As an official media partner of the 12th annual St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, Montreal Theatre Hub brings the #FringeBuzz in 2021 with an all-new interview series with artists from this year’s edition of the fest! In this Snapshot, we feature JOSEPH STE-MARIE – 2-time winner of the Spirit of the Fringe Award and celebrated festival veteran whose recent works include The Get Together (2019) and Justice On The Ropes: A Clint Hacker Mystery (2018). In 2021, he returns as the playwright, director, and performer of This Show is Broken presented by Break The Cycle In Park-Ex Theatre Co. Read our Q&A interview on his latest digital production playing from June 1-20 on the FringeTV platform.
MONTREAL THEATRE HUB: As your latest Fringe creation, what is This Show Is Broken about?
JOSEPH: This Show Is Broken is a scripted-improvised experiment about myself, who is trying to write a show about myself, but I discover that my script isn’t as authentic as I thought. I struggle to make the script better and to be more honest with myself. This is a “show within a show”.
MTH: What can audiences expect from the experience of seeing it?
JOSEPH: I hope they enjoy it of course, but audiences can expect to be entertained and that artists can see themselves in this because it’s not easy to create a piece, I’m lifting the curtain in some ways. It’s a very personal piece when you watch it, so I hope the audience takes something from it.
MTH: What was the idea and inspiration behind the piece?
JOSEPH: The piece was inspired by the original piece of the same title I created & performed at the 2nd Annual Shortstanding Festival in February 2015. Jen Quinn, who organized the festival and fellow Freestanding Room member and admin at the time, asked me if I wanted to do a show in the Festival and I agreed. I didn’t know what to do for it, so I just decided to make it about myself and my journey towards applying to theatre school. The show was improvised, and the premise was that I enter a rehearsal space, I turn on the lights and there’s an audience there, a “Stage Manager” appears and tells me that I’m doing a show and that I have 30 minutes max! I talked about myself, I took pictures of the audience while speaking about photography, I did an improv scene with a member of the audience, and each night was different because I would think of different ways of telling my story.
I always wanted to do This Show Is Broken again because I always felt it has potential and I wanted to update it, so when I got accepted into the 2020 Montreal FRINGE, I decided to write a scripted version of the piece but changed to a two-hander with me playing myself and another actor playing the “Director” with the premise being myself trying to improve my show in a rehearsal hall. When the Festival was cancelled last year and my spot furloughed to 2021, I pondered on what to do next. I lost interest in the script I wrote and opted to develop a new idea. As time passed on, I wondered if doing a show in 2021 was worth it. I was unsure if audiences would be ready to come back, but then I realized that I was selling myself short. I’ve watched numerous artists produce their shows online this past year, so I thought, why not try it. When the FRINGE gave us the option to go online for 2021, I jumped at the chance. I decided to revert back to the scripted-improvised format because This Show Is Broken was originally created as an experiment, so I felt it was fitting to film the online production as an improvised experiment. Mixing both premises in the process. This is a show I feel I need to do for myself, it’s a personal piece. I want to tell people my story, about who I am.
MTH: Why did you choose the Fringe as the place to present this work?
JOSEPH: For shows like these, of course the FRINGE is the right place to present it. Plus, I love the FRINGE. I’ve been around since 2008, the first few years as a volunteer and then I did my first show in 2011 and won the Spirit of the FRINGE award the same year and became one of the official photographers of the festival in 2015. The FRINGE has done a lot for me personally & professionally, there’s no other place.
MTH: What has it been like trying to create a show during a pandemic?
JOSEPH: Going with the flow. Creating an online show for the first time had its challenges. I basically got an education on how to create a film. I used both my cameras, filmed in HD and learned in the process about sound recording and editing. A big lesson I learned though is always give yourself time to edit. With the filming process, of course keeping your mask on until we start rolling.
MTH: What’s kept you driven to keep creating during this past year?
JOSEPH: Of course, Netflix, Amazon Prime lol. Basically, this year for me has been all about self-rediscovery. During the past few years, I’ve been so focused on my acting career and photography that I forgot about all the little interests that we all have. For me it was very mundane activities from discovering new music to reading books about History (New York and Ireland) and Rock biographies. Also this past year, I’ve been working in the Health Care system as a Housekeeper, which has given me a different perspective on life.
MTH: How does this show/story speak to our present times?
JOSEPH: A lot of us can be hard on ourselves. We can put too much pressure on ourselves to create and/or to ‘make that deadline’ or we rush ourselves to get things done or else we feel that we failed in life but are doing better than we think.
RAPID FIRE ROUND
What have you missed most about the Fringe?
The Beer tent, the FRINGE community, and dancing to “Closing Time” from Semisonic at the end of the Dance Party after the 13th Hour.
#Fringebuzz: which show(s) on the 2021 lineup are you most stoked to check out?
The Box, The Celebrity Obsession, The Space Between, How The Fables Have Turned, It’s Me Inside, Wretch.
Joseph Ste-Marie is a Professional Actor and Photographer, born & raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and is of Irish/Polish/Ukrainian/English/French descent. Joseph holds D.E.C.s in Professional Theatre (Acting) from John Abbott College, Communications from Vanier College and a D.E.C. in Professional Photography from Dawson College.
In 2011, Joseph won The Spirit of the FRINGE award for volunteering & writing, producing, and co-starring in his own show at the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival. After dipping his toes in acting for a few years by performing in small roles in independent and community theatre productions, he enrolled in John Abbott College’s Professional Theatre’s Acting program in 2014 to further hone his craft. Joseph graduated from the Acting program in 2017 and was the recipient of the Jason Panich Memorial Scholarship Award.
Joseph has photographed for multiple theatre companies in the Montreal English Theatre scene for 10 years now. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Photo of The Year Award for The Charlebois Post-Montreal for his Press image of the MSTC’s production of Macbeth. Since 2015, Joseph has been one of the Official Photographers of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival. He also enjoys Urban, Landscape and Documentary photography.
THIS SHOW IS BROKEN presented by Break The Cycle In Park-Ex Theatre Co. runs from June 1-20 on FringeTV. Tickets ($6-7) can be purchased online at www.montrealfringe.ca
Artist Website: www.josephstemarie.com
Read here all of the interviews in the Fringe Artist Snapshots series: