The following piece was submitted by Allie Weigh, the creator of Divided Heart. The piece is part of QDF’s series of artist-submitted works detailing experiences creating at the 27th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival.
My show has been called a poetry show (by jem rolls!), a music or violin show, a theatre piece, a memoir, a storytelling show and a spoken word show. Click here for a full interview with showbill.
I have been writing for decades. But also, listening. Listening with focused attun-ement. In addition to mothering 2 people into adulthood, I have worked as a psycho-therapist for 20 years. My most developed skill is deeply listening, understanding, and empathizing. I have done approximately 17 000 psychotherapy sessions over the course of my career. That’s a lot of listening. A lot of receptivity and absorption. Listening to the things that people are not sharing anywhere else. These things are always at risk of getting stuck. In me. While I have always kept a foot in group music and performance, one could say that my solo performances are the result of a kind of alchemy. Performance is one of the happier ways that I transmute the energy that I have taken in through deep listening to others. Click here for a blogpost about alchemy and transmu-tation.
My performance name is Allie Weigh (alleyway) which is a passage, through a continuous row of houses, permitting access from the street to backyards, garages, and to everything that is more private or unsightly or which people want to conceal, or even throw out. Alleyways accumulate garbage. Dog owners are less likely to pick up their dog’s poo in an alleyway. During the day, it is a place for kids to play, and at night, a place to have a sexual encounter or go pee. It is also a place to move, and not get stuck. I am most comfortable and stimulated in environments where the unsightly and unsaid is seen and heard. Anyone who has seen me perform knows this is true.
A woman came up to me after seeing my show and asked if I was alright. She worried that I might be feeling very vulnerable. Not at all! The material from my own life that I use in my show is material which is processed—through years of reflection, writing, my own therapy and talking. Perhaps the show can bring up raw feelings in the audience. I am comfortable in those emotional places but the theme of motherhood and personhood touches absolutely everyone.
What is far more vulnerable for me is just whether the performance is effective. Whether it provides a meaningful or interesting experience for the audience. A long time friend came to my show and afterwards told me that I tell things in a way to manip-ulate the audience into feeling things (a compliment?). My goal is telling the truth. About experience. About life. Not necessarily the literal truth but the experiential truth nonetheless.
The Divided Heart in the show refers to the experience of being a mother and a person at the same time. Click here for a 6 minute video of reflections on motherhood. The wrenching experience of loving little beings, that you brought into the world, that you created, that are
separate from you, completely dependent on you, and going to leave you—-in fact, they leave you a little bit more everyday. It is also about wanting things that you cannot easily have—-time for your own creativity, pleasure, and freedom from responsibility. While the subject is serious, people often laugh during my show (which I love), some-times at new and surprising places, and some people really like the music and the live violin. Click here for my one minute teaser.
Divided Heart runs from June 8th to 18th at Black Theatre Workshop. For ticketing information, click here.
By: Max Mehran
On a bright, sunny afternoon that feels that summer is finally coming, I met with the wonderfully talented and multi-faceted Scott Humphrey. He takes on the roles of writer, producer, actor, marketing director, and many more for the world premiere The Detective, the Dame, and the Devil presented at the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival. A show he has been working on for three years, Scott couldn’t be more excited- and terrified – to see it finally hit the stage this summer.
The show is, in Scott’s words, “essentially a Film Noir parody.” He explains that a lot of people are familiar with the tropes of the genre, such as the monologu-ing detective, Venetian blinds, double-crossing, etc. The popularity of the genre motivated Scott to write a parody because, as he states, “[he] just wanted to turn [the audience’s] expectations around and have fun with this.”
Scott amusingly recalls the first thing people think when he tells them his show is a parody of Film Noir. “I often catch people rolling their eyes,” he adds, “because the style is often already a parody.” That being said, the reason why Scott decided to go ahead with this idea is the fun of playing off of these tropes with the intention to challenge the expectations of the audience. “It’s where comedy comes from, and people get a laugh at that,” he continues.
The show is structured in an interesting way. Scott explains that “the first part is a heart-boiled detective story played as straight as possible, but then the story is told twice more from the perspective of the other characters.” With this, Scott attempts to keep his audience on the edge of their seats while making them laugh as well. “I like to combine mystery and comedy,” he continues, “because they both function on the same premise: you don’t always know what’s going to happen next.”
The play, therefore, deals with how much your perception of a situation can influence its outcome. Scott tells us that “when you are watching a play, you are basically watching relationships between characters, so what I wanted to do was to create strong relationship between three different characters, but then depending on who is telling the story, the relationship might have a different hero and different villain.”
It has been a long time that Scott has been working on the show, and when the Fringe lottery picked out his name, things escalated quickly. “I wrote it originally as a one person show” he reveals, “composed of three monologues.” After a less-successful first reading, he realized there was still work to be done on the play. After he workshopped it further, the play became funnier, less heavy, and not as dark. Scott also added two new characters to his story. “About a year ago,” he explains, “I did a reading of the draft and I thought to myself, ‘this is in a good place, I think I want to go ahead and produce it’.” A little while later, his name was picked out from the Fringe lottery and all of the sudden his play was to be produced in front of a live audience.
“It is the kind of show I felt required a group with a particular kind of humor,” he tells me when I asked about how he chose his cast and production team. He wanted the cast and crew to be as familiar with the genre and the tropes as he and his audience were, because the play makes callbacks and a lot references to other films. “It’s a farce and a highbrow stuff at the same time,” he jokes. Casting the play was easy as he chose actors who he knew were strong and funny performers. While Scott contemplated the idea of being the director of the show, he chose to go with the scarier option and asked an outside perspective to take the reins. “I had the choice to appear in the thing I wrote and directed or to give the power away to a director, and I asked myself which one was scarier.” He decided to hire someone he hadn’t worked with before, and it seems that so far, it’s been a perfect match.
This is Scott’s first time as a producer, which can be rewarding when he gets to connect with other companies …but can also be stressful. He created The Detective, the Dame, and the Devil knowing what he was getting into. “Going back to what I conceptualized,” he tells us, “I conceived it as being as simple as possible.” He continues emphasizing that “every decision that we have been taking so far have been to make our lives as simple as possible- at least we are trying.” The play is still subject to changes as cues or dialogue can be added or removed if the team feels it doesn’t add to the whole show. “I think there is also a lot of fun in the fluidity that other artists bring to the text.”
While this isn’t Scott’s first time writing, The Detective, the Dame, and the Devil is his first attempt at writing a comedy. “I took myself too seriously before, and it is fun be able to indulge in the serious side, and be able to laugh after,” he explains. The Detective, the Dame, and the Devil is also his first full-length play being ever presented. I am curious to see how he feels about the whole ordeal, he answers quite honestly. “Let’s be real, I feel terrified,” he jokes, “but not because I think it’s going to go poorly, but because anytime you invest a lot of time and energy on something, you are telling people that you believe your work is worthwhile. And I do think people are going to get something out of it.”
I asked Scott how he feels about presenting his play at the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. He tells me that the festival “is a great opportunity to take a risk because there is a lot of material out there and the audience knows that people are there to have a good time.” He also appreciates how being part of the festival draws new audiences to one’s work and starts conversation about theatre in or out of the festival.
At this moment in time, Scott is most looking forward to Fringe For All “because it’s going to be the moment where we get that charge of a live audience, your work, their interest, and everyone is just having a blast.” Scott and his team will also be around the festival spreading the word and trying to draw audience members in. They will also be handing out three oversized playing cards that, if someone manages to collect all three, offer a discount of two dollars on the ticket prize. With this marketing idea, he hopes to create a mini treasure hunt during the festival.
As we are wrapping up the interview, I have to ask Scott the question that was haunting me for the duration of the interview, ‘what is your favorite Film Noir?’ He takes a few seconds to answer, and then confidently tells us, “I am going to say The Maltese Falcon because it is so… standard and strange at the same time.” He continues saying that “people think of Film Noir as very serious, and in this film, while the leads are very witty, the dialogue is often very dry. I think those interpretations really are what drew me to do something in the first place.”
Thank you to Scott Humphrey for taking the time to talk to us about his upcoming show, The Detective, the Dame, and the Devil, “a Film Noir parody and a smart comedy with something for everybody.” Now start your hunting for the three playing cards and find your way to Theatre La Chapelle during the festival to catch the show!
Summer’s in the air! Terrasses are filling up! Tam tam’s is back in full! That can only mean one thing: it’s almost time for FRINGE!!!
This year marks the 26th anniversary of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival and the team is bringing a jam-packed couple of weeks full of theatre, dance, music, film, parties, and more! This year there’s even going to be a brand new beer tent called THE HIVE located at the National Theatre School, which is also serving as a new performance venue.
To spread the word about all the amazing shows being put on by FRINGE, we are teaming up with artists to help them share their experiences with the festival. Until the festival opens on June 10th, we’ll be profiling artists right here on the QDF Musings website. Check back here regularly for our #FRINGEBUZZ updates.
Let’s get ready to bring it! Let’s get ready to FRINGE!
January 5th, 2016
My very first vlog for the QDF was a countdown of 10 goals or attitudes I wished to master in 2015. In case you missed it, watch it here
As we approach the start of 2016, I thought I’d take a look at my goals and assess how well I did at carrying them out.
10) Correct people when they mispronounce my name.
Yep. I’ve held to this one very well.
One of my most frustrating moments in 2015 on this topic happened when a well-meaning (aren’t they all well-meaning?) older gentleman tried to explain the pronunciation of my own name to me.
He said, “Why do you call yourself Mee-Ka-Ella? Most women I know with your name pronounce it Mee-Kayla.”
I actually had to reply, “I don’t call myself Michaela so much as, you know, it’s my name.”
I give myself 100% on this goal.
January 4th, 2016
The Mozaique: Word of Advice
2016 is around the corner.
I will turn 39 just after.
I feel like I stopped aging at 32.
The actual number 39 doesn’t bother me; what I find incredible is having been here for 39 years and feeling like I’ve barely started accomplishing what I hoped for.
I am so far away from my bucket list… I have yet to even write one!
December 2nd, 2015
The Mozaique: Novelty
I am so very excited because I found new monologues to prepare for my next General Audition.
Some people get excited because they are going for ice cream or to their favorite restaurant but I get excited when I find new monologues.
I get equally excited when I change light bulbs.
I know it sounds weird but think about it: how often do you change your light bulbs? Once every 3 or 4 years? It’s less often than the Olympics! It’s an event! It’s like being born on February 29th and having your birthday fall on a Friday during leap year!
Finding new monologues is not as easy as it sounds. First off, you want something contrasting.
Contrast is vast.
Classical. Contemporary. There. That’s a contrast.
Then, you want to show off your skills and be absolutely amazing in your performance. You want a monologue that is just difficult enough to challenge you without making you so worried and anxious that you’ll bomb your audition.
You want to move them AND make them laugh.
You want them to hire you.
November 13, 2015
Emerging Artist Testimonials: Tips for Making (and Keeping) Contacts
By: Michaela Di Cesare
Dear emerging artists,
I am here to tell you that I have gone through my share of cringe-worthy networking moments. I have gone from mispronouncing my own name in introductions, to finding myself on dates I thought were professional meet-and-greets, to being someone who can successfully walk up to businessmen and say, “I’d like you to fund my next project.
I understand the overwhelming feeling recent graduates and theatre newcomers have of wanting to dive right in to the community and get to know as many people as possible. Sometimes, we focus so much on our personal and professional goals that we forget to treat other people like humans and not simply a “connection.”
I’d like to offer my advice in the form of an irreverent gif-based list, because that is how all valuable advice is passed on these days.
November 4th, 2015
The Mozaique: Bridging the gap
Feels like a huge win.
Being part of the Centaur’s Brave New Looks series was great.
Feels like a win because it was my first time on the Centaur’s stage, FINALLY!!!
But mostly, feels like a win because it was a local Quebecois piece beautifully translated and performed in an English theatre.
And no, it was not a Michel Tremblay play!
September 18, 2015
As a child, a difficult choice is having to decide between playing with Legos or Etch a sketch (yeah, you just figured out my age, huh?), drawing Minnie Mouse’s dress fuchsia or orange, reading Snow white or Asterix or the excruciating decision between chocolate chip ice cream or caramel fudge.
I miss being a kid.
Of course it never helped that I was a particularly anxious and sensitive child. What if I made a bad choice? Maybe Minnie Mouse’s dress should have been orange, not fuchsia… or red with pocodots? And what color for the pocodots??? Oh the decisions!
I really miss being a child.
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