Theatre lovers across the city look forward to the Toronto Fringe Festival all year-round. It’s like Christmas, except your family isn’t trying to pressure you into Christianity. So I guess it’s very different than Christmas.
However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be filled with gifts! That one you see up front, with the shiny ribbon, that’s No Place, a site-specific storytelling show starring the brilliant Jillian Welsh and directed by Second City’s Shari Hollett.
The show features the dynamic and hilarious Welsh speaking about love, the loss of her grandmother, and the things we don’t say. We got to talk to Welsh this week.
SDTC: What inspired you to create this show?
JW: My grandmother. She was hilarious, chock-full of love and had a large influence on my growing up. When she passed away, everything was so complicated. I didn’t say anything at her funeral. I just sat there eating stale Werther’s Original.
What attracts you to creating true story-inspired theatre?
The things I love to watch are always grounded in truth. I feel a lot of fear holding such honest words in my mouth, but it’s also exciting. I imagine it’s the same feeling before you spin the wheel on Wheel of Fortune.
How do you decide what you can and cannot talk about when doing personal storytelling?
If I can’t see the slightest glimmer of humour in it I know that I’m not ready to talk about it. And I don’t want to make fun of anyone, unless of course you’re my 8th grade Miss Trunchbull of a science teacher, then you’re going down.
You are a hilarious comedic actor/comedian and brilliant at more “serious” work. What draws you to doing both types of art?
I’m only ever funny by accident. Please don’t tell anyone.
In the show, your character (Josephine) worries that “all the right things to say can only turn out wrong.” In your opinion, is there a “right” thing to say in difficult times?
Josephine was a character name I was using so I could pretend this show wasn’t really about me. I’ve since switched to using my real name. The truth is always the right thing. It sucks and it’s not easy, but it’s not going anywhere. Shari Hollett taught me that.
Can art help a creator unpack things that have happened in their life? Do real life events just inspire art, or does art act as a catalyst for a creator to understand aspects of their life?
Some people create because they want to be understood; I create because I want to understand. But I also moved a month ago and am still living out of the boxes. I can’t decide where I want to put anything. Maybe everything is just a work in progress.
No Place will be at St George The Martyr (197 John Street) 6th July 8:00pm, 7th July 1:00pm, 8th July 8:00pm, 9th July 8:00pm, 11th July 8:00pm, 12th July 8:00pm, 13th July 8:00pm, 14th July 1:00pm, 15th July 8:00pm, 16th July 8:00pm.