Fringe: Redheaded Stepchild

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The 26th annual Victoria Fringe Festival runs Aug. 23 – Sept. 2 at nine different venues throughout the city. The Fringe brings acts from all over the world to perform their shows. Musical, comedic, heartbreaking and tantalizing shows can all be found at the Fringe. This year also marks the first time that Family Fest has been included: a group of shows at the Langham Court Theatre that are for children and their families. This Fringe Fest appeals to all audiences, so be sure to not miss out.

Redheaded Stepchild

Shows: St. Ann’s Academy, 835 Humboldt
Monday, Aug. 27 @ 7:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 28 @ 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 29 @ 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 30 @ 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 1 @ 12:30 and 5:45 p.m.
$11 (plus $5 Fringe Visa Button)

Johnnie Walker, founder of Nobody’s Business Theatre in Toronto, brings Redheaded Stepchild to Victoria’s Fringe Festival. Nicholas is a 12-year-old who, because of his hair colour and father’s recent marriage, now has the dreaded status of redheaded stepchild. After a threat from a bully, Nicholas must decide whether he’ll risk the wrath of the bully and attend school or stay home for the day.

Martlet: Where did you get the idea or inspiration for your play?

Johnnie Walker: The show was inspired both by the expression “redheaded stepchild” (as in “I’m going to beat you like a redheaded stepchild”), which always seemed weird and cruel to me, and also by a 2008 event called “Kick a Ginger Day,” in which a mean-spirited Facebook event page went viral and resulted in kids with red hair across Canada being kicked because of the colour of their hair.

Martlet: If you could sum up your play in a sentence or phrase, what would it be?

JW: Redheaded Stepchild is about growing up different in a way you can’t hide.

Martlet: What is the worst experience you’ve had while performing?

JW: We’ve had to do the show in some pretty hot venues, and I have quick changes I need to do onstage, which can be a real challenge when my clothes are sticking to me. I also once had a guy sitting in the front row texting all through the opening scene, although I managed to draw attention to him in a way that shamed him into turning off his phone.

Martlet: What is the best experience you’ve had while performing?

JW: The best experiences come after, when people wait for me outside the theatre, or stop me on the street to tell me about how the show personally affected them. There’s nothing like a person with tears in their eyes thanking me and giving me a hug to make me feel like I must be doing something right.

Martlet: If your character(s) could have actor(s) portray them in a film, who would they choose and why?

JW: Nicholas (the main character) would have to play himself. His biggest complaint is that he has no ginger role models in popular culture, so there would be no one he would trust to play him. His stepmom, Mary-Anne, would probably imagine herself as Goldie Hawn, but Jane Lynch would be a more appropriate choice. As for Nicholas’s imaginary friend/alter-ego Rufus Vermilion, he’d love Danny Kaye.

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