Our Pop-Up Shakespeare Initiative

In November, Notapom will produce its third and final 2018 Pop-Up Shakespeare performance in the Staircase Cafe & Theatre Bright Room. Notapom’s “Pop-Up Shakespeare” has been an exciting project, and images of the past two shows can be found in our gallery. If you’re already familiar with this project, please find tickets to our next Pop-Up here; if, however, you’d like to learn more about what “Pop-Up Shakespeare” is and why we do it, read on!

Pop-Up as a Minimalist Portrayal

William Shakespeare was, obviously, performed about 500 years ago; back before fancy tech and hundreds of sound cues. The costumes were homemade, the lighting was provided by the sun and stars, and the sound cues were real instruments and noises. With a pop-up, we strip the text down to its essentials, performing with only key costume pieces and props, and no lighting or sound at all. It feels more raw, more real and in-the-moment.

Pop-Up as a Fundraising Event

Because of its minimalistic nature, the budgets for these shows are considerably lower, and ticket sales more easily become profit for a full-fledged independent production, as well as cash in our talented local artists pockets. The shows do not have a full run, they “Pop Up!” in one weekend, and then are gone — and with all of the “hints” about what show we’ll be performing, and our ticket- and prize- giveaways, these shows act as a fundraising event, where we perform a show for an audience in lieu of an indiegogo or other kind of campaign.

Pop-Up as an Acting Challenge

Another aspect of the Pop-Up Initiative’s minimalistic nature includes a minimal cast. With A Midsummer Night’s Dream, only eight actors portrayed the eighteen or so characters! In All’s Well, our very own Gregory Cruickshank seemed to be on stage the entire show, taking on 3 different characters through the show. This is an opportunity for actors to take on multiple complex characters and find ways to quickly jump into the skin of these different roles in a matter of seconds. For fans of Hamilton talent, these shows are not to be missed; it’s a wonderful opportunity to see them push their ranges!

Pop-Up as a lot of FUN!

For both the cast and the audience, Notapom’s Pop-Up shows are a blast to attend. Actors have a lot of laughs, both on and off the stage, and audiences are treated to a show performed in-the-round at the staircase, a licensed venue! With a discounted ticket price until the show is announced on October 25th, and the many opportunities to win free tickets through our Facebook challenges, this is a weekend to mark on the calendar, and a show not to be missed!

See you there!
Carissa Kaye, Artistic Director

The Hamilton Fringe Festival: Our Own Brand of Crazy

As the Hamilton Fringe Festival comes to a close, an opportunity to reflect arose within me. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am very new to the festival; and it’s true, I didn’t get out to nearly as many shows as I had intended to this year—but nevertheless, I have already noticed trends and features within Hamilton’s growing artistic community. In the half-a-dozen or so years that I’ve called this city home, I’ve come to these conclusions:

1. We’re Willing to Take the Wildest Risks

While other cities (I’m looking at you Toronto) have a clear objective—that is, to push their careers forward and be noticed by casting agents—Hamilton is far more free to express themselves without the harrowing egos and demands of The Industy. This results in some of the most hilarious risk-takers taking to the stage (or the parking lot near a stage) to be foolish and wild. These performances are truly of the moment, connecting with their audiences as the actors grin to one another and improvise; they are open to fail, and thus, far more outside of the box and anti-traditional than the theatre born outside of this city.

Shout-outs: Waaaay Off Broadway, Sheer Criminal Genius™—A Cartoon, Awkward Stories for Adults

2. We Want to Have Something Worth Saying

Hamilton, as a growing city, is in constant flux. Conversations are always being had about authentic casting and storytelling, visible representation on stage, and saying something fresh or otherwise untold. Even the lighthearted comedies take a moment to ground themselves with a message or a deeper meaning. So many of the shows this year added to the conversation of diversity, and raised voices that are often left silent.

Shout-outs: Heatwave, Through the Woods, Emergency Monologues, Hermana Time

3. We Support the Heck out of Each Other

Between “sister shows” and companies plugging one another, shout-outs in programmes and playbills, and word-of-mouth shouting from the Hamilton Fringe tent, one thing is very clear: Hamiltonians love one another. Sure, there are feuds and rivalries, and not everyone is going to get along (we are dramatic people after all), but all artists band together throughout the Fringe to create a supportive community. Artists share each other’s event pages and media campaigns, and even reviewers find the joy in things that they’re otherwise critiquing. This is vital to the Fringe Festival if we are to continue to grow as a community, and only enriches the art that we can all collaborate on in the future.

Shout-Outs: The Director’s Cut, Eli & Pearl, Amanda Cosby-Nesbitt’s and Luis Arrojo’s online conversations and reviews

4. We’re a Force to be Reckoned With

I cannot say it enough: Hamilton is strong. We have been growing through each of the 15 past Fringes, pushing one another, pushing the envelope, pushing out and touring across Canada. Every year, the Fringe grows; it becomes more competitive, more complicated; it adds venues as it adds in number of shows. Hamilton is a destination for CAFF lottery winners and international performances, and we learn from these outside artists and create more complex works because of them. With each passing year, Hamilton solidifies its place on the map of theatrical destinations, and through the Fringe, we can watch as individual performers and companies grow in strength alongside the city.

Shout-Outs: 25, Scaredy Cat, and The Zoetic Theatre

It was no coincidence that Notapom found its roots in this amazing city; as it is no coincidence that the Fringe has had 15 successful festivals here. I’d like to take a moment to thank the many volunteers and coordinators who ensure each Fringe’s success, as well as the many theatre-goers who get out to the Fringe shows and show their support through their attendance; but it is the artists—the crazy, risk-taking, loud and proud artists, who I must applaud. This year, Hamilton boasted 53 different shows, next year, who can even imagine the heights we’ll reach together.

On Stage Management

The question I’m asked the most when I tell people I’m a stage manager is: “What, exactly, does a stage manager do?”  The full answer would take several books and a full time course of study at a major theatre school, so I will summarize!  One of the best analogies I’ve heard for what an SM does is that we are like the air traffic controllers of the theatre; every piece of information about the show passes through our hands.  We are the hub in the middle of the wheel of theatre and responsible for organizing many things.

Before rehearsals even start the SM is in touch with the design and technical teams discussing what the vision is, what the technical requirements are, and what challenges are expected in implementation. We are also getting the rehearsal space ready with all the basics: coffee mugs, pencils, tape lines on the floor denoting where various walls and set pieces will be on stage. Stage management makes sure that everything is in place for the first day of rehearsal ensuring a smooth start to the whole process.

From then on, we keep doing the same thing: we keep things running smoothly and keep track of everything.  The team is constantly tracking everything on and off stage during rehearsals. This includes the actors’ movements onstage (called blocking), what costumes they are wearing and when they get changed, what props they are carrying as well as where those props come from and where they get left.  This way we know where everything is at given moment during the play. This lets the director pick up a scene right in the middle knowing that everything is where it should be.

Also at this point, the team communicates non-stop with the other departments that are involved in the production. Wardrobe, wigs, lighting, sound, set, and any other design or technical department may need information from us, or have information to give us.  Requests from the director about props needed, requests from wardrobe for fitting sessions with actors, and any changes that are made that actors need to be aware of are just a few of the bits and pieces we keep track of and communicate.

When we move onstage and begin combining all the technical and design elements, that is when the stage management team starts taking over running the show. Tech week is often seen as the hand off of responsibility from director to stage manager. During each performance, the SM keeps everything on track by cueing lighting and sound operators, as well as any other effect and crew members working that show.  A less understood aspect of our job during the run of the show is to maintain the integrity of the director’s vision. Usually the director is around until Opening Night and then is off to direct another show in another theatre. To make sure every audience sees the same show, stage management will give notes and reminders to cast and crew alike reminding them of how the director asked for things to be done.

Finally, at the end of the show, after closing night, everything the SM team noted is archived for the production company in the event they want to remount the production exactly the same way.