A Taste of the Artbar
One of the things I briefly touched upon last blog was the Artword Artbar – the hangout where artists and patrons of the Fringe drink, mingle and connect after shows. Every evening gathering is centered around one hour of standup by comedian Larry Smith, who hosts his own “Fringe-themed” talk show. It’s a chance for artists to pump their shows and receive a gentle ribbing from Larry in a series of “Tonight Show” inspired interviews. Not to mention he’s funny as hell.
On Wednesday (while eating some delicious, homemade and free food) I was able to meet some of the other artists of the Fringe Festival and talk with them about their experiences, challenges and processes inside the rehearsal hall and out of it. Everyone was super approachable, which made my job as a first-time (and admittedly underprepared) journalist significantly easier. To keep things simple, I asked them all the same question my Torontonian friend asked me when I entered the Fringe: Why Hamilton Fringe?
Mischa Aravena (Performer – Betrayal – Citadel Studio):
- Best part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Meeting new people and being rewarded for all the hard work we’ve done. We’ve had good audiences and reviews. I couldn’t be more pleased.
Luis Arrojo (Performer – Paul and Marie – Hamilton Theatre Inc)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: Easier to get into than the Toronto Fringe.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: It’s Hamilton
John Bandler (Playwright – So that the Multitude may live – Citadel Studio)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: The year before my first play I stumbled upon it and loved the concept. The fact that there is no jury system allows each individual to be themselves and to be creative without having to satisfy a reviewer.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Great people, creativity, good time.
James Biss (Performer – Lies, Damn Lies and Magic Tricks – 141 Park Street):
- Why Hamilton Fringe: I am in Hamilton very often and love the arts community.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: I was expecting camaraderie, but I’m really shocked by the level of it here in Hamilton. I’m used to getting no’s for advertising. In Toronto it’s 5 no’s for every yes, but in Hamilton it’s 5 yeses for every no.
Samuel Chang (Co-writer/Director – The Girl in the Window – Citadel Theatre)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: It allowed us to showcase our play at a very reasonable price. It is difficult for young aspiring directors to find an affordable venue to display their craft in the Hamilton area.
- Best part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: The artists are encouraged to view other shows for free, which in turn creates a great friendly environment. Watching the volunteers, artists, and the audience come together really makes this Fringe special to me.
Jeff Culbert (Actor/Writer – The Donnelly Sideshow – 141 Park Street)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: People. I started hearing good things from Edmonton’s Fringe.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Being in Hamilton. The feel of Hamilton. It’s a really unique place. The venues are good as they’re really close together and accessible.
Radha Menon (Playwright – Ganga’s Ganja – Citadel Theatre):
- Why Hamilton Fringe: We live here. We’re Hamiltonians who’ve lived here for four years.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Not having to travel far.
Victoria Murdoch (Performer – Dairy Free Love – Citadel Studio):
- Why Hamilton Fringe: I am from Toronto so it’s close and I have family here. It’s also first come first serve and I’m prompt. (Blogger’s Note: Probably my favourite interview of the night.)
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Hamilton is a great town.
Peter Ormond (Performer/Co-Playwright – Occupy the Musical – Hamilton Theatre Inc)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: Done it three times. Local theatre. It’s a safe space to be creative.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Having fun.
Jim Sands (Performer – Charlie: A Hockey Story – 141 Park Street)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: It fit into my schedule. I spoke to Brian on the phone and it felt like a really warm and friendly space.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: I love the arts community. It’s so diverse. There are all kinds of art. It’s a happening place.
Ahti Tolvi (Director – Wealth Secrets – Citadel Theatre)
- Why Hamilton Fringe: The expectation that is constantly there to see something that’s even better.
- Best Part of being in the Hamilton Fringe: Meeting all of these other people with all these exciting ideas and the feeling that it can just get better and better.
So there you have it. After you’re done with a long day of Fringing, head over to the Artword Artbar and be ready for an evening of music, alcohol and laughter.
See you at the Fringe!
Aaron Jan is a Hamilton-based theatre playwright, performer, director and the Artistic Director of Fulcrum Theatre. You can catch the company’s entry in the Hamilton Fringe festival, Drafts, at the Citadel Theatre until Sunday, July 29th. You can follow him on Twitter at @afatchineseboy