Miriam Bronstein and Jane Burpee perform "Is it Wednesday" outdoors (CBC)
Buses go by, the traffic goes by, cell phones go off, it doesn't matter what happens, that's fine because there is noise out in the environment anyway.
—Jane Burpee, actor
Is it Wednesday?
is a free 12-minute play that takes place outdoors on a bench and is an unofficial production in this year's Fringe Festival. Think of it as part busking, part BYOV (bring your own venue).
Jane Burpee and Miriam Bronstein play two elderly women with early stage of Alzheimer's in conversation at a bus stop.
The play was written by Pam Calabrese MacLean and first presented indoors last fall as part of FemFest. The director, Veralyn Warkentin, suggested they try doing it outdoors during the Fringe.
"We suddenly realized this is perfect, the idea of doing it outside on a bench at a bus stop," says Burpee. "It certainly has worked out to be a delightful experience."
Before their shows, they hand out flyers to passers-by to invite them. Some people may be coming from a Fringe show, or they may be just wandering about. The audience builds as people notice a group forming.
"It's been very exciting and challenging to do it in the environment," says Burpee. "In other words, buses go by, the traffic goes by, cell phones go off, it doesn't matter what happens, that's fine because there is noise out in the environment anyway. I think that that is why we have enjoyed it so much."
The response has been very positive to this play about a serious issue. The actors make a point of talking to people afterwards and many say they were very moved by it. One woman who works at a personal care home said the writing is very real, very authentic. "We have to be honest and we have to be very, very sensitive, and I think we are," says Burpee.
The show is free, but afterwards they pass the hat and a portion of the proceeds will be given to the Alzheimer's Society.
Is it Wednesday? takes place on a bench on Market Avenue beside the Concert Hall,across the street from and half way between the Playhouse & MTC. The remaining performances are July 23 at 5:30pm, 6:30pm & 7:30pm.
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