I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve neglected my blog while I’ve been on tour with my Fringe show, ‘unADULTeRATED me’.
I’m currently at the Edmonton Fringe, which is drawing to a close at the end of this weekend. I’ve already performed five of my six slotted performances. My last performance is Saturday, August 21st at 2PM.
Before I get into how my Edmonton Fringe experience has been, first I’m going to recap my experiences for the rest of the Toronto Fringe, Winnipeg Fringe, and Saskatoon Fringe.
Overall, the Toronto Fringe was a pretty good experience. I mean, I had received an AWESOME 4-star review from Toronto’s EYE WEEKLY Entertainment Magazine! I also had a pretty great online review at a Toronto Theatre Review website called “Mooney on Theatre”.
I also had a number of standing ovations in Toronto, which is always very encouraging.
My second-last performance in Toronto was especially amazing for me. The audience was certainly not ‘huge’ (no more than 40 people), but the energy was just amazing. Not only did I have a standing ovation after that performance, but the audience started CHEERING and CLAPPING IN UNISON!!!
Afterward, when I was on my way out of the theatre, a woman who had been in the audience stopped me to tell me how she thought my show was the most daring thing she’s EVER seen on stage, and how wonderful she thought the show was; and especially how she believed I touched each and every audience member present at that performance — especially all the women present.
WOW. I felt sooo full of gratitude to hear this feedback.
So far, Winnipeg Fringe (2010) has been my most successful Fringe not only during this tour, but also during my entire Fringe “career”, despite my predominantly mediocre media reviews.
The Winnipeg Free Press review of ‘unADULTeRATED me’ had been based on my June 11th performance in Montreal. I had been in touch with the reviewer, and he himself informed me of the date. This was the very first performance of the ENTIRE tour; the show that reviewer (Kevin Prokosh) had seen was not the same show I had been performing in London and Toronto. I was disappointed because I felt we (audiences and myself) deserved an accurate and up-to-date review based on the show in its current form, not one that was based on a performance from OVER a month ago. But, oh well… Thankfully, however, many audience members spoke up to express their own opinion of the show by leaving comments on the website. That was wonderful! Here are a couple of favorites that were posted on the Winnipeg Free Press review and website:
“In my Fringe experience, I am *always* wary of clown shows.
Some are very good (Izzy, Poofy DuVey), and some are very… Very… Bad. (Not mentioning names.)
However- Rachelle has scored a hit with Fizzy Tiff and can be added to that list of hilarious and touching clown shows. What she does in her show really could teach us all a little something about how we look with far too much criticism at ourselves and others- She performs with reckless abandon and throws caution to the wind in the finale of the show, which, without giving too much away, combines probably three of the activities humans generally fear the most. It takes a strong performer to pull off such a gutsy finish, and Fizzy does it humbly and with a touch of class despite her awkwardness preluding it in the first 45 minutes of the show.
Not only that, but the show is very funny. Very very funny. Don’t be afraid to get into it- Believe me, the more you give, the more you’ll get back from her, and she will give you a lot..!
Great show, and in my eyes deserves at least a solid four and a half stars, if not the perfect five.
As stated, the WFP review by Prokosh is a vast disservice to a talented Winnipeg artist who should be recognized by our community. Well done Rachelle! Fizzy Tiff: Part II next year?”
“UnADULTeRATED me is exactly what the Fringe is all about. I loved this play because from the moment it started it kept on enfolding in ambition, realizing its potential at each turn and coming to the perfect ending with props strewn throughout the show covering the stage as if they were left there for us to savour the taste of each delectable scene. At first you think, she is going to pull off the coquette buffoon really well and it is going to be a fun but simple play. Next, you realize that the audience participation and some early risks are going to lead to a little more edge than expected. With success at each level, “Fizzy” shifts it into overdrive with a stunning social commentary that is stinging but offered, if you can imagine, with love, tenderness, vulnerability and hope. My review is “over the top” because this play deserves it!”
As for the CBC review… it was an alright review, but unfortunately for me, the CBC Winnipeg reviewer had come to review my weekday NOON show in Toronto. There were approximately five people in attendance at that show, and the audience was extremely closed with their energy. Interacting with the audience felt like pulling teeth, and I had to wonder why they had even bothered to come to a show that had “audience participation” in the warning if they were going to be so closed-off and unwilling to interact. I guess that’s the luck of the draw, though.
Despite the mediocre reviews, word-of-mouth (and my flyering!) spread, and I had some wonderful attendance and wonderful shows in Winnipeg. Again, there were a number of standing ovations, and many people would stop to tell me how much they loved the show.
I also received my first 5-star (equivalent) review in Winnipeg in the UPTOWN Magazine! Technically, UPTOWN doesn’t rate shows by stars and instead uses a letter-grade system. But, they gave my show an A+ rating, which is equivalent to 5-stars!
I never sold out a show in Winnipeg, but I came *extremely* close to selling out a show… I think three of my shows had attendance in the high 90’s!
My show also earned “BEST of FEST” for my venue!
So, overall, Winnipeg Fringe was a wonderful experience!
After the Winnipeg Fringe, it was off to Saskatoon.
I had a number of ups and downs in Saskatoon.
In terms of “ups”, ‘unADULTeRATED me’ received a wonderful 5-STAR review that was published in the Saskatoon daily paper called The Star Phoenix. That was certainly pretty awesome!
The fact that Saskatoon Fringe is a pretty small Fringe Festival also proved to be an up/pro (vs. a con) — that way, audience members have the chance to see every show if they so choose. This certainly would not be possible at a larger Fringe Festival like the Winnipeg Fringe or Edmonton Fringe.
One of the down sides of my experience at the Saskatoon Fringe was pertaining to my venue. It was in a school gymnasium and the acoustics were pretty lousy. Additionally, due to the nature of my show, my show works best when performed in a venue or space that contributes in creating intimacy between myself and the audience. My venue in Winnipeg was perfect for this… However, As for my venue in Saskatoon… let’s just say it’s more difficult to create a feeling of intimacy in a gymnasium.
…Venue-characteristics aside, there were some organizational issues that myself and other Fringe artists encountered, too…. Without going into any specific/boring details, let it suffice to say that it was pretty damn frustrating and annoying. But oh well…
Anyway. During the time of the Saskatoon Fringe, I was finding I needed a lot of personal time to myself. By this point I had been touring for a while, and additionally I missed my sweet heart terribly.
Saskatoon Fringe is typically known as the Fringe where all the Fringe Artists get to see each others’ shows, but unfortunately, I only saw two shows there! I spent most of my off-time at my ‘home’. Additionally, the place where I was staying in Saskatoon was a 45 minute walk away from the Fringe, so I spent quite a bit of time each day walking to and fro (unless I managed to get a ride part-way there).
Since I had spent a lot of down-time at home, I didn’t flyer nearly as much as I “should” have. But even so, I did better at the box office in Saskatoon than I had for Toronto, London, or Montreal.
My show received multiple standing ovations in Saskatoon, as well! I encountered many local audience members who told me how much they loved the show. Some performers who saw my show there also had great feedback for me. One performer who saw it in Saskatoon had even told me she felt like it was the best show she had ever seen in her life! A different performer told me he thought it was strikingly beautiful. (Aww!) While yet another performer told me how much she loved the show and my character.
Despite my 5-STAR review in the local daily paper, multiple standing ovations, and much wonderful feedback, I was a little hurt to find out how some people detested my show. An online blogger for a local entertainment paper/website apparently disliked the show quite adamantly and gave it 1 star. Unfortunately, I know this hindered a lot of people from seeing the show, which is really unfortunate.
However, I know many MANY people truly enjoyed my show because I received many standing ovations while in Saskatoon! Additionally, many people would tell me in person that they truly loved and appreciated my show, or they would take the time to find me on Facebook and tell me there… or, some even ventured out to find my blog to leave glowing comments! Such exchanges were (and are) always welcomed and very encouraging. 🙂
As my show traveled and toured further west, it seems its audience members would become more and more polarized and divided in regards to this show!
I arrived at Edmonton Fringe with hopes of the most successful Fringe I would ever have in my life. Here I was, my show having garnered a number of 4 and 5 star reviews, in the largest Fringe Festival in all of North America. Surely I would do really well here, right?
Perhaps I would have had my show not been panned by a number of local reviewers.
I must admit, I was a little bewildered at the harshness of some of the reviews my show was receiving here in Edmonton. For example, a review in the Edmonton Journal rated my show at 1.5 stars. This review was based on a performance at the Saskatoon Fringe. …Now, I happen to know which performance this particular reviewer had been at; and at the end of that particular performance, about a dozen or so audience members who had been in attendance at that matinee show rose out of their seats to give me a standing ovation. Surely that would equate to a fairly decent review? But, apparently not!
The reviewer did not personally enjoy the show. According to her review, I don’t think she really understood it, but either way… I would think that a reviewer for a paper would want to point out that her opinion differs from those who were also in attendance who thought the show deserved a standing ovation. I mean, in my opinion, a reviewer for a city-wide newspaper has an obligation, or duty, to inform the public of facts pertaining to a show, and not just mere and pure subjective opinion. It was a fact that many people in attendance truly enjoyed the show and gave it a standing ovation. But to blatantly omit this fact from the review… just seemed so wrong to me!
Let me be clear — I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I don’t expect everyone to love my show. That is totally fine with me. To expect otherwise would be unreasonable. I’m not upset that the reviewer did not enjoy my play. But, as a reviewer for a city-wide daily paper such as the Edmonton Journal, I would think the reviewer should have at least acknowledged in her review that many people who attended the performance she witnessed did, in fact, thoroughly enjoy the show — even enough to give it a standing ovation! In my books, a 1.5 star review + a standing ovation just doesn’t add up!
The audience comments that some people left on the E.J.’s review website were also hugely contrasted. One commenter said they felt the show was an awful train wreck, while yet another thoroughly enjoyed it and said they’d rate it at 4.5 stars.
A different review that was published in the Sun here in Edmonton was an interesting one. The show was given a rating of 2 suns (i.e. stars), and yet… at the end of the review (in reference to the end of my play), it was summed up that I had delivered an outstanding heartfelt performance. Again, this didn’t seem to add up in my books… outstanding heartfelt performance (i.e. a heartfelt socko) equates to two stars? Well, okay…
I’m honestly not sure what all the controversy is about. Perhaps Edmonton is more conservative than I had initially thought!? Clearly, in my opinion at least, some people simply did not ‘get’ the show and failed to see the deeper meaning and metaphor which lay just beneath the outer surface and exterior of the play’s deceivingly simple plot. But what can one do? I’d rather have it be somewhat subtle than beat people over the head with any sort of message or theme.
Despite many poor and mediocre media reviews I’ve received here in Edmonton, I’m still encountering many people here at the Edmonton Fringe who have truly loved and appreciated ‘unADULTeRATED me’. Just this evening, I was recognized while on the Fringe grounds, and a man who had seen the play stopped to tell me he quite enjoyed my show and thought it was awesome! Another man who had seen my show told me he had worked in the entertainment and theatre industry for years and had seen in the vicinity of 10,000 shows… and, he thought my show was amongst the most enjoyable he’s ever seen!!! WOW!!! Considering that man’s background and profession, I was especially thankful to hear such lovely encouraging feedback! (…There have been many other cases too, such as Fringe Volunteers telling me my show was their favorite so far, etc.)
But, in terms of media reviews, at least I have a 5 STAR review published online in Edmonton’s SEE Magazine. It is a wonderful review, too. And for that, I am very appreciative and thankful!
ALL GOOD THINGS…
I’ll be done performing the last show of ‘unADULTeRATED me’ here in Edmonton in just under 12 hours from now. After that, I’ll be traveling to Calgary with a good friend of mine that I’ve known since high school. I’ll be spending the night there, and we have a plan in the day on Sunday (I think we’re going for a hike), and then Sunday evening I’ll be flying out to Vegas to visit with my U.S. Sweetheart. <3 I miss him so much!!!
I have plans to perform the show at least a couple more times coming up in October. Plans are in the works to perform ‘unADULTeRATED me’ at the Soulocentric Festival in Calgary, and I’ll also be performing the show once more in Winnipeg at Aqua Books as part of their ‘Best Of The Fest’ Series on October 16th!
All in all, this tour and show have given way to some extremely wonderful experiences. True, it’s had its ups and downs, but when I look back at the overall experience, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Each experience has contributed towards my unique path of development and growth — as both an artist and an individual — and I am extremely appreciative and grateful for having had the opportunity to learn, grow, and to have had all these wonderful experiences.
My show has garnered virtually every review rating possible. This just goes to show that reviews are so entirely subjective. What one person loves, another may hate; or vice versa. A review is merely the opinion of one individual. I have learned to not put so much faith in a review… to trust myself, and to not let others determine my value or worth.
Every artist and individual is so much more complex than what can be conveyed in a mere review (“good” or “bad”)… it simply cannot begin to scratch the surface of one’s complex and unique inner being. … That is what makes life so beautiful and amazing!
And so, in closing… Here’s to Life, to Art, and to Love… they’re really all the same thing anyway. Aren’t they?
Now, on to more exciting adventures of creativity and inspiration!