The Moaning Yoni was a show I was prepared to hate. While I’m all about demystifying women’s bodies, health, and sexuality in fiction and non-fiction, I find the idea of a show devoted entirely to a single body part repugnant. I was however, pleasantly surprised when I finally got to see it.

The show is the brainchild of Joylyn Secunda, an actor, dancer, and singer from Vancouver, who created the piece out of a desire to create a solo show that expressed something personal.

“At the time I had just came out as asexual and was thinking a lot about how I fit into society as an ace, female-bodied person. I began to explore different characters and developed the show through a lot of experimentation and play.”

The show follows the heroine Zoë through a journey of self-discovery during a “Yoni Healing Circle”, a sort of yoga class devoted to honoring and nourishing “sacred feminine organs”.

Secunda, clad in red harem pants and a matching long-sleeved crop top, plays almost all the characters in the play, including Crystal, the class instructor, Zoe – the show’s protagonist, Zoe’s “Yoni”, Zoë’s promiscuous college friends, and the men she’s dated. The only character she doesn’t play is a male voiceover done by voiceover performer Adam Bergquist, who clearly represents the condescending patriarchal voice of ‘reason’.

At the beginning of the class, the Crystal hands the students a magic elixir and asks them to apply a small amount to their vulvas. The effect causes Zoe’s yoni to talk, resulting in the first pleasant surprise of the show.

The Yoni in question is portrayed by Secunda as a Yenta: a shrill, nagging, opinionated old Jewish lady. I grew up with women like this, so while I appreciated the portrayal and found it hilarious, those unfamiliar with Jewish culture and Yiddish expressions might not understand all the words expressed by the Yoni in her anguish and irritation with Zoë.

The struggle between Zoë and her Yoni was fun to watch, as it even included a dance with a giant tampon.

The show is unfortunately not without its flaws. Secunda sings a few songs in the show that go on far too long without contributing to the story. The ice cream song about sex with frat boys and the multilingual song praising mother earth were repetitive and could easily have been cut in half without sacrificing the play’s message of self-love.

Where The Moaning Yoni really shines, however, is in its merciless attack on all the things a woman navigating her health and sexuality has to deal with. Everything from sexual assault, to online dating, peer pressure, to bad kissers, to toxic masculinity, to oral sex, to snake oil peddlers selling dangerous vaginal insertion devices – the latter clearly a dig at Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, to pubic grooming is mercilessly lampooned by Secunda during the show.

There are parts of the show that are triggering so sexual assault survivors might be a little uncomfortable, but it’s still worth watching. Secunda is incredibly talented, with her supremely expressive face and body carrying much of show. If Jim Carrey is the male rubberface, Secunda might just be the female equivalent.

Secunda hopes that audiences walk away thinking about the nuances of their own genders and sexuality and the affect it has on their relationships. Some men might have reservations about seeing the show as she pulls no punches in her descriptions of negative heterosexual male behavior. When I asked her about it, she said the show is as much for men as it is for women. Her message to potential male viewers is that:

“Toxic masculinity hurts men just as much as it hurts women and non-binary people. I hope by watching Zoë’s journey in the play, you might have a better understanding of an experience that is different than your own. It’s a really fun comedy for anyone, no matter your age, gender, sexuality, or culture.”

The Moaning Yoni is a piece with a lot of potential, and if anyone is wondering whether Joylyn Secunda can carry a whole show, the answer is yes. She just needs to do a little trimming.

The Montreal Fringe Festival is a festival for the underdogs. As Fringe Spokesperson and Board President Helene Simard said at the festival launch, Fringe is a place for people who want to put on a show but have always been told “no”. Whether you’re a female artist, an artist of colour, a non-binary artist, or on an LGBTQI artist, “Fringe always has room for you.”

The Montreal Fringe Festival is huge, with hundreds of artists putting on shows from May 27th to June 17th. With so many shows to choose from, it’s hard to pick what to see.

One way to choose is to go to Fringe for All, an event that takes place on opening night of the Festival. At this event, anyone with a show at the Fringe can take the stage for two minutes to give prospective audiences a taste of what their show is about.

It’s an endurance test, as some of the snippets you see confirm every negative stereotype about independent theatre. But if you’re willing to tough it out, you’re going to find some real gems.

I’m here to help. Below you’ll find some of my pics for the best shows at Montreal Fringe 2019. Please note that I have tried to offer recommendations in a variety of genres and languages.

Why Are You Afraid of Clowns?

There is something inherently funny about a cutesy character behaving like an awful human being, and if the snippet I saw is any indication, the R’Iyeh Theater Company’s Why Are You Afraid of Clowns? is going to be a blast.

A man came on stage in a clown costume with a blanket over his head, screaming angrily. Then he pulled off the blanket, revealing a clown wig and red nose, handed an audience member an apple, and pulled out an axe.

It was short but hilarious, and by far the best snippet of the night.

Why Are You Afraid of Clowns?

Les Plaisirs Interdits

Some of the best comedy is about contrast, and like my last recommendation, Productions Belle Lurette’s Plaisirs Interdits offers just that.

The characters presented were prim and proper and in period costumes– a nun, a priest, a maid, and a very conservatively dressed upper crust man and woman. I was about to roll my eyes… and then they opened their mouths, and what came out was a slew of hilariously lascivious songs about sex and sexuality.

It’s a French language production, so if you have a poor grasp of the language you might not get all the jokes, but if you can manage, check it out!

House of Laureen Presents: Mx. Queerdo MTL

If you love drag, you need to check out Mx. Queerdo. Presented by House of Laureen, a Montreal-based drag family. The show stars Uma Gahd, and is all about a pageant, Mx. Queerdo.

If the snippet I saw is any indication, it’s going to be a blast!

Re-Imagined

I’m not much into dance shows, but if I were to see one at Montreal Fringe, it would be Eva Kolarova Danse’s show Re-Imagined. The twenty-five-minute show explores loneliness and relationships with contemporary dance.

Their two-minute bit at Fringe for All featured a dance at once graceful and erotic, portraying without words the complexity of human relationships.

Happy-Ish: Russian Immigrant’s Guide to Smiling

In the era of so much anti-immigrant sentiment in Quebec, Happy-Ish is a show worth seeing. Vadim Gran’s solo storytelling show is about a Russian immigrant trying to navigate life in Canada.

The bit I saw featured an angry bearded Russian man holding a smiley balloon while trying to smile to make himself more approachable… And failing spectacularly. It was hilarious and a good indication of things to come.

Opera Reviens-Moi

One thing Fringe heavily encourages is seeing a kind of show you never have before and opera is certainly outside the box for many.

Though the art form has a reputation for being more for rich old people, the snippet of Opera Reviens-Moi I saw was approachable and funny, and the actors certainly have the pipes befitting the genre. It looks to be a marriage of the classical and modern and a good way to introduce people to opera.

Fairy Fails

Fairy Fails is the story of a fairy who can’t fly. Starring House of Laureen’s Dot Dot Dot, it looks to be a treat for anyone who loves glitter, twinkles, twirls, and fairies.

A Brief History of Time

This play specializes in presenting complex concepts in a simplified, approachable format. Their presentation at Fringe for All used a variety of toys and props to explain astrophysics.

If you’re interested in the unknown but don’t feel like opening a book, check out A Brief History of Time. You might learn something.

L’Appel du Vide

Anyone who ever went through a witch phase in high school will want to check out L’Appel du Vide. It’s the story of a grieving witch who decides to perform a ritual to bring about the end of the world.

It looks hilarious and the bit I saw told me it will have all the theatrics a witch story needs.

L’Appel du Vide

The Aventures of Humphrey Beauregret: The Case o’Bianca

Following a successful award-nominated show last year, Philo 14 is back with an English sequel to their French language puppet show Les Aventures de Humphrey Beauregret.

The theatrics in The Adventures of Humphrey Beauregret: The Case o’Bianca seem to have been taken up a notch, but the drama and humour and puppets are still there, proving that puppets aren’t just for kids.

Antonin Artaud’s Spurt of Blood

Director Marissa Blair assures you that there will be blood in Antonin Artaud’s Spurt of Blood, but it’s blood that will wash out. An immersive theatrical experience featuring a cast of characters as interesting as they are creepy, it’s play written by philosopher Antonin Artaud while developing his Theatre of Cruelty philosophy.

Though the snippet at Fringe for All was mostly disclaimers about the kind of blood in the show, it looks to be a sure thing for people wanting something a little different.

The 2019 Montreal Fringe Festival runs May 27-June 19. Full Schedule: MontrealFringe.ca

Featured Image via Montreal Fringe on Facebook

The 27th consecutive edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is in full swing. With just a week to go, there are still hundreds of theatrical performances coming up, not to mention daily outdoor concerts at Fringe Park.

It’s still not possible to catch all of it. FTB’s Ellana Blacher will be reviewing shows in the days to come, but for now, here are a small handful of performances we plan to catch:

Peter Pansexual

Glam Gam Productions are back! The team behind previous fun, debaucherous and thought-provoking Fringe hits If Looks Can Kill…They Will! and The Little Beau Peep Show, not to mention the monthly strip Karaoke series Bareoke are offering a queer interpretation of the classic fairy tale Peter Pan.

This isn’t Disney’s version, though it is clearly aware of the 1953 film, which their press release describes as “wholesome fun for whole family, with women pitted against each other, marginalized groups exploited and gender stereotypes reinforced.” Given Glam Gam’s history, this promises to be the exact opposite.

Here is one of the many video character teasers they released:

Peter Pansexual runs until June 16th, info at montrealfringe.ca

The Ballad of Frank Allen

Montreal Fringe veterans Shane Adamczak (Trampoline, Zack Adams and Greg Fleet’s This Is Not A Love Song) and St John Cowcher (The Red Balloon, Farm and The Adventures Of Alvin Sputnik) star in The Ballad of Frank Allen, a musical about a janitor who, due to a scientific accident, has to live in another man’s beard.

There’s even a soundtrack available on Bandcamp. Here’s a taste:

The Ballad of Frank Allen runs until June 18th, info at montrealfringe.ca

Poet vs Pageant

Melbourne, Australia-based performer, writer and poet Telia Nevile is bringing her one woman show Poet vs Pageant all the way to Montreal after being named Best Emerging Writer at the Melbourne Fringe.

This show promises an Epic Poetry treatment of an awkward outsider’s journey into the world of beauty pageants. Think Homer’s Odyssey “with extra sequins.”

Poet vs Pageant runs until June 18th, info at montrealfringe.ca

PERISCOPE

This is the story of one night where Megan takes a shortcut back to happiness with a pill. It’s a comedy show about first-hand experience with mental health.

Vancouver-based writer and performer Megan Phillips was named one of the top artists to see at the 2016 Edmonton Fringe Festival. She created this solo show with the help of Fringe veterans TJ Dawe and Jeff Leard

PERISCOPE runs until June 18th, info at montrealfringe.ca

* The 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival runs through June 18th, for tickets and info: montrealfringe.ca

It’s approaching that time of year, where Saint Laurent Boulevard gets shut down, the theatre folk flock and it’s officially Fringe Festival. Each year Fringe comes by and there are an over-whelming amount of shows to go to. From drag shows to theatre to music to puppetry to burlesque, it’s hard to know where to go with a bevy of great options to choose from. But do not fret my friends because I’m here to narrow down your fringe choices to the best of the best. That way you can spend your cold hard cash on good shows and good times (by which I mean beer).

Here are my OFFICIAL recommendations of what you should check out at this year’s Montreal Fringe Festival:

Bedrock Burlesque

What’s that I hear? All your favorite characters from The Flintstones have come back with a little more bump n’ grind! Sitcom Burlesque takes you back ALL THE WAY!

We all know and love Bedrock, but what happens when the lights go out? Join all your favorite characters for a night of misadventure, music, dance and, of course, Burlesque. Think strip-tease with pterodactyl wings. It’ll have you shouting YABBA DABBA BOOOOOOOBS!!!  (Please Note: The author of this piece is part of the team putting on this show, but then again, who wouldn’t want to be) (tickets)

Grit 'n Gusto_Photo2_Fringe2016Messy Bitch

I personally love any show that’s telling me to drink whiskey and become my inner bitchy self (pretty sure I’m already there). That’s exactly what Jessica Rae does in her one woman show Messy Bitch.

Featuring humour, sass and two disturbing puppets, Messy Bitch is a 30 minute storytelling adventure about learning to give #zerofucks.

So grab yourself a bottle of whiskey, put your bitch face and join Jessica Rae in an extremely messy and all out ridiculous show. You won’t regret it. (tickets)

Sexpectations

Do you like to be confused, aroused and a little bit taken aback? Then this is the show you definitely want to go see. Five-time Fringe performer, Maxine Segalowitz is not only the human behind PHACHINAH but also probably one of the silliest performers you’ll ever witness.

Find out what exactly her first one-woman show has in store with a whole cast of different character every night. That’s right folks, you might just be in it. (tickets)

House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens

The drag house that brought you Laureen: Queen of the Tundra is back and ready to take you behind the scenes. Enter through the backdoor and discover the secrets of all that’s hidden in the wondrous world of drag. Leave your misconceptions at home and join these queens in a night of pure and utter naughtiness. (tickets)

The Mysteries of the Unseen World of the Clavis Argentum

Think dark theatre, magic, live music and all that you’ve been waiting for…. burlesque. The Mystical order of the Clavis Argentum is ready to envelope you into it’s world of secrecy. There’s a lot of surprises in this show brought to you by Jimmy Phule and Matt Risk. Prepare to be confronted and maybe a little disturbed. (tickets)

Ladies Advice For Ladies

ladies advice for ladies fringe

Are you a lady? Are you a gentleman? Are you none of the above/all of the above? Whatever the case come on down to witness the epicness that is Cafe O’Lait Cabaret. Ladies Advice for Ladies is a satirical cabaret for ladies, gentlemen and all who are both or neither. Brought to you by Marianne Trenka, Tessa J. Brown and Kendall Savage you’ll be in for a treat that has more surprises than you’re prepared for. (tickets)

Well there you have it folks, those are my backstage recommendations to all the goodies of Fringe. So grab yourself a beer (or ten) and find out just what this year’s Fringe Festival has in store for you. The mayhem awaits you…

Full schedule at montrealfringe.ca

Panelists Samantha Gold and Enzo Sabbagha discuss Jian Ghomeshi’s  second trial, the latest bathroom laws in the US and the Montreal festival season at its start. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Samantha Gold FTB Legal Columnist

Enzo Sabbagha: Musician, Podcast Production Assistant

* Ghomeshi and Bathroom Law Reports by Hannah Besseau

*Festivals Report by Enzo Sabbagha

* CLARIFICATION: The Peace Bond Ghomeshi signed doesn’t preclude other victims pressing charges. It only applies to Kathryn Borel.

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Don’t be confused; there’s nothing macabre about the show Die Mutter. And no, this isn’t a new mounting of the Bretolt Bretch play. (although there is an obvious German influence).

Instead the name refers to the hilarious sketch comedy stylings of the Toronto duo Noemi Salamon and Deborah Ring. And after seeing their show you will most definitely be in a very good mood.

From life coaches to Shia LeBeouf to club bitches, no one is safe from their brutal mockery. The skits range from absurd to hyper sexualized to witty commentaries on how, as the ladies so delicately put it, “white people are the worst.”

Even the weakest skits are smarter than entire other Fringe shows (that will not be named obviously) and produce a chuckle. The strongest skits will have you laughing out loud.

While the show is most definitely NOT kid appropriate, the appeal of their zany sketches, it seemed, was not solely that of a 20-30 something hipster. People of all ages were in attendance at the Montreal Improv, and all laughing in equal measure. If only it were possible to raise Christopher Hitchens from the dead to show him that he was quite wrong; women can indeed be very funny.

While the Montreal Fringe is now over, make sure to check them out next time you’re in Toronto!

If you like your Canadian politics with an extra helping of camp, then Laureen: Queen of the Tundra is the Fringe show for you. Named after the wife of our Prime Minister (portrayed by Montreal drag queen Connie Lingua), this cabaret drag show explores what it’s like to be queer and Canadian under a conservative government.

The structure of the show is very loose. A sketch comedy number is followed by a lip synch performance followed by a testimonial. But throughout the production everyone’s favourite bad guy “Stephanie” Harper (a delightful cameo by Jordan Arsenault) makes sure to keep her evil eye over what’s going on.

The tone of the show skips back and forth between silly and serious. The silly numbers are mostly a portrayal of your standard Canadian clichés; RCMP officers, Celine Dion and Shania Twain all make appearances. Some of these numbers are hilarious; you’ll be laughing in spite of yourself at the Dion number for instance. Others numbers make the show start to drag a bit; the fake talk show number felt like a reject sketch from This Hour has 22 minutes.

But the real reason to see this show is the more serious aspect; the testimonials. In between all the silliness each member of the cast comes out and monologues what it like is to be Trans, queer, or an immigrant in Canada. The raw emotion and expressions of pain, fear, and hope is lovely stuff. It would be great if someone turned that aspect into a whole new show… maybe for Fringe 2016?

Laureen: Queen of the Tundra plays at Cafe Cleopatre until June 21st, for tickets or more info, please consult the Montreal Fringe website

The 24th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival came to an end Sunday evening at Cabaret du Mile End with the Frankie Awards. Here’s there list of companies who were honoured at this year’s Frankie Awards. Congratulations to everyone!

BOUGE D’ICI – Outstanding Choreography Award:
Heather Lynn Macdonald for Running for Home (featured in Garden of Knives by Travail Rouge)

FREESTANDING Award for Making Big Things Happen in Small Spaces:
Orpheline – Cimonac Productions

GREENLAND – Music Award:
Le trouble
Honorable mentions to: Corrina Rose , O Savannah, Summerset, Hua Li., And Syngja

SOLOS FESTIVAL- Best Solo Production:
Paleoncology – Moon Dinosaur Theatre
Honorable mentions to Shadow Waltz – Wolfinger Productions and Dysmorphia Diet – Ball of Clay

CEAD – Texte le Plus Prometteur:
Le Monstre – Olivier Arteau-Gauthier

RUBIKS – Visual Identity:
Kitt & Jane: an interactive guide to the Near-Post-Apocalyptic Future – SNAFU Dance Theatre

JEFFREY MACKIE – Best Text:
High Tea – Life & Depth

PRIX FRED – BARRY- Meilleur Scénographie/Best Production Award:
Blood Wild – Rabbit in a Hat Productions

JUST FOR LAUGHS – Best English Comedy:
TIE between: The Quitter – Al Lafrance and
My Big Fat German Puppet Show – Invisible Inc.

SEGAL CENTRE – Most Promising English Company:
Johnny Legdick, A Rock Opera – Playwright Hero

MAINLINE – Creativity Award:
Insane Dance Double Feature: No Fun / Breaking Boundaries – Still Milking the New Sacred Cow

BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN – Touring Award:
Sense Gentle – Real Eyes Theatre

CENTAUR THEATRE – Best English Production:
Aiden Flynn Lost His Brother So He Makes Another – Theatre Howl

LES VÉTÉRANS-FRANCOS – Meuilleur Production Francophone:
Le Monstre – Théâtre Kata

I ended up at Untitled Sam Mullins Project at the Montreal Fringe because I’m an idiot—this, I promise, is not a disclaimer.

The fact is I ended up at Sam Mullins because my Interweb Googleplexing abilities rather failed me in the moment, and while I thought I was in the right place for Johnny Legdick, I somehow ended up at Untitled Sam Mullins Project, and with a friend along for the ride to boot. And with my friend’s ticket already paid for, and Johnny Legdick already, oh, 25 minutes in and 15 minutes away down the road (at TSC,  not Mainline, I’ve now learned), we decided to proceed as planned and feign no faux-pas. And we didn’t regret it.

Sam Mullins is, my friend tells me: curly haired, sweet, a plucker of her similarly panic-attack-y heartstrings, and full of nice muscles. My friend says Sam Mullins is hot. I say Sam Mullins tells a mean story, or four, and delivers them in an honest, straightforward, audience-connected way.

Sam Mullins, at least to this Google-for-Dummies simpleton, is refreshing. Where I’ve come to expect costume work, sketchiness and stand-up antics from one man/woman shows (sometimes with tremendous success, sometimes with tremendous barf), Sam Mullins is just a guy, with some muscles, telling some stories about himself.

Whether it be about that dress he wore to school, the hometown hockey glory he ruined, the time his father saved Josh Hamilton’s career, or his panic attacks and the road he’s gone down to overcome it all, on stage—Sam Mullins is just, seemingly, quaintly, himself, and the sound writing instincts he’s trying out for us, unburdening himself one well-crafted story at a time. There’s some nipping and tucking ahead, but that’s kinda the whole point.

In any case, there’s nothing overly clever to say here. Just cats instead of marriage is indeed a brilliant idea. He’ll explain it to you; have no fear.

Brahja Waldman's Quintet

What’s that? You wanna go see some shows this week? Well get to it.

FRIDAY, MAY 30

EM15

This year, MUTEK teamed up with Elektra to celebrate both festivals’ 15-year anniversaries and the result is EM15. The festival wraps up this weekend so be sure to catch a free event at the Musée d’art contemporain featuring Markus Floats, Santoz, Leon Louder, Bataille Solaire, Hugues Clément, Marie Davidson, Processor. Check their schedule for more events.

Most nighttime events start at 10 p.m., ticket info here.

Static Gold @ Cabaret Lion d’Or

Funk and swing collide into a dance party tonight when Static Gold launch their debut album Speaking Easy.

Show starts at 9 p.m., $13 at the door.

Brahja Waldman’s Quintet + Sam Shalabi, Anthony von Seck and Alexander MacSween @ Resonance Café

Brahja Waldman’s Quintet launch Sir Real Live, a vinyl recorded live at Resonance Café last August.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m.; $6, $8 includes download code, $15 includes vinyl. 

Bearmace + Yardlets + Melted Faces + Hiroshima Shadows @ La Vitrola

Show starts at 10:30 p.m., $6 with some proceeds going to Sun Youth.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4

Suoni per il Popolo: Crosss + Sheer Agony + Maica Mia + Shitsu @ La Vitrola

Show starts at 9 p.m., $6.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

Suoni per il Popolo: USA Out of Vietnam + Public Animal + Marie Davidson @ La Sala Rossa

Doors open at 8:30 p.m., $8 in advance via Suoni per il Popolo or $10 at the door. 

Fringe Fest: APigeon + Girls In Uniform @ Divan Orange

Doors open at 8:30 p.m.; tickets cost $10 and are available at Divan Orange, Atom Heart, l’Oblique, Cheap Thrills and online via Indie Montreal.

B-17 + UUBBUURRUU + The Disraelis @ l’Escogriffe

Doors open at 9 p.m., $5.

Many things happened in the Montreal arts scene in 2013 and Forget The Box was there! Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

Stage

Early February, Cabaret 87 at Sala Rossa celebrated the 25th anniversary of AIDS Community Care Montreal. It was a very successful evening hosted by Antonio Bavaro and Ryan Ghinds with performances by artist Danny Gaudreault and friends.

edgy lucha 2
Edgy Lucha (photo Chris Zacchia)

March brought us the 20th edition of the Edgy Women Festival, a celebration of feminist art. This year featured events at a gym, on an ice rink and finished up with Edgy Lucha, a sexy boxing evening covered by Keltie.

Summer came around and so did full coverage of the 10th edition of the Montreal Infringement Festival featuring a multitude of awesome events including a haunted mountain walking tour that Bianca reported on and plenty of music goodness and stage performances which Jason (also a performer this year) covered.

It also brought the Fringe Festival. Jerry, Chris and Stephanie checked out quite a few events this year including the Hopegrown Productions debut at the festival, Jon Bennett’s Fire in the Meth Lab was also a must and Jerry checked out Peter ‘n Chris exploring their bodies in an improv comedy which almost gave him a spleen injury due to so much laughter. Also Forget The Box teamed up with Yelp for their annual party Yelp Helps during the fest.

aint misbehavin
Aint Misbehavin’

Then it was time for Zoofest! Jason and Chris went down to Café Cléopâtre to check out an unforgettable Burlesque show with the Bad Ladies and Detective while Jon Bennett’s show Pretending things are a Cock  gave Bianca a new understanding of dick jokes.

The summer also gave us Fantasia and Just For Laughs and many more music-specific events that Bianca will cover in our Year-In-Review music.

In early fall, Stephanie reported on Ain’t Misbehavin’, a great production at the Sadie. Later, in November, Jordan checked out Pure, an incredible dance performance by Charles Koroneho from New Zealand at MAI.

Meanwhile, Halloween was definitely sexy this year thanks to Tales from the Crotch, a burlesque play produced in 24 hours, another awesome project by Glam Cam production with the participation of our awesome Jessica!

Visual Arts

A different type of event happened at Café Zosha early this year. Music for 12 Domestic Lamps was an interesting installation and performance using lamps and sounds reviewed by the lovely Naakita! She also went to discover the new exhibit at the DHC Art Foundation where artist Thomas Demand filled up the gallery with an installation of animations and photographs.

nuit blanche outside

Taymaz shared his thoughts with us on photography as well as the art of love for Valentine’s day. He also reviewed The See by Jessica McCormack, a beautiful book with great artwork and covered Chinese art and it’s importance in today’s art world.

March brought us Nuit Blanche which is always packed with interesting things to do. Naakita took a look at what was happening in the streets while Stephanie reported on her night at the museums.

The 13th edition of the Art Matters Festival also happened in March. The Human Error paintings at the VAV Gallery really impressed Taymaz and Naakita checked out the MAC for their exhibition on abstraction.

Summer came around and brought us a new festival, Mural, a celebration of street art. Local and foreign artists covered a few walls along the Main and its neighboring streets during the St-Laurent Street Festival.

Under Pressure (photo Iana Kazakova)
Under Pressure (photo Iana Kazakova)

Meanwhile, the original graffiti festival Under Pressure had it’s 18th edition in August. This self-funded event run by an amazing team of volunteers is still going strong. The Fresh Paint Gallery, run by the same team, moved to its new location and still showcases great work by many different artists.

More Festivals

A new festival started this year, the Pitch Fest, a celebration of the soccer culture, it happeneed just a few weeks ago. Luminotherapy, the light festival is on until next year so make sure to check out the awesome installations all over the Quartier des Spectacle area.

Looking forward to what 2014 has to bring us, be ready for some more awesome coverage of everything that matters on Forget The Box.

I don’t know about you fellow Montrealers, but I’m still pretty darn annoyed that we seemed to have completely skipped Spring. But as my mother taught me its always better to look at both sides of the situation; with the warm weather finally here, summer festival season is upon us!  Whether its stand up comedy, experimental theatre or Drag Queens riding tricycles, I will be spending my June in the Plateau and Mile End watching all the strange and fabulous things the 2013 St-Ambroise Fringe Festival has to offer.

After carefully examining this year’s Press Kit here are the events that I’m most excited to be checking out;

I’ve seen a lot of great comedy shows come out of the Fringe, last year for instance “God is a Scottish Drag Queen” was definitely my favourite thing I saw at the festival. This year there’s a couple of interesting looking comedy shows; “Alex Cross and His Rise to Fame” is one of the first shows that caught my attention, mostly with the shameless poster of a man on a cross with a bunch of hot chicks. A blatant grab for attention, yes, but I admit it was grabbed. The press kit describes the show as;  A talentless philistine sells his soul to the devil for fame and fortune. Follow Alex’s journey during his rise to fame until a conspiracy theorist exposes him and the satanic agenda behind the music industry. What would you give up for fame and fortune? Is this show going to be a satire or a giant mess? I’ll let you know.

I always enjoy watching Zach Adams on stage so this year I’m looking forward to seeing his new show ZACH ADAMS: ZACH TO THE FUTURE. Sillyness and charm is a combination that always works on me and this man’s got it in spades so I have every confidence the show is going to be great. I mean come on, read the description for the show; To find out if his career ever takes Weeping Spoon Productions program and websiteoff, Australian actor/comedian Zack Adams decides to travel through time to find his future self. In the year 2018, Zack finds himself on a comical, musical adventure involving a beautiful parking inspector, a man with two left hands and a 1979 Datsun. Plus how can you not like a guy who makes Back to the Future references?

I’m very excited to check out as many theatre shows as I can; I shamefully admit that as a film and television nerd the Fringe provide me with the very rare treat of going to the theatre. Some of the show’s I’ll be checking is “Around Miss Julie”, “Love in the Time of Time Machines”and “My Pregnant Brother” performed by this year’s Fringe Festival spokesperson Johanna Nutter. The play I’m most excited for is “Cross My Heart” which is described as “What is Love?  What if you could buy it in pill-form, like Viagra for the heart?  Or can you only find Love in your dreams?  Jim and Maggie are arch-enemies at work; but things are different on the Astral Plane.  Cross My Heart:  a romantic comedy with a twist.”  I may just be interested because I’m a sucker for a sappy love story but I also hope its a smart comment on love.

Along with smart plays with characters sharing their feelings, I also enjoy show where characters take their clothes off. (Then again, who doesn’t?) As always I will make sure to check out my friends at Glam Gam productions put on their 2nd Fringe play, the re-vamped “Little Beau Peep Show” and this year I’m also looking forward to seeing “ACME Burlesque”. Other events I’ll be checking out throughout the festival is visual art at Gallery Fringe taking part in drinking and watching a movie with the folks at Bloody Underrated with The Alcoholic Cinema.

By the time the festival kicks off with Fringe for All   June 3rd who knows if my festival plan will be the same, but that after all is my absolute favourite part of every festival. You do enormous research carefully reading through the schedule, and then when the festival actually starts you throw all your plans out the window and sees what actually comes of it. Make sure you check back here at Forget the Box throughout June to find out what adventures I embark on at this years Festival. Happy Fringing everyone!

After winning stunning reviews this summer at the 2012 Montreal Fringe Festival, the play Let’s Start a Country is back in full force  for a four day run at Mainline theater. The play is an interactive experience in which actors Gerard Harris and Shane Adamczak (replacing Asaf Gerchak, who co-created the play with Harris) play off audience suggestions to not only create amusing stand up comedy but, as the title suggests, a whole new country!

front_lsac_amerrev_1_8x11One of the sad things about covering a great festival like the Montreal Fringe Festival is that there’s never enough time to see everything you want to see. And while I saw amazing stuff like Kirsten Rasmussen play TOUGH! and Drag Queens ride tricycles, Let’s start a Country was one of the shows I sadly missed, so I was thrilled when Mainline theater invited Forget The Box to come check out the show on opening night. The basic idea of the show is this; with Harris and Adamczak as the founding fathers and the audience as the Parliament, you spend 60 minutes coming up with your new country’s name, national fighting style and even a flag!

I was slightly disappointed not to see the show with Asaf, who I always enjoyed as a co-host at the Edge of the City live podcasts. But Adamczak, who I’ve also seen perform at Edge of the City shows, is an equally energetic and funny man who was more  than up for the task of stepping into Asaf’s shoes. Be it with weird history facts about founding countries or demonstrating the way people pray to their gods, the mood of the evening was unbelievably silly. With audience participation crucial to the success of the show, a lot rides on the performances of the actors. Not surprisingly, both Harris and Adamcazk were so charming that as an audience member you can’t help but smile and go along with it every crazy request they throw your way.

The great thing about the show is that every time it’ll be different; while I got to be part of creating the great nation of Beeravoot, who’s national fighting style is snuggling and who’s national flag had an octagon and Rosemary’s baby, you’ll get to experience something completely new!

Let’s Start a Country runs until Saturday. For more information contact Mainline Theater.

 

For my last day at the 2012 Fringe festival, I had the pleasure of heading back to the Cabaret du Mile End to catch a performance of TOUGH! a one woman play/musical by Kirsten Rasmussen. Rasmussen was one of the co-hosts at this years 13th hour and has become quite the buzz worthy lady around town. I first saw Rasmussen take part in a improv show with Uncalled For! and also caught some of her stand up at the Edge of the City live podcast this year. Since then, I’ve seen Rasmussen pop up in articles in The Gazette, Nightlife, and the (sadly now defunct, RIP) Montreal Mirror’s Noisemakers list this year.  So needless to say when I saw she had her own solo show I was immediately interested.

Rasmussen is simply put, a force of nature. When she’s in full out performance mode its impossible not to want to hear what she has to say. I get cranky when my festival schedule goes past my regular bedtime. This lady meanwhile was not only performing hosting duties at 1 am every night, but also doing multiple performances of a show that sometimes exhausting just to watch! Continually shifting back and forth between different characters, TOUGH is the story of two very different women: an alcoholic lounge singer with a famous father, and a tough lady boxer training for her first big match. With completely different lives, these women come together at the end of the show in a satisfying and unexpected way. (I won’t spoil it for you in case Rasmussen puts on the show past the Fringe.)

In this show Rasmussen was required her to pull of comedy, drama and even sing a few songs all the same time. Like I’ve said I’ve seen her do improv and stand up comedy and after watching TOUGH I do think her greatest strength lies as a comedienne. I think she has the potential to be a just as strong dramatic actress but she’s quite there yet, and honestly my only real criticism of the show is that she should stick to acting as oppose to singing. I know that singing is crucial to this show and with the clever lyrics and Rasmussen’s engaging personality she manages to keep the show rolling, but when Rasmussen told the audience after the show that she’d be selling a CD from the show I quietly left. But I will be back for the next time she does stand up in a heartbeat.

* Photo by Chris Zacchia

Spending last weekend Fringing made me feel warm and tingly all over. Not the kind of feeling one might contract frequenting the seedier parts of the Plateau, but rather the puppy and unicorns gee shucks kind of warm and tingly. I shamefully admit that I’ve had those moments where I find myself falling out of love with this fair city of ours and I start to see myself in other parts of the world. But then those moments come along when you find yourself chilling at Fringe Park with a beer, good buds and amazing tunes, and you can’t possibly imagine being anywhere else.

The love continued into Saturday, and in the most unexpected of ways.  On a Fringe friend date with fellow FTBer Jess Klein, we headed down to the Cabaret du Mile End to check out the show Zombie Apocalypse: A Love Story. Still on a zombie kick after getting hooked on The Walking Dead this spring I was definitely interested to see how the Fringe Festival would handle the walking undead.

Despite hearing some mixed word of mouth reviews amongst my colleagues here at the website before heading down, Jess and I had a great time at this show. It was the little touches that I personally really appreciated. A zombie ripped our tickets at the door, and then as people took their seats for the show zombies casually made their way around the theatre. It wasn’t creepy to see zombies wandering around the cabaret du mile end but rather set the light-hearted tone that was to continue throughout the show. As soon as I sat down at the venue a big smile crossed my face and didn’t leave until I’d left.

The premise of the show was simple enough; four friends meet up on a  rooftop for beers and a few laughs, and instead find themselves in the middle of a full on zombie apocalypse. As some friends are presumed dead and others lose their mind, two bickering friends must finally admit their love for each other. Oh yeah and its a musical.

While the plot may sound like a bad romantic comedy I found the writing to be very clever and the line readings to be razor sharp from the show’s actors. Unfortunately not everyone had the singing chops to really carry off all the musical numbers, but that didn’t really bother me too much. What you did take away from the show was just how fun it was to fall in love during the apocalypse.

*Photos By Chris Zacchia

The Harvester

fringe for all

The 22nd Annual St Ambroise Fringe Fest kicked off last Monday night in the opening fun-filled event: Fringe for All!

In a light-hearted evening of persuasion, the players of Fringe had the chance to impress the audience in a succession of preview performances. Vying for the audience members’ attendance at their upcoming shows, each performance group was granted two-minutes of stage-time to entice, persuade and promote.

These condensed, preview versions give fest-goers the opportunity to praise and appraise and to start shortlisting their must-sees. As a new friend of the Fringe, overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the festival, I was very pleased at the chance to sample what is to come. Personally, the night functioned as a sort of test. In preparing for the upcoming weeks, I shortlisted a few shows, based mostly on hearsay and the flyer-filled press package.

But “Fringe for All” acted as a preliminary control for my previous purely “cover-judging” opinion. Perhaps not surprisingly, what brilliance cannot be contained a leaflet, can definitely be relayed in two minutes on stage – even if sandwiched between hours of other snippet long performances. In some respects, I was impressed with my gut but there was plenty of room for short-list revision.

Here are a few memorable moments that have warranted my attendance in their upcoming shows:

The Harvester
The Harvester at the Fringe

The Harvester

Silencing and holding the audience under a darkened stage, a figure dressed in radiation suit and nuclear mask slowly enters the scene. A grimly composed voice-over captivates with a tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which “time”, liquid and commodified, has cured illness, ended famine, and now, promises eternal life. But through this promise, liquid time has fallen into grave shortages. This is the story of those who hold the power of harvesting time. I later found out that this show is written and directed by the notable Paul van Dyck. But what is truly notable is that the preview was convincing independent of name-dropping.

Venue: Mission Santa Cruz – Performance dates: June 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23rd

 

Pitching Knife Fight

(Win free tickets through ForgetTheBox by guessing the film’s body count!)

Opening on the 15th, Walter J. Lyng puts on what will undoubtedly be a riotous good time. Centered around the movie franchise “Knife Fight”, the show will feature a series of promotional materials, as presented to potential investors. Well-known for his comedic ability, Walter is sure to deliver an energetic and contagious performance.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: June 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24th

*** To win tickets to this show simply leave a comment below or on FB @forgetthebox or send us a tweet @forgetthebox guessing what the body count for the film #KNIFEFIGHT will be.

 

The GASSBAM Prize

Put on by the Montreal Improv duo Zoe Daniels and Carmen Rose, this “two-person, one PowerPoint play” centres around Dr. and Mrs. Doverman-Brack’s entry for the illustrious GASSBAM prize. Hard-hitting and hilarious, this preview earned a room full of laughs.

Venue: OFF A – Montreal Improv – Performance dates: June 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24th

 

The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli

A short-list revision: “The Little Prince as told by Machiavelli” takes a heartwarming favourite and turns hilariously grim. Giving a colourful and animated preview, the Capricornucopia group retakes a classic inspiring story and adds totalitarian ruling advice. In a convincing and keenly entertaining performance, The Little Prince is sure to delight.

Venue: Théâtre MainLine Theatre – Performance dates: 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23rd