As an official media partner of the 30th 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 WILLIAM BURR – playwright and and performer of WINTER. Read our Q&A with the creator of the Fringe show now running until June 20th at Monument-National’s La Balustrade.
MONTREAL THEATRE HUB: What is Winter about?
WILLIAM: My Fringe play Winter is about my two-and-a-half month stay at Japanese Zen monastery in 2016, about the difficulty I experienced there, and getting through it.
MTH: What can audiences expect from the experience of seeing it?
WILLIAM: I hope they can experience a little bit of what it’s like to go through something difficult and come out the other side feeling a little bit changed and in some way, uplifted, by the experience.
MTH: What was the idea and inspiration behind the piece?
WILLIAM: I have always loved the Fringe festival and have always dreamed of being part of a Fringe show. I had had these transformative experiences at the monastery and in other meditation retreats, and had written a book about them. I had no idea what to do with my life next and I thought, “Why not turn this into a play for the Fringe?”
William Burr (Photo Credit: Tomulescu)
MTH: Why did you choose the Fringe as the place to premiere this work?
WILLIAM: I love the Fringe because of the magic of the atmosphere – this sense that anything is possible, probably because of the no barriers to entry, and the low cost. I have seen a lot of amazing theatre over the years in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Regina and made amazing friends.
MTH: What has it been like trying to create a show during a pandemic?
WILLIAM: It hasn’t been too too bad. I guess the hardest part was not knowing whether the festival would happen or not and whether I could take part. It feels like that much more of a blessing that it worked out.
William Burr (Photo Credit: Tomulescu)
MTH: What’s kept you driven to keep creating during this past year?
WILLIAM: I think it’s the joy of creativity, and the connection that it creates. There’s a strong dream there that I wanted to come back to no matter what.
MTH: How does this show speak to our present times?
WILLIAM: I think the story helps to bring a bit of spirituality into our present times. Monasteries and Zen are old things that have lost some weight in modern Japan, just as Christianity has lost a lot of its power in the modern West. But these traditions still have a lot to teach us, I believe, even if they need modernizing, especially in terms of being inclusive of all types of people.
MTH: How does it feel to be back presenting on a live stage?
WILLIAM: It feels quite amazing, like this opportunity that is almost unreal. I think we need these spaces where we can make eye contact with an audience, or an audience with a performer. There is a certain magic that I am quite sure cannot be created in any other way.
RAPID FIRE ROUND
What have you missed most about the Fringe?
I’ve missed the atmosphere of the festival, the sense that there are all these amazing shows going on all around you, and there’s no way you can get to all of them, but it’s worth it to try!
Favourite Fringe show you’ve ever seen?
I wish I could remember the name! A one-woman-show about a difficult relationship. The actress played so many characters including animals and a plant! It was just so immersive. She came from England and I saw it in Regina in 2015. It was a trilogy and I saw another part of it in 2014. If someone knows the name of this show I would appreciate it!
#Fringebuzz: which show(s) on the 2021 lineup are you most stoked to check out?
I’m excited to see “My Celebrity Obsession” and “Ma vie en tindergraphie”.
I’m a painter and writer living in Vancouver, where I’m completing a Master of Theology degree while reporting general news for Radio-Canada (I love human interest stories). I’m a journalist by training. Theatre-wise, I’ve loved acting in community theatre over the years.
WINTER presented by William Burr plays from June 11-20 at Monument-National’s La Balustrade (1182 Boulevard St-Laurent). Tickets ($9.00-$12.00) can be purchased online at www.montrealfringe.ca.
Read here all of the interviews in the Fringe Artist Snapshots series: