Jul. 11th, 2012

sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
 Sometime in August: Someone makes a pun (in my case, about a Virginity Lost...and Found!) and I say "That would be a perfect title for a Fringe show." General laughter and agreement.

Sometime in late October: Toronto Fringe Festival releases its applications for the Fringe. Husband brings it to my attention, and says "Well? Here's your chance!"

More or less immediately before the deadline: "Oh, why not?"

More or less immediately after I beat the odds and get a spot: "Oh, crap!"

November through March: Er...other things. None of which are work of any kind on the show, now officially titled The Virginity Lost & Found. I repeat the title often, and it is met with merriment, which seems like a good sign. 

mid-March: A preliminary technical questionnaire for my still-nonexistent Fringe show is due. Panic sets in. Luckily, the questionnaire only concerns itself with things like "Will you be setting anything on fire?" and "How many people are in your show?", to which I make up some answers (which are now legally binding).

Early April: It becomes clear that in three months, people will be entering a theatre to see a show entitled The Virginity Lost & Found, and that I am the one who is supposed to be writing it. Also performing it. And, at this moment, directing it. Also, the publicity photos and program content are due. I take a somewhat risque photo of me in a powdered wig brandishing a giant dildo, write a hand-wavy description, and say a fervent prayer.

mid-April: my next-door neighbour asks if I've found a director or a stage manager yet. I murmur something vaguely affirmative.

three days later in April: I find a director by asking my husband's old friend's new boyfriend, Spencer Charles Smith, if he has any interest in the job. Somewhat miraculously, he does. I then call a hilariously overqualified old friend, Calvin Anderson, from New York and ask him if he'll take the job. Even more miraculously, he does. I now have a crew, which creates a false sense of security. I still have no idea what this show is about, except that a) it takes place in a mythical government office, and b) there are forms to fill out.

First week of May: It's now two months to the day until the show opens, and "rehearsals" begin. "Rehearsals" is in quotes because the show is still unwritten, and I am therefore much less rehearsing and much more improvising, in character, through a series of questions and scenarios designed to reveal to Spencer and me what this show might possibly be about. We carry on like this for a month, until I have a stronge sense of Mary Pat as a character, and discover that she's not really what I had expected. I thought she was rigid and somewhat disapproving with a slightly catty streak, but instead I discover she's a lovely, sex-positive, pleasure-positive grandmother with a reassuring tone and a great deal of concern for her "young people."

What I thought was a racy, drag-tastic piece about how ridiculous straight people are about sex has turned into a still-fairly-hilarious show full of double-entendre, but now much gentler in tone and with a surprising (even to me) amount of Sex Ed in the mix. And, because the Q&A part of rehearsals has been so great, we decide that she'll take audience questions about sex during the show. 

First week of June: More forms from the Fringe, asking me to decide things I still don't really know the answers to. What will the set look like? I guess at that one (most of the things on the list don't make it into the final show, except the desk).

Second week of June: I have a draft of a script. I start reading it aloud to people, trying to get the feel of it. In the same period of time, I also launch two new children's books, finalize my schedule of appearances for Pride, and continue parenting a very smart, very active toddler. I feel pretty good about my draft script, and start learning my lines. I am a little self-congratulatory that there are weeks left until opening, and the script is done. 

24 June: I realize that I need to rewrite about a quarter of the show, because all the jokes pretty much depend on the audience understanding that the VL&F works like an actual Lost & Found, and that the Lost part refers to actually losing your virginity, like, "I swear it was just here!" and not in the sense that we typically talk about "losing" our virginities. I have written a script in which this is not made explicit until the end f page four. The script is eleven pages long. This is kind of a big problem.

25 June: Kind of a blur. So is much of the rest of the time until Fringe, a period of time which also includes Toronto Pride. I have seven appearances in two days over Pride, so not a lot is getting done show-wise. Conversations with my stage manager and director feature sentences such as "Do we have the forms yet?" and "Which was should these testicles face?"

3 July: First completely off-book runthrough. I now really like Mary Pat and her frank-but-not-vulgar way of discussing anal sex, mutual masturbation, consent, pornography, and sexual communication. Several people say that she reminds them of their favorite teacher, which seems like a good sign (as long as people don't show up expecting something totally different because of the photo and poster).

4 July: Show opens. People like it.

8 July: I have a truly disastrous show, but I learn a lot. ::sigh:: Learning is good and useful. Disasters nevertheless suck.

10 July: The learning shows up in the performances. Nice reviews ensue. Audience sizes begin to grow, and people I know (aka my spies) start to hear good buzz about Mary Pat and the VL&F around Fringe lines. One audience member says to someone she doesn't know is my friend "I thought the question period was pure brilliance. I might go back just to hear more answers!"

11 July: I have a 2:15 show that goes really well, even with a smallish house. Lots of laughter and sustained applause. After I eat, get my kid at school, feed him and bathe him and read him eleventy stories, it occurs to me that I should write about the experience of making a Fringe show: part behind-the-scenes peek, part cautionary tale, and part bald-faced publicity stunt for my last three performances of The Virginity Lost & Found (Thursday the 12th @ 10:30pm, Saturday the 14th at 3:30pm, and Sunday the 15th @ noon).


sbearbergman: a photo of my head and shoulders, dressed in a navy suit and bright blue shirt, face turned partly away (Default)
S Bear Bergman

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