BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE AND OUTSPOKE PRODUCTIONS
"Every time you get on a bike, you’re making a choice with your time, and your body: to power your own journey, to move under your own steam. You’re taking your place in a transformative global movement. Every time you get on a bike, you become a link in the chain of that long line of people who’ve come before you on two wheels, looking for freedom: riding over terrible roads in long crazy skirts down to their shoe tops and ankle length bloomers and funny hats. You’re riding on a time machine. It’s this simple, elegant invention that hasn’t changed in its basic design in over a century, and it still gets you where you want to go, when you want to go, on your own terms. Your heart is the motor."
Evalyn Parry - Spin
“Part theatre, part music gig, part spoken word poetry, part documentary: whatever it is, it is brilliant” Toronto Star
“this magnetic artist and her winning production team invest the work with such intelligence and playfulness, it’s hard not to be charmed.” Now Magazine
Inspired by the incredible true tale of the first woman to ride a bike around the world in 1895, this epic cycle of songs and stories explores the early connections between bicycles, advertising, and women’s liberation.
Award winning author, singer/songwriter, and theatre maker Evalyn Parry takes audiences on a musical journey from the dawn of the bicycle in the 19th century to her own experiences riding her bike through the streets of Toronto and Montreal. Parry’s co-star is a vintage bicycle – suspended on a mechanic’s stand and outfitted with microphones and sound equipment. The bike is played by percussionist Brad Hart, who conjures an astonishing array of sounds to score Parry’s songs and monologues.
AN INTERVIEW WITH EVALYN PARRY
DB Basically I would just like your thoughts on how the show has changed. I read that you had received a letter from someone related to a figure from the show. Could you describe that a little and how it affected the upcoming production/remount.
EP The thing that is going to be most strikingly different about the upcoming production at Buddies (from the premiere three years ago) is the new musical arrangement for a string trio (cello, viola and violin) accompanying the whole show (created by composer Michael Holt). So, the (more punk rock) bicycle - and - guitar duo version of the show that we've been touring the past three years will for the first time be backed by a string trio made up of three awesome local Toronto musicians, Don Kerr, Kathleen Kajioka and Anne Lindsay. The new musical arrangements arrangements bring a whole new dimension to the show, adding a lot of drama and tension and playfulness and beauty to the music, and I'm so so so excited to have people experience it again.
There is also the way that the story and content of the show has actually changed. Shortly after we had premiered the show, and released the CD of all the music, I received a letter from Annie Londonderry's granddaughter, who had heard my song about her grandmother ... and wrote to tell me how it had impacted her. I was very affected by her letter: i was moved, and it also caused me to understand new things about Annie Londonderry's story - and I knew this new development had to become part of the show. So I scrapped the ending as it was - which had always been a bit of a question anyway -- and wrote a couple new songs. I think it's had a positive impact overall on the show - has kind of brought the story full circle.
DB Perhaps you could talk a bit about how the show has been received elsewhere, on tour.
EP We have toured all over the country at this point, from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, and I would say the show has been really well-recieved everywhere we've gone. In fact, i'm always surprised by how well it's been received in some of the more out-there places we've toured: like, the tour of the Northwest Territories! Last fall we played Inuvik, Yellowknife, and three other very small, fly-in communities around the Territory. I was worried whether the themes of the show would translate in these Northern communities with very different cycling culture than what we have down south. But I have to say, Yellowknife was one of my favourite shows we've ever played - and all the small communities in NWT responded so beautifully to the show - they loved it everywhere we went, and it was a reminder to me that people just love to be told a good story, anywhere. Also, it was a good reminder that the themes of SPIN actually do transcend cycling - the bike is just the central metaphor. At it's heart, it's a show about liberation.
DB How is this piece in particular located in your career as an artist? Describe its significance and how it reflects your concerns and your interests as a writer and performer.
EP I created SPIN with the intention of bringing together my (previously separate) practices as a songwriter, a theatre maker and a spoken word poet. The show also (perhaps pretty obviously) totally reflects my concerns / interests in history, social justice, feminism, together with my love and respect for cycling…and even after touring it for more than three years, i'm still so passionately engaged with the subject matter, it never ceases to be a story that I want to tell, again and again.
So i would say the show holds a very significant place in my career, primarily because it showed me that was possible to bring together my interdisciplinary tendencies and my interest in research and make something that doesn't fit neatly into a box in terms of genre, but holds together conceptually.
EP Yes, genres are always a hard question for me. I think of myself as a creator and performer. My creation sometimes takes shape as music, sometimes as storytelling, or poetry, or sometimes character….
Whether SPIN is "theatre" or "performance", I think it depends on how you define those things. More and more, I think the boundaries between different genres are starting to blur - and to me, that's a good thing. If you think theatre should have a kitchen sink in it, then this show definitely doesn't fit that definition. If you define theatre as transformative storytelling, a performance that takes an audience on a narrative journey….then i'd say it's theatre. Maybe it's also a documentary concert. Hard to say.
by EVALYN PARRY
directed by RUTH MADOC-JONES
featuring EVALYN PARRY + BRAD HART
with DON KERR, KATHLEEN KAJIOKA + ANNE LINDSAY
arrangements for string trio by MICHAEL HOLT
production design BETH KATES