Article in Behind the @Fringe NYC

FAQs: “Stripes: The Mystery Circus” @ New York International Fringe Festival

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sarah Hayward answers our Fringe Asked Questions on her solo play “Stripes: The Mystery Circus” which can be seen at The Studio @ Cherry Lane Theatre, New York City from August 20-28. Ticket info and performance times are available here.

BTF: Will you tell us about your show?

SH: Stripes: The Mystery Circus is a 60 min solo play with songs. People-pleasing Pollymnia [named for Greek Muse of song] will do “anything” to get into the Circus. She brazenly reinvents eight iconic circus acts, including The Two-Headed Lady, The High-Wired Act and The Bittersweet Bearded Lady. Secret theories, mysteries and Leonard Cohen are just a few of Pollyhymnia’s passions.

BTF: How and when did it come about?

SH: The germination for “Stripes: The Mystery Circus” began at The Banff Centre for the Arts, at the International Extended Voice Workshop with Richard Armstrong. It began as a personal archeological dig and with the help of my vocal coach, Marguerite Witvoet, who teaches with Richard. We turned-stories into songs. I call it a play with songs because it’s not a traditional musical. For example, the juggler “juggles” work, medication, hospital visits, extra fluids, wheelchairs. The Halloween Party at the Old Folks Home was created from an experience when I dressed my mother as a bride for the Halloween party at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

BTF: What’s your story?

SH: I grew up in Halifax Nova Scotia, and loved theatre from an early age. My mother was named one of the 10 best-dressed women in Canada in the 50’s so I had a big dress up trunk to play with. After graduating from Acadia University, I went to theatre school in Montreal at the Dome Theatre School. When I was 13 years old, I played Modesty Clean in a modern morality play about pollution, Modesty Clean Meets the Devil. We toured to National Arts Centre. I guess that early theme of “The Devil” continues to influence my work now coming through my Nun character in Stripes: The Mystery Circus. The Nun refers to Stripes as “The Devil’s cloth”. I worked part-time at the Vancouver Public library and acted in film and tv as I created Stripes: The Mystery Circus. I’ve always loved solo shows and wanted to create my own traveling show. Performing in New York is a dream come true. Barely making the application deadline, I was thrilled to be accepted to participate in the FringeNYC and look forward to a great adventure at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre.

BTF: How bare bones is your show?

SH: Two Suitcases, one filled with props and another with photographs and one chair, plus some inventive costumes.

BTF: Do you have any influences?

SH: Artistic influences include: Nigel Charnock, the astonishing solo show artist and triple threat from London, Fred Curchack who has written and performed over 52 one man plays, and Richard Armstrong and Marguerite Witvoet, who encourage their students to “release into action”.

BTF: If you were meeting your prospective in-laws for the first time, how would you describe the work you do?

SH: I’m an Intern of the Intangible. Perhaps that is why I’m still single.

BTF: What shouldn’t an audience expect from you?

SH: An audience shouldn’t expect any real circus acts…most of my acts are unexpected interpretations, reinventions of traditional circus acts. Stripes: The Mystery Circus is more of a “Mystery”.

BTF: If this is your first festival, what do you think you’re in store for? If you’re a pro, what is it you’re in for?

SH: Adventure, travel, fun at FringeNYC! I toured the Canadian Fringe Circuit in 2006-2007. I expect lots of handing out postcards, seeing shows, meeting amazing creative people…quick changes. I look forward to finding my people, people who love theatre, who create theatre, who attend theatre, who promote theatre, who volunteer to help make a Festival happen…they will be the highlights of FringeNYC. That and I’m looking for a producer to present my show at the Edinburgh Festival next summer!


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