Douglas Theatre alums perform at Fringe Fest
By Adam Tatelman, Arts Editor
The Fringe Festival is a time of great opportunity for performers and directors based in college and community theatre to finally get some larger scale public exposure. This year, the lineup includes Kara Nolte and Julia Siedlanowska, graduates of the Douglas College theatre program and co-founders of local production company Shakespeare Unchained. In anticipation of their new Fringe production, aux.la.more, they agreed to interview for the Other Press.
According to Siedlanowska, Shakespeare Unchained was actually the result of a chance meeting, despite her history with Nolte. “We ran into each other on the SkyTrain and made a date for coffee,” she explained. “That’s when the idea came up to create a piece of theatre that was highly movement based, based off of some of our favourite Shakespeare monologues and duologues. We worked well together and the ideas kept flowing, so we made ‘Chivalry is Dead,’ a two-woman adaptation of Don Quixote the following year.”
Aux.la.more has been a pet project of Nolte’s for the last two years, and she is excited to finally present it. “It bounced back and forth between text and movement creation to find a blend of the two,” she said, “it began with a piece of poetry and evolved to include singing. It has been a challenge to keep true to the original poetry and to allow the story to evolve naturally.”
Having been a major focus for the duration of its production, the rehearsal process seems to have been quite introspective for Nolte. “What has made this process unique has been that I’ve had to be alone in the room a lot, that it has been created and worked on in a few different cities and locations, and the length at which it has been allowed to develop.”
“I think that it is fast evolving,” Siedlanowska said of Shakespeare Unchained’s particular brand of performance. “The things that remain are a dedication to examining classic texts such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Whitman, and a highly physical, humorous approach to the work.”
Siedlanowska credits her history with Douglas College as a major influence on her work, and a big part of the reason she and Nolte do the kind of work they do. “It is at the core of my training as an actor, and therefore informs how I create,” Siedlanowska said. “It’s a balance for me to try to create from the fantastic foundation I received based on the knowledge of so many incredible theatre makers, but also to reach out to different art forms and ways of storytelling to re-examine what we define as ‘good’ or ‘valid.’ It’s important for me as an artist to always feel like I’m growing, gaining knowledge, expanding my toolkit. Douglas gave me a great way to start a life of learning as an artist.”
If you’re interested in—as Nolte put it— “the freedom, the broad spectrum of ideas and aesthetics, and being around some wild artists,” then aux.la.more may be what you’re looking for. The show runs from September 9–13 in the False Creek Gym. For tickets to this and other live events at this year’s Fringe Festival, visit tickets.vancouverfringe.com.