At the Fringe For All, this production’s two minutes began by bringing a giant pink asshole onto the stage, from which a group of characters were born. How could that not have my attention? I’m one of those people who circulates listicles with smart answers by kids on tests or drawings about the future. Kids have wild imaginations and are not afraid to use them. I’m not the only fan of kid art, as the Chocolate Moose Theatre Company has chosen to take plays written by kids and turn them into a Fringe Festival show where the actors are adults. The plays’ authors range in age from 5 to 12 (at the time of writing, that is). I spoke to Fiona Ross about this super fun production.
I ask how they obtained plays written by kids in the first place. “We basically a call for submissions from kids. It was for anyone under the age of 12, but we broadened to scope to things adults who wrote things under the age of the 12,” they explain. “We were expecting it to be a struggle and we got 12 or 15 instead.”
Once the group had submissions (the cast is Martin Law, Niko Ouellette, Fiona Ross, Tina Trineer, and Pascale Yensen), they sat down and talked about which ones they liked and which ones would work best. “We started putting things on their feet and building it,” says Ross. “Kids don’t have a concept of how many characters are necessary. Some shows have a bunch of characters but only five actors and we need audience members to step in.”
Most plays were written in a prose format and had to be converted into plays, while others were already ready for the stage. “One was converted into a play by the author of the story herself,” says Ross.
While the authors are quite young, it turns out, though, some of the plays were rather racy! “One kid wrote about a naked character, so we’re doing an 18+ show after 9 p.m., and family friendly ones before 9 p.m.,” Ross tells me.
The plays themselves are rich in imagination. Ross explains some of the play’s subjects. “In one story, they’re on Pluto and mayor declares they have to move to Mars because they can’t live on Pluto anymore. The two characters miss the shuttle and meet a sea monster and a dragon and go on an epic adventure. That one is adventurey. Another is a murder mystery. We have a fairy story. There’s a unicorn sighting story and 95% of it is costume description. It’ll be very fun. One of them was written in the ’70s and is about a tv set complaining that it wants to watch MASH instead of Laverne and Shirley.”
I ask if the original writings were altered in any way. “We’re performing them as verbatim as possible,” she says. “Some of it, we divided into narrator and characters. If we switched it all to dialogue, the hilarity would be lost. It’s in the description rather than the dialogue. Sometimes a little bit is added to make the story flow.”
One thing that Ross mentions again and again is how hilarious the shows are. “I can’t stop laughing,” she says. “I work with kids. I’m a nanny by day and one of my business partners and I have kids in our lives. We’re doing it by taking all of the kids’ work very seriously and putting as much production value into it as possible, as we would with scripts written by adults, as we would with any play. It’s hilarious and weird even if sometimes things don’t make much sense.”
Plays by Kids is being performed at the National Theatre School (5030 ST. Denis). $10/12. Tickets HERE on June 9 @ 23h15 (18+), June 12 @ 21h30 (18+), June 13 @ 19h00 (Family show), June 16 @ 23h15 (18+), June 18 @ 16h30 (Family show), and June 19 @ 19h30 (Family show).