I caught up again with Lar Vi to talk about the state of The Making of “Warm Mess” for the Montreal Fringe Festival. As we last left off (see HERE), Vi was transforming her solo show about hippy-dippy, wavy-gravy Hamhock Velvet into a two-man performance and updating the music. Vi hit all targets, but there are just a few other major hurdles to hop, like a trip to Iceland, and the upcoming Fringe For All on May 30.
“I’m pleased to announce that we have our second cast member confirmed to be on board for this show, and this is David Kaufman, who I do improv with regularly in Avocado Guacamole,” Vi announces. “We just met and had lunch the other day and he agreed.”
Now if I thought Vi was a busy lady, she quickly fills me in on what’s going on with Kaufman. He works as a computer programmer by day, and “He is also performing in Fringe with Camp Wanapoke, an improvised summer time camp scene sex comedy improv show which is also happening at the Mainline Theatre. It’s good because it means that none of our shows are ever going to overlap. He’s used to doing a number of different projects and he’s excited to try something different.”
Vi and Kaufman have also worked together in Dink Floyd. Vi explains why he’s an ideal choice. “The audience likes him because he says what’s happening in the moment and isn’t afraid to call out the weird or the unusual or the illogical thing. The audience likes that he’s grounding in this way. He doesn’t tease or make fun of people. My character’s concepts and ideas get very magic realist, bizarre, airy, and all over the place. He’s the surrogate for the audience. I think it’s a good balance to have this classic dynamic of the straight man and the fool kind of thing,” she says. “We have some experience together in improv and sketch and a great shorthand in terms of working together. If he wants to risk and come up with his own concept of things, I trust him with that. He has the versatility to do that. I trust where he’s coming from if he wants to make changes. Adding another collaborator late in the game — it has to be someone you trust working with.”
While it seems like getting Kaufman on board close to the festival would be intense in and of itself, there’s an “extra fire under the seat twist,” Vi explains. “David is going to Iceland for a trip this week.”
Vi sees this as completely doable. “I have the time while he’s away to work on all the other elements, technical or music. We can pass script stuff back and forth online. When he gets back we’ll go right into the fire-pressure of getting the show on the road.”
Sounds exciting, right?
The music with Les (aka Leskalade) has come together. “We met this past week,” says Vi. Four out of five songs are done, though there are some changes. “We want a bit more guitar in the backing tracks and one song he needs to compose, but he’s a quick musician.” Les also turns out to be an interesting character, proof that surrounding yourself with competent people is generally a good thing. “He has a masters in music theory and a bachelor degree in mathematics. He has this very intellectual, knowledgable wisdom in music theory and production and composition, and on the other side, he loves pop music and joke bands and playing music for fun. A couple of years ago he and I had an Ace of Base tribute band that we did in a basement. It’s something that you see in comedy, high brow humour subverted with low brow jokes. He’s a super talented musician and yet he’s making songs these ridiculous songs with incredible electronic production behind them.”
Les has come through with Vi’s wishes, and now there’s a possibility of creating transition music as well. When they met, the two discussed how great it would be to have as much of an original score as possible, including transition music, so it can be sonically cohesive. Vi though knows that “the timeline is pretty short and if you’re a creator and you want to take the time to do things well.” She concludes that “Anything behind these five songs is a bonus and we’ll see what he comes up with in the next two weeks.”
My last question concerns the upcoming Fringe For All and other publicity things. “I’m thinking it’ll be one of the songs that Les composed,” says Vi. “It’ll show the sonic universe and how much fun Hamhock has singing them and doing what he does. That’ll be a great way to show people what might be going on in this weird weird show.”
I ask how much practice goes into the performance at the Fringe for All. “The first year, I did practice quite a bit and it was a choreographed sequence from the show The Shadow Waltz. The show was still emerging and it was interesting to practice one part really well and not entirely know the rest of the show.”
Publicity is coming out. “It’s not totally late,” says VI. “I wanted to make sure David had confirmed. It’s this kind of weird push-pull of you want to make sure stuff is ready for you to publicize so you don’t publicize something that’s not happening. If you wait too long, you miss these opportunities because you’re not getting things out soon enough.” The Facebook page, though, is UP.
Vi then mentions she has been busy, not just with Sketchfest, but with a Montral Improv solo creation workshop. She mentions that her students have their performance in a Sunday cabaret. “I’ve been working with these people to realize their work and getting their pieces ready,” she says. “I’ve been juggling a million different things. As of Monday, The Making of “Warm Mess” is the only project I’m working on.”
I want to laugh as she confesses the following: “I’m more a mono=tasker at heart. I can multitask, but it’s not my strength. I do my best when I can steep in one project and see all the possibilities in that. I’m looking forward to only working on one show.”
Read the Dispatch about The Making of “Warm Mess” HERE. The Montreal St. Ambroise Fringe Festival takes place from May 30 to June 19. For details about the Fringe, click HERE. The Fringe-For-All takes place on May 30 at Cafe Campus (57 Prince Arthur E) at 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. Free. The Making of “Warm Mess” is in The Mainline Theatre (3997 St. Laurent) on June 9, 11, 12, 14, 18 and 19. See HERE for details. $12/10.