July 22, 2019

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Beyond the fringe

Performers who cut their teeth at local theatre festival hit main stage

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/1/2016 (1292 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Evidently, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival dies hard in Winnipeg.

The second show of the Theatre Projects Manitoba season is actually a kind of double bill of two one-person shows first seen by Winnipeggers at the annual July play-a-palooza.

Fraz vs. the Future, written by and performed by DnD Improv mainstay Fraz Wiest, lampooned contemporary social media at the 2014 fringe. And Village Ax, performed and co-written by Sydney Hayduk, was one of two productions Hayduk bounced between at the 2015 fringe. (The other was Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which took its title from a rom-com archetype coined by a film critic, but still proves dangerously irresistible as a description of the sprightly 23-year-old Hayduk.)

Is would appear the fringe simply can not be contained by two weeks in July. But Theatre Projects Manitoba artistic director Ardith Boxall asserts it's Hayduk and Wiest who can't be contained by the fringe.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/1/2016 (1292 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Evidently, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival dies hard in Winnipeg.

The second show of the Theatre Projects Manitoba season is actually a kind of double bill of two one-person shows first seen by Winnipeggers at the annual July play-a-palooza.

Fraz vs. the Future, written by and performed by DnD Improv mainstay Fraz Wiest, lampooned contemporary social media at the 2014 fringe. And Village Ax, performed and co-written by Sydney Hayduk, was one of two productions Hayduk bounced between at the 2015 fringe. (The other was Manic Pixie Dream Girl, which took its title from a rom-com archetype coined by a film critic, but still proves dangerously irresistible as a description of the sprightly 23-year-old Hayduk.)

Is would appear the fringe simply can not be contained by two weeks in July. But Theatre Projects Manitoba artistic director Ardith Boxall asserts it's Hayduk and Wiest who can't be contained by the fringe.

"For me, it's about these two performers," she says. "You want them to go from the fringe to launch into the stratosphere.

"So this was a way for us to give them an opportunity to work outside of the fringe, but also to introduce non-fringe audiences to these two young artists.

"I don't even think of them as fringe shows," Boxall says. "I think of them as expressions of who these two individual artists are."

— — —

 

Sydney Hayduk in the Village Ax at Theatre Projects.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sydney Hayduk in the Village Ax at Theatre Projects.

Since her childhood in East Kildonan, Hayduk has always gravitated to theatre, but she didn't necessarily see herself as a performer. In fact, she was studying stage management at the University of Winnipeg and gaining experience on the technical side at places such as Theatre Projects Manitoba.

"I always thought that was what I wanted to do," she says.

Eventually, the impulse to perform proved irresistible, with the fringe fest proving a safe place to test her acting chops. With only a few classes in performance — and a few years studying dance — Hayduk took the leap.

Her festival appearance led her to an invitation to perform at the Orlando Fringe Festival, but as her stage partner was unable to make the trip, she had to create her own show for Florida, with valuable assistance from co-writer Elsa Reesor-Taylor.

"I never thought I would ever go up onstage alone," Hayduk says. "It was kind of hilarious how this all worked out."

The play that emerged from that creative pressure cooker was Village Ax, which she describes as "fantastical realism."

"It's about a young girl who's having a rough time and wants to disappear and wants to get out of here and she sees this weird ad on a lamppost that says: 'Do you want to disappear?' " Hayduk says.

The girl's response to the ad leads her to the titular "high-security" village.

The play, Hayduk says, is a blend of science fiction, drama, comedy and dance.

"I try to pack it all in there."

— — —

 

Here's a coincidence: Both Village Ax and Fraz vs. the Future have fun with timelines between past and future.

Here's another coincidence: performers Wiest and Hayduk were approached separately to perform their shows, even as they became roommates (of the platonic variety) in Vancouver as of early November.

"We were asked to do this project separately, without Ardith (Boxall) even knowing we were friends," says Hayduk.

Wiest says it's more synchronicity.

"It's a coincidence, if you choose to think of it that way," he says, mysteriously.

— — —

 

Actor Fraz Wiest in a scene from  Fraz VS. The Future at Theatre Projects Manitoba.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Actor Fraz Wiest in a scene from Fraz VS. The Future at Theatre Projects Manitoba.

Fraz vs. the Future has the jumpsuit-clad Fraz (short for "Fraser") appearing in front of an audience as the result of an unplanned time-travel anomaly.

It emerges the future will not be kind to our hero, a guy who has long resisted the lure of social media and finds himself on trial to defend his incompetence on Twitter, Instagram and other forms of 21st-century communication.

Wiest, 34, has predominantly been seen by Winnipeg audiences as one of the improv wizards of DnD Improv, as well as his one-man shows at the fringe, which also includes the riotously funny memoir of coming up through dinner theatre in his 2012 show Fraz: Lonely at Last.

The Regina-born Wiest acknowledges in the two years since he performed Fraz vs. the Future at the Winnipeg fringe, the social-media realm has changed enough for him to make slight changes to the original play.

Take Facebook. Please.

"Young people now view Facebook as a way for old people to argue with each other," Wiest says.

Mostly, he says, the play has just been honed in the 50 or so times he's performed it. ("It's essentially the same show you saw two years ago, but with a lot more experience.")

"I've always considered audiences collaborators," Wiest says. "As a solo performer, you kind of live and die by the reactions you're getting.

"And I'm a comedic performer, so if they're not laughing, there's not much of a relationship there."

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

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

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