… didn’t see that coming at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

…didn’t see that coming

Photo credit: Robin Neilson

Photo credit: Robin Neilson

DV8 Tavern (8130 Gateway Blvd)

An interview with Beverley Elliott.

Describe your show in 5 words
The stretch marks are permanent.

Now that we’re interested, what’s the longer description?
Sometimes, our comfy day to day lives, can be completely rattled and changed, when we bump into a total stranger. Our minds can be stretched to a new understanding, even if we don’t want them to be. I have written 9 monologues and 6 songs, that centre around this theme. The stories take place in ordinary situations; at a funeral, a hot yoga class, on an internet date, at my niece’s wedding, New Years eve at a gay pub and more. Things seem to be going along tickiteee-boo when ‘wham,’ life smacks me upside the head and says, ‘deal with this one.’ Often in the end, on the other side of the grass stains and spilled wine, there is usually a hearty laugh and a new understanding of love and humanity, which can be permanent.

Does your work on screen play in to the performance style you use in the theatre? If so, how?
Interesting question. I am sure it does in some way…everything seems to bleed into each other. I work a lot in both mediums but they are very different, but both require extreme honesty. I would say I draw more from my years of singing in pubs and bars. I used to love to talk to the audience in between songs. I enjoyed that part more than the singing. I like bringing a whole room together, talking about the everyday things in life, the everyman, finding the common ground where we can all laugh at ourselves, then breathe a little sigh of relief that says, “Oh my God, I am so glad you said that, because I do that too, and now I don’t feel like an idiot.” I am pretty conversational, and accessible with the stories…more on the filmesque side, rather than the theatrical.

…Didn’t see that coming uses a selection of your own life stories – how did you choose which stories to include?
I have been in a writing group, WET INK COLLECTIVE, with Jane Heyman at the helm, for the past three years. It is an amazing group of women. All of them play writes, aspiring play writes and/or actor play writes. Every two weeks you read your work to the group. It is a powerful thing to do and certainly makes you accountable.

Being a single mom, and not necessarily a disciplined writer, I had to scramble to actually get something written to read for the group. I started writing down every life changing moment that I ever had. I’d bring in my little story to the group, read it, and they would howl. Reading the work aloud and having it witnessed, hearing the laughs, the tears, it became evident that a theme was emerging and a show was too. The encouragement and discipline I gleened from this group gave me the foundation to take it to the next step. I shared several of these stories at THE FLAME, which is a storytelling event that happens in Vancouver. Again, the response was affirming. When I felt that I had enough stories for a show, I sat down with my editor and best pal Kerry Sandomirsky. The show was over 4 hours long. We did some serious chopping and slashing, cut and pasted, and found the order. I co wrote all the music with different musicians. Some of the songs I had written before, some were written specifically for the show.

I do have enough monologues for another show…they all take place in a one room school in SW Ontario, when I was 5 years old. That’ll be my next one.

Your show debuted at Vancouver Fringe Festival last year – why did you want to bring it to Edmonton?
Because Edmonton has the most happening Fringe festival in the country. I was in Edmonton in 1989 filming Bye Bye Blues with Anne Wheeler. I was staying in a hotel in Old Strathcona during the Edmonton Fringe. I remember walking through the streets, feeling the energy, the excitement, the culture. People were into it. It was a scene. Nothing like what was happening in Vancouver. I thought, “if I ever do a Fringe show, I want to come here.” Okay, it has taken me awhile…but my word is good!

I have many friends who have done the Edmonton Fringe and they rave about it, say they were embraced by the city, had big fun, and would come back in a heartbeat. I want a piece of that pie. I like pie…. and performing…. and big skies…..and adventures. I also think people in Edmonton would like this show. It has a lot of heart and humor, and even gets a bit raunchy in parts.

Anything else you’d like audiences to know about your show? Other great shows you’d like to mention?

  • You may never look at a hot yoga class the same way again.
  • Both men and women enjoy this show, but women do seem to come in droves. Often they come back again, and even again. They bring their sisters, neighbors, mother-in-laws, make a gals night of it. People see themselves in these stories. We are all stumbling through life as best we can….
  • Bring tissues, just in case. They seem to be a handy item to have.
  • Other shows……CR AVERY – Some Birds Walk for the Hell of it. We are sharing a venue. I don’t really know him but I do know he killed it in Toronto. He has a Tom Waites feel about him. I think it is going to be a great show. TJ Dawe is always a sure bet as well. He is at the library I believe

The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca starting August 4.

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