Monday, July 22, 2013

The Question... Kristen Holfeuer on Matchstick (Fringe: Winnipeg)

Something Transcendent
by Estelle Rosen

Kristen Holfeuer is the founder of Kamikaze Archive Theatre which creates and produces inventive, movement-based, performative theatre. She is an original member of SKIT SKIT: live and filmed sketch comedy ensemble and a graduate of the One Yellow Rabbit Summer Intensive, Globe Theatre Conservatory Actor Training Program, and the University of Saskatchewan’s Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program.

CHARPO: Matchstick is described as historical not-very-fairy tale folk musical. Who is Matchstick and why should we see this show?

HOLFEUER: Matchstick is a true figure whose husband committed a crime that changed the trajectory of Western history. However we want you to get to know this woman through her own experiences and not just by the actions of her husband. This isn't merely a biographical play but rather a beautiful story of the desire for a better life (isn't this the very core of fairytales?). For that reason Matchstick's identity is kept secret until she is revealed during the performance. 

Matchstick is the nickname given to our hero at an early age. As our story begins we meet a fiery young woman dreaming of a better life when she encounters a charming foreigner, gets married, and emigrates to 'the land of opportunity and freedom'. This is where the not-very-fairytale comes into play. The traditional ending for Matchstick would be a life of unparalleled bliss and prosperity but instead she faces challenges many immigrants encounter: isolation caused by the inability to speak the native language, separation from her own cultural community, not to mention poverty, regret, and even fear.

So why should you see this? Sure it's a comedy and that's the best reason to see something (I'm kidding) but lately I've been thinking about the expression 'you had to be there'. This play has a lot of things that make a great show: an interesting script, talented actors, comedy and tragedy jammed up next to each other, live music, original artwork, a beautiful set... But beyond all this Matchstick is a play that is alive, there's a feeling of vitality that moves the play from just a good piece of theatre into something truly special -- where in order to understand it, you just had to be there. 

I'm a little amazed that I wrote that last paragraph. It seems like a silly thing to say to promote the show when I could focus on some other, more tangible detail -- like the fact that two actors play about 20 characters and five different instruments... But is that really as important as the fact that by seeing this show you could be a part of something transcendent? I don't say this boastfully (honestly, we didn't see this coming) but simply because I have been involved in other projects that for one reason or another didn't manage to make that leap and the difference in this case is notable. Ultimately Matchstick is a special thing that won't be around forever. I hope that's a good reason for audiences to see this show.

Matchstick is at the Winnipeg Fringe
Read our review of Matchstick

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