Praxis Theatre is currently on hiatus! Please find co-founders Aislinn Rose and Michael Wheeler at The Theatre Centre and SpiderWebShow, respectively.

Category: Dispatches from the booth

July 3, 2012, by

Gentle readers,

That most anticipated time of year is upon us again: the Toronto Fringe Festival will once again spread across the Annex, inciting twelve wild days of drinking, debauchery, and theatre-going. As the days shift from “merely very warm” to “Dear God, why is it so sweltering everywhere?”, the pressing question upon every theatre-goer’s mind is: What should I go see at the Fringe this year?

Well, readers, once again Pip is here to set you straight and guide you in your decisions. After careful thought and a highly scientific process of stabbing my Fringe program with a highlighter, I have determined my top picks of this year’s festival. Here are, in no particular order, the six shows you absolutely must see at the 2012 Fringe Festival.

Too Much Information You Never Wanted To Know About Me: The Solo Show

By That Guy Who’s Been Touring The Fringe Circuit Since Time Immemorial

Join me for the story of how I had sex once! And also I have problems with women, that probably stem from the fact that my father left home when I was seven! And also with my boss (same reason)! And I have a somewhat inappropriate and overindulgent relationship with my turtle (same reason)! And I’m forty-five and I can’t date anyone more than three times before I freak out. It’s probably because of my dad.

Five stars – Winnipeg Free Press/Patron’s Pick – Orlando Fringe Festival

Things That Should Never Be A Musical: The Musical

By That Group of Stoners Who Did Not Realize What They Were Getting Into

Join us for a wild, comedic romp about that thing that seemed really, really funny nine months ago when we were all on weed and then Jimmy (who had just taken ‘shrooms) said, “Hey, guys, wouldn’t it be great if this was a musical?” and then Lucas got his guitar out and Caleb’s girlfriend Kelsei started singing and man we all just laughed and laughed and laughed and then shit we’d won the Fringe lottery.

That Fight I Had With My Ex-Boyfriend That I’m Still Not Over Two Years Later: A Drama

By That Girl Who Never Stops Talking About Some Guy Named Ben Benson

Join us for the story of Ben Benson, who is a lying liar who lies and also cheats on you. DO NOT DATE HIM. Plus I saw him at The Brunny the other night and he was totally scamming on two girls at once but what they don’t know is HE HAS HERPES.

My Family Is Way Worse Than Your Family: A Comedy

By That Middle Aged Woman Who Found Theatre Late In Life

Join us for a hilarious romp through all of the funny things my kids and parents ever said! Set at a Thanksgiving dinner, this multigenerational comedy is full of the wacky hijinks of a madcap family of misfits coming together for a holiday none of them will forget!

I Have Too Many Feelings For Words: A Dance Piece

By That Young Artists’ Group

Join us for a collective creation that we made out of our youth outreach program, dealing with themes of sexuality, grief, and growing up set to the music of Lady GaGa and Nicki Minaj. Too old to be kids, too young to be adults; we’re not girls, but not yet women.

Scandalous Words Strung In A Row With Salacious Intent To Make You Think My Show Is Interesting: The Site Specific In A Wildly Inappropriate Place

By That 23 yr old University Student Who Thinks This Is A New Idea

Join us for tits tits tits tits blowjobs handjobs drugs makeouts allusions to multiple partner sex acts. A wild, sexy ride into a sexy heart of darkness filled with sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll! In the dressing room of a strip joint! Lap dances extra.

[For real advice about which of this year’s 155 amazing shows you want to see at the Toronto Fringe, please check out Derrick Chua’s picks here.]

Sarah ‘Pip’ Bradford is the Mainspace Technician of Tarragon Theatre and the Youth Outreach Coordinator of the Toronto Fringe Festival. She blogs here (tips from pip) and here (The Christopher Pike Project), and also live tweets really bad books @pipbradford #pipreads. She would like to emphasize that every one of these Fringe shows is both totally made up and something she totally saw at one point, and she really enjoyed them all. She also firmly believes that you should tip your stripper.

May 23, 2012, by

Pip's dispatches have moved from the Tarragon Theatre Booth to the Toronto Fringe Office

Dear Friends:

There is a saying in this world that “a change is a good as a rest”. Frankly, years of club-hopping has left me unconvinced of the truth of that statement. Sometimes, readers, I would have been far better served by going home to bed than by going to the Dakota. However, I have decided to take this dubious advice to heart and, finding myself tiring of the trials of being a space technician, I have flown the Tarragon coop and found a new roost here at the Toronto Fringe Festival for a brief time.

The Toronto Fringe, in what can only be a moment of near-godlike inspiration, has seen fit to hire me as their Youth Outreach Coordinator. And after reviewing the reasons you wish you were in my program I have listed below, I’m sure you will agree that clearly they could not have gone in any other direction.

5 Reasons Why You Wish You Could Be In My Youth Outreach Program

  • We’re talking the Fringe Festival here.

Seriously, why would you not want to be part of the best two weeks in Toronto theatre? Do you not like seeing plays for free? Do you not want to be party to some of the most interesting discussions in theatre? Do you not like hanging out with awesome people?

  • I’m too new to know what isn’t allowed.

If you think it is a good use of our time together to watch episodes of Gossip Girl and analyze the development and progression of Blair Waldorf, the greatest character on television, who am I to say no?

  • Thanks to my raging adult ADD, I have more energy than any one human being should.

Being me requires enough energy to fuel a rocket ship to the moon and back. Think you’ve got lots of drive and get-up-and-go? I wrote the book on overnighters WHILE OVERNIGHTING. This party never stops.

  • I’m a technician, which means we are not dilly dallying around here.

We are going way beyond theatre games, my friends. Largely because I am not too clear on the rules and motivation behind Zip Zap Zop.

  • You get to come hang out with me in my clubhouse

As the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the Toronto Fringe Festival, I am finally achieving a Fringe Dream five years in the making: I get to hang out at the Fringe Club all day long while people come visit me in my clubhouse, The 100 Salon. No, seriously, I have a salon. You want to come to my salon? WELL TOO BAD, because you’re not in my youth outreach program.

The program Pip is taunting you with is The 100, a new program the Fringe is developing for young artists between the ages of 17 and 24.  This 12 day immersive theatre entrepreneur boot-camp allows participants to get hands-on experience developing viral and guerilla marketing techniques, learning about self-promotion and branding, and generating street theatre while acting as ambassadors for the Fringe Festival of Toronto.

Perks include an unlimited pass to the Toronto Fringe Festival, access to behind-the-scenes action at the Fringe Club, and more fun than you can shake a stick at. To learn more, you can email her at, or to apply simply click here.

Sarah ‘Pip’ Bradford is the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the Toronto Fringe Festival, the Mainspace Technician at Tarragon Theatre, and the founder of Art Is Hard, a grassroots arts philanthropy project.

If you like what you see here, she blogs (infrequently) at The Christopher Pike Project, and posts daily to Tips From Pip, an unsolicited Tumblr advice blog. She is also willing to accept Samwell Tarly on Game Of Thrones as a contender for best character on television.

April 19, 2012, by

by Pip Bradford

Subject: Byron Laviolette
Date: Friday, March 16th, 2012

I met Byron several years ago, at the Fringe when he was with a Morro and Jasp show. This is the record of a day we spent together, to better understand the life of a man who runs with clowns.

Noon: The subject suggests we meet at B Espresso, a trendy coffee shop on East Queen at noon. At ten minutes past noon, the subject appears wearing a rumpled overcoat, a white tshirt, and a hangover. I think maybe this is a “sad clown” look.

Inside the subject orders a coffee: a double Americano with “cream for colour, sugar for taste, and cinnamon for ‘shapam’” I don’t know what that last word means. Maybe it is Clown for “delicious”.

12:30 pm: The subject has brought me to what appears to be a terrorist cell meeting. Or maybe it’s for a show. It’s hard to tell. If they are terrorists, they’re really nice about it, which I suppose is what I should expect of Canadian terrorists. None of them appear to be clowns.

Also what my Existentialism notes looked like

12:55 pm: The subject makes sure to keep me in the loop during the meeting. Meanwhile, I doodle pictures in my notebook of cream pies and red noses, and pretend I’m making notes.

1:00 pm: It is, in fact, a meeting about a show called ZED.TO. It’s a really neat immersive, experiential concept piece, but there are no clowns in it.

1:15 pm: The meeting adjourns. We smoke a cigarette.

1:30 pm: Social media break. I upload a picture of a lemur to my Facebook page.

1:40 pm: We get on the subway to go to Woodbine. On the way, we gossip about people we don’t like. Then we talk about shows we loved. Then we talk about my new job.

We do talk briefly about clowns.

Seriously, where are we?

2:05 pm: We arrive at our destination. Upon emerging from the subway station, it appears we have gone into the Heart of Darkness: the extreme East End of Toronto. We smoke a cigarette and check our smartphones.

2:30 pm: We arrive at the house of one of the subject’s associates, Amy Lee, a known clown, to examine a red carpet with sun damage. The subject needs it for a benefit event on the following Tuesday, and he’s hoping to call upon my dubious expertise. Eventually we decide to simply cut off the yellowed bits. We smoke a cigarette and agree to go get another coffee.

3:15 pm:  We get lunch at a café on the Danforth. Nothing humourous happens.

Not clowning around

4:00: The subject tells me that this part of the day is normally his office hours. This appears to consist of finding an empty park bench and fooling around on his laptop. After I take a few photos with my iPhone, we decide to go visit one of his associates in the neighbourhood.

The home of a known clown

4:15: We arrive at the home of Heather Annis, another known clown. I accept the tea she offers. The subject has a beer. There is a small dog present – a common prop in clowning – but said dog is notably absent of the ruffled collar and cone hat I was expecting.

Not Pictured: Cone Hat and Ruffle

The subject tells me about the project I observed a meeting for that morning. I ask him why there are no clowns in it. He points out that it is possible to do more than one thing. This is very exciting news.

5:00 I leave for work.

Byron Laviolette is a Canadian director, dramaturg, writer and critic. In addition to working towards a PhD in Theatre at York University, he is also a co-creator of the Morro and Jasp series and is the lead narrative member on the Mission Business’ ZED.TO. He is also an excellent sport.

Sarah ‘Pip’ Bradford is the Mainspace Technician at Tarragon Theatre, the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the Toronto Fringe Festival, and the founder of Art Is Hard, a grassroots arts philanthropy project. She is also a noted lemur enthusiast. If you like what you see here, she blogs (infrequently) at The Christopher Pike Project, and posts daily to Tips From Pip, an unsolicited Tumblr advice blog. She has nine followers.

February 22, 2012, by

Technicians in their native habitat, a small local bar. They are not impressed by your questions.

by Pip Bradford

Why hello, readers! Pip here, starting my new column on these pages: Dispatches From The Booth.

Over the past ten years, I have worked tirelessly to assimilate myself into that most elusive and mysterious of groups: theatre technicians. During that time I have developed an understanding of the workings of both technicians themselves and the artists that surround them.

For my first column, I thought I would begin with a spot of advice on that most awkward and difficult time: when technicians are encountered by just about anybody else. They are often approached with a smile, and a series of what might be considered thoughtful questions about their job. After all, who knows what technicians really do? Oh, we’ve all seen them, lurking around in the back of the theatre, a disembodied head floating in the booth, a gruff presence sweeping the floor before the show. But “being generally dodgy” cannot be the entirety of their job descriptions, can it?

Now, if you’re not a technician, and your “well-intentioned” questions are met with an eye roll and a shrug, it may be that the technician you’re talking to is just maintaining their misanthropic air of mystery. Or they may be drunk (technicians are often drunk). But it may also be that you have asked them one of the following questions*, all of which are guaranteed to earn you a scornful glance, at the very least.

*As a disclaimer, allow me to state that I have been asked all of these questions at least once, and by people working professionally in the arts.

Here they are: Five Questions You Should Never Ask A Theatre Technician:

1. What are you going to do when you stop being a technician?

Probably die.

2. Why don’t you work for Cirque du Soleil or Mirvish?

Can’t stand musicals, and I’m afraid of clowns.

3. Did you have to go to school for that?

No, I was born with an inherent grasp of photometrics, physics, engineering, mechanics, and sass.

4. How bad is the show/my performance/any other element thereof?

I don’t actually know, because I’ve never watched you perform. I’m too busy operating lighting cues, making sure the right sound cue is playing, checking that your mic is turned on, and criticizing your ability to find your light.

5. Why aren’t you an actor?

I don’t know. Why aren’t you a zookeeper?

Pip Bradford is the Mainspace Technician at Tarragon Theatre, an intern for the Toronto Fringe Festival, and is the founder of Art Is Hard, a grassroots arts philanthropy project. In her spare time, she is a gadabout and girl-around-town. She also blogs (infrequently) at The Christopher Pike Project.