November 14, 2019

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Back to the grassroots

Royal MTC's artistic director steps out into the fringe by directing new comedy

It’s just another boy-meets-girl story... fringe style.

The boy is Jimmy (Tom Keenan), a guy who works at the only drive-in doughnut shop in the Welsh market town of Newport. The girl is Kitty (Andrea del Campo), a phone sex worker whose relationship with Jimmy is strictly professional (at £1.20 a minute)... until it’s not.

Theatre preview

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How My Light Is Spent

By Alan Harris

MTC Up the Alley (Venue 2) to July 27

Tickets $12 at the door or winnipegfringe.com

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See reviews of other fringe plays at wfp.to/fringereviews

Perhaps the thing that most distinguishes the Alan Harris-penned comedy How My Light Is Spent is the talent behind the scenes.

The show is directed and produced by Steven Schipper, soon-to-be-retired artistic director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. He has directed a couple of Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival productions in the past, but this, he says, is the first time he has produced a fringe show.

"This is a self-initiated project that really is designed to give two wonderful actors — Tom Keenan and Andrea del Campo — an opportunity to have a show for many years to come that they can pull out of their suitcase and perform whenever they like."

FACEBOOK</p><p>Andrea del Campo and Tom Keenan in How My Light Is Spent, which debuted Wednesday at the Winnipeg fringe festival.</p>

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Andrea del Campo and Tom Keenan in How My Light Is Spent, which debuted Wednesday at the Winnipeg fringe festival.

Keenan and del Campo are two of Winnipeg’s busier theatre and movie actors.

Del Campo is one of the founders of the Outside Joke improv company and has had several roles at the Royal MTC, including The Glass Menagerie in 2014. Her last film role was in 2017’s Stegman is Dead opposite Michael Ironside and also appeared in Sean Garrity’s My Awkward Sexual Adventure.

Keenan was nominated for a 2017 Winnipeg Theatre Award in the puppet-driven Royal MTC comedy Hand to God and was one of 17 Winnipeg actors to try his hand at the White Rabbit, Red Rabbit theatrical experiment at Theatre Projects Manitoba in 2015. On the silver screen, he’s appeared in Garrity’s 2009 film Zooey and Adam.

Both had roles in locally shot TV series Men with Brooms and The Pinkertons.

“It’s rejuvenating for someone like me who works with an incredible team of support, to be out there relatively on my own, in the trenches." -Steven Schipper

Speaking to Schipper, one has the sense How My Light is Spent, a comedy, came close to becoming a Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre Warehouse production.

"It was something we read in consideration of Royal MTC and thought it was charming, and thought it would be perfect for the fringe festival," he says. "So here we are, trying it out here."

Schipper, dressed casual in a black Royal MTC T-shirt and jeans, was found at fringe’s ground zero — Old Market Square — at Wednesday’s opening afternoon at the fringe. He is set to retire in 2019, 30 years to the day when he became the Royal MTC’s artistic director.

So call it a humbling experience taking on a fringe show without the massive support usually afforded him as the brains behind Canada’s oldest English language regional theatre.

"It’s rejuvenating for someone like me who works with an incredible team of support, to be out there relatively on my own, in the trenches," he says, clutching a bundle of leaflets in his hand.

"It’s eye-opening," he says. "The respect I have for what everybody does to put on a show at the fringe has been amplified."

That doesn’t mean How My Light is Spent was in any way quick-and-dirty in the way it was put together, he asserts.

"Not at all," he says. "Thanks to the generosity of our actors, we’ve been rehearsing for months and it’s been slow and steady.

"Hopefully, we’re ready."

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Randall King

Randall King
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In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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