Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In a Word...Puelo Deir, creator of Holy Tranity! (FRINGE)

From Chemo to Camp - a Journey

[With this interview, The Charlebois Post is launching its 2013 coverage of Fringe productions across the country. If you are interested in being included in this new series of articles, let us know!]

CHARPO: First, tell us how Holy Tranity! came to be.

DEIR: This play was born out of my challenges with chemotherapy. There's nothing like health challenges, and good doses of chemo toxicity to put one in a reflective mood. 

I originally set out to write a piece in response to bullying in late 2010 when I applied to both the Toronto and Montreal Fringe Festivals. As luck would have it, the play got in the Toronto Fringe. The first deadline hit and I needed a title with 10 minutes to spare. The title Holy Tranity! was born. When I sat down to write, Gracie, the transgender queen of the night who runs a club and rules its stage in the play immediately made herself known. Through her, it quickly became apparent that this play was was going to be something quite different than I had originally intended. The play grew into a dirty love song to the gay '80's. 

The script had all the right notes but it's been cut, edited, worked and reworked, massaged and polished.

CHARPO: So it's had a life in past Fringes?

DEIR: Holy Tranity! had a skeleton of a life at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival. It was presented as a staged reading at the Robert Gill Theatre. That it even got that far is a miracle. A close friend kept pushing me forward when I wanted to pull the plug so many times. I put an ad in with the QDF for a director. A few people applied including this guy David di Giovanni. We met at a coffee shop. He was wide-eyed, curious and very bright and fresh out of university. I pitched him the play. 

A couple of weeks later I presented him the play. We had a second meeting a couple of weeks from the first presentation in Toronto. He was trying to let me down gently due to lack of time, but I suggested we present the piece as a reading. He very reluctantly accepted. He found three brave actors to read the piece. Our set consisted of a large table set with a very colourful sequinned tablecloth, three red binders, and three bottles of water. Even by Fringe standards, this was a minimal set. 

The piece was performed in the Robert Gill Theatre at the University of Toronto. The place holds 170 people. This place is the real-deal theatre and we were doing a staged reading! Seven performances. It was a brutal experience for me in so many ways, and at the same time extremely rewarding. Three brave and dedicated actors performed to sparse houses. As each reading took place, the actors grew most comfortable and you could see what this piece could grow into. We were reviewed. And they were actually quite positive. [Antonio] Bavaro even earned a Best Actor in a Reading nomination from David and the actors pulled it off. 

Holy Tranity! is being presented at the legendary strip joint and show bar Café Cléopatre on The Main on June 18, 19, 20 at 8pm and June 22 and 23 at 10pm.  I went to see the Glam Gam troupe there last summer and had an "A-ha!" moment. I loved what Glam Gam were doing. The Holy Tranity! characters are very much based on some of the people who performed and hung out at the club in its heyday. It seemed obvious to put the first fully-produced mounting of the play in a venue that has hosted burlesque shows for over 35 years, and was, and continues to be a safe haven for trans women and drag queens. It's also one of the last remaining sex clubs in the historic red light district. They say queens never die, they just fade away. I know they'll be with us for our run. I hope this play in a small way pays homage to the queens and patrons that graced this establishment. 

CHARPO: What changes has the show been through since its first incarnation?

DEIR: The biggest change in this incarnation of Holy Tranity! is it's a fully-produced show and not a staged reading! Concordia University theatre grad David di Giovanni is back directing. We have three wonderfully talented actors. Antonio Bavaro is reprising the role of Gracie he performed in Toronto. New to the production are cast mates JT Silver who received an MFA at Ohio University and is playing Michael the former military guy and newcomer Jerome Gagnon as Santo$ the gogo boy. A fourth character is the club DJ played by actual DJ François Fluet who will also DJ and host our post show '80's party on Saturday, June 22.

David's crack creative team include production designer Jonathon Stradeski and choreographer Stephanie Robert. I'm thrilled that Lynne Kamm -- an award-winning director and screenwriter in film, television and theatre, and who was the director of Steve Galluccio's Fringe plays back in the day -- is producing. We're still on the lookout for a costume designer and technical director for all your interested readers!

Antonio Bavaro is singing all of his numbers in the play. He lip synced them in the stage readings. There's production values. There are choreographed dance numbers. There's a DJ setting the vibe. There's a young gay male stripper. The script had all the right notes but it's been cut, edited, worked and reworked, massaged and polished.  

CHARPO: If you had lessons for Fringers, what would they be?

DEIR: I have no lessons to give, only lessons to learn.  

CHARPO: What has surprised you the most about the entire journey?

DEIR: That I'm still here. That it's actually happening. That talented people would want to invest their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent on this project.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to Puelo on his upcoming play.. Jim Messenger.


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