S6E32: Iso-Interview: Ellen Chorley

Ellen Chorley (centre) enjoys a typical night at Nextfest.
This year’s festival goes online June 4-14. (Photo by Mat Simpson)

This year’s Nextfest—its 25th anniversary—goes entirely online. We caught up with Festival Director Ellen Chorley to talk about her career path and the wonders of the beautiful, multidisciplinary beast that is Edmonton’s festival for emerging artists. We also cover how she and Fawnda met a decade ago on the dancefloor at one of the legendary Nextfest nite clubs.

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Links discussed in this episode:
Ellen Chorley at Playwrights Guild of Canada
Send in the Girls Burlesque

S6E31: Iso-Review: TRACKS

The entry image for Tracks, by Vena Amoris Productions

It’s been a while, but we actually caught a local show to review! Vena Amoris Productions offered an online choose-you-own-route experience with Tracks. Fawnda and Colleen take the trip together—virtually, of course.

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S6E30: Iso-Interview: Vern Thiessen

Along with the rest of us, playwright Vern Thiessen has been a lot of baking bread lately.

Vern Thiessen published an open letter to the nation’s professional theatre associations last week, encouraging them to seriously consider what they could be doing during the Great Pause, including reassessing their collective agreements and lobbying for changes to the Status of the Artist legislation. We cover his letter, the meaning of these agreements for working artists in Canada, and what post-pandemic theatre could look like for the foreseeable future (likely, it’s “G” houses). The Governor General Award-winning playwright also offers some advice on letter-writing—which we should all be doing more.

Links discussed in this episode:
• Vern Thiessen’s publications at Playwright’s Guild of Canada
EPL’s Writer in Residence Susie Moloney
Tracks, the final show of Fringe’s Off Season series, running May 19-24
The Georgia Straight profile on Canada Council CEO Simon Brault 
• The Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA, is busily planning a summer season of live theatre with substantially reduced seats, no intermissions, audience face masks, and one-person shows. 

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S6E29: Iso-Interview: Nisha Patel

Nisha Patel is Edmonton’s current Poet Laureate. (Ye Fan)

YEG Poet Laureate and PoFest Executive Director Nisha Patel chats about taking literary events online, her #CanadaPerforms stint, the realities of being an artist and festival producer in the gig economy, and emerging standards for compensating artists for online content.

Links discussed in this episode:
• Nisha Patel’s website
• Moon Jelly House, publisher for diverse chapbooks
• Vena Amoris Projects are taking their show Tracks online from May 19-24
• The Globe and Mail talked with several Fringe and festival organizers on the impacts of this summer’s cancellations
• Found Festival has issued a call for proposals for the 2020 festival
• The Revisionist History episode where Malcolm Gladwell slams golf courses

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S6E28: Iso-Interview: Alexis Hillyard

Alexis Hillyard on the set of the web series Stump Kitchen. (KTB Photography)

While the rest of us had to get used to this new era of online connecting when the pandemic was declared, Alexis Hillyard was already an internet star in her own right with her Youtube series, Stump Kitchen. In our chat she covers favourite pandemic meals, how artists can leverage putting their work online, and bringing authenticity to digital space—plus, how a stump comes in handy in the kitchen!

Links discussed in this episode:
Stump Kitchen on Youtube
• The Avocado Pie Episode
The Lucky Fin Project
• Alexis’ advice for massaging kale
• Paul’s go-to recipe for buns
• The Stage on what we can learn from South Korea’s theatres, which remained open throughout most of the lockdown
• NY Times on how theatre has to think small after the return
• Shumka’s Isolation Hopak

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S6E27: Iso-Interview: Trevor Schmidt

A scene from Confessions of A Reluctant Caregiver, Northern Light Theatre’s final show selection of the season, cancelled due to COVID-19 complications. Pictured left to right: Davina Stewart, Cheryl Jameson, Brian Dooley. Photo: Ian Jackson/Epic Photography

What week are we in again? Seven? Seventeen? Artistic Director of Northern Light Theatre Trevor Schmidt expands on the acceptance of this Great Pause, impacts on small versus large theatre companies, sucker-punch play structure, and staring down a summer without the Fringe.

Links discussed:
Northern Light Theatre
• Mile Zero Dance’s 3-hour online Dance Blitz for International Dance Day
• Gurdeep Pandher’s Youtube channel of joyful Yukon Bhangra goodness.
• Freewill Shakespeare Festival announces Dave Horak as artistic director
• Stratford Festival is running an online Shakespeare on Film Festival

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S6E26: Iso-Interview: Peter Brown

Peter Brown (top) captured in-improv with Die Nasty cast members
Stephanie Wolfe, Jesse Gervais, and Mark Meer. (Photos by Jana Hove)

Week five of no live shows, and we’re all still commiserating about it. Funnyman Peter Brown talks with us about the nature of laughter, improv online, creative feelings, and unique uses for toilet paper rolls. Enjoy, all. Stay well!

Here are your links referred to in this episode:
• Die Nasty’s weekly radio show: https://www.dienastyimprov.com/
• Hop on Die Nasty’s facebook page on April 27 at 4pm MT for a live stream recording as part of National Arts Centre’s Canada Performs
• Peter Brown’s website, where you can see what he’s up to (and hire him!)

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S6E25: Iso-Interview: Liz Nicholls

Our pal Liz Nicholls joins us to commiserate on the current dearth of liveness on Edmonton’s stages.

It took a pandemic, but we finally caught her! This week, we talk bread-making, online performances, and the surreal weirdness of Edmonton sans live theatre with the one and only Liz Nicholls.

Some links discussed in this episode:
• Liz Nicholls’ blog: 12thnight.ca
• Die-Nasty’s weekly improvised Radio Hour, new episodes out every Monday 
• Citadel Theatre’s Stuck in the House web series
• Paul’s sketch on The Great Gatsby
• Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files
• Cancellation of the Ediburgh Fringe will be felt around the world
• The Wooster Group’s Hamlet from the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013
• Gia Kourlas, dance critic for the New York Times, on how we navigate the pandemic with our bodies

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S6E24: Iso-Interview: Ben Gorodetsky

Ben Gorodetsky’s Biblioteka was set to be shown as part of Mile Zero Dance’s mainstage earlier this month. Now cancelled, like everything else.

It’s our first foray into remote recording! We tracked down Ben Gorodetsky to talk about Biblioteka, which was cancelled (among everything else) with the order to shutdown gathering spaces. We cover the ideas behind his show, how artists are coping these days, and plans for Ben’s future creative output.

Also, many recommendations for things to see online below. See some shows, everyone!

Links of note:
• Dan Savage’s SPLIFF Film Festival, where you can watch Munchies Massacre
• Folk Lordz web series
• Malachite Theatre’s Shakespeare Sundays
• The full cut of Grindstone’s musical hit ThunderCATS  
• Die-Nasty’s weekly improvised Radio Hour, new episodes out every Monday
• Chase Padgett’s Digital Fringe (where you can actually pay to watch or rent 2019 Fringe faves like For Science! and Reality Crack)
• Actor Jamie Cavanagh’s online campaign that petitions Disney to cast him as the next Wolverine.

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S6E23: But think of The Children (and your local arts community)

An eerily appropriate image for The Children, running (at time of press) at the Roxy on Gateway until March 22.

Here we go, all: It’s a pandemic. We managed to catch The Children in preview, and sat a healthy distance from each other while discussing the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts community. We provide some tips and pointers for making the best of this challenging time, including what you can do for your local out-of-work theatre folk.

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