Sarah Segal-Lazar, Will Roney (playing George-Etienne Cartier)
by Sarah Segal-Lazar
It was a really nice email...I just wish that they’d sent it three days earlier.
Scribbler Skeletons is our first foray in expanding the Island Fringe Festival’s (IFF) programming, in addition to our six-show line-up. Last year we had five shows. We were supposed to have six but one of the international shows dropped out less than a week before showtime. They hadn’t realized they’d need passports. They were also on a very limited budget and had no way of getting from New York (NYC) to Prince Edward Island (PEI). I wound up spending two days figuring out a way for them to get here: They would take a Greyhound from NYC to Bangor, Maine, where they would transfer to a shuttle that makes stops in various towns between Bangor and the Maine/New Brunswick border. They would then walk across the border by foot (I checked with the border authorities and it’s kosher) and get picked up by a friend of the woman who works at the St. Stephens, New Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, who would drive them from St. Stephens to Moncton, where they would get on a bus to Charlottetown. Seem convoluted? This was the summer that the Maritimes lost 85% of their bus service. But I found a way. No one thought I could, but I did.
One of the best feelings in organizing a Festival is when someone has such a good time that they reapply. This year, three out of the five shows from last year reapplied to the Island Fringe. Last year’s company “Druid Busters” are back as “The Flummies.” I Am What I Am is the true story of a 19th century Métis woman of Labrador and will be staged at the Charlottetown Harbour, on the banks of the Hillsborough River. We love it when shows are set in water-centric lands. We’re an island. We can make water happen.
“Passion, betrayal, tableware and a long-dead British poet.” When Silk Purse Atlantic Theatre from Saint John, New Brunswick answered the “What is your ideal venue?” question on the IFF application with “a Victorian parlour,” we were thrilled. This is Charlottetown, Birthplace of Confederation! We love Victoriana.
When we went to check out the parlour at the Haviland Club, Jamie, its very enthusiastic manager, asked if we’d like a tour. It’s not every day that you get to explore a historic home in Charlottetown, so we happily agreed. But after a half hour of rooms leading into new rooms, I was a little fatigued. So when he asked if we’d like to see the attic, while a small part of me thought it would be neat, most of me wanted a nap.
When asked why I started the Island Fringe, I often say that it was because I want tourists to know that there’s more to PEI than potatoes and Anne of Green Gables. That said, it’s pretty impressive that a fictional character has lured millions of people from around the globe to PEI. Anne of Green Gables – The Musical, Canada’s longest running musical, premiered in 1965 at the Confederation Centre of the Arts’s Charlottetown Festival and has been playing seasonally ever since.
If I told you that no one wanted to lend us their grungy apartment for an hour a day so that we could stage a play about murder and corpse disposal in it, would you be surprised? I was. I seriously thought that some hip patron of the arts was going to shoot us a message saying, “Yeah, I’ve got a centrally located apartment with a big enough living room to seat 25-50 people and I’d be totally jazzed to lend it to you for the Fringe.” I was wrong.
I want to take you back to last August. I’m sitting in King Square alongside an audience made up of Islanders and tourists, some longstanding patrons of the arts, some less so – one group of teenaged guys has never seen a play before, but their buddy just called them saying they’ve got to check out this show he’s watching in the park.