I have been out of town for the last couple of summers and had no idea how much the little Calgary Fringe has grown. They’ve closed off 9th Ave SE from 12th Street SE to 15th Street (I think) so parking can be a bit hairy. Once you’re into the Fringe compound as it were, it can feel a bit at times like the same old same old, with the same suspects in attendance as at the Lilac Festival and the Salsa Festival. You know, the bubble makers and the Elephant Ears, it all gets a little old in a hurry. Fortunately at the Fringe, there is theatre to see. On Saturday afternoon I went to Venue 1008 to see my friend Stuart Bentley and his fellow actor Mike Johnson perform David Mamet’s The Duck Variations. It’s always good to see an early Mamet play, and the boys did a good job of it for a packed audience. There’s lots of worthwhile productions to see here. Some are on the circuit, on their way to Edmonton next week, some are local one-offs.
A nice little moment after the play today in the mini-beer garden at 1008. A lady asked Stuart if he had also directed the play. Stuart said he hadn’t, and that in fact it had been directed by Richard Michelle-Pentelbury, who had actually won an award for his troubles. She considered this and then asked him, “Did you write the play?” He did not take credit for writing it. He told her David Mamet had written the play, but that didn’t resonate for her at all.
It reminded me of the time when I was playwright in residence at Alberta Theatre Projects. We had just seen Tony Kushner’s Angels in America when an elderly patron, on being told what I did at the theatre, asked me, “Do you write all the plays?” I only took credit for the plays of Stephen Massicotte, Michael O’Brien and myself.
The beauty of the Fringe is the plays are short and the opportunities to drink beer are many. It runs until next Saturday.
You can find out more at http://www.calgaryfringe.ca