Local tour-de-forces and Fresh Meat alums Megan Carty and Tess Mc Manus are teaming up for a wicked double bill at Theatre Underground's event PAIRED UP: You Didn't Ask To Be Here & Donkey Derby this September. So we figured what's a better way to catch up with these two dynamos than a double feature?
Megan Carty is no stranger to Fresh Meat; in the past year she has shared two current works-in-development with the festival: Me and My Monster and The Gold One. Most recently Megan performed as Baby Bridget in Jan Irwin's stage adaptation of Up to Low. She is currently performing in Theatre Wakefield's production of A Bridge to the Past, a musical revue about the history living in the Gatineau Hills. Up next: Charlie in the world premiere of Theatre Underground's You Didn't Ask to be Here by Allan Mackey.
Tess Mc Manus had been working in the Ottawa arts community for a few years when, on a fateful night at the Fringe beer tent (RIP), she was approached by Fresh Meat founder Jonah Allingham and asked to take part in the festival's very first incarnation. It was during that Fringe circuit that Donkey Derby first galloped (if donkeys can be said to gallop?) onto the scene, and the show is back in its newest form in Theatre Underground's double bill.
Read our juicy interview with these two below, and don't miss PAIRED UP: You Didn't Ask To Be Here & Donkey Derby (Sept 11 - 13, Avalon Studio @ 738A Bank, 25$).
Fresh Meat: DIY Theatre Fest: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with Fresh Meat.
Megan Carty: My first engagement with Fresh Meat was last fall. I had recently taken the summer lab intensive at One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary so I was very jazzed about creating my own experimental theatre. I was currently developing a one-woman physical theatre/verbatim piece called Me and My Monster for which Fresh Meat was the perfect platform. The experience with the festival was so tremendous and it was a gift to have a supportive platform to share art straight from my heart. For that reason, I decided to participate in Fresh Meat's Weekend Inventive the following winter with The Gold One.
Tess Mc Manus: Before Fresh Meat came along, I was fascinated with theatre creation - but it was something I'd never tried before. Knowing that that was where my interests lay, I joined a few touring shows on the Fringe circuit to get a better idea of what was being created across Canada at the grassroots level. I watched upwards of 70 shows, and the more I watched, the more confident I felt that I could create something, too. So the following year I threw together a humble attempt at a solo show called Donkey Derby, which toured the Fringe circuit, gaining critical acclaim and was encouragement for me to keep creating.
On that circuit, I was approached by Jonah and Tony. Less than a month before the very first Fresh Meat, I was performing Donkey Derby in Edmonton, and started working on the new show. That year, I offered up Tales She Tells, and the next year came Who Will Separate Us? The festival was a perfect platform to try out both: two brand-new ideas, and the barebones of could-be shows.
FM: What does your Fresh Meat project look like now?
Tess Mc Manus: Tales She Tells has undergone so many levels of evolution it's remarkable. The first, its premiere at Fresh Meat 1, where I tried to cram a lesson in Celtic Mythology and two epic stories into 15 minutes. The second, I toured the Ottawa, Regina, Winnipeg, and Edmonton Fringes in its full-length version. Of course, in Regina I got into a bike accident and broke my jaw, so my amazing stage manager Lydia Riding continued on with the tour, learning an 8 000 word solo show and an Irish accent in less than a week (she makes it look so easy). For the third, I was approached by the Artistic Director of the Ottawa Storytellers to book the show at the NAC's 4th Stage. It went up as Straight From The Harp, featuring a harpist and a soprano, and was a promotion of Irish culture as the original script had intended. Now, in its fourth incarnation, on Oct 2nd at the Richcraft Theatre at the Shenkman Arts Centre, it will feature storytelling and the harp. With every new rendition, it's getting better and better.
FM: Megan, any upcoming performances?
Megan Carty: Of course! I always have a project on-the-go, be it acting, producing, or creating. It's through theatre that I aspire to tell stories that resonate with me on a personal level. Right now I'm involved in Bridge to the Past by Ian Tamblyn and directed by Mary Ellis with Theatre Wakefield!
FM: If you were a kitchen item, implement, or appliance, what would you be?
Megan Carty: A waffle maker.
Tess Mc Manus: A spoon.
FM: Speaking from your experience as an artist, how do you think Fresh Meat impacts the local community?
Megan Carty: It's an amazing way to bring likeminded emerging theatre creators together in a supportive and fun environment. New work is so important to the development of Ottawa's arts scene and this is exactly what this festival is all about!
Tess Mc Manus: In addition to a strong local artist presence, Fresh Meat is a launching pad for those artists. And in order to be considered a launching pad, the presence of highly regarded individuals working in theatre in the city should be in attendance as well. That is to say that staff from the National Arts Centre, Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Council for the Arts, etc could see potential in somebody or a show and shed light on next steps or even pick up some shows.
FM: What's your favourite thing about Fresh Meat?
Megan Carty: I love that I can take huge risks without fear. Fresh Meat celebrates process, and for that reason I can create far out of my comfort zone.
Tess Mc Manus: The void of competition. With Fresh Meat, it's cooperating instead of getting competitive. It's a shift from the Fringe model of ticket sales and bums in seats. When an audience member attends Fresh Meat, all the participants win. It's awesome.
FM: Of course, how do you like your meat? (Veggie-friendly answers accepted)
Megan Carty: I am a vegan, but I am a huge fan of the roasted Portobello mushroom burger.
Tess Mc Manus: Juicy.
PAIRED UP: You Didn't Ask To Be Here & Donkey Derby plays at the Avalon Studio (738A Bank) September 11 -13, tickets for 25$: http://theatreunderground.com/