Barry Smith: Irrelativity
Aspen CO, Colorado
OK, I’m actually in Toronto at the moment, but I’m pretending I’m still in Wakefield. Seems more exotic somehow, right? Wakefield. Canada. Totally exotic.
I just opened “American Squatter” last night in Toronto, and I have another performance in two hours. There were four major press people at my show last night. Four! The reviews already are posted online.
And I’m not going to read them.
Well, at least not before I do my show in a few hours. I’ll wait.
That’s the plan, and it’s turning out to be a very difficult one. I need to know! A good review will leave me set up for the rest of the festival. A mediocre one will mean lots of flyering work needs to be done. A bad one, and, well … that’ll mean the hardest work of all ” trying to convince myself that reviews don’t matter.
It was a good show, but it was one of those shows where the audience ” a good-sized audience ” did a lot more staring than laughing. Which is not to say that they didn’t enjoy my show, just that I’m not sure if they did or not. I know that sometimes I show my appreciation for humor by staring blankly, so …
Ugh … everyone else already knows! They’ve checked the reviews. All my friends. All the potential audience. They all check daily. So do I. Just not today. At least not BEFORE my show.
No, today I need to still be in Wakefield, which is officially where this dispatch is from. I’ll deal with Toronto when I’m emotionally able. Like when I’m 85.
So … Wakefield, Quebec ” The Piggyback Fringe Festival. This was the first year of the Piggyback Fringe, called such because Wakefield is a small town less than a half hour from Ottawa, so some folks in Wakefield decided that they’d invite performers from the Ottawa Fringe Festival to pop by and do some more shows when their Ottawa run was through. I was one of those people.
In Wakefield I performed in a church. Not an old, abandoned church now used for storage and occasional theatre ” a real church! With pews and a big-old cross behind me. An active church. Hymnals. The whole bit. It was awesome. In my show “American Squatter” I show pictures on a screen. One of my pictures is of the first Butthole Surfers album. You’ll want to Google this album to realize the significance of projecting this image in a church.
I did two shows in one day, and during my second show I had some sort of transcendent experience ” I don’t know what else to call it. See, a few years back, back when I still was writing my first show, “Jesus In Montana,” I had this idea of how cool it would be to take my show on the road, performing in different places, for different people. Since I’d never actually done a show, or gone on any sort of tour, it seemed like a magical dream concept to me. But flash forward just a few years, and here I am! On tour! Doing my show in a town I’ve never even heard of. In a church! And people are enjoying it. This is all so very cool.
Throughout most of the Ottawa Fringe fest, just last week, I couldn’t shake the fact that there weren’t as many people coming to my show as I’d hoped, and I lost sight of how excited and lucky I feel to get to do my show for anyone. I tried and tried, but couldn’t quit whining and moping. I actually was more upset over my reaction to small audiences than to the small audiences themselves. But in that last show in Wakefield it all clicked in for me again. I was present and appreciative and really enjoying doing my show. At the end of the show, when I thanked the 20 or so people for turning out on a Monday night at 10:30 to see some guy they’ve never heard of, I actually was moved to tears. There, in a church, I had a religious experience.
Obvious to some, an oxymoron to me, yet it happened.
Can I get an amen?
Next time: Toronto, reviews, Barry performs someone else’s play, stuff … find tour dates and pictures at http://www.barrysmith.com
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