Briefly introduce yourself/your company…
I’m Michelle Merlindt, a self- described literary adventuress – in other words I’m enthralled by stories, I’m a writer, poet, fanatical reader and keen world traveler. Forgotten fragments of history and culture seem like treasure to me and I’m always on the search for buried (or simply ignored) historical events that in turn sometimes inspire stories of my own. To be honest, I’d get more writing done if the world beyond the edge of my desk was not such a fascinating place. I’m the queen of tangents and these tangents, so tantalizing, often lead me in unexpected directions at headlong speed.
What is it that makes your work/company unique
As mentioned, I’m prone to tangents usually accompanied by attacks of sudden and intense enthusiasm. So it was that in 2018, for no apparent reason, I developed an obsession with Vienna, the capital city of Austria. After spending six months reading everything I could find in the library about it, I flew there that October by myself and spent ten days exploring that city. I was all alone. I didn’t take a mobile phone or camera – just concentrated on absorbing the atmosphere around me with no distractions, no constraints, no chatter, no media, no static. I stayed in a little family owned pension right in the historical heart of the city steps away from the great cathedral. The cathedral spire was my compass. Yet in ten days I barely scratched the surface of this city’s extraordinarily rich culture. Apart from the magnificent architecture, astounding art collections etc. I discovered that Vienna was and still is a city in love with music to an extent we in North America simply cannot comprehend. Once I returned home I slowly began work on the story that has become “The Songbird of Vienna”. It took more than a year to create (I’m a very slow worker). The story is pure fiction but it’s the kind of tale that could possibly have happened. I hope it conveys the spirit of Vienna.
What kind of experience do you hope audiences will have during your show?
Anybody who has ever owned a pet, rescued an animal or loved animals will identify with Franz and his special bond with the baby bird. Anybody who has ever tried to make a dream come true will identify with Franz as a struggling composer trying to make it in the big city. For Franz that city is Vienna in the 1800’s but these days it could just as easily be Hollywood or London or New York City – or Vancouver.
Without spoilers, tell us what you think audiences will remember most about your show?
I hope they will remember the resolution of the dilemma facing Franz. I hope they will take heart from the happy ending. This is an old school, old world, old fashioned story that I hope will give the audience a holiday from the current troubles of our modern era.
What do you think is the best thing about the Fringe?
I love the randomness. As an audience member I get a kick out of knowing that all these shows are the pure creations of offbeat talents that have not been forced to conform to any preconceived notion since the application process for VFF is by lottery and not by audition. Imagine – how must it be for the organizers of VFF? They plan for months, organize the venues and pull off this entire festival without ever knowing exactly what any of the shows are until it is all too late. How naive and trusting is that? And yet somehow every time it works. Magic! For myself as one of the performers, again, the lottery. I’m one of those people who never wins anything. Don’t get me wrong; I’m lucky in life but not in that way. I’m the kind of person who if I get at the end of the checkout line at the supermarket it will immediately stop moving – every single time! When I realized that I was one of the winners of the VFF lottery I almost fainted. I never really thought it would happen. Not to me.
What is the most important thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?
I hope people will leave feeling enriched, uplifted, inspired and above all entertained. I especially hope that those who only came because their girlfriend chose the show or who came because they couldn’t get into the show they really wanted end up surprised at how much they enjoyed it. I hope they will be glad they took the chance.