“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a friend with a Fringe show, must be in want of a sufficiently persuasive reason to attend said Fringe show.”
Jane Austen; Writer, Producer and Star of “Last Dance with Merry Jane: One Woman’s Journey to Make Sense of Sensibility” (Northanger Abbey Fringe 1817)
Unstoppable as the four winds and merciless as the tide, the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival will soon fall upon this city. You will be asked to make some difficult choices. Allegiances will be tested; promotional flyers will be shoved into pockets and forgotten, only to emerge once the festival ends as a shameful reminder of oaths broken and friendships betrayed. As though beset by a sudden plague of gorgons or horribly writhing Medusae, all those who are even slightly “performing arts adjacent” will be turned to stone by indecision in the face of one hundred voices crying out in chorus “Please Come to My Show!”
The wicked rubric by which one determines the shows that they will see when the Festival drapes itself across the city are private and largely pre-linguistic. But, the one constant upon which we can rely is that everyone who goes to see a Fringe show will, at least once, go to see FRINGE: IMPROVISED, the youngest, sweetest child of D.J. Mausner and David Kaufman. FRINGE: IMPROVISED is, of course, the show in which Kaufman and Mausner will create a brand-new fringe-style show using nothing but a suggestion from the audience. Audiences have been cautioned to expect thought provoking narratives of love and loss, long monologues, laboured choreography, a heavy handed moral and (perhaps most of all) to laugh. The reasons that attendance of this show is mandatory are legion, but in the spirit of fun and theatre, The Brunch Club is thrilled to present you with a quiz to determine which moral, social or biological imperative will drive you, personally, to see FRINGE: IMPROVISED.
Q1. Which of the following quotations from The Bard’s most famous work Romeo and Juliet most accurately describes your feelings about the current state of theatre?
A. “Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.”
B. “What sorrow craves acquaintance at my hand/ That I yet not know?”
C. “There is no world without Verona walls/ But purgatory, torture, hell itself.”
Q2. What is it about learning lines that strikes such mortal fear into the hearts of the improvisor?
A. Writing, like a virus, injects itself into the mind and erases the primacy of spoken language. To perform what has been pre-written is to become complicit in the murder of our original experience.
B. I would like to answer your question with a riddle: I am holding several portraits of the queen; precious metals; and most beguilingly, a hand. What am I? (A: A Pocket.)
C. The only lines allowed in the improviser’s brain must enter through the nose! These lines are the powdered analgesic meant to stifle the persistent intracranial bleeding that comes from miming shovels and kitchen utensils.
Q3. Which type of theatre is the most noble?
A. Small-batch, locally sourced, and sprung fully formed like Athena from the heads of its performers.
B. Wistful recollections of one’s lost youth, recounted by a juggler with small darting eyes.
C. All theatre is noble in its ability to draw our inner eye away from the menagerie of jealousies and desperate scrounging that we call our daily lives.
A. One of the good ones.
B. One of the bad ones.
C. I am reading this after the great calamity blocked all the stars from the sky, but before the advent of Nustrology; the system wherein one’s fate is determined by their progenitor’s proximity to the great nuclear crater at the time of their birth (we now reproduce through asexual budding, as you are aware I’m sure.)
Q5. A doctor, a lawyer and a daytrader are stranded in a life-raft. The sun is hot and they haven’t eaten for two days. They all look at one another and instead of seeing each other they see large, cartoonish pieces of meat. Who is the first to be devoured?
A. The doctor. Their knowledge of human anatomy makes them fussy eaters and neither the lawyer nor the daytrader have the patience to listen to them detailing the comparative nutritional values of the arm vs the leg. Better to eat poorly in silence than to eat well with a lecture.
B. The lawyer. Their devotion to the word of law and passion for argumentation has already worn on the last nerve of the doctor and daytrader. It is a surprise that neither have elected to drown the pompous rat before this point.
C. The daytrader. Why the daytrader refused to trade these hot, wet raft days for soft, cool valley days where the three could recline in peace amid grazing sheep and horses remains a mystery. As the lawyer will happily tell you, misuse or negligent use of the lost magic of daytrading is a federal offence, but in this raft (so far from any federal authority) an improvised punishment will have to do: and so the daytrader must be consumed by a jury of their peers.
MOSTLY A: You will go to see FRINGE: IMPROVISED in an attempt to satiate an inarticulable intellectual curiosity. Though the legacy of Ezra Pound is contaminated by his cowardice and mercenary fascism, his insistence that we “Make it New!” still somehow compels. The promise of two idiots (D.J. Mausner and David Kaufman) improvising a brand new fringe show off an audience suggestion every night is too tantalizing for you to resist. You will watch the show greedily and leave still hungry. You will see it every night and still not reach the plateau you seek.
MOSTLY B: You will go to see FRINGE: IMPROVISED out of a well-earned sense of familial debt. Afterall, it was D.J. Mausner and David Kaufman that saw your potential those many years ago after law school. They took you in, clothed you and weaned you off the laudanum soaked cobwebs you’d been shovelling by the handful into your mouth. Attending this show will certainly not repay the balance owed entirely, but it is a brave first step.
MOSTLY C: You will go to see FRINGE: IMPROVISED because your MiniDV recording of it was the only thing you were able to save when the calamity happened. You will take it, as has become your ritual, out to the secret theatre on the edge of the tainted river where you will sit among the moss-covered mannequins you call your friends (they will be just coming into bloom, how exciting!) and pretend you are back in the Montreal Improv. You will say aloud: “Gosh, what a thrill it is to see a send-up of Fringe culture, performed by two of Canada’s brightest young talents.” You will elbow one of your friends. Her arm will fall off, and you will say: “Now, now, Nancy. There’s no time for a spoilsport when we’re watching FRINGE: IMPROVISED!” You will throw her into the river, where she will bob briefly before you rush down in a fit of guilt and fish her out.
A TIE OR INCONCLUSIVE RESULT: You will go to see FRINGE: IMPROVISED because you’re wild, unpredictable and a little bit twisted ;~). You love to keep everyone guessing and the idea of an entirely improvised Fringe play gives you the sneaky, freaky sensation you love. D.J. Mausner and David Kaufman will be sick and tired of seeing your wild-eyed, near-ecstatic face in the front row by the end of their run, because you’re going to every show (except for one, but you’ll NEVER tell which ;~)).
Hopefully this quiz has helped you come to better understand your heart in its internal peregrinations. If it has not, take comfort in knowing that whether or not you understand why, you will find yourself at Montreal Improv (3697 ST-LAURENT BLVD) taking in FRINGE: IMPROVISED on one of the following dates, at one of the following times:
- Friday, JUNE 8 - 11:30PM
- Saturday, JUNE 9 - 9:45PM
- Sunday, JUNE 10 - 6:00PM
- Thursday, JUNE 14 - 9:30PM
- Saturday, JUNE 16 - 3:30PM
- Sunday, JUNE 17 - 9:30PM
The certainty of your attendance should not be seen as some deterministic shackle; it is one small guarantee offered in a time of flux and sway. Take comfort in it. Express your appreciation on twitter by following @FRINGEIMPRO. Express your appreciation in person by attending the show. Tickets are a meager $6 or $5 for Students, QDF Members and Montreal Improv Students. Be seeing you.