Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
|October 2016 • Act 10 Scene 4|
eNews: Week two of the Alumni Festival with TJ Dawe
Wow! That was a fun time with Charles Ross last week! This week, Fringe veteran TJ Dawe bares his soul in one of his first solo-shows, The Slipknot. Read more below about how far he's come since it was written!
After years of success on the Fringe theatre circuit and touring around the world, alumnus TJ Dawe brings his one of his earlier, and now published plays, back to the Phoenix stage.
The Slipknot has been described as hilarious, hypnotizing and hard. Dawe literally "slips" between three monologues – based on three horrible jobs he has done in his life – never skipping a beat, with a total of 14,000 words following a rapid fire rhythm. Stepping seamlessly from one story to the next, he chronicles his time as a stock boy in a drugstore, the inexperienced driver of a massive bin hauler, and a berated customer service person at Canada Post.
Nothing is too personal for Dawe to share with the audience; from relationships, to recreational Gravol, Santa Claus, and why you should never put meat in the mail. But although he brings his personal history to the stage, and lets you laugh at his mistakes, the life lessons are always greater than just his experience and audiences walk away with insights about their own life. It is this element of all his shows that has made his plays must-see events wherever he tours.
Since The Slipknot was written in 2001, it has become Dawe's most performed and purchased play. “Ironically,” says Dawe, “The Slipknot has actually made me enough money to get out of the world of horrible jobs.”
Many things have changed in Dawe’s life since he wrote The Slipknot, which also has the honour of being the first Spotlight on Alumni presentation at the Phoenix Theatre in 2003. Dawe now has 14 solo, auto-biographical shows which he tours to great acclaim around the world, earning himself titles such “Fringe Veteran” and “King of the Monologue on the Canadian fringe theatre circuit”.
Dawe is not only a performer and writer but he also is also a director. He has directed all of Charles Ross’ (BFA' 98) one-man shows, which were presented at the Phoenix just the last week. Ross and Dawe were close friends during their time at UVic, proving the that the amazing friendships you make at university stay with you for life. In this case, the friendship extends to the stage as life-long artistic collaborators too.
Over the years he has worked with many artists, a number of them also Phoenix grads. Dawe comes to Victoria directly from the Firehall Theatre in Vancouver where he directed alumna Nicolle Natrass' (BFA '91) play Mamahood: turn and face the strange that has just opened. He is also the director of playwright and author Mark Leiren-Young's (BFA'85) Never Shoot a Stampede Queen, based on Mark's Stephen Leacock-winning novel. The solo play featured Phoenix grad Zach Stephenson (BFA'03). Recently he co-created PostSecret: The Show, a stage production based on the popular blog site, PostSecret.com (which was also turned into a book and Smithsonian exhibitions) where people can anonymously share personal stories that they would never speak aloud. The presentation featured other Phoenix alumni Ming Hudson (BFA'07), Nicolle Nattrass (BFA'91) and Sam S Mullins (BFA'08).
The play that has brought Dawe the most fame is a two-hander called Toothpaste and Cigars, which was co-written with alumnus Mike Rinaldi (BFA' 96) and toured in 2003. At the time, the pair could never have dreamed that this quirky modern-day love story would become a Hollywood movie starring famous Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. Dawe and Rinaldi had sought out Canadian filmmakers about a potential little low-budget indie film and Toronto screenwriter Elan Mastai picked up the rights. After several attempts the momentum was almost lost, until 2010, when Fox Searchlight picked up the rights with plans for an A-list cast. Now it was going Hollywood! After several cast changes (originally Casey Affleck was cast as the main character) and more time on hold, Hollywood director Michael Dowse was enlisted and the Daniel Radcliffe/Zoe Kazan cast was confirmed for the movie, now renamed The F Word (click to watch trailer), (or "What If" for American movie goers). "And then it was crazy news when they said Radcliffe was onboard," Rinaldi said. "Suddenly, with a star like that, there's all this interest in distribution. I guess that's how it works," said Rinaldi in an interview before the movie was presented at the Toronto Film Festival. Since it has garnered excellent reviews, fandom from 20-somethings around the world, and won the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Adapted Screenplay.
Dawe is looking forward to interacting with the students when he’s back at his Alma Mater this week. When asked what lessons he would to pass on to current theatre students, Dawe offered some great advice to pass on:
ANNIVERSARY ALUMNI FESTIVAL
10 – 26, 2016 |
PREVIEWS: Nov 8 & 9
Theatre SKAM is presenting a new play written by founding member, Artistic Producer and alumnus Matthew Payne (BFA ’96). Shop Talk explores sexual politics in the work place, combining the nonchalance and arrogance of carpenters, along with the worst jokes of the Internet. Shop Talk runs from October 12 – 23 and is directed by alumna Chelsea Haberlin (BFA ’07), one of several Phoenix alumni who founded ITSAZOO Productions in Vancouver. Others involved include alumni Connie McConnell (BFA ’92), Patricia Reilly (BFA ’11), Jennifer Ault (BFA ’01, MFA ’14), Sarah Cashin (BFA’15), Brian Culp (BFA ’09), Carolyn Moon (BFA ’16) and current students Grace Le, and Amelia Petscheleit. Check out the current review by Janis La Couvee.
Nicolle Nattrass (BFA'91) continues to amaze with her one-woman shows. Nicolle’s most recent work, Mamahood: turn and face the strange, will be presented at the Firehall Arts Centre from October 18 to 29. Written and performed by Nicolle, this “trip to Planet Motherhood” is also directed by alumnus TJ Dawe (BFA ’97).
St. Luke's Players production of A Murder is Announced features the set design by fourth-year design student Barbara Clerihue. According to a recent review, she has "created a faithful representation of an English drawing room, filled to overflowing." Barbara is currently designing the set for our upcoming production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in November. Also in the production is recent alumna Euphemia MacMurphy (BFA'16) as Julia. The production continues until October 23.
Also continuing this month, is the co-production of Sleeping Giants by William Head on Stage (WHOs) and SNAFU Theatre. Directed by alumna Kathleen Greenfield (BFA'05), Sleeping Giants is a play about what happens when the world stops dreaming. The show began inspired by such stories as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rip Van Winkle, and soon grew and evolved into a wholly original piece with music, costumes, lighting, set and props--all designed and built by the inmate team. Read more in a Times Colonist interview with Kathleen or a review here.
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