Little Monsters at Edmonton Fringe Festival

Little Monsters
Walterdale Playhouse (10322 – 83 avenue) August 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23

An interview with Kristen Finlay

Little Monsters at Edmonton Fringe. Photo credit: Janine Hodder

Little Monsters at Edmonton Fringe. Photo credit: Janine Hodder

Describe your show in five words. 

Parents behaving badly. Kids alright.

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

When type-A Lizbeth (Erin Foster-O’Riordan) had her son, Liam, she thought that she would be the perfect parent and he the perfect child because she would do everything right.  When Liam goes to playschool she discovers that no matter what you do, your child can have issues.  Her husband Brendan (Cory Christensen) struggles to support her the right way because he can’t relate to her parenting style.  When other parents at the playschool behave badly, she leans on her friend Tamra (Julie Sinclair) who inadvertently betrays her.  It’s about realizing that there is no such thing as a perfect parent – that all you can really be is the right parent for your child.

The question on your poster, “Who are the real monsters on the playground?” gives me chills (in a good way). Why choose this particular question to represent Little Monsters?

Well, the play is loosely based on some challenges that I had with one of my children when he was in playschool.  I wasn’t as stressed by what happened as Lizbeth is, but I was really shocked to discover how judgmental other parents were.  I fortunately had some great friends and a supportive husband and a wonderful, unique, kid, but I was shocked by some of the ways people, adults, talked about children.  I generally found most of the real problems had to do with the parents, not the kids.

Not only are you directing this show, but you also wrote it. Can you tell us a bit about how the show has grown from the finished script through the rehearsal process?

I started the play while in Daniel MacIvor’s Playfinding Workshop at Playworks Ink in 2011.  We were asked to bring one page of writing and I had this essay I had written after a particularly challenging day at playschool where I had overheard a group of parents saying horrible things about my child. It wasn’t a monologue, but it was a play.  I think because it was so long after the actual event, I could look back and write it with some objectivity. Daniel MacIvor was phenomenal in that he got me to map out my play from start to finish and it just took off.  I then developed the script more through APN’s 2012 Playwrighting Circle with Conni Massing and through dramaturgy with Tracy Carroll through APN’s Act One process. It changed a lot.  I still want to do more with it – this is really Lizbeth’s story, but I also want to develop Brendan’s journey more. Maybe a two act play where we look at what he’s going through a little more.  But for right now, this is a good place to be. The beauty of Fringe is that I get to sit in with 6 audiences and feel what’s working and what’s not.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

It’s more than just a show for parents.  Everyone has experienced judgment over things they can’t control.  This is a play for those who feel judged and for those who do the judging.  I think it says something about how we all need to cut ourselves and others a little slack and be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?

Well, I (Kristen Finlay) wrote and directed it.  It features Erin Foster-O’Riordan, Cory Christensen, Julie Sinclair and Anne Marie Szucs.  It’s stage managed by Megan Sider and has sound design by Erin Foster-O’Riordan.

The 33rd Edmonton International Fringe is August 14 – 24. I’ll be previewing shows up until the Fringe starts. Want your show to appear on After the House Lights? Email [email protected].

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