Monday, August 5, 2013

The Question... Jeff Leard on The Show Must Go On (Fringe: Calgary)

Road Trip!
I found the simple joy of driving around in a van telling stories to people.
by Estelle Rosen

Jeff Leard is an actor, writer, and storyteller based out of Toronto.  Originally he is from Victoria where he graduated from the University of Victoria with a BFA in acting. He has been touring the Fringe festival circuit with solo shows for three years.

Did the genesis for this play evolve from your experience working with touring children's theatre performers; what did you learn from this experience?

I have been around touring children's theatre performers for as long as I can remember.  My father runs The Story Theatre Company, a touring children's theatre company based out of Victoria that has been operating since before I was born.  That means that in my lifetime I have heard a LOT of stories from the road.  Every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, every Annual General Meeting that I was dragged to as a child were filled with tales of the adventures - or misadventures more often than not - of that year and years past as actors one upped each another for scariest road or worst hotel or strangest performance.  Now one might think that hearing all of these horror stories as a child I would have wanted to avoid such a fate myself and get a nice safe job with a steady pay cheque. A job where I would never run the risk of being stuck halfway between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay in February with broken chains madly trying to shovel kitty litter under the wheels to try to get traction.  But I had been taken in by the tales of adventures from the road.  So 20 years and a theatre degree later I found myself signing up to go on tour with The Story Theatre Company, ready to add my adventures - or misadventures if that be the case - to the canon.

when I was no longer concerned about having some epic adventure I could really appreciate the job

I spent two years touring with The Story Theatre Company, the first running from July until May and the second running only slightly protracted from the first.  In that time we travelled East as far as Halifax and North as far the Yukon.  The first thing I learned on the road was that in between those grand adventures was a lot of time spent sitting in hotel rooms playing poker with candy and watching whatever terrible movie may be playing on the hotel television.  And that traversing the wild expanse of Canada largely consisted of sitting in a bucket seat for eight hours a day.  The absence of adventure can be quite disappointing for a time.  Tedium can create a sort of myopic depressing malaise... until encountering one of those adventures, one of those big adventures, one of those barely escaping alive adventures.  After one of those adventures I learned to appreciate a tedious day. And when I was no longer concerned about having some epic adventure I could really appreciate the job.  I found the simple joy of driving around in a van telling stories to people.

The Show Must Go On was created after I finished my two years of touring, most of the stories told are based on actual events that occurred during my time on the road.  I have also thrown in some of my favourite stories that I was told as a child as part of the Story Theatre lore. Travelling stories have long been a favourite genre of mine, so when I had accumulated a few of my own it was only natural for me to put together a show and share these stories with the world.  And while the show is full of loads of wild, hilarious, and surprisingly true stories from the road; more than that it is a story about a young man going out into the world and discovering a career that he truly falls in love with.

The Show Must Go On is at the Calgary Fringe

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