Richmond’s 30 under 30.

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONWhen I put a chunk of it in one paragraph like that, it doesn’t sound half bad.

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My financials spreadsheet tells me I earned 21114.94$ in a combination of pre- and post-tax income, not including my Fringe tour, as I lost money on that. Of that money, just under half of it went into savings. A bit of breathing room so that I don’t feel pressured against, say, taking days off work to go to auditions, or months off to possibly lose money performing in Fringe Festivals. I keep my expenses low with good habits, luck, friends, biking and skytraining rather than driving, and the fact that I’m a bachelor without kids. I also live frugally in a single-room accommodation in a building I expect will get demolished in 2014. That’s probably the biggest reason.

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I am grateful that I have been able to find a number of employers who are content with seeing me disappear for a month or two at a time, pursuing my performing career. Hopefully those opportunities will build up enough that I can make a more complete transition at some point.

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Perhaps it’s a credit and a curse to the standards I hold for myself that I’m disappointed that I was only involved in five large-scale productions this year… even if one of those productions I wrote, self-produced, and performed in four different cities over the course of two and a half months. A far cry from the ~12 productions I was a part of in 2012. I also nearly doubled my yearly income. These two things are perhaps not unrelated. 😛

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Regardless, I now know I can earn enough to support myself as I pursue what excites me. I just need to do more pursuing!

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This year was also the year I had a couple of hits with my blog, including one article, A First Fringe Tour – By The Numbers , which has had over 480 hits and was read and shared by people I deeply respect. It was even discussed in a university classroom! Exciting! So now, after a bit of a hiatus, I think I’m about ready to get back to blogging. But first, what the heck was I up to in 2013?

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My theatre life this past year:
Revue at the Revue as Jesus, Santa, and others, if you count the first hour or two of 2013. 🙂
– Nominated for ‘Outstanding Gypsy – Male’ at the 2013 Ovation Awards
– ‘The Boss’ in Fighting Chance’s ‘Side Show‘ (in concert)
– Mr. Zapatella and chorus in APPLAUSE! Musicals’ ‘Fiorello!‘ (also in concert.)
– Singing, creeping, having an all around marvelous time as Filch (and a prisoner, and a thief, and so forth) in Seven Tyrants’ production of Beggar’s Opera. (They’re remounting in March, at the Jericho Arts Centre! Go see it! My dear friend, Chris Lam, will be putting his own marvelous spin on the role as I will be busy with Floyd Collins during the run.)
– Wolf Mountain Writing Collective, staged reading of my short ten-minute piece, What I’d Be Without You, with the lovely Mika Laulainen.

Fiorello!

(Photo: Wikipedia)

The Hatter, The Hatter, so much The Hatter! Who knew you needed to write all your publicity for a June production, way back in February! Hiring a (wonderful) photographer for publicity photos, and putting together the script, and props, and travel plans to take me (economically) from Vancouver to London to Ottawa to Toronto to Saskatoon and back home, finding stage managers in each city, finding ways to get around once I am within each city, designing and printing posters and business cards, oh, and performing the show 34 or so times, plus previews and tech runs… Looking forward to getting back to it in Regina and Vancouver this year!
– Indulging my over-the-top-creepy joys as Panduin The Puppeteer in Judge Dee’s Haunted House at the Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens, also with Seven Tyrants. A twenty-minute play that starts every ten minutes, this amounted to three hours of performing (without breaks) every night, eighteen performances each night, for a week. And we sold out! Pretty much every run! Far more successful than ANYONE was expecting. Lots of leaping on bannisters and singing in RIDICULOUS pitches. Loved it. And now, back to applications for The Hatter for next year’s Fringe festivals, for which I shall update you in a couple of weeks!
– Awkward Stage fundraiser, Baby It’s Cold Outside, of which I was a chorus member with a puppet for all of a minute, so I’m not sure that one really counts. If we include that, let’s also include singing a zombie-themed Christmas song for a room full of people holding ukeleles, which, by the by, is an awesome idea for a date.

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392529_947053690876_1484453373_n

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My day-jobs this past year:
(with a whole lot of acting in them, really!)
Science Facilitator – Science World!
The occasional centre-stage show as well. I am now trained for the Grossology, Bubbles, Balloons, and Hot Stuff shows. 🙂
Heritage Interpreter – Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Leading tours and teaching school programs.
Bartender – Gateway Theatre
Unexpected and enjoyable!
Standardized Patient – Medical student exams
Pretending to be ill!
Simulations ActorJustice Institute of BC
Pretending to be a criminal, witness, or a victim!
Convention worker – BBW International
No, not THAT ‘BBW’. Though I did get to dress up in full Scottish garb (kilt and sporran and all) for a week at a Urology Congress!
Walk Leader – Creatures of the Night – Stanley Park Ecology Society
At those times when you’re so busy you can’t possibly do anything else, and then a good, old friend phones you up and offers you a job. So much fun!
Voting Officer – Elections BC
One long day, but definitely an interesting experience.
Stage Director/Manager – Culture Club Diversity Talent Show – Richmond Multicultural Community Services
Amazingly comprehensive, in that I used skills I’ve learned from so many different places. Lighting design, working with youth, directing, stage management, producing… marvelous experience.
Background Actor – A big, highly talked about film.
I was an extra in a film for the first time in a year or so!
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Actor – The Hatter and others
I may not have made money on it this year, but producing my own darn show is certainly a job, as is much of the acting work above, gosh darnit. 🙂

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And now onto 2014, where I already have workshifts scheduled with three different employers, and have  the chance-of-a-lifetime to put all that silliness aside for a couple of months and focus on a travelling production of Floyd Collins.

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Hey, now I’m excited! Yay!

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And, as I have a microphone here on the desk with me, here’s a song about hoping for the future. Don’t read into the darker suicide-y bit to it. That part isn’t relevant.

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What are you looking forward to in 2014?

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Fringe By The Numbers: My Reactions

September 7, 2013 7 comments
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My last post, A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers, already has the second most hits of anything I’ve posted onto my blog. Thank you everyone for your responses and for sharing it around. Here are my own thoughts:

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Yes, I lost money. A fair chunk of change. 1,671.16$ , to be precise. But I’ve been spending money on learning experiences for a number of years now, beginning with seven years of university, followed by the National Voice Intensive last year, and now, this tour. Was I hoping to at least break even? Of course! But to take a wider view, I traveled to amazing cities I’d never visited, had grand adventures, even kissed a lady or two, and got to tell a story worth telling to hundreds of people (okay, 534 people + ushers + technicians) across the country.

For my own personal growth, I desperately needed to travel. It was all 100% worth it. Over the course of two and a half short months, I learned a heck of a lot about theatre, life, and myself, and I can’t wait to get back out there next summer (if the Fringe lotteries are willing to let me).

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ON* * * * *

As a former professor once told me as he suffered through the first couple of years of his own theatre company, it’s not at all uncommon for businesses to lose money for their first two or three years of operation. This was my first ever tour. Hopefully now I have a tiny base of fans in each city, who might possibly come out and see a show of mine in the future!

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In each city, to keep this numerical, I think I knew 1 (London), 3 (Ottawa), many (Toronto), and 1 (Saskatoon) people, respectively. No hometown advantage for me.

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Hey Fringe Festival volunteers! You know how you happily exclaim to audience line-ups about how lovely it is that you haven’t raised your ticket price from 10$ for the past fifteen years or so? Well, inflation exists, and what you’re telling artists is that they’ve been earning less and less per ticket for every year for the past decade and a half.

I did not once hear a single complaint on the street or in the theatre about Saskatoon’s 12$/14$ ticket prices. Just sayin’.

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Also, it’s interesting that even with a 2$ administrative fee and GST being factored in somewhere, I still came out earning 11.20$ per ticket in Saskatoon, compared to 9.94$ in London, 9.35$ in Ottawa, and a mere 8.92$ per ticket in Toronto.

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Speaking of which, that shortfall in Toronto exists almost entirely due to the five-pack and ten-pack deals in that city. While I love having frequent fringer packs exist, compare Toronto’s 7.5$ tickets to Vancouver’s frequent fringer packs, which still offer 9$ per ticket to the performer. Seriously consider raising those frequent fringer rates, Toronto. You certainly have a reputation as being a place where performers don’t make any money. I enjoyed my time in the city, but 7.5$ tickets are hurting your reputation and hurting a performer’s chances of being able to break even in your city.

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* * * * *Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2

Every city is so different when trying to figure out the right number of flyers and posters. Before I set out, I pre-printed 25 posters and 500 business card flyers for each city. Rookie mistake, as I learned when I saw other performers in London editing their poster files for upcoming cities so as to include London review quotes. Come Saskatoon I finally began taping quotes onto my posters, but printing posters for each upcoming city as I go seems to be the smarter solution.

So what are the right numbers? Well, 25 posters and 500 business cards felt alright for a sleepy Fringe like London, but I could probably have put up 75 posters in Ottawa, whereas getting 25 posters up in Toronto in anywhere worth looking, proved difficult. Also in Toronto, I ran out of flyers before the fringe was half over – I could probably have handed out 1500. As an experiment, I brought 1000 flyers to Saskatoon, and despite the Fringe’s smaller size, still gave out most of them. So every city is different, and I’ve still more to learn! (It also makes a difference as to how many people you have out there, flyering – being on my lonesome can be a downside when it comes to talking up enough lines to find an audience.)

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I gotta admit, it was disappointing to be one of 36 shows in Toronto not reviewed by Now Magazine. A few ‘N’s might have helped! (For a few more numbers, there were 148 shows in the Toronto Fringe Festival this year. 112 of them received a Now Magazine blurb and set (or lack thereof) of shiny ‘N’s.)

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In London, I recall one performer saying that two or three days before the festival opened, they visited Tourism London to ask for Fringe information, and the person there had no idea the festival was even happening. At Nuit Blanche, I (in full Hatter garb) was asked by several people when the Fringe Festival was beginning. That was the second-to-last night of the festival. It seems London is a hard place to get word out about the festival, which was evidenced by my having zero advance ticket sales, compared to 9 in Ottawa, 23 in Toronto, and 15 in Saskatoon. Toronto is very much more of an advance ticket city than the others – perhaps there’s more of a traditional theatre-going habit there? Or is there less financial disincentive to buy advance tickets in Toronto (when compared to additional fees other festivals add onto advance ticket purchases)?

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The Hat* * * * *

I’m honestly impressed with myself that I was able to keep my grocery bills down to size, even while on tour. Chalk it up to a combination of kind billets, hunts for grocery stores, and restraint whenever out and about with fellow performers. You guys feel free to order your meals at the bar; I’ll just wait until I get back to the food I bought with my big grocery trips on the day before each festival began.

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I didn’t have nearly as strong a show at the beginning of June as I did come mid-August. To be honest, it took me until Toronto to figure out the core of what the show was about – a man trying to get home – and so my show pitches for line-ups weren’t great for the first 2/3rds of my tour. Please don’t take any of the above as me making excuses for perhaps not being as financially successful as I would have preferred: I fully accept my tour as it was.

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Which is to say, a brilliant, daring adventure. 🙂

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For another view into my time on the fringe, as well as my original By The Numbers post, I also put up a By The Emotions post which you might enjoy.

As with before, if you think any of this may be helpful to someone out there, please share it on! I hope these posts are worthwhile for someone else out there. And if you have any reactions of your own, please add them to the comments below!

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Happy Fringing!

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers

September 3, 2013 10 comments
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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$

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

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

August 25, 2013 1 comment
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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.”

——————

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.”

——————

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.

Alice——————

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

——————

“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!

August 5, 2013 5 comments
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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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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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