British Columbia

Drain the stage: Fringe festival performers tackle the Trump era

Two Fringe festival shows are aiming to make you laugh, and reflect, on politics south of the border.

Two very different comedy shows are tackling politics south of the border

Vancouver actor Jacques LaLonde plays a Trump-like character in a new musical called "Draining the Swamp." (Phare Ouest)

The Trump administration has provided much fodder for comedians and late night television hosts, as artists struggle to make sense of the sometimes surreal events happening south of the border.

Now two plays in the Vancouver 2017 Fringe festival are exploring the Trump era through live theatre.

Vancouver actor Jacques Lalonde plays a Trump-like character in a new musical called "Draining the Swamp," while New York-based writer and performer Ali Kennedy Scott stars in "Just Not That Woman," a show about Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful bid for the White House.

Both shows tackle the issues in the abstract.

Lalonde describes his show as a "nonsensical story" about someone called "the boss" — a representation of Trump — who embarks on a mad car chase to get to a swamp, where he's heard from supposedly reliable sources that the government is selling cheap oil.

"It's a tale within a tale. In it you learn that if you close your eyes, the monsters will take over. It's a bit of a fable," he said.

New York-based writer and performer Ali Kennedy Scott stars in "Just Not That Woman," a show about Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful bid for the White House. (Courtesy of Just Not That Woman/Ali Kennedy Scott)

In Kennedy Scott's play, the lead character is a magician who teaches the audience magic tricks, ignoring politics entirely, while seven other characters rotate throughout, discussing the election and the factors that led to the failure of the Clinton campaign.

"It's a real roller coaster for the audience," said Kennedy Scott.

"One minute they're laughing, the next, they're somber."

Kennedy Scott said she hopes that despite the comedic tone, audience members will be forced to confront some of their own biases.

"I think at the heart of Hillary Clinton's loss there was incredible implicit bias that worked against her. It's very easy for us to believe negative things about women, unfortunately it's how we're trained," she said.

"Hopefully people will leave thinking, what is it that I hold within me that I'm not aware of and that maybe I should address?"

Lalonde said that his show was partially inspired because he felt "let down" by American artists during the election. 

"Robert de Niro shouted 'don't vote for this guy,' but I feel like right until the end, the artists were kind of invisible. There [were] a few, but not many, so people need to wake up and take part."

"Our play says it — draining the swamp may seem fine, but what matters is what's left behind."

The 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival runs from Sept. 7 to 17.

With files from The Early Edition