Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In a Word: Brandon Wicke on Third Person (Fringe: Montreal, Hamilton, Vancouver)

Stalking the Holy Grail
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Brandon Wicke is the director and writer of Third Person, presented by Orphaned Egret Productions, a new theatre company based out of Montreal. The company's focus is on engaging young and new theatre audiences through the production of new and relevant Canadian scripts with an emphasis on simplifying production elements to stress the importance of core theatrical elements of text, story, and shared imagination between performers and audience.

CHARPO:  Tell us a bit about your show - the process of creating it.

WICKE: Well, our show tells the story of two young men who are out wandering when they happen upon this mysterious, unseen force writing strange and unsettling predictions on the scenery. This invisible antagonist goads the two inquisitive characters on, alternately scaring them with tricks and false predictions, and tempting them onwards with promises of some profound and universal understanding.

All five members of our company studied theatre at Concordia University in Montreal, and it was in a class for my Playwriting major where the script for Third Person first came to be. Trawling through a notebook full of old forgotten ideas, I stumbled upon something I had scrawled a few years earlier, about writing a play wherein fake stage directions were scrolled along the back wall of the theatre, taunting and toying with the characters. It seemed like a great jumping-off point to create a whole ethereal character, bent on watching the human protagonists squirm.

The Fringe circuit is the holy grail for young, independent theatre companies, and we think it's the perfect fit for our show - a funny, off-the-cuff and innovative production

CHARPO: Now it seems a huge leap of faith to say: I am going to take this on the road to a bunch of festivals. What - about the huge step of touring your show - drew you in?

WICKE:  I think the idea of going on tour came from our company's unanimous desire to broadcast our work to as many people as we could. After our initial small-scale production with Concordia we were all very proud and confident in the quality of our production, but felt a three show run with our peers and professors as our only audience was setting our sights too low. Our efforts at expanding our audience soon exploded into a full-fledged cross-Canada tour, and we couldn't be more excited to strut our stuff at Montreal, Hamilton, and Vancouver Fringe Festivals this summer. 

The Fringe circuit is the holy grail for young, independent theatre companies, and we think it's the perfect fit for our show - a funny, off-the-cuff and innovative production. After securing a spot in the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe, we decided to go big or go home, and we couldn't be more excited to share our work with audiences across Canada.

CHARPO:  How are you handling PR - because it's dog-eat-dog out there for Fringe shows!

WICKE: Tell me about it! This tour has been a fantastic learning experience about how to promote a show, and our company has been stumbling through it as best we can. The Fringe, at least in Montreal, is an enormous and much-appreciated help in promoting productions, but it's also been great practicing at being a theatrical 'jack-of-all-trades' when it comes to PR. 

Because of our company's focus on simplifying theatrical production to engage audiences by focusing on the fundamentals - text, character, and shared imaginative creation with our audience - we've been mirroring this simplicity and straightforward attitude in our promotional materials. All of our posters and images were produced in-house by company members, in order to keep expenses low as well as to really focus on selling what makes our company unique and worth checking out - a group of five young and innovative, multi-talented artists looking to tell a great story without relying on outside creative or corporate input. That being said, we're not letting this 'mom-and-pop' philosophy stop us from pursuing any promotional opportunity - from designing t-shirts and flip-books to the fringe mainstays of posters, flyers, and fundraising parties. 

We've also been tearing up social media in order to get ourselves out there! Follow us at @OrphanedEgret on Twitter, or check out our page on Facebook. 

CHARPO:  I used to do this, in the old days at the weeklies: tell me, in a minute, why I should see your show…go!

WICKE: As I've said, we're a group of enthusiastic young artists with strong ideas about the theatre and who take great pride in producing art worth seeing. The script itself is innovative and exciting, and is guaranteed to get audiences thinking about some issues very fundamental to being human - fate, free-will, destiny, and the effect that the existence of some all-knowing being would have on all of these. That being said, the show is anything but a lecture - the dialogue is comic above all else, and audiences will have the opportunity to witness something they will never have seen used theatrically before: a cruel and sadistic, all-powerful unseen antagonist addressing characters and audiences solely through live-scrolling, handwritten text onstage. At 10 dollars or less for tickets, it's an innovative theatrical experiment worth taking part in.

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