Curated by Centaur’s artistic director Roy Surette and recent Fringe Festival judge Johanna Nutter, the festival will feature some of the best shows from last year’s Fringe and other independent companies, and promises to be quite the party.
Shows were chosen from entries to the Montreal Fringe Festival held in May and June of 2011, as well as submissions Nutter and Surette received directly. As its name suggests, Wildside aims to be a bit, well, wild.
“The term wild is subjective; basically for us it has to do with shows that showed innovation and a sense of surprise,” said Nutter. She is no stranger to the festival, having performed her one-woman show, My Pregnant Brother, at Wildside back in 2010. Having been invited to perform that year after winning Best in Show at the 2009 Fringe Festival, she’s familiar with the vibe the festival tries to create.
Surette and Nutter have chosen nine plays to create the innovative, party vibe of the annual Wildside Festival. With plays on offer featuring flavours of comedy, drama, absurdism and fantasy, there’s likely to be a dish to satisfy everyone’s theatre tastes.
Included in the roster is the 2011 Best of the Fringe winner Blink, Blink, Blink, performed by Kirsten Rasmussen. It’s a one-woman show combining tragedy and comedy about a bunny named Benjamin and a motivational speaker, Sara Tonin.
Shining brightly alongside Rasmussen’s show are several other festival award-winning plays such as the Summerworks Canstage’s award winner for Best Direction, Bliss, a dark surrealist piece about four Wal-Mart employees and Céline Dion trapped in a dungeon. Winner of Most Acting in a Musical and Longest Date Song, the musical Dick Powell’s “In The Mood for Jazz” is a spoof of a ‘50s style lounge act, featuring the jazz band the Buck Wheaton Trio, fronted by egotistical singer, Dick Powell.
Other notable shows include the bilingual play, Bifurcate Me, about a scientific experiment to determine why humans fall, which features a character who speaks only French and one who speaks only English. A Thousand Paper Cranes: The Weapons of Peace, tells the story of Sadako Sasaki, who in an effort to stay positive and fight to survive in the face of her illness (a result of the bombing of Hiroshima by the U.S. in 1945) folded a thousand paper cranes. There’s also The Pit and The Pendulum, which was adapted from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. In this piece, an army officer forces a man to recall his trial and confinement at the hands of a mutual foe, known as “The Inquisition.”
Nutter was positively brimming with enthusiasm, (despite her cold), when I spoke with her on the phone earlier this week and she strongly encourages students to come out to the festival. “It’s so much fun, the festival cultivates an atmosphere of experimentation, it’s not stuffy at all,” she said. “We’ve tried to do the leg work on what’s worth seeing out in the theatre world.”
The Wildside Festival runs until Jan. 14 at Centaur Theatre. Tickets are $12.50 for students. For more information, please see their website at www.centaurtheatre.com.