UVic duo team up for Fringe Festival debut

Culture Theatre
Two debuts at this year’s Fringe Festival on Aug. 29. Photo by Catador Productions.

At this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival, two shows called Two will take the stage. The humour of this coincidence isn’t lost on Colette Habel and Kat Taddei, respectively the director and writer of one of the Twos. If it sounds confusing, Habel and Taddei aren’t worried. The two Twos play in different venues and offer vastly different premises — the other being a circus show from Vancouver. Habel and Taddei’s Two is a drama born this past spring in a third-year playwriting workshop at UVic.

“I remember writing on my critique to Kat, ‘Please let me direct this, please, please, oh my god, please, please,’” said Habel. At the end of term, Taddei received an email from UVic professor Charles Tidler recommending her script to Catador Theatre producer Laura Simons. When the play was accepted, Taddei thought of Habel for directing.

“I basically said yes instantly,” said Habel.

This year, Habel will complete a double major in theatre and writing, while Taddei is finishing a writing degree with a minor in journalism. Their combined credits include work with UVic’s Phoenix Theatre and Student Alternative Theatre Company, Langham Court Theatre, Theatre SKAM, and Intrepid’s YOUshow series. As well as directing, Habel did Two’s sound design, while Taddei doubles as stage manager.

Kate Boutilier and Sam Lynch star as Anna, a young waitress who deals with sexism and sexuality in the workplace. The catch: Anna “is existing in parallel universes, navigating her way through a world over which she feels she has very little control.” The non-realism is sure to provoke unique creative choices.

Brett Hay, Ardalan Ramezani, Nicholas Yee, Jack Hayes, Michael Bell and Levi Schneider fill out the cast, and are all “rays of sunshine” according to Taddei and Habel. The actors have received diverse training — from the Phoenix at UVic, the Victoria Academy of Dramatic Arts, Kaleidoscope Theatre, and Capilano University in Vancouver — which is refreshing for Habel. “You want to make sure . . . that you’re being inclusive of everyone’s methods and training and approaches of the work. It’s been a really good stretch for me.”

As a playwright, Taddei has mostly been a resource in rehearsal. At the time of our interview, the script had only just been finalized. “Sometimes [actors] will pinpoint things that were bothering me about the script that I wouldn’t have been able to identify myself,” said Taddei.

As interesting and impressive as the play itself is the all-student cast and crew on a program that includes many touring Fringe veterans. Habel and Taddei’s approach is openness rather than fear. “You bring something very valuable to the table by being an emerging artist because you have different ideas about what theatre is,” said Habel. With the variety of the Fringe line-up, they won’t have trouble finding their place.I don’t think there’s another show in the program that sounds anything like ours,” said Taddei.

They appear a good pair. Habel answered most of my questions while Taddei laughed at her metaphors (Habel compared theatre to both swimming and parenting). Taddei brought up a set design issue about tables, and Habel spit-balled a quick solution. Both emanate a sophistication and humility about theatre that will work in their favour as they move forward from their Fringe debut.

I’m still unclear on how exactly parallel universes are involved in the show; I guess I’ll find out when I see it.

Two plays at the Metro Studio on Aug. 29 and 31, and Sept. 2, 3, 5, and 6. Check back at the Martlet for a review. The Victoria Fringe Festival runs Aug. 27 to Sept. 6. Visit victoriafringe.com for more information.