Neon Nightz at Edmonton Fringe Festival

Neon Nightz
Walterdale Theatre (10322 – 83 avenue) August 14 – 19 (every day)

An interview with Alex Tigchelaar.

Neon Nightz. Photo credit: R. Kelly Clipperton.

Neon Nightz. Photo credit: R. Kelly Clipperton.

Describe your show in five words.

Where Sacred Meets Profane.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

In its current form, Neon Nightz is a three-hander that examines concepts of worship and contradictions of intimacy in the sacred yet profane places we explore desire and shame. One musician, R. Kelly Clipperton, performs all the music (from Leonard Cohen to The Cult to the Afghan Whigs) while Cat Nimmo performs acrobatic pole dancing and striptease and plays a pantheon of female characters from Mary Magdalene to feature dancer Mercedes Lee to the Virgin Mary. Between dance pieces, Alex Tigchelaar monologues about her experiences in the many clubs she worked at in Montreal, discussing—with some degree of theatrical fiction—exchanges she had with clients and dancers that are relevant to the themes Neon Nightz explores.

This is Operation Snatch’s first Fringe show – what made you decide to take Neon Nightz to the Edmonton Fringe Festival? What are you hoping to get out of your fringe festival experience?

Well obviously every theatre artist in Canada wants to do the Edmonton Fringe. We’ve applied in the past in never got in (we don’t win anything. It is our fate) and this time we did. We haven’t applied to many because we’ve been very busy but this time the stars were aligned. Our desire is to connect with other artists and creators and bring this show—that means so much to us—to a new audience.

Neon Nightz debuted five years ago, but you’ve reworked the choreographing and rewrote some of the numbers. How will the 2014 fringe show be different than it was in 2009? Has what you’re hoping to accomplish with the show changed?

Babs Vermeulen was playing Sister DJ the last time and is being replaced on this tour by R. Kelly Clipperton. Cat has only become a better pole dancer with more practice (really, her work is jaw dropping) and I am very solid in the monologues, some of which have changed and evolved since we did it at Buddies in 2009. I will be honest in saying that I wasn’t in the best mental space when we put it up in 2009 and that was heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking for any theatre creator to have an opportunity that is compromised by bad health and luck. I am extremely proud to say that I pulled this play out of the fire and made it what I always wanted it to be and I did that with the help and support of Cat Nimmo, my partner. I love this play so much. I have so much affection for it and the story it tells of my very well spent misspent youth.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

I don’t want to spoil any surprises but people do leave this show thinking a lot differently about spaces they have been permitted to make very overreaching assumptions about. And also blown away by the level of humour and insight and quality of dance in this show.
Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?

People in Edmonton might know Mariko Tamaki, who wrote the award winning graphic novel Skimand also This One Summer, and was the dramaturge for Neon Nightz when we brought it to Montreal in 2011. She’s a big deal. And of course Neon Nightzwas recently published by the Canadian Theatre Review.

We are virtually unknown out west (well perhaps by academics as our work seems to be very appealing to them!). We look forward to changing that.

The 33rd Edmonton International Fringe is August 14 – 24. Get your tickets at


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