I think last night was the first time it really hit me that the Toronto Fringe Festival is only a week away. With this newfound knowledge I feel infinitely behind in my awareness of what’s all happening this year. But then again, when have I ever felt like I have a strong grasp on the festival? What with 148 shows happening at 35 different venues across the city, how can one possibly think they have a grasp on this 11-day adventure?
Usually the easiest way is to gravitate towards those people you know, or you’ve heard about or may have possibly seen before. Laura Anne Harris and I met at a storytelling night Alex Eddington coordinated. Since then, we seem to continuously fall into the same circles: we are both playwrights currently in the same playwright circle with Steady State; we have both studied clowning with Helen Donnelly and have performed at the Foolish Cabaret together; and we are both developing (she’s much further into the process, as you’ll learn) solo shows. Laura is always a generous ear to have around as she’s always honest in her appreciations and criticisms.
Continuing with the Fringe previews, let’s get in to today’s dossier, #16 with Laura Anne Harris:
Who are we talking with?
Ms. Laura Anne Harris
What drew you down this path? (to theatre, to solo shows, to Fringing, to wherever the hell you are in life)
When I decided to perform my solo show Pitch Blond, it was out of necessity. I wanted to showcase myself as an actor with the fascinating subject of Judy Holliday to as many people as possible. It’s much easier to tour on my own. Then as I kept touring the trips became easier and I had a wonderful time meeting other artists on the Fringe/curated touring circuits. Other professional opportunities arose from meeting fellow artists and I started directing several solo shows. Five years later after my first fringe festival, I’m still exploring solo work and expressing myself as a solo performer/writer.
What is your earliest memory of realizing, yep, this is what I’m going to do with my life?
When I was five after seeing the Little Mermaid, I hoped to become a mermaid. When I discovered the physical conflict of the phenomenon I decided to be an actor. I could always pretend to be a mermaid, right?
Why THE HOMEMAKER?
The urban legend of my Great Aunt has been told in my family for years. Her story really inspired me to write a play loosely inspired by her life. I realized after writing a first draft of the play that it had a stark resemblance to the film Days of Wine and Roses. On a sidebar that movie is a hidden gem – see it. So in 2005, I had written a 4-person play of The Homemaker, but it didn’t quite work. Then I kept the story on my computer for about five years and not finding the right inspiration to perform it again. Until…I decided to develop a solo red nose clown turn based on the play I originally wrote. For about two years I had been training in red nose clown and bouffon with Helen Donnelly, Francine Cote, and Adam Lazarus and I feel clown carefully balances darker and lighter themes really effectively on stage. In April 2012, I paired up with director Morgan Norwich and together we worked on developing the script further. I performed a workshop presentation of the play in October 2012, then showed an excerpt at the Toronto Festival of Clowns this year as well as premiering the full-length performance at the TaDa Festival in Wakefield, Quebec on June 16th, 2013. I really enjoy performing the play and I’m sure the more I perform it in front of the audience the more and more it will grow.
What kind of atmosphere do you intend to set up, or can someone expect from THE HOMEMAKER?
I hope to set up a homey but carbaret style setting. ;). Expect surprises and baked goods.
You’ve done the Canadian Fringe circuit a couple times in the past. What do you look forward to the most when touring a new show to a new city?
I look forward to meeting the other fringe artists in the beer tent and having a really good time seeing each other’s shows. I find it can be very inspirational to see new work and see fellow artist performing.
What is your favourite memory from a past Fringe circuit show?
Oh I have so many. My first fringe in Victoria when a group of Jewish men assured me that they would bring their entire family to my show, ‘how many people does your venue hold,’ ‘um, 100,’ ‘oh don’t worry honey, we’ll bring everyone we know.’ Being taken out to lunch (coincidently on my Birthday,) by two fringe patrons who adored my show at the 2011 Toronto Fringe. Now I’m really good friends with those two fringe patrons so it was a real blessing to meet them that way. And I also need to share this one… I’m sure this will embarrass my boyfriend, but I don’t care. I was in Edmonton Fringe in 2009 and my boyfriend came to help me set up and strike the stage. One day he gave me a hickey, so I made him buy me a scarf so I wouldn’t embarrass myself handbilling the line ups. I ended up talking to Chris Gibbs momentarily, trying my best to hide my neck when he said, ‘Oh do you have yourself a love bite?’ Seeing the great Mr. Gibbs laugh at me was pretty awesome and it still remains to be one of my favourite memories.
Describe THE HOMEMAKER in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.
‘So nice, so nice.’ ‘I have a bit of a bum, bum.’ ‘Peace be with you.’ ‘C’est dommage.’ Oh that’s four!
Do you have anything else you’d like to share? Photos, videos, links, posters, stories, wishes?
Please visit my website… www.lauraanneharris.com and visit my photobucket page for more photos http://s724.photobucket.com/user/laurah1234/library/?sort=3&page=1.