And now, a quick look at some of the kind comments I’ve received about The Hatter.
The Hatter drew an enthusiastic applause at the showcase.
Yes, well, that’s all good, but what about the show itself? Well, according to Susannah Joyce at Beat Magazine, who gave the show three out of four stars…:
Much of the writing is… clever and funny, with a polished, lyrical style. An invitation to sing “A Very Merry UnBirthday”, with words thoughtfully printed out in the Program, was well received by everyone.
Story is important to the Hatter.
The battle with The Jabberwocky is enjoyable theatre, with very good use of audience participation and well designed costumes and props to enhance the visual effect.
The Hatter is an admirable effort and a worthwhile visit inside the mad workings of Wonderland.
The London Free Press and Joe Belanger later followed up with a review of their own:
Wade’s performance as the jaded, lonely Hatter is a delight, convincing and poignant, not quite what one would expect, which is perfect for a Fringe festival.
The Hatter is a fun show that children might find entertaining, although their parents are sure to feel a little on edge from the tea party upon their arrival through to the opening scene and the show’s poignant conclusion.
You quickly learn to expect the unexpected, which can only be attributed to Wade’s fine acting skills. To maintain that tension for 50 minutes is no easy feat.
The Hatter is a show well worth catching.
During the run, perhaps my favourite comment which I personally received was:
At the end there, it really got me in the feels.
And finally (for now), I received a lovely email after my last performance in London:
Hi Andrew or Hatter or Ernest.
My boys (one of whom put ketchup in his tea by choice) and I really enjoyed your show at The London Fringe.
You have a great voice, a terrific imagination, good tea and hilarious songs.
We loved your impromptu song about trying to get elephants to fly.
Thank you for the story about the Albatross. It gave me an opportunity to tell my boys about The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Hope you enjoyed your time here in London and made some good dough.
And we hope you continue to act and sing and create.
Come back to London next year.
Makes all the hard work worthwhile. I look forward to seeing how Ottawa receives the show! Thursday beckons! (Tickets available here!)
Nine hours of Greyhounds later, I arrive in Ottawa, lugging my two giant suitcases out of the bus, wishing I hadn’t packed such a props heavy show. But it’s a good show.
The bus was an hour late, but my billets only live what should be a half-hour walk away. Outside the bus depot, I stop and put on an extra shirt to cover up from the chill night air, an hour chillier than I was expecting. While there, a taxi driver offers a lift. At a cost, of course, but as a minimum wage worker who expects to lose money during his stay in this town (due to Bring-Your-Own-Venue fees), eh, I’ll save the money and walk with all my gear.
I forget in that moment how uncomfortable it is to have a backpack heavily laden with a huge brick of a laptop. A backpack whose straps have each broken earlier in my tour, and so now are held on by uncompromising, unextendable duct-tape, so that one strap is longer than the other, creating quite a lot of strain on my left shoulder.
I immediately regret my decision not to just take the taxi.
Three or four short but-oh-so-long blocks later, I am passing by a Subway sandwiches restaurant when a woman in the parking lot, a propos of anything, offers me a ride to wherever it is I’m going. Clearly she could see my Sisyphian struggle rolling my body’s weight across the pavement, and took in my Mad Hatter’s hat, perceiving that I wasn’t a threat to her or her daughter.
I swear, traveling is just improving my already high opinion of strangers, tenfold. Just so gosh darn nice.
We stop at my new billet’s place, where the couple I am staying with, Dean and Ruth, are waiting outside on the porch to greet me. Them and their giant black dog. I thank my ride and leave them with a business card and promise to offer them comps, but they want to pay for tickets to support me. Hopefully I hear from them.
At this point, all I know about my billets are that they have a giant dog, that they don’t own a vehicle, and… and that the man looks and dresses like the prototypical Amish gentleman. Like someone who would be right at home at a barn-raising, right down to the impressive and impressively sculpted facial hair. I have an immediate wonder as to whether or not their home will have electricity.
Half an hour of conversation later (in the well-lit, not-at-all-a-barn home), I discover that my billet is a storyteller who will be performing a version of Moby Dick. Which explains the facial hair somewhat. (Though his wifi internet password DOES relate to Amish communities, not to be any more specific about it.)
(He is clearly a complex man.)
But here I am, in the nation’s capital, eager and ready to take in a new environment. I mean, London was nice, but if you had told me I was off in a corner of Victoria or somewhere slightly inland from Abbotsford, I might have believed you.
Thus far, I’m finding that people are genuine and kind to me wherever I go, and that most of the stores are the same across the country, or have near to identical analogues, anyhow. Far more similarities than differences, in all but the wildlife. Which makes sense. With the ready ease at which people can travel across this country, similarities and homogenous communities are bound to emerge. But the porcupine crossing the road outside Ottawa won’t make his way into Richmond any time soon, nor the beautiful magpie stuck in the Calgary airport terminal, or the large turtle outside the rest-stop midway between Toronto and Ottawa, unwilling to decide whether or not he dare try to cross the highway.
I’ve got a startling two more months left in my own migration pattern this summer. The odds of me actually going Mad doing all this traveling by myself are still rather high, for those of you taking bets. And this is apparently an absolutely no gluten household, which also doesn’t have a blender, so there goes essentially how I make all of my meals. SO! Got to figure out how to survive on more than apples and bananas. Hrmm.
This should be quite an interesting two weeks! With all that’s ahead of me, I really am looking forward to sharing The Hatter with this city, the capital.
In London, I was visiting a small city solely for Fringing purposes. In Toronto, I will be exploring the city where most of my classmates moved to, post-graduation, seeking a world of greater performing opportunities (both stage and film, nowadays) and greater government funding and support. (My beloved BC has more artists per capita than any other province, but by FAR the least amount of funding per capita for the arts.)
But Ottawa is different.
I don’t have a lot of childhood memories, I don’t think. But I do remember with some details my father’s ill-fated run for office with the Reform Party, back in, oh, 1994 or so. It’s only natural for boys to admire their fathers, but I had good reason to – he really wanted to be a public servant, to represent and help his constituents on the national stage, and while he may not have achieved that dream, that noble goal still resonates with me. In the background of my life I find myself quietly, slowly, training. A few years on Senate at UVic. A leadership role with Peer Helping. Studying political blogs and current affairs. All awaiting for that day when I’m in my 40′s when I may very well aim to be public servant in some capacity, at some level, myself. So, to find myself in Ottawa! Time for a little exploration, another building block to mount atop another.
But that goal is some sixteen years away. Let’s get back to the present. Back to a tea party. Back to a bed lined with giant dog hairs, my kind, not-Amish hosts, two overflowing suitcases, and three fringe festivals to prep for.
Hello, Ottawa! I have so looked forward to meeting you.
(P.S.: You can buy tickets to my show here!:
Just wanted to share with you my posters for my upcoming tour of The Hatter! I have a pack of posters for each city sitting and waiting for me to pick up from the printer downtown, and I can’t wait to see them in person!
Hope to see some of you at the show!
As part of his project EveryDayMusic, Rod Matheson filmed some of our closing matinee performance of Beggar’s Opera! And now the footage has gone live, so I wanted to share it with all you lovely folk!
(I’m the shorter masked prisoner who is singing at the very start of the clip. My chief role was as Filch, but the happy prisoner was my favourite. )
The show was adapted and directed by David Newham, with music composed and directed by Daniel Deorksen.
(These reviews are now up on The Martlet’s website at
About four or so years ago, I took a CD and a chamber play from the box-of-things-to-review in The Martlet’s office with the promise to write up a review and send it in.
Two years ago, I graduated. Tonight, the CD and the play still sit on my desk. So these reviews are a story about my inability to finish a to-do list or work without a deadline. They are also a story about how stubbornly honest I am. I made a promise. Here I am fulfilling it. Far too late to matter to anyone but myself, but here we go:
Chad Michael Stewart‘s Machete Avenue
(save me from myself.) When I first picked up this CD, with its darkened image of a person seemingly drowning as roots reach out through his cheeks, his hands, and the hollows of his eyes… I was worried it’d be full of screaming metal tracks attempting to summon angry parents into their teenager’s basement bedrooms. (please don’t fade.) A CD like that I would have listened to once, written something about how the CD wasn’t ‘for me’, and sent off a review within a week. Machete Avenue isn’t like that. (another blank face calms the angry crowd.)
Machete Avenue exists in the room just beside ‘I really like this album’, which is to say, there are moments in life when it just feels appropriate. (beautifully broken.) Right for what’s happening in my life. Stewart writes plaintive, sad, spiritual odes to doubt and something which isn’t quite heartbreak, but rather, the loss of slowly drifting apart. (I’ve become your sad song.)
(without hope there is nothing left but empty frames.) With song titles like Crosses and Mercy of Angels, there is something inescapably Christian about this album, but rather than bursting into praise, it sings the stories of a man in despair. (we have to find a way to let the grace remain.)
His emotions are real, raw, and relatable, which is why I keep coming back to these tracks when I need music to share in my darker thoughts. (what takes years to build takes seconds to fall.) After at least four years, I still listen to this CD. And now I can do so without such a lingering sense of guilt.
Tortoise Boy, a chamber play by Charles Tidler
In my defence, not long after chose this play from the box of items-to-be-reviewed, I was placed in a class with Charles as my professor. Reviewing his work in a campus newspaper seemed to me to be a tactically and tactfully poor choice at the time. But no more!
Chamber plays are works written as though for the stage, but which are either intended solely to be read, or are intended to be performed in the sparsest manner, without sets or costumes. In Tidler’s case, this play takes the form of stories told by the characters, rather than scenes. Within the first fifteen pages we hear innocent voices and dark tales of alcohol and child abuse, murder, and Clifford Olsen. Hints of dialogue litter the pages, with moments of interaction between the characters, but we are never allowed to sit in any present moment or breathe in a scene. Instead, we stay detached, living within the current storyteller’s memories and point of view.
Sing me any song you want to sing except the song I cannot hear.
Like poetry, the play jumps, flits from moment to emotion to moment, all while forcing us to move at the pace of performance.
Does juxtaposing a sad story with a laugh track make it even sadder?
The drowned man is the only one still allowed in the pool.
Many of his phrases are brilliant, witty, and poetic. The tales the characters tell have the ability to tug on your heartstrings. But it all comes together like a book of short stories – all with the same author, and a similar style. I like the parts, but when the poetry and form separates everything into its own world, a concluding, satisfying sentiment is difficult to find.
And now I can clear a corner of my to-do table, and breathe a little more freely.
UVic Alumnus (BA, BFA)
(I wrote this piece originally a month ago for a competition in The Ring, the University of Victoria’s self-published vanity newspaper. The competition asked for visions of what campus might look like in fifty years’ time. Predicting the future is always fun!
It wasn’t chosen as one of their winners.)
The UVic of 2063.
The UVic of 2063 focuses on the strengths of the university system. Acknowledging the value of social and career connections made while at university, almost every building on campus comes equipped with cafes serving free coffee and tea for students (with charges for treats and fancier drinks). Large seating areas are the norm, rather than the exception.
Within classrooms, this atmosphere of shared experiences continues, with most courses focusing on in-community projectwork and small group discussions. One perhaps startling transformation has been the elimination of lecture classes, whose material is now almost exclusively packaged as digital ‘pre-homework’ to be accessed before classes even officially begin. As a result, most lecture halls on campus have been converted into performance spaces or renovated to accomodate multiple smaller classes. Esteemed ‘celebrity’ professors occasionally holographically lead classes from the comfort of their own homes.
Also within the classroom, there has been a near-complete transition from chairs to standing desks (save for those with physical difficulties). Standing desks have even now been proven to boost acuity, productivity, and health. And in a world where most students have wearable computers and implanted enhancements powered by the sugars and pulses of their wearers’ bloodstreams, the institution can hardly ask students to set aside their technology before entering the classroom. Instead, classes encourage the use of in-the-moment digital research techniques not only for projects, but also for use while contributing to conversations.
All around campus, building on UVic’s identity as an eco-conscious campus, after decades spent eliminating wildlife on campus – first with the rabbits, which in turn removed the owls and hawks, and then later removing deer after two high-profile car accidents – the university administration has pulled an aboutface and diligently worked to reintroduce as many species to the campus environment as possible. This has included a healthy rabbit population, once architectural improvements were made to secure building foundations from the burrowing animals.
With sustainability in mind, most trees, plants, and bushes on campus now produce edible crops, with students encouraged to snack on apples, plums, pears, blackberries, and raspberries – or even a dandelion leaf or stalk of kale – between classes. While grassy fields still exist outside the main library and as fields for sporting events, all other formerly non-functional lawnspace on university land has been allowed to grow into natural landscapes.
In an effort to promote higher education, the provincial and federal governments have set up two student loan systems, one similar to our current model, and another aimed at making education more accessible, which instead deducts a percentage of the student’s earnings for ten years post-graduation, effectively functioning as an income tax.
One misstep was the construction of a new intestine-inspired building, found to be even more confusing to navigate than Cornett. On the whole, however, the UVic of 2063 is a vibrant, active learning community treasured for its education experience.
(Not too bad, eh? A few neat extrapolations based on current trends, a few in-jokes for UVicers… well, I like it, anyway.)