Archive for April, 2012

Fringe 2012

The Struts and Frets Players will return this July for our fifth Winnipeg Fringe Festival production, Cupid and Psyche! In this Roman story (yes yes, I know, the Romans just stole it all from the Greeks. But this story is specifically Roman), the course of true love never did run smooth for the beautiful mortal woman Psyche, who falls head over heels for…the son of Venus, goddess of love. Oh jeez. No good can come of this.

This year will be the Players’ first foray into the world of “Bring Your Own Venue”: Cupid and Psyche will be presented at the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre, 3rd floor of 91 Albert St. (above Mondragon). We are also pleased to introduce our friend and colleague Michelle Arentsen, who will be joining the cast this summer!

As always, more details will be forthcoming as the Festival approaches. We hope to see you there!

Sigurd the Dragonslayer

Struts and Frets astutely pull together their own special take on Sigurd’s portion of the saga, where pop-culture references abound and a laugh is always around the corner. – Winnipeg Free Press

Sigurd the Dragonslayer was an adaptation of part of the Norse Völsungasaga, the saga of three generations of heroes in the clan Völsung. This is the story that inspired Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas, large parts of the Lord of the Rings mythos, and the Looney Tunes sketch What’s Opera, Doc?.

In the section, our hero Sigurd is trained by his foster father Regin to slay Regin’s brother Fafnir, who has gone mad with greed and turned into a terrible dragon. After Sigurd kills Fafnir, Regin betrays him, and Sigurd kills him too. Now completely alone, he sets off to seek his place in the world. He rescues Brynhild the Valkyrie, and finds first hospitality, then betrayal in the royal hall of the Niflung clan.

For this production, we were joined by our very clever and talented friends Michael Ostry and Hailley Rhoda. Stylistically, we continued to mix and match various design and writing elements: full-colour, translucent plastic shadow puppets; story theatre; our house blend of corny jokes and pathos. Script-wise, we really wanted to focus on the relationship between Sigurd and Brynhild, as well as Sigurd’s personal growth over the course of the story, building on our success with writing the character of Gilgamesh the year before.

For our efforts, we were rewarded with the Best of Fest honour for the third time in four years, and Ariel and Jessy jointly won the Harry S. Rintoul Memorial Award. This is an award given out every year by the Winnipeg Fringe Festival for the best new original script by a Manitoba author. Huzzah!

Pictures below the fold.

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Theseus and the Minotaur

[T]he production never overwhelms and comic relief in the form of visual gags and clever wordplay is always elegantly timed to keep the story moving forward. [4 stars] – Winnipeg Free Press

King Minos has a terrible secret. His stepson, the Minotaur, is a half-man, half-bull monster, born of a curse incurred for trying to cheat the sea god Poseidon. Every year he collects human sacrifices from the nations he has conquered to feed the Minotaur, but this year is different. This year, Theseus, a brave young man from Troezen (“Treason?!”) has taken the place of one of the prisoners, and he intends to put a stop to the blood debt. He’ll have to deal with a diabolical king, a flesh-rending bovine abomination and a girl with an obsessive crush to do it, but by Zeus, do it he will.

Our company’s sophomore production premiered at the 2009 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. It incorporated a lot of the same techniques as Perseus had; story theatre, masks and puppets. Doing this allowed us to begin solidifying a distinctive “style” in the minds of our audiences, many of whom had seen us the previous year as well. But we did attempt to stretch ourselves somewhat as well. Perseus was a very comedic, family-friendly show – it was, after all, part of the Kids’ Fringe. Theseus, on the other hand, is a more tragic story, so we had to strike a balance between comedy and drama.

Whereas the designs for Perseus had been drawn from Greek vase paintings (flat and black – perfect for shadow puppets!), Ariel designed flat, wooden puppets for Theseus, to be manipulated live on stage, based on Minoan frescoes, which are far more colourful. (Pictures below the fold.)

Theseus and the Minotaur was well-received by both audiences and critics. It helped us gain a wider audience and demonstrate that we can bring off comedy and tragedy alike. By all accounts, it was another success.

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