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Tara Travis went to high school with three sets of identical twins. Each twin had such a markedly different personality that it sparked an obsession. Despite being in virtually the same body, how did they end up being entirely unique people? Add watching a medical documentary about Fetus in Fetu (when twins occur, but one is absorbed by the other in the womb, remaining in the body of the surviving twin in a tumor-like state), and a clown character that Tara had kicking around for years, and you have the initial thrust behind the creation of The Unfortunate Ruth.
“What if it was the absorbed twin that lived?” Tara says, explaining the evolution of The Unfortunate Ruth, which will be performed February 5 to 7 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island.
“Ruth is cool with who she is, but Ruthie is wracked with self-loathing and insecurity,” Tara says of her characters. Ruthie undergoes plastic surgery to “repair” the physical traits that Ruth is okay with. Ruthie has also just undergone a big weight loss at the start of this story—an event that parallels Tara’s own experience. “It was like getting a new body,” Tara explains. “I thought it would fix everything, and all my insecurities would go away and I would suddenly become ‘magical, ideal me,’ but ultimately you’re still the same person at the core. Of course you should take care of the package you’re in, but in the end, that doesn’t change who you really are, and that’s something I wanted to explore in The Unfortunate Ruth.”
Tara’s script started off with 15 pages of material when she submitted it for the Playwrights Theatre Centre’s Fringe New Play Prize—an award she won in 2014. “I got a lot of great feedback from Kathleen [Flaherty] on how to proceed.”
Tara brought Fringe favourites, Mind of a Snail on board to develop visuals to tell the story of Ruth and Ruthie in utero. “At first I thought about making latex puppets,” Tara, who is well known as a puppeteer, explained. “But I thought they’d end up being too creepy.” The audience needs to be endeared to Ruth and Ruthie in fetus form.
While Mind of Snail’s visuals are still a vital part of the show, The Unfortunate Ruth has evolved since it was first at the Fringe. “It was still in its infancy then. I’ve since added to it,” Tara says. “I’ve added a voice to the mother character, which helps to round out the story. But it’s still funny and playful, of course.”
Tara’s looking forward to performing the deeply personal show in Studio 1398’s intimate setting. “Ruth and Ruthie are my two halves. It’s a very vulnerable show for me since, like everyone else, I don’t like showing my neurotic side,” Tara says. “But I can’t wait to get back in the skin of Ruth. She’s so dear to me. I miss her.”
The Unfortunate Ruth is on February 5 to 7 with just three performances. Tickets are available at TheatreWire.com.
Back in 2014, the Fringe staff and board came to the conclusion that the organization’s Mission Statement needed a revamp. While our Vision, “Theatre for Everyone” remains the same, the Fringe needed a Mission Statement that summed up the work we do, and aspire to do (including our newest project, Theatre Wire)—something that would inspire us on a daily basis and not just be copied and pasted into grant applications.
The Fringe’s External Affairs Committee spent hours reflecting on the Fringe’s past and looking to the future. They took the time to chat with many folks from the Fringe community, including artists, funders, and volunteers. Then after many long sessions with thesauri blazing, they carefully crafted this statement:
Then they took it back to our board and stakeholders. And they like it! They see it as “fun,” “fresh,” and “aspirational.” Now we want to hear from you! Take this short survey and let us know what you think!
If you consider yourself a Fringer, chances are you’ve already met Robyn Kurtz, the Fringe and Theatre Wire’s new Marketing Manager. Robyn started with the Fringe as a patron and then quickly stepped up to fill a variety of volunteer roles over the years. She’s also a donor—including getting her family in on Your Fringe for a Day! She’s served on the Fringe’s board of directors as well—not to mention she had her wedding reception at the Fringe Bar!
Clearly Robyn is a die-hard Fringe fan, which, in combination with her sales background, makes her the ideal person to sell the Fringe and Theatre Wire to Vancouver’s theatre lovers and the theatre curious.
“I am stoked to be joining such a rad team who all work so hard to cultivate theatre in Vancouver,” Robyn says. “Fringe is my passion and now it’s my job. I’m really grateful and excited to take on this new role!” The rest of us are excited to have her here too!
Advance Theatre: New Works by Women is a partnership between the Fringe, Ruby Slippers Theatre, and Equity in Theatre showcasing dramatic readings of plays written by women. Only 30% of artistic directors, working directors, and playwrights in Canadian theatre are women. This under representation led to Ruby Slippers’ Diane Brown to instigate this program, which had a successful inaugural year at the 2015 Festival.
Submissions for inclusion in the Advance Theatre: New Works by Women series at the 2016 Fringe are being accepted until February 15 only! If you’re a self-identified woman with a play ready for submission, read all about the process and apply now!
We’re sad to say that 2015 was the ninth and final year that La Siembra Co-operative, better known to you as Camino, was a Fringe Festival Partner.
Camino provided crucial support for Festival fundraising and helped us achieve a record year for the 2015 Raffle. Not only did Camino support the Raffle by providing a big basket full of goodies as the 4th Prize, but mini-chocolates were handed out to ticket purchasers throughout the Festival—solidifying a place in the hearts (and tummies) of Fringers!
Thanks so much to Camino, and in particular to Mélanie Broguet and Jennifer Alldred who helped us make this partnership the sweetest one ever. We will miss you and wish you all at Camino the very best in the future! Perhaps our paths will cross again—we certainly hope so!
Like Father, Like Son? Sorry.
Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
Chris Gibbs hasn’t been in the Vancouver Fringe for a few years, but this show about his newfound parenthood was part of the 2011 Festival, when the Georgia Straight’s Colin Thomas admitted that he was “still laughing at [Gibbs’] material the next morning.”
Closer Than Ever
February 4 – 20
Gateway Theatre MainStage
Love grows up: Art imitates life, and sometimes the other way around, in this very witty, slightly sassy, award-winning off-Broadway musical revue about the pleasures and pitfalls of “adulting”—including songs about sexcapades, one-way love affairs, life crises, multiple mis-marriages, parent-child role reversal, and growing old(er), gorgeously sung by Gateway’s seasoned ensemble cast.
February 9 – 13
Firehall Arts Centre
After a sold out run at the 2015 Vancouver Fringe as part of the Festival’s inaugural Dramatic Works Series, Little One went on to gain stellar reviews at the New York Fringe. Alley Theatre is now bringing Hannah Moscovitch’s dark tale of twisted adopted sibling back to the Firehall.
One-Man Dark Knight: A Batman Parody
February 18 – 21
Charlie Ross has wowed audiences around the world with his one-man renditions of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Now he’s taking on a new trilogy to perform with no sound effects, no costumes, and no props—Batman: The Dark Knight Trilogy.