When Samantha Jeffery first started posting statistics about the representation of women and non-binary people in different theatre roles (actors/directors/playwrights), I was blown away by the insights and questions the statistics raised and those questions and thoughts grow and morph with every monthly post from Samantha’s project YEG Theatre Stats. Of course, when she’s not crunching the numbers, Sam works in the theatre community in a variety of roles.
Here is Sam’s bio:
Samantha Jeffery is an Edmonton-based actor, fight director, and intimacy consultant. She graduated from the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program and has since performed both her own work and others’ for stage and film all over Alberta. A Sterling-nominated fight director, Sam also teaches & performs fights for stage and film. She has been an intimacy consultant for several shows, and continues to train in this burgeoning field with her mentor, Siobhan Richardson. Sam is the founder of the YEG Theatre Stats project, which tracks gender diversity in Edmonton’s professional theatre scene.
And here’s how Sam Fringes:
How long have you been Fringing? What is your favourite Fringe memory?
I’ve been Fringing since I was 9 years old, which is also when I was in my first Fringe show! It was a musical about imaginary friends called The Other Party, and I think I had maybe one line? I remember ‘auditioning’ for it with The Jabberwocky, which was also the first piece I ever memorized.
My favourite Fringe memory comes the year after that, when I was 10: our children’s theatre troupe performed Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle outside, in a skating rink, surrounding the audience. We had a real fire, live chickens, magic tricks, and a 5-star reviewed run. I remember drinking water out of an old wine bottle, petting the chickens, and thinking that Fringe was a truly magical place.
It’s almost impossible to Fringe without indulging in the food! What’s your go-to food at Fringe?
EASY. Green onion cakes. No matter how hungry/not hungry I am or how much money is in my pocket, it’s green onion cakes for every meal.
How do you choose the shows you’re going to see at Fringe? It’s still early, but do you have your eye on any shows you’re interested in seeing this year?
I have a two-pronged attack that tends to work well for me. First, if someone tries to hand me a ticket and I can make the show, I’ll always watch it. I’ve seen some brilliant theatre that way, including amazing physical theatre from the middle east, that wouldn’t otherwise be on my radar. My second method is to watch whatever is kicking up the most fuss or being the weirdest. I saw The Merkin Sisters last year for that exact reason, and that show absolutely blew my mind with its weird brilliance.
What advice would you give to a first-time Fringe-er for the best way to enjoy the festival?
Take a chance on something! Watch at least one show you know nothing about but catches your eye for some reason, whether it’s the poster or the people or just that it’s a bit odd. If you’re really not sure, ask around at the beer gardens (that’s where all the artists are hanging out) or catch the Late Night Cabaret for some sneak peeks!
You can find Sam on Twitter @SamWithBellsOn or check out the YEG Theatre Stats project on Facebook (an easy way to get started is with the 2017/2018 season summary). You can also hear directly from Sam in her interview with the I Don’t Get It Podcast crew.
Samantha Jeffery’s profile is part of my 2018 How to Fringe series highlighting some of the folks I look up to in Edmonton who have generously agreed to share a bit about themselves and how they Fringe. If YOU want to Fringe, tickets for the 37th annual Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival go on sale August 7.