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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion - "Edmonton Fringe" Documentary - He will narrate this film

Erik Floren

Friday 18 August 2006, by Webmaster

Now you can catch all the frenzy of the Fringe on film.

The Fringe - Acting Up, a one-hour documentary shot last season, screens nightly at the festival, starting today.

Featuring Josh Dean, Joe Flaherty and Ron Pederson, The Fringe - Acting Up is an often hilarious and zany look at several groups competing for recognition and audiences at the festival.

Writer/producer Michael Chyz sought to depict the utter chaos surrounding some of the performers.

"I acted in the Fringe about five times myself," said Chyz. "And I know it’s very difficult as an artist to also produce your own show, to do the publicity, the marketing and the casting."

A creative mind suddenly has to switch into business mode in an attempt to earn a profit, or at the very least, not lose money.

"And for people who just basically want to act, that’s a really tall order, especially for a rookie going into the Fringe with big dreams," said Chyz.

That said, there are some pretty funny moments in the film. Just watch the rubbery face of Trevor Schmidt as Bette Davis chatting with a biker. Or the wacky antics of members of Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie and Die-Nasty.

"It was both a challenge and a pleasure to showcase some of the best comedic talents at the Fringe, and I hope the audience laughs as much as we did while making it," said Chyz.

There are interviews with members of the casts from Blacklisted, Gordon’s Big Bald Head, Guys in Disguise, Moonsnake, Jem Rolls and Yolanda Yott.

Yolanda who, you ask? Yolanda who graced the Fringe last year with her one-woman show Having My Cabaret and Eating It Too, which earned a zero rating from Sun reviewer Mike Ross, which is read out loud by an angry Yott in the film.

Noted Chyz: "I think it’s tough for people to come to the Fringe for the first time. I’ve heard this many times from people on the Fringe tour. They’ve been through Ottawa and Toronto, Winnipeg ... and they’ve had a good time in every one of those cities. And they come to Edmonton and are slammed by the press. And they go ’Wow, what’s this?’ "

Chyz says one reason the bar is set so high here is because the city is such a huge theatre community, boasting good professional performances year round.

"Reviewers in Edmonton have to set a bar and keep with it. They can’t say, ’Well, everything is good in its own merit!’ They have to draw the line: this is your top end, this is your low end. And that’s really a service done for the public."

Nevertheless, performers are often shocked when they fall into that bottom end.

"Edmonton’s Fringe is also larger than other fringes, where perhaps reviewers cut shows some slack."

Local reviewers appearing in the film include the Edmonton Journal’s Todd Babiak and Liz Nicholls, along with the Sun’s Colin MacLean. The Fringe - Acting Up contains interviews with ordinary Fringe-goers as well.

Josh Miller is the executive producer, Neil Grahn the director, and the film is narrated by Nathan Fillion, of Serenity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame (among other roles).

Acting Up screens nightly at the Global Family Stage 12 (also known as the PCL Studio Theatre at the TransAlta Bus Barns). Check at the theatre for times.

In addition, the film airs Aug. 30 on Citytv (Cable 7) in Edmonton and nationally on Sept. 6 on Bravo! (Cable 36). Because of mature language, the 48-minute film may not be suitable for all audiences.