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It is virtually impossible to miss that it’s clearly ‘festival’ season in St. John’s, NL. From the Nickel to Wreckhouse and on to the Festival of New Dance, there is absolutely no shortage of entertainment. With Neighbourhood Dance Works (NDW) at the helm for the 19th season, the Festival of New Dance has packed a baker’s dozen of performances and presentations in from July 21 to 26th, along with a sprinkling of parties throughout.
What’s exceptionally interesting this year are some of the venues. Calla Lachance, Program and Publicity Administrator, explains planning for this year’s festival was challenging but worthwhile. “Without the LSPU Hall, you begin to realize how limited downtown is for presenting certain forms of art, dance in particular. This city really needs another mid-size theatre that can accommodate more performance art,” Lachance says, adding her voice to the many from within the arts community who’ve been recently lobbying for a new venue.
The challenge uncovered venues that “mightn’t have otherwise been considered and as a result we’re bringing life to all sorts of little pockets throughout St. John’s; it is really exciting,” Lachance concedes. “Our audience is going to love our venues and the artists we’re showcasing are some of the biggest names in the contemporary dance scene.”
With a desire to keep venues within walking distance from one another in the downtown area, NDW looked up its options Lachance continued, “it’s exciting because we had to visualize how other spaces might work and what would best showcase dance artists.” The mix of venues turned out as eclectic as the dance, including the Kirk, A1C Gallery, Cochrane Street United Church, Wild Lily Dance Centre as well as three outdoor venues like Pippy Park, the Eastern Edge Gallery parking lot and stairs adjacent to the Supreme Court. Look out!
Some highlights of this year’s presentation include streamings, choreographed by St. John’s native Tammy MacLeod featuring Andrea Tucker, taking place at the Kirk July 25th and 26th. Also, two-time Dora Award winning choreographer Susie Burpee from Toronto has created The Rolling Parlour Cabaret, at the A1C Gallery, its title inspired by Winnipeg singer/songwriter Christine Fellows who performs live within the show.
For MacLeod, having streamings be part of it all is an honour, “the Festival is one of the few times contemporary dance takes centre stage, it can springboard presentations into other festivals. Exposure and focus on the work with a professional venue to present in; ultimately, the festival provides a showcase.”
The show was inspired by Sylvia Plath’s poem Last Words as well as an organic working process with the dancer, Andrea. streamings attempts to create a world for its only character, constructing landscapes of awareness, integrated and disintegrated, she is “lilting in the regions of her imagination, she is the architect of her own mind. Pools of black and an opening to the present, she captures her essence and reconstructs her world.”
Working with Victor Tilley for lighting and Chris Driedzic on the complimenting soundscape which includes recordings of Rennie’s River and a soda can, the show developed over improvisation. “As the movement vocabulary emerged so did the chairs, black holes and the possibility of emulating birth on stage. The birth imagery has remained consistent through the many incarnations.” Originally MacLeod was also on stage when the work was informally presented at the Backdoor Cabaret in January 2008 (then titled Trusting Chairs).
For Susie Burpee, the ability to perform cabaret-style is an attractive feature of the Festival of New Dance. She was drawn by a call for works that could be performed outside of a traditional theatre-style venue. Her 45 minute show is armed with “themes of solitude, fragility and fortitude,” she explains. Credited by the Toronto Star with an ability to showcase “fully human characters struggling for connection,” Burpee uses “metaphor that exists in movement, song and special objects” to convey the world’s wonder and fragility.
The Rolling Parlour Cabaret marks the fifth time that Burpee has collaborated with Christine Fellows and initially was inspired by “the idea of spinsterhood,” Burpee shares. “I am interested in movement that is transformative and creates a character for the stage,” she adds. Burpee’s signature presentation style is a fusion of vivid imagination and bold choreography. Her background in theatrical study supplemented with dance training gives her work a point of view like no other. And Burpee’s studies continue, having recently attended L’Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris for Bouffon.
As for MacLeod, she will be continuing to train with her colleagues and independently, adding her need to “rely on the community of dancers to develop my craft and hone my skills as a mover and choreographer.”
More information on either of these shows as well as a full festival schedule, program notes and biographies are available at www.neighbourhooddanceworks.com. To check out any of the presentations of the 19th Annual Festival of New Dance, tickets and passes can be purchased at the Holy Heart Theatre box office in person or by phone at 579-4424.
Now on its 4th road show, the Nickel is ready to hit the pavement. In total, 10 films go on the road but this year, half of them are from first timers! The Nickel has a history of supporting new and emerging filmmakers so it’s no surprise to that they flock to it with their first films. Welcomed with no hesitation, The Nickel believes the purpose of independent festivals like theirs is to inspire new and experienced filmmakers to submit anything. “New filmmakers bring fresh thoughts and ideas to the table and we’re usually very impressed with the work,” said Executive Director Ruth Lawrence, making selection for the road show that much easier. “The films selected for the road show are based on some of the most popular selections from the previous year’s festival!”
The ‘firsts’ come through a variety of sources that include NIFCO, CNA and MUN or they’ve simply been produced independently. Ruth stopped packing up for a moment to tell me a bit more about them:
What are these 5 first timer’s films about?
Moose Adventures (Stephenville): A “modern” hunter meets his match in a battle of wits. A collaborative animation project, CNA class of 2008, directed by David Gale.
One of Us Cannot Be Right (St. John’s): Embittered by a recent break-up, Mandy seeks comfort at a bar frequented by the lonely and reclusive. Here she meets Mike. Undeniably drawn to one another, their mutual irritation quickly turns to attraction. Directed by Jacqueline Hynes.
Lionel Lonely Heart (St. John’s): A broken-hearted middle aged man begins to receive mysterious roses in the mail. Lionel begins to seek out his secret admirer. Directed by Stephen Dunn through the NIFCO first time filmmaker’s course.
Mary Power (St. John’s): The film honours the life of Mary Power and helps to preserve the rich traditions which she’s been a part of. A colourful piece and a must for anyone who loves a good story. Directed by Michelle Jackson.
City Song (St. John’s): A look at the life of Steve Doiron, a local busker. Everyone knows him as “the guy with the dog” who plays on the corner of George and Water Street. The doc introduces the man behind the music. Directed by Justin Madol, Nicci Hearn and Victoria Wells through MUN’s Performance and Communications Media Program.
What is the goal of doing this road show?
It’s to showcase some of our best films from the previous year to broaden exposure for local and international short films. It’s not often areas outside of St. John’s have the opportunity to view a selection of short independent films and the road show can interest and inspire budding filmmakers from all over Newfoundland. It’s important to support local talent so we ensure there is always an array of local material up on the screen.
What can people expect for the 2009 Nickel?
With the LSPU Hall closed for renovations we had to find another location for screening so we moved to the INCO building at MUN. So far we’ve had an abundance of submissions both local and internationally, as far away as Israel! We’re seeing innovative animations, thought provoking dramas, wonderful comedies, cutting edge experimental films and some really great horror shorts. We can already see the selection process being challenging! You can expect our children’s matinee and late night horror screenings as well as informative workshops taught by leading industry filmmakers.
The Nickel film festival will take place from June 23 – 27 with the road show busily drumming up excitement in Stephenville, Corner Brook and Clarenville throughout March. Tickets are only $10 and you get a 90 minute presentation. Go to www.nickelfestival.com for more details.
- Joshua Jamieson
The initial plan had been to review No Exit, as that was a theatre script that was familiar, it would’ve been interesting to see how it was translated through modern dance. Opting to attend the performance of Nora Chipaumire was certainly no second prize though. Her one woman show called Chimurenga, meaning ‘struggle’ was, in a word, fantastic. It had the ability to transport an audience from St. John’s, Newfoundland to small and untouched corners of nature in Africa.
The show is a three part presentation with an incredibly dynamic soundscape that is a clash of nature, “civilized” modernity, and cultural expression. Even the stage was designed beautifully. Chipaumire started stage left between two small piles of rocks, the three of them framed in a rhombus of light. Behind her, up stage right, was a delightful mobile of different shapes and sizes of handmade African bowls, with one sitting on the stage next to the massive cluster. For the majority of the first act, a video projection from Californian composer and filmmaker Alex Potts lit up the black brick wall behind the art piece representing African culture like an elephant in the theatre. This juxtaposition is what ultimately communicated what the show was going to be about.
Chipaumire was born in Mutare, the fourth largest city in Zimbabwe – boasting only a few thousand more then St. John’s. She now lives in self-exile as a result of the war and second revolution that she was born into and Chimurenga is an unapologetic and assertive expression of what life was like, what was lost, and cultural preservation. It was a privilege to be taken to Africa with Chipaumire on a journey that showed raw personal struggle and protection of identity in a world where the technological pace towards modernity is sometimes crushing.
Most of the movements throughout the first act were circular and repetitious, but presented almost in a choral round. She would swing her arm left to right in front of her then pull and rub the fabric of her shirt on the right side. It was almost like she was perhaps washing clothes in the Mutare River. She mixed this in with glimpses of an African dance she would later show to the audience in its entirety. At one point in the first act under dimmer lighting, Chipaumire knelt down to the small pile of rocks and moved them around frantically, running her hands through them then stacking them up and allowing their clamour to contribute to the African drums and sounds.
Bridging into the second act she sang in a native language that instantly brought the Métisse song Boom Boom Ba to mind, mainly because that too has African lyrics and let’s face it, it’s not a language often heard – but it was so beautiful. Chipaumire not only sang through a blackout, she did so while changing on stage. The first act saw her in a top and pants style outfit and she was in a dress for both the second and third acts, though the colour changed from black to red during her second change.
The second act of the show was the conflict, the soundscape introduced a modern song with rapped lyrics and dance movements became sharper, harder, even aggressive. Chipaumire at one point stood on one leg and put the other directly up in the air and moved her arms as if she was running. The perspective was like a bird’s eye view, looking down at her below. When the intense movement stopped, she stood down close to the audience and cried out that she was a child of trauma, a child of repression, and a child of revolution among many other things. Then she broke out in to the chorus of the African dance, showing a little more of it this time, literally as well as she’d pulled down her dress and was bearing her chest, bearing her soul.
The final act left the chaos behind and the stage was lit with nature gobo’s, splashing leaves and light through the tree tops onto the stage. Chipaumire went to retrieve the bowl and held it on her head in a blood red dress. The mood that she was communicating through movements was completely opposite to what had been seen prior. In this act she performed a dance that seemed a little familiar. It only became obvious when she reached a point in the dance that she’d shown the audience a glimpse of before. The performance had a superb and beautiful crescendo that was very enjoyable to sit back and watch as the story unfolded. It was clear that so much thought had been invested into the performance that represented triumph and survival in more ways then one.
Before taking in Nan Loves Jerry there’d been cautioning as the first night was ‘just a preview’. Preview or not Sherry White and Sue Kent have put together a terrifically entertaining presentation. The show struck a delicate balance between tongue in cheek humour with moments that almost seemed raw and delicate.
Nan Loves Jerry is a one person show that’s both written and performed by Kent. The initial character, Jerry, is the one that anchors the show and is by far the more publicly recognizable of the two. In fact, there was no expectation to see anyone other then Jerry, though that was quickly dispelled when lights went up revealing a bed with none other then Nan herself in it. Although “Nan” was only physically present three times, her character is who ultimately lent weight to the plotline.
First introduction to Kent and Jerry was through a short video Kent had made with director Jordan Canning when the ideas for a full script were still nothing more then conceptual. The video was entertaining in its own right but seemed to lack the depth needed for a full show. A second presumption quickly destroyed as it was so easy to laugh and listen to Nan as if she was family. She brought up her own values in a tidy bundle, clearly important to her as they were listed a good three or four times when the moment invited her to do so, even with slightest opportunity. They showed a younger side, even in her aged wisdom. Kent delivered Nan’s values as though they were meant to be adhered to but also with the slightest uncertainty and variation each time so it was questionable as to whether she herself followed them.
It makes sense to look at Jerry and understand why he is the way that he is. Kent’s worked hard to show that people are products of their environments. But more touching is how she’s demonstrated that it’s possible to find emotional profundity within people typically dismissed casually by general society. Jerry is abrasive, rude, and vulgar in many ways at many times. But it seems Kent has written the show with ‘excess’ in mind, an accessory in her execution of comedy.
Even though Jerry is less then colloquial when speaking about women and hardly graceful about how he goes after ‘Brown Eyes’ (a young woman whom he tries to woo in his spare time away from Nan’s errands for bananas). A scene comes to mind with Jerry hovering over a series of five or so cordless phones in Nan’s bathroom, trying to rotate handsets to call her so as to seem a little less compulsive. Jerry’s actions aren’t always the best thought out plans but more precious were the seconds where his motivations for doing so shone through almost defensively.
Nan Loves Jerry was pensively creative and made full use of a completely stripped stage space. The legs and all curtains had been removed and the full black space was turned into an imaginative playground. Kent pulled on just enough to set a room’s tone and left creating the rest of the space up to the audience. The creation of the bathtub scene was brilliant, using the old cot style bed to double as the tub draped in white fabric with a portable very classic 360 degree chrome shower curtain stand. Kent then climbed on top of the bed and poked through the curtains as Nan.
While this was an invariably creative way to create the tub space, Kent then led into a conversation between Nan and Jerry. She stood on the bed to poke out over the top of the curtain, becoming Jerry in the shower. Understandably, the dialogue between the two moved too quickly for her to have gone from standing in the shower as Jerry to poking out through the curtains again as Nan. So the solution was to just look left for Nan speaking and right for Jerry. The profile approach did work very well, but it seemed like the setting should have changed to accommodate that part. This is probably a fair place to also admit that taking in Nan Loves Jerry was a first time experience at a one-person show; and there was an effort to keep reminded of that fact.
It would be unfair to not give a nod to the fantastic lighting design as well. It was nothing extraordinary, but again, creative approaches to making the space work and encouraging the audience to envisage their own familiar reality, or in a personal case, the various settings from the YouTube short as they seemed to fit easily enough. The lighting was framed to form boarders and blocks on the stage that created doors, which worked particularly well for the many times Jerry was buzzed in (often after 11pm much to Nan’s chagrin).
The highlight for many though was likely the first of three times Jerry picked up his bicycle with almost celebrity audience appeal. Before switching from Nan to Jerry, after trading in the bright pink fuzzy house coat for Jerry’s signature blue windbreaker suit, Kent unapologetically turned around to face the audience, sharply putting on a mascara moustache with two confidant strokes. It takes guts to bare all and perform personal work on stage and while Nan Loves Jerry may not be flawless, it was performed extremely well, showing Kent’s incredible diversity as an actor.
originally published April 2008
A line in the press release read, “it is abandoned and joyful, intimate and tender,” not only is “it” those things but it’s also touted as “flirting with obscenity” and “notoriously adventurous,” the latter from Toronto Life magazine. With all those condensed words in just the opening paragraph, instantly you would think – this is a show that has to be seen.
So what is “it”? It’s a show that’s been travelling abroad and through Canada that included a stop at the LSPU Hall. Neighbourhood Dance Works made the jump to bring /DANCE/SONGS/ to St. John’s in partnership with a Toronto based production company. The show is the latest creation of Artistic Director Ame Henderson who has worked with under Public Recordings which she created “in 2004 as a vehicle for the production and dissemination of performance work of an interdisciplinary nature.”
It’s a perfect fit for Henderson who says that /DANCE/SONGS/ is “a dance in the shape of a rock show,” which sounds like something Bjork would think up. The clash of two typically dissimilar art mediums that are separated by their differences; and sure enough when I was presented with the visual feast it was indeed a clash of sound, dance, and video but there was some twisted beauty within that complete chaos. Henderson has combined them because of their differences, disrupting “the dance concert with wit, energy and excess,” just like a good ‘n proper rock show.
There certainly had to be a lot of pent up energy in the performers. The show features Chad Dembski, who was nominated for a Dora Award for Best Performance, along with Claudia Fancello, from Montreal who has worked on a number of Henderson’s shows. Rounding out the cast very distinctly is Matija Ferlin who is originally from Berlin, Germany and seemed to be meant for /DANCE/SONGS/. It is without question a physically demanding performance leaving its cast looking as though they’d been put through the ringer by the end. Smiling between each song, it’s evident that they love what they’ve created and snap into other versions of themselves immediately at the first tone, note, or noise of the soundscape behind the next performance.
Henderson also recruited Eric Craven. He’s the guy behind the music – ever so important for a show based in dance shaped like a rock concert. That was recognized by the Toronto Alliance for the Performance Arts at the 2006 Dora Awards, where Craven got a nomination for his contributions to /DANCE/SONGS/. Some parts of the soundscape had touches of a Daft Punk flavour which really worked for me as well as the more mellow pieces and the interesting ways that sound was used. A mic being put entirely in one performer’s mouth to make a repeating and rather grotesque noise is one example coming to mind. Admittedly, part of me was distracted thinking about how unsanitary that was.
If there was any critique to be made it would stem from that wondering of my thoughts in that there were perhaps some things that carried on for a little too long. It would be fair to say that /DANCE/SONGS/ is not for everyone. It is a show that is more interpretive than most, even for a dance production. It was incredibly organic which really worked for the show and there were times that it was difficult to determine if the performers were either constantly in character or if they were all just really being themselves as members of a band would be. Sometimes it seemed like something that was a living art piece, like I was really in an art gallery, not a theatre.
A highlight was a piece introduced as Milk Carton, which seemed to have the most dictated ‘story’ being told in the song. It was communicating the idea of being lost, missing people on the sides of milk cartons. Also of note was the piece where the three performers did yoga-like manoeuvring up against the raw back wall which was flooded with a live video close up shot of what was going on. In fact the live video was consistently interesting and almost added a fourth presence on stage. Daniel Arcé, who directed the live shots, added a new dimension by showing the audience things up close and extremely personal.
The show is meant to be that way and Ferlin directly spoke to the idea of personal space before introducing a piece at one point. Not to mention the fact that the stage was set up in a round with seats on the sides as well as in front and as if that wasn’t getting close enough, the performers told everyone to pull their seats up as close as possible for the encore. It without a doubt gave a different experience being closer and did make it all the more interesting.
originally published April 2008
I met Jillian Keiley though the Diploma in Performance and Communications Media and she’s kept me stunned ever since. In a good way. She’s always up to something, and not just something – something damned interesting. The entire team of people that contribute to Artistic Fraud do so using each of their own talents and it always blends seamlessly in to a final product that seems effortless. Though, I’m sure most know the difference. The production company’s next presentation fills those big shoes and gets back to the heart of the matter.
What’s Fear of Flight about?
The basic story is the journey of 14 people on board a plane and how they go from one place to the other. The play is really about fear. Some people on the plane are afraid; some have no fear of flying, but are afraid of events in their own lives. We see how they take off, challenge the fears and if they resolve them.
Who are the main people on the flight?
The original piece had 30 students from Grenfell College; in that production we focused on the stories of nine characters. In this production we’ve cut the passengers down to 14, but now we get to know everyone. You think about a plane in the sky or a plane crashing with all those people onboard all we can think of is the magnitude of the number of people on board. It’s difficult to break that down to all of those lives that were onboard. Although this is a big chorus and big ensemble show, it’s really important that each player is fully developed, intricate, recognizable and individual in character.
How did this show come together?
Maybe 10 years ago, Torquil Colbo and I discussed a musical on an airplane that had a passenger chorus. It started out with two pilots marching down a line singing “We are the pilots! Nous sommes les pilots!” Somehow this piece spun out; now it’s nothing at all like the original idea. One of the neat things is that each of the passengers is written by a different author- so just like on a plane, each character has a totally individual voice. We had some of Canada’s best playwrights, and feel pretty lucky to have such varied and excellent characters; they’re really great; funny, sad, wonderful. Robert Chafe took the monologues that we commissioned and blended them together.
What really prompted the kernel idea for this production?
I’ll admit that I have suffered heavily from a ‘fear of flight’ since I was young. The first time I flew was to cadet camp in New Brunswick. For some reason I ended up on a government plane and was seated next to a pretty recognizable politician – I think it was John Crosbie. Anyway, we hit some turbulence, and I actually threw up on him.
So, how’s Artistic Fraud getting back to its roots?
We’ve been developing a way of creating shows since 1995 using big groups and large choral movement. For the past few years, we’ve been concentrating on smaller shows, with anywhere from one person to seven. Our original pieces had anywhere from 45-81. It changed when we became a professional company- it became difficult to pay for a large cast. We’ve prioritized large casts again and refigured our budgets and made it happen. It’s pretty gratifying.
How was the soundscape developed for this show?
It’s one of the most interesting elements, the choreography is pretty elaborate and was written around tunes that I picked which matched characters as they were speaking – we did this fun thing making it what was on their headphones. In the original we used Miles Davis, from the 80′s Hold Me Now, some classical pieces. The new score was commissioned from Jonathan Monro who’s a genius. He took the original choreography and wrote new music that fit the same timing and climaxes, big rests and large accents. Then I was able to blend the original choreography with some new more complex pieces. It was a fantastic way to work and how his brain put that all together, I’ll never know.
What kind of reaction have you gotten so far?
The workshop version from Grenfell was very successful and played Magnetic North. A lot of artistic directors saw the show- and in fact we were invited this year to bring the piece to a Moscow theatre festival. We didn’t have enough notice to make it happen but it was nice to be asked. There are several presenters and festivals coming to the Hall to check it out for programming in their own seasons. It looks like the show can travel and we’ll hope to tour the mainland and beyond next year.
Who can we look forward to seeing on stage in Fear of Flight?
It’s a big choral show- the music is gorgeous – it’s all a capella singing so it’s a very fine listening experience. The choreography is pretty neat and the text is just great – it’s the actors who are the superstars of this show, they sing, dance and act but it’s not like a musical exactly. You’ll really just have to come see it!
If you were to pick a character that was most like you, who would it be?
I think Dennis, played by Andrew Dale, might reflect my own journey through my fear of flying – he starts paralyzed by his fear and eventually manages to conquer it; I say the show is about fear but its not really, it’s about courage. For people who are afraid of dogs it’s very courageous for them to pet one. For people who are afraid of speaking in public it’s very courageous to take a role in a play. I love dogs and theatre – doing that stuff means nothing to me; but getting on a plane used to be horrifying. I fly for my living these days, though I wish I could be home more. But I somehow had to shake this thing- I took all kinds of drugs, lots of airplane booze, different kinds of solutions. But eventually I just had to force myself to give it up or give up my job. So I gave in and now even enjoy flying a bit. I think of all the things I do that takes a bit of guts, one of the things I’ve done that I’ve been most proud of is, actually just getting me on a plane. Next year I’ve got a job in Tasmania, and I’m ready to go for it.
How can people check out Fear of Flight?
The show opens April 29th at the LSPU Hall and runs till May 11th. It’s at 8pm and there’s a PWYC matinee at 2pm on the 4th of May.
Something fun to wrap it up, f you could be any one of your favourite childhood toys, what would it be and why?
I had a little stuffed dog that I carried around till it rotted. I suppose that I wouldn’t want to be it right now, but in its glory days this dog a little brown stuffed dog had the best life, very lackadaisical. I could go for that I think.
originally published March 2008
Don’t be fooled by their name, this is no high school dance or some new party and event’s promoter. The boys are back in town. Coming home with their wildly successful and critically acclaimed show, Johnny Harris, Steve Cochrane, Dave Sullivan, and Phil Churchill are all polishing up their acts for the LSPU Hall. They paused the tune up long enough to have a quick digi-chat with me about the performance and some of their shenanigans.
How did you become the Dance Party of Newfoundland?
J: We’d been buddies before. Me, Dave and Churchill all went through Grenfell. Me and Steve had toured a couple stage shows together. Aiden Flynn said we should get together and write a sketch show. He was in our first show, On the Nog.
P: And there was a girl with us as well. Imagine that: a girl!
Where does the name come from?
J: It’s a twist on the old NTV show ‘Newfoundland Dance Party’ but tweaked to sound like a political party. Steve came up with it. We were almost, ‘We Fried Beans’ or ‘Daisy Dude’.
What’s the show people are raving about?
J: Everyone is raving about our upcoming show at the Hall, ‘Low Blood Sugar Sketch Magic’. The poster is a parody of The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic’.
D: Two and a half men. Really great… that young Sheen fella is quite the character… oh the exploits those two go on… will the comedy ever end?
What expectations should I have when I check this out?
S: Expect to laugh out loud, expect a very tight fast paced show, expect to stare in disbelief at some of the things we convinced ourselves to do and if your date is really, really into it, expect to say, ‘I could do this, this is easy!’ Also, expect us to sing.
P: Expect that we’ll be there. I can almost assure you that your expectations will be realized.
I’ve read you boys write when split across the country then “butt heads” when you’re in the same place, how difficult is it to bring four visions together?
S: Honestly we’ve managed to keep it pretty simple. We all write separately and then when we get together, we comment and improve on each other’s material. The person that wrote it still maintains ownership and the rest help to tweak. If it gets to the point where it’s being considered for a show, then the sketch must be pretty solid to begin with.
D: When you’ve worked together as long as we all have, it’s not difficult at all. The endgame for everyone is to make people laugh, no matter how humiliating it is for any individual member of the group.
What defines you as sketch? Is there an improv aspect?
P: The improv aspect usually comes before the writing. We try and stick to the script as best as we can because by the time the sketch has been performed once or twice, we’re pretty happy with it. If there is an idea for a change, it’s usually brought up before hand and sufficiently argued about. And like most, we probably tend to think we’re better improvers than we are.
The fear of your show getting “lost in translation” in New York seems to have been a big concern yet reviews have discounted it, are people really getting references?
S: People are seeing characters that reflect ones they grew up with in their small towns. And sometimes, I think like is the case with Sons of Our Fathers, our Celtic Boyband, that exploits Newfoundland history to make it rock. They are such idiots you can’t help but enjoy yourself. Who hasn’t seen a boy band before and wished someone would take the piss out of them.
Where does the DPN go from this show?
S: We have booking in May; we’re on hold for gigs in October and November. Taking the summer off to do solo projects then back at it in the fall. We could go back to New York in June, but I’m not sure how the schedule is going to work out.
J: I don’t know where the rest of the guys want the Dance Party to go next but I know I would like us to go to Swiss Chalet.
What other projects are you all working on?
S: I have a feature film in development with The Canadian Film Center that should be shooting this year. I am also directing a six part doc series that I can’t talk about until May or June.
J: I’m waiting to see if the CityTV crime drama ‘The Murdoch Mysteries’ gets picked up again. I play a young cop in that show. The first season’s airing now.
D: Dave is learning to read in an after school program.
P: I’m doing some playing with a band I really like called The Once, with Andrew Dale and Geri Hollett.
People want to check out your “homecoming,” tell ‘em how…
J: Here is the best way to check out our homecoming; call the Hall, 753 4531 and buy a ticket. Consume at least three ounces of hard liquor. Get there early for a good seat, if you think we are making a joke, laugh really loud. If other people are laughing and you don’t know why, just laugh. If you don’t think we are at all funny, try to blame yourself (tell yourself it’s over your head) and laugh anyway. Enjoy!
One crazy road story …
J: Chicago’s finest. I’m sure the lads have filled you in.
D: In Dawson City we all did a shot of Yukon Gold. No Big deal right? Well, in the bottom of the glass was a severed human toe. They call it the Sour Toe. A human toe packed in salt, they take it out, you have to shoot a shot of Yukon Gold and have the toe touch off your lips for luck. Apparently, they lose toes every once and a while because folks accidentally swallow them.
P: Gotta be the guns and cops in Chicago, but I’m sure one of the fellas has already sent that one, so I’ll tell you this one: when we were in the Yukon, Steve and Jonny and I all went dog-sledding. Dave stayed in the hotel and watched football. Clearly, he’s fucking crazy.