A homegrown lifelong Ottawan, our first featured artist, Nicholas Dave Amott (Fireflood Theatre) is a man who makes a mean sandwich, and often receives comparisons to Benedict Cumberbatch. Comparisons which he self-professedly encourages.
Nicholas joined the ranks of Fresh Meat performers in 2013: the festival's second incarnation. His piece, previously entitled Wake went on to the 2014 Ottawa Fringe Festival, and now in 2015, rechristened as Awoken, Nick is back for more.
Read our sizzling interview with Nicholas himself below, and be sure to check out his latest offering of Awoken (Fri Aug 21st at 8pm, Sat Aug 22nd at 8pm and 9:30pm at LIVE! on Elgin, 10$ advance, 12$ door tickets link: http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/awoken-tickets-17145037268?aff=eac2)).
Fresh Meat: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with the festival.
Nicholas Dave Amott: I've lived in Ottawa my entire life, well 27 years of it anyway. I've seen a lot of great things arrive in this city, some better things leave it, and some greater things still evolve from it.
When Jonah "The Budd" Allingham invited me to be in Fresh Meat 2013, I was honoured, but also apprehensive: at the time, Frest Meat seemed like a great idea, but nothing more than a cute pet project.
However, since passing off a generous opportunity to create something for a brand new showcase would be silly (and kind of douchey), I went for it and have fallen in love with the adventure that has come out of it, and the lessons I've learned from it.
FM: Like what?
NDA: That the greatest ideas and the best projects always start off as cute pets.
FM: What does your Fresh Meat project look like now?
NDA: What started off as 20 minutes of me playing with lamps has turned into a full hour of that, with new ideas and challenges in the overall concept.
In Awoken, we see Todd (the protagonist) lost in his own mind, which - weakened though it is - he still has some subconscious control over. By using household lighting instruments (that is, lights that the performer manipulates himself) as opposed to theatrical ones, the audience sees only what Todd wants them to see, blocking elements of his mind by hiding them in the shadows. It's only until the end, when he has nearly lost control that we truly see the human he is.
I've also brought in a director proper (the kingly Brennan Richardson) to have a hand in creating a production wholly different from the Fringe 2014 version previous. That man is more than a find swordsman and spinner of tales, he offered insights into the character and world of Awoken that I had not even considered before.
FM: If you were a kitchen item, implement or appliance, what would you be?
NDA: A decanter. I have trouble verbally articulating my ideas right away; I need to look into them and let them pour onto paper first so that I gain better sight of where they're heading, if anywhere, before sharing them with my peers.
You know, let them breathe a little.
Party-talk is different... Then, it's straight from the bottle.
FM: Speaking from your experience as an artist, how do you think Fresh Meat impacts the local community?
NDA: Fresh Meat is one of the too-few bastions in Ottawa for local, up-and-coming, and needless-to-say independent artists who REALLY deserve an opportunity to just get out there and make something, and to have it seen by the community.
The original Fresh Meat version of Awoken, honestly, was thrown together in three days. I had a story concept, a design concept, and less than a week before the show I strung together a 20-minute... something, and put it up. As expected, it was unpolished, but it was still interesting.
Flawed as the piece was, the concept was enough to capture the audience's attention. It was a seed that showed some promise, which is exactly what the festival does. Fresh Meat assists the artists in finding the potential in their work, and in themselves. Even if it's only a seed.
FM: What's your favourite thing about Fresh Meat?
NDA: The grassroots nature that is still maintains. Even as the festival itself slowly grows year by year, and garners more professional attention, it still feels as though it's a community of friends who have another chance to hang out, drink, chat, and watch some new theatre, without getting too far up each others' butts.
FM: Finally, how do you like your meat? (Veggie-friendly answers accepted)
NDA: Animalistic. Also, sandwiched.
Awoken plays Friday August 21st at 8pm, and Saturday August 22nd at 8pm and 9:30pm at LIVE! on Elgin (above Dunn's Diner). Tickets are 10$ in advance and 12$ at the door. http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/awoken-tickets-17145037268?aff=eac2)