Sunday, March 8, 2015

FRIGID New York Interview - Gillian English of "Get Around Me"

By Byrne Harrison

Show: Get Around Me
Photo credit: Dahlia Katz

Gillian English is the Artistic Producer and founder of The Theatre Elusive. Originally from Nova Scotia, Gillian trained in theatre at Dalhousie University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). A Toronto based performer; Gillian has headlined the London Big Comedy Go-To, and The Spring Fever Festival. In the past, Gillian has been featured by the CBC, CTV, The National Post, and NOW! Magazine and many other media outlets for her work in the theatre and comedy. Gillian is one half of the comedy duo “Exit, Pursued by a Bear”, and is also the curator of the hilarious online-dating message blog:

Recent credits include: Paranormal Witness (TV, SyFy Network),Carmilla (Webseries), Faraway Friend (Film Short), Drag Queen Stole My Dress(The Theatre Elusive)  Love in the Time of Time Machines (The Theatre Elusive), A Woman of No Importance(Alumnae Theatre Company), Antony and Cleopatra (The Theatre Elusive), I Don’t Like You (The Theatre Elusive), Matt and Ben (The Theatre Elusive), and The Wormwood Prince (Next Stage Theatre).

Tell me a little about your show.
Four years ago, some charismatic Australians talked me into playing Aussie Rules Football. By August 2014, I was playing for the Midnight Suns in the AFL World Championship. Now I have to leave Aussie Rules behind, and I’m really not happy about it. This is a show about sports, but it’s mostly about how sports can change your life. They teach you to be tough and never apologize for playing the game.

What inspired you to create it?

I had decided over a year ago to write about my experiences in Aussie Rules. Then I went to Australia to play in the International Cup, and what happened there changed everything for me. I thought about it for a long time; whether or not I really wanted to do this show. I knew it wouldn’t be what I had intended, and I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. But Halloween day, I couldn’t stand the idea of not being in the Frigid lottery draw. That made the decision for me.

Who else is helping you bring the show to FRIGID?

I’m flying more solo than normal this year, but I’ve had help and support from Dahlia Katz, Brie Watson, Lauren Messervey and my mother. Getting this show ready was mostly about having people listen to me as I sorted out the stories, and had mini panic attacks.

Who would be your dream audience for this show?

My dream audience would be women athletes, any women really. Anyone who can relate directly, and be able to walk away from my show with a bit of fire in their belly.

I’d love to see the New York Magpies come out, I have a discount for footy players!!

As a theatre artist, who are your biggest influences?

In terms of the solo work I’m doing now, it has to be Chris Gibbs and Jon Bennett. These two guys have been so supportive and encouraging to me over the past couple of years. Plus watching either of them perform is an amazing experience. Those two are pros who know exactly what they’re doing. I love watching them work.

What shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

Shirley Gnome: Real Mature - Shirley Gnome
The Untitled Sam Mullins Project - Sam Mullins
Dog Show- Animal Engine
Cootie Catcher - Lucas Brooks
Hey '90s Kid, You’re Old - Hole Punch Prod.

And I’m especially excited to see my dear friend Antonia Lassar’s new show “Post Traumatic Super Delightful”.

What is next for you in 2015?

I have two screenplays that I’d like to turn into actual films.  I’ll keep touring “Get Around Me” around Canada, which I’m excited about. I’m hoping to return to the Atlantic Fringe Festival this September with my improv duo “Exit Pursued by a Bear”. Other than that, I’m taking up softball this summer!

Lightning round

Favorite theatre professional? I love watching Antonia Lassar work. I still think “The God Box” was one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen.

Current show you would love to be involved with? If I could only sing and dance maybe I could be in “Cannibal: The Musical”

Your dream show to be involved with? I have a decade or so to learn to sing so I can play Diana in “Next to Normal”

Who would you most like to have a chance to work with? I’d love to work with Kat Sandler. She’s an amazing Canadian playwright who is making some of the best theatre around right now.

Your best theatre experience? My final performance as Enobarbus in my LAMDA grad show production of Antony and Cleopatra. That was the first REALLY big audience I’d ever had, and I goddamn loved every second of it.

Your worst theatre experience? The police were crawling around in the ceiling during one of my shows in Montreal this past year. It was so loud, I had to start late. Pretty much a disaster.

Person you’d most like to thank for getting you where you are today? Mindy Kaling.

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