Posted by: nancykenny | July 29, 2009

Nowhere But Up (or Bathroom Wall Wisdom)

I’ve been home for almost two days now and it’s taken me a little while to put my thoughts together enough to recap my Winnipeg Adventure.  It seems like such a whirlwind went by and yet, at the same time, I almost felt like we’d been there forever.  I miss it already and a part of me wishes I was in Saskatoon right now, but this is not “the” show.  This was the learning experience.

Producing my own fringe show was something else entirely.  All in all, I probably spent as much money on this show as I would have on one year of university tuition.  I can absolutely guarantee you that I worked harder and learned way more out in the field than I ever did striving for a piece of paper with a couple letters attached to it.  I found strength I didn’t realize I had, I made friendships that I know will last, and I gained incredible insight about myself as a person and as an artist.  Plus, I noticed that I also have a pretty wicked sense of humour.

Recently, an absolutely beautiful lady said to me that I am the most optomistic person she knows.  At first, I didn’t exactly believe her.  Afterall, anyone who knows me intimately knows that I am incredibly moody and swing from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other multiple times on a daily basis.  However, after thinking about it, that doesn’t mean I’m not optimistic.

I probably had the most poorly reviewed show at the Winnipeg Fringe (which I’ve masochistically now linked here in their entirety for your viewing pleasure):

1 Star from CBC Manitoba

1 Star from the Winnipeg Sun

2 Stars from the Winnipeg Free Press (with a nice comment about my performance, but she spoils the ending of the play…)

1 Star from Ignite 107


D+ from Uptown Magazine (scroll all the way to the bottom and wow D+ isn’t even a passing grade!)

Personally, I don’t think anyone would blame me if I came home licking my wounds, pulling my hair out at my bank balance, moping around for a bit, ect.  But I really don’t feel that way.  In fact, if anything, these reviews now give me something to work on.  When the Ottawa Fringe Festival ended, I knew that there were things about this show that I wanted to fix, but I couldn’t figure out what.  Though I believe a lot of what was said about my show was bullshit, there were some parts that rang true and now I know where I need to go.  If anything (and this is going to sound a little sick), Ottawa was too nice to me.

As we packed up the set on our last day there, I took a look around the washroom in our venue.  The walls are covered in various forms of graffiti which I typically barely acknowledged, but this one caught my eye:

& if i didn't fall down if i didn't if i didn't i wouldn't know how to get back up.

& if i didn't fall down if i didn't if i didn't i wouldn't know how to get back up.

So, I fell off the ladder in Winnipeg and hit every rung on the way down before smashing into the ground below.  That’s ok though, because I’ve got nowhere else to go now but up.

See you next year, Winnipeg.



  1. Wow, Nancy that’s tough. Reading those reviews, I’m glad I decided not to employ any rating system at all in my own reviews. I find that whole process artificial, pointless, and kind of mean spirited.

    The biggest complaint of these reviewers seems to be that your show was billed as a comedy when what you were really presenting was a drama. Many audiences get thrown off when you don’t deliver what you promise too. That’s a pretty good lesson I think, but it is very separate from the play itself.

    I’m now mulling over your comment about “Ottawa reviewers being too nice to you” and wondering if I was guilty of that. Your play was the first play I ever reviewed professionally and the first show I saw at the Fringe this year. Did my excitement for the beginning of the festival and the novelty of writing a review overly influence my work? Maybe it did a little bit, but I still believe there was a lot that really worked in your show. None of which was reflected in the reviews you posted here.

    As to the bits that didn’t, you are already aware of them. Yes, it is too short and ends too abruptly. I also would like to see the letter opener bit dropped entirely. I said this in my review but I probably should have worded it more clearly. Sorry about that, I’m still new at this and I’m learning as I go.

    To my way of thinking, the heart of the story is in the character development. The actor who initially seems, stronger, organized, and in control is actually the weaker and more insecure character. Similarly, the “irresponsible” character turns out to be a very strong individual and a supportive person. In the context of the play, where everything else is in repetition this is effective. This is why I highlighted the dual monologues. I loved that element and still do. If you decide “to fix” the play then expand on the development of this relationship, go for a less theatrical ending (more realistic/human) and bill it as a drama. To be honest, I think that’s all you have to do to have a real winner.

  2. […] thought I was over that. I thought I was optimistically over that. But I haven’t been. I’ve been very bad at working on a new script and I […]

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