It doesn't mean you're a Rider fan by coming to the show.
—Colleen Sutton, RiderGirl
The Banjo Bowl happens this Sunday, and with annual rivalries between Bomber fans and Rider fans heating up, Colleen Sutton thought it was the perfect time to remount her hit Fringe play, RiderGirl.
The one-woman show ran at the 2012 Fringe Festival in Winnipeg, but even then, Sutton remembers getting some resistance when she was handing out flyers.
"[The show] went over really, really well. Of course I had some people on the street when I was trying to pitch the show in green they're like, 'Absolutely not, there's no way,' I had to say, 'Hey your money is not going to the team. It doesn't mean you're a Rider fan by coming to the show.'"
Sutton was raised in Saskatchewan but now lives in Ottawa, and says she was inspired to write RiderGirl to help explain her dedication to her team.
"I love it so much and they don't get it. I find, in Ontario, they don't get it and they almost look down on you for being a CFL fan. First they're confused and then I just see a look, you know what I mean," she says.
"They think it's NFL and nothing else. And if you want to watch the NFL that's fine. If you don't like the CFL, fine but don't put me down because I watch it."
Rivalries heat up between Sutton and CBC host Ismaila Alfa in the Up to Speed studio. (Kaj Hasselriis/CBC)
Sutton has been to 14 Grey Cups, and wanted to capture the experience of being at one of those games.
"There's something about the spirit of that weekend I wanted to bring to the stage. Everyone wears their colours no matter how their team fared and they raise their glasses to each other and it's a blast."
Sutton didn't grow up as a football fan, cheering for the hometown team, it's something she fell into, kind of accidentally.
When she was 16, Sutton was invited to take her saxophone and join the pep band for a road trip out of province. She leapt at the opportunity to take a trip with her friends, but was bored
because she didn't know what was happening on the field.
Fortunately, Sutton sat next to a superfan who
yelled when the team was doing badly and cheered when they got a first
down. After getting a quick CFL tutorial, Sutton not only found her passion for the
game but an inspiration for a character in her show.
Despite her passion for the game, and dedication to her team, even Sutton isn't entirely clear where it all comes from. "Rider Nation, even to me, is an enigma. How is it I'm such a diehard
fan? We've only won three cups in over 100 years. It's not been easy
being a fan, but there's no question. I cheer for the Riders."
She even planned her tour to coincide with her team's games across the country and invites all CFL fans to come wearing the jersey of whatever team they support. "I'm a CFL fan and that's what it's about," she says.
Sutton is also hoping RiderGirl can help bridge the gap between theatre and sports fans. "It tends to be theatre people go to
theatre, sports people go to sports but we have so much more in common," she says.
"We go for drama, we go to be engaged, we go to be in another place at
the end of the game or the show than we were when we arrived. And my
hope is a theatre fan will leave the space and think 'Maybe I will
should check out a CFL game, it looks like a lot of fun.' And vice versa,
that a sports person might think, 'Theatre is for me too.'"RiderGirl runs September 5-7 at the Gas Station Arts Centre at 7:30. A tailgate party happens from 6:30 till showtime ahead of every performance.