Beachers prepare for varied Fringe performances

The annual Toronto Fringe Festival is nearly upon us, and as usual, a number of Beachers are involved in some of the productions taking place in this unpredictable theatre festival.

Solo: A Boy’s Journey by Jerry Brodey and Robert Morgan runs from July 4 to 14 at the Tarragon Extra Space.

Jerry Brodey performs all the roles in Solo: A Boy’s Journey, based on his personal experiences as a youth worker. PHOTO: Jacklyn Atlas
Jerry Brodey performs all the roles in Solo: A Boy’s Journey, based on his personal experiences as a youth worker.
PHOTO: Jacklyn Atlas

Beacher Brodey is a youth worker. Eighteen years ago, he took a group of adolescent boys into the wilderness for three weeks. All hell broke loose, though the trip ended better than it began, and Brodey began to consider turning his experience into a one-man play. He enlisted friend and collaborator Morgan, and the two created Solo: A Boy’s Journey over the course of four years.

The play focuses on a native and non-native pair of youth in trouble with the law, and a young, nervous social worker with his own set of issues about his teenage years. The boys are led up a mountain, where they will construct a shelter and spend 24 hours ‘solo’, in a rite of passage. A loud-mouth raccoon lends some humour to the drama.

Brodey acts all the parts and provide music for Solo: A Boy’s Journey. The 55 minute play runs at various times at the Tarragon Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave. near Bathurst and Dupont. For more information on the play and performance times visit redcanoestudio.com.

A decade ago, Beacher Alex Eddington took a job on the remote island of Mull in Scotland. The events that transpired that summer are told in a storytelling and music show titled Yarn.

Alex Eddington is the man behind Yarn, a show of music and storytelling based on a previous show called Wool. PHOTO: Tyler Seguin
Alex Eddington is the man behind Yarn, a show of music and storytelling based on a previous show called Wool.
PHOTO: Tyler Seguin

In 2006, Eddington wrote a performance called Wool, touring it to the Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton Fringe Festivals. At the time he was an experienced composer new at writing. After working on a number of other pieces, the stories told in Wool kept resurfacing, and he felt compelled to revisit and refine the material and create Yarn, which has been in the works since 2009. Eddington jokes in his press material that “perhaps in another seven years, there will be a show called Sweater.”

While Eddington moved to Mull to calm his thoughts and write, he was plagued by a loud inner monologue, which is voiced in the show by a lamb puppet named Buttercup. The effects of isolation became more pronounced over time, though he’s now able to laugh at his younger self.

Yarn features a unique approach to live music, with original songs on ukulele, baritone horn and a number of sound effects created using a battery of “unexpected objects.”

The storytelling matches the music, and was created with the help of director (and Beacher, and fellow Fringe artist) Tyler Seguin (see below).

The venue, Majlis Multidisciplinary Arts, has a unique indoor/outdoor arrangement. The stage and audience are sheltered, yet the audience sits in an ‘art garden’. Ambient sounds from the city become a part of the performance. The show is also timed so the sun sets over the course of the show, transitioning from natural light to lanterns and bike lights.

Yarn runs from July 4 to 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Majlis Art Garden, at 163 Walnut Ave., west of Bathurst between King and Queen. Tickets are $10 at the door or $11 in advance. Yarn is recommended for viewers over 14, and has coarse language.

Each night will be followed by the WindDown Festival, featuring words, music, dance, puppetry, comedy and clowns, running from July 4 to 13 at 9 p.m. Admission is $10 cash, and unlike official Fringe shows, latecomers will be tolerated. Some acts to be featured include Calgary singer/songwriter Amy Thiessen, a clown night hosted and curated by Helen Donnelly, a comedy/storytelling night hosted by Paul Hutcheson, the Array Session Players, a soprano and theremin act by Kristin Mueller-Heaslip and Hillary Thomson, and two open stage nights for Fringe performers.

For more information on Yarn and the WindDown Festival visit Eddington’s website at alexeddington.com. The venue is covered from wind and rain, but has no heating or cooling – please dress for the weather.

Younger theatre fans need not feel left out, as Tangled Web Theatre presents Handle With Care, running July 4 to 14 as part of the Toronto FringeKids! Festival.

The show involves puppets and humour to offer a family theatre experience, while also involving some environmental education.

Tyler Seguin and Bonnie Thomson were leading a Grade 3 puppetry workshop and noticed students had created some grim environmentally themed posters. They wondered whether they could create a more positive view of interacting with the environment, while also including a message of caution.

Handle With Care features a number of different types of puppetry styles and materials, operated by Thomson and East End residents Seguin and partner Helen Juvonen. The story begins with three friends coming across a mysterious box in the forest. Upon opening it, they find some puppets and a set of instructions, and perform five short environmentally themed scenes, including a troll and a contractor negotiating the fate of the woods and growing human community; an underwater fish-eye view of water pollution; a boy who creates a bottle cap monster by throwing away a plastic water bottle; newspapers blowing in the wind transforming into images and characters; and a grandmother and young girl sharing stories while watching a sunset.

Tickets are $5 for children under 12, and $10 for adults. Performances of Handle With Care run in the afternoon or early evening at the Palmerston Theatre at 560 Palmerston Ave. For more information visit tangledwebtheatre.com.

Tickets to all Fringe shows are available through the box office at fringetoronto.com or 416-966-1062. Tickets bought at the door must be paid in cash, and no latecomers are admitted. See the festival website for more information and a full schedule.

A puppet version of Tyler Seguin, operated by him, is part of the puppet cast of Handle With Care, also featuring Helen Juvonen and Bonnie Thomson. PHOTO: Robin Munro
A puppet version of Tyler Seguin, operated by him, is part of the puppet cast of Handle With Care, also featuring Helen Juvonen and Bonnie Thomson.
PHOTO: Robin Munro

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