#242 – Holly Brinkman
Holly Brinkman has been creating storytelling and theatre pieces since 2011 when she began working for the Montreal St.-Ambroise Fringe Festival. She has performed with Confabulation! in both Victoria and Montreal and The Flame, Vancouver. Storytelling has also taken her to Smut Slam in Montreal and Vancouver, and Monobrow in Victoria. Holly is extremely active in the Victoria Theatre community serving on the board of Impulse Theatre and working for Intrepid Theatre and the Victoria International Fringe Festival since 2015.
Holly’s first long form theatre piece, A Woman’s Guide to Peeing Outside premiered at the Montreal Fringe in June 2017. The piece has since been performed all over North America.
In 2017, Holly Brinkman started collaborating with S.E. Grummett, a talented playwright, puppeteer, clown, and digital arts creator. Their idea to create a show that discusses gender, dating, and the patriarchy through the framework of girl guides and cub scouts became the wild vaudeville-esque show Pack Animals.
Pack Animals premiered at the Saskatoon Fringe Festival August 2nd, 2018 to critical praise and resounding success. It reached further success on a North American tour in 2019 (Orlando, FL; London, ON; Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Edmonton).
Holly Brinkman and S.E. Grummett (aka Brinks and Grumms) continue to create together and are constantly adding to the Pack Animals world with a Christmas special and an upcoming sequel, Pack Animals to the Rescue.
Holly Brinkman, Phil Rickaby
Phil Rickaby 00:01
Welcome to Episode 242 of Stageworthy I’m your host Phil Rickaby. Stageworthy is a podcast about people in Canadian theatre featuring conversations with actors, directors, playwrights and more. If you’ve been listening to Stageworthy for a while, or maybe you’re a first time listener and you’re listening to a link that you got on the website or through social media, did you know that you can subscribe so that you never miss an episode? You can do that by searching for Stageworthy on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts and clicking on the handy subscribe button. And that way every week, the latest episode of Stageworthy will be delivered right to you. And if you subscribe, let me know you’re a new subscriber. If you want to drop me a line you can find me on Twitter and Instagram @philrickaby and My website is philrickaby.com and you can find stage where the on Facebook Twitter and Instagram @stageworthypod and the website where you can find the archive of all 242 episodes is at stageworthypodcast.com. My guest this week is Holly Brinkman. Holly is a storyteller and a theatre creator currently operating out of Victoria BC. Holly is the creator of this solo piece, A Woman’s Guide to peeing outside and one of the co-creators and performers of the hit fringe show pack animals. So Holly, it actually I guess, you know, in Vancouver, you were saying, you know, and we will refer to this as the last podcast to the nine almost 10 minutes that we’ve that we’ve we’ve lost, they’re lost to time and space. You’ve you’ve been back to teaching. And is all of BC opening up again? Or is it specific to Vancouver?
Holly Brinkman 02:08
So I’m actually on Vancouver Island. I’m in Victoria. So I can’t speak to like the Vancouver public schools in, in Victoria on Vancouver Island where like the whole island is really fortunate we have a very, very low transmission rate right now. And I think it’s because we’re on an island and you can only access Vancouver Island by ferry. So we’re very isolated here. So that we’ve been really fortunate that way, and I know that the island school districts have gone back. I believe that it’s a provincial decision for the schools to go back for the last three and a half weeks of the school year.
Phil Rickaby 02:50
That does seem like a very little amount of time in the classroom. It’s almost it almost seems not worth it. But and yet, it does. If I guess give both teachers and students a bit of a send off to the school year,
Holly Brinkman 03:08
and it gives, like, you know, I teach at a middle school and it gives our grade eights a chance to, like, have some of those. We’re graduating grade eight, we’re moving on to grade, we’re moving on to high school like to have some of those conversations and like we get to celebrate them a little bit, which is really nice. And gives the teachers a chance to see their students one more time before they move on to high school. So I think it’s great. And I mean, it’s also like, helpful for families and for parents to I think, for their kids to have this as an option. And so that’s one of the things like it hasn’t been mandated that all kids go back but every student has been invited to come back for the name for like, very short periods of time. A couple of If days a week for the next three and a half weeks
Phil Rickaby 04:06
Now as the as the school year ends now, I think normally you might be thinking about going on and doing some fringe festivals.
Holly Brinkman 04:13
Yeah, normally. So last year, I toured for four months with my tour partners. So I actually left teaching early last year, I was just working as a sub last year and we were gone from the beginning of May until the end of August. I actually just like independent of the pandemic decided not to tour this summer because I’m working on finishing my Masters so I’ll be finished my masters in December, but I had to take some courses over the summer. So I was like, Okay, I’m gonna have to skip touring for one summer. I’m going to do it this summer and then the pandemic happened. So it in my very specific case, I haven’t had any gigs cancelled, and I haven’t been planning this huge trip and planning a new show for this this summer, but the following one, I am hoping my show partner and I are hoping to write a sequel to our show and to tour it in 2021, so hopefully, hopefully that’ll happen.
Phil Rickaby 05:20
Here’s hoping, yeah, what I mean, what cities did you do in four months?
Holly Brinkman 05:25
So we did almost as many as you can do in four months. So we started in Orlando, Florida. And then we went up to London, Ontario, and then we were in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton. And then and then my show partner did Vancouver but I was back to teaching in September So
Phil Rickaby 05:48
yeah, that’s a that’s a pretty good run.
Holly Brinkman 05:50
Yeah, it was a we drove my little car the whole way. So we like drove from Vancouver, like Victoria to Florida. And then Up to Florida and back across we did 20 k 20,000 k in four months.
Phil Rickaby 06:06
Wow. Yeah. And you still plan on working together?
Holly Brinkman 06:10
Oh yeah, we still get along really well. We still love each other. It’s all it’s all happy in our like little show world.
Phil Rickaby 06:17
That’s so important.
Holly Brinkman 06:18
Yes. We say from the like four and a half months that we did that we had one and a half fights.
Phil Rickaby 06:26
Oh, that’s you know that’s pretty good.
Holly Brinkman 06:27
It’s pretty good. We’re good communicators we’re good at like, sort of heading things off before they get really ugly just being like, Hey, this is really annoying. Can you stop doing that? Oh, yeah. Okay.
Phil Rickaby 06:41
Um, is there anything in particular that you learned touring for for all that time? Can you hear me now?
Holly Brinkman 06:55
Phil Rickaby 06:57
Holly Brinkman 06:59
it’s going well Example of like, why technology is sometimes the worst technology is often the worst.
Phil Rickaby 07:07
You know what? I’m keeping all of this in. I there’s like super long except for the long pause because there’s
Holly Brinkman 07:13
a second, the middle of the long pause where i thought that i thought it wasn’t gonna work and I just go, this is just me screaming into the void. So you Oh, no.
Phil Rickaby 07:26
No, in a way, it almost is just somebody screaming into the void if there’s nobody else there. Yeah. I sometimes worry that that because I, one of the quirks of my apartment is that it’s not my internet, I share it with the person upstairs,
Holly Brinkman 07:44
Phil Rickaby 07:45
Because they couldn’t tell me if there was actually a place to, to to get my own down here. So I have to share it which means that if there is an internet problem, I have to rely on somebody else to reset the modem or two To call tech support or something right?
Holly Brinkman 08:02
Oh, wonderful. Yeah, I am in a similar situation I live in a house with my sister and brother in law so I have my suite downstairs and then they live upstairs and we share the share the internet and I can definitely notice times when like I don’t know if they’re streaming a show or like my brother in law’s working from home right now. So his if he’s on a zoom meeting, as well as me then things can sometimes slow down.
Phil Rickaby 08:27
Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of that this is the probably the the the price of the pandemic is, is the fact that everybody’s using their home internet a lot more. Yeah, really pushing it to its limit.
Holly Brinkman 08:38
Yeah. And like some, I know that. Some people are like, pushing for the school district to reimburse some of the teachers for internet costs that they would normally have been using or
Phil Rickaby 08:54
it really Yeah,
Holly Brinkman 08:55
no, because it’s like they’re saving so much money right now. The school districts by having the kids and the teachers in distance learning that. Yeah.
Phil Rickaby 09:06
And also, like, in some cases, teachers had to buy webcams and things like that. There should definitely be some it shouldn’t just be like, Oh, well, you had to do this thing.
Holly Brinkman 09:17
Yeah. And I mean, I think in some cases classroom budgets were like teachers were allowed to use but it’s like May and June like often teachers don’t have a classroom budget left. By May and June, like they haven’t. It has been spent those budgets are small. Yes, they get used up really fast. So yeah, there’s it’s definitely like part of the conversation that’s, that’s happening right now.
Phil Rickaby 09:45
Now, Holly, were you touring one show last summer or two,
Holly Brinkman 09:48
I was doing two shows. So I was doing my solo show, which is called a woman’s guide to peeing outside. And then my show partner and I have a show called pack animals. And then they also had a solo show that they premiered in Saskatoon. called something in the water. So, between the two of us we were. We were doing three shows. And then we also did a one night only of our Christmas special for pack animals. So I guess technically we did four shows.
Phil Rickaby 10:21
You have a Christmas special from for one of your shows.
Holly Brinkman 10:23
Yeah. All right. So
Phil Rickaby 10:24
you have no idea how much I love that.
Holly Brinkman 10:27
our comedy duo show pack animals. We wrote a whole new, a whole new show and have different puppets and a different storyline and different songs and everything. That’s all Christmas themed. So the plan was to in 2021, to tour a brand new show, but I think my show partner right now is stuck in Melbourne, Australia. So we won’t be writing anything new in the next Four or five months so we might end up having to tour the Christmas show which is great. It’s a wonderful show. We might have to tour that in 2021 while developing like our more official sequel to pack animals.
Phil Rickaby 11:15
Look if Peter and Chris can tour their Christmas show you guys can tour your Christmas show
Holly Brinkman 11:20
and like and the Christmas show it has some good meat and potatoes are kind of whole thing is like delivering political and like socially conscious material but through comedy through very like outrageous clown puppeteer, musical comedy, but the Christmas show isn’t as sort of socially hard hitting as pack animals is and it definitely isn’t especially hard hitting as we want the sequel to be. So but I kind of feel like in 2021 people are gonna want to see light and fluffy stuff. They’re gonna want to come out and see a Christmas In July, so
Phil Rickaby 12:01
honestly, honestly, we’re gonna need that kind of stuff.
Holly Brinkman 12:04
Yeah, honest. And it’s still got some great going yeah, it still got like it still says important things, but it’s pretty light and light and silly at the same time.
Phil Rickaby 12:16
Can I ask about to like performing two shows at a Fringe Festival because I know in in Toronto last year you were doing both the woman’s got to play ping outside and pack animals at the same time. Yeah. Is that as you know, I’m doing one show at a Fringe Festival is a bit of a is exhausting. What’s it like doing two shows? And how do you manage that?
Holly Brinkman 12:41
It was so exhausting. It was like and so I only did that in two. At two of the festivals that we were at. I did it in London before and the London Fringe Festival, scheduled my solo show and pack animals in the same venue so often or not often by I think three or four times I had, like back to back shows where I do my solo show. And then I do pack animals. And that sounds like it would be exhausting. But it was kind of nice actually. Because I, I then still had the same number of days off. I still had, I think, three or four full days off in London. And it’s like two hours of concentrated work. Yes, I’m tired at the end of it. But then you like go and get food with your friends and go have a good night’s sleep and you’re kind of ready to go the next day. Whereas in Toronto, the two shows are in two separate venues. And I think they were trying not to overload me. So they would they they had like scheduled. I basically had a performance every single day for two weeks in Toronto. And that was really exhausting. And it just meant like doing two shows. It just means that like you One of them kind of falls to the wayside. And for me that’s always my solo show because pack animals was created afterwards and we had a touring grant for pack animals we were in a bigger venue in Toronto for pack animals than I was for my solo show. So there was like a big push from both of us and like a real desire from both of us to like push and make that show a big success. And then so my solo show is kind of like whoever comes to it great. And as far as like flyering goes and that sort of stuff. pack animals and Woman’s Guide we’re sharing one so whoever got a pack animals flyer also got a woman’s guide one and I did find in Toronto I I think I made a little bit of money I I definitely broke even with my solo show. And then pack animals did really well so yeah, it’s it’s it feels weird because you I love my solo show. I put a lot of heart and soul into creating it. But it kind of ended up playing second fiddle to pack animals. And that’s a weird feeling as a as like a creator to kind of have your shows. Like, almost set up as a hierarchy. Hmm,
Phil Rickaby 15:13
yeah, almost like both shows are competing for your affection.
Holly Brinkman 15:16
Yeah, yeah, kind of it’s like picking your favourite kid. Oh, my my show partner and I always we always refer to our shows as like our show babies. And yeah, I definitely felt like sort of choosing my my favourite baby
Phil Rickaby 15:37
in terms of the your, your solo show A Woman’s Guide to Being outside. I’ve always curious about how solo performers actually do the creation on their shows. As a solo performer myself, it’s one of those things that I’m always like, let’s compare it to that sort of thing I’m always really curious about about though the method that people use so what’s what was your writing process like? Um,
Holly Brinkman 16:01
So oh yeah Woman’s Guide has existed since. Like, I think I think I wrote it. The first version of it, I think I wrote it five years ago. And so every time I remount it, it gets a little bit of a like a dusting off in a shaping up. So the first time I performed it,
and wrote it, I had help from the creative director of impulse theatre here in Victoria, Andrew Barrett. I hired him to kind of dramaturgy it with me. So I wrote it and he helped me judge it up because I hadn’t really written any theatre before that I hadn’t written. Most of what I’d written was academic stuff. And when I sat down to write it, they’re all store it’s personal storytelling and Were they were stories that I’ve told it storytelling nights before I’d never written them down. And when I wrote them down, their cadence changed, and the tone of them changed. And they fell into this very academic tone. Because that’s what I’m used to sitting down and writing. So he really helped me pick out those moments where we wanted that, that academic tone and then the moments where we wanted it to be more informal and make those really conscious choices as opposed to just like kind of a muddy voice that wasn’t super clear. And he also helped me like pull out the comedy in it because writing jokes and writing comedy on your own is so hard.
Holly Brinkman 17:42
Like I am not I like write something down on the I think that’s funny. Is that funny. I don’t know if that’s funny. Yeah, so he really helped me bring up the comedy of it and, and then for this tour that I did last summer I hired Kathleen Greenfield from snafu dance, which is like Ingrid Hanson who does the orange man and it’s their company. So Kathleen is like a very talented director and clown in Victoria. And I feel very fortunate to have her at my disposal that I was able to hire her and she just really helped me kind of like tweak a couple of things and and bring out more of the like physicality and more of the clown in it this this time around. And while it is still like a Stand and Deliver storytelling show, it’s got a lot more sort of like silly, absurd movement in it now, which I really, really really enjoy and which like now, in pack animals, you can really see that that’s like a, an avenue that I’m more comfortable in than I was when I first wrote it. Yeah,
Phil Rickaby 18:57
you mentioned that that when you started writing hadn’t written before. He did storytelling nights, as you mentioned, but like, what is it that made you want to create a solo show having never written before?
Holly Brinkman 19:10
Um, I before I performed at the fringe festivals, I worked for them for about five years. So I worked for the Montreal fringe, and I worked for the Victoria fringe. And I had gotten to be really close friends with a bunch of the artists. And that’s kind of where I started doing storytelling nights was from having done front of house and having done box office and that kind of those kind of jobs with the fringe. Often, like one of the socialising nights at the Victoria fringe is a storytelling competition. So I started doing those. And, you know, you talk to these amazing touring artists like I think it was john Bennett was the first touring artists that I got to be really close friends with and he was the one who said like, you should just Do it you should just write a show. You should just Just do it. I was like, wait for
Phil Rickaby 20:04
the record. I heard that in an Australian accent
Holly Brinkman 20:06
Yeah, I mean in my head I could hear it. And he’s very like kind of kick can be kind of a deadpan character and did that just that look on his face like, yeah, just do it was very encouraging and I kind of just thought like, what have I got to lose?
Phil Rickaby 20:32
Um, so well when you were when you were writing it and sort of like did did your director were you like working on in concert with them like writing something and then trying it out? Or did you have to write it and then try it out with the director and see what what worked and what was funny and all of that stuff. What was what did that look like?
Holly Brinkman 20:55
I I basically, yeah, I sort of pitched To the idea to Andrew and then like we set up a schedule and I wrote chunks of it and then we workshop them together and then I’d write other chunks and then we cut things apart so he really did help me like instead of me writing the whole thing and then him directing it from kind of a like this is a finished piece now let’s direct it space he was really more helping me I would say dramaturgy to like move things around and actually like figure out kind of figure out what the thread was and how we were going to string it all together. Because I have I’m like really good with ideas but then the like organising them. I really like rely on an outside voice for that like this is this is slightly unclear or what have you. Did you notice that these two things are connected and what have you like, reordered that so that they made more sense together.
Phil Rickaby 21:56
That kind of stuff. Seems like a really smart way to work. I wish Have
Holly Brinkman 22:04
you asked what my process was and I kind of laughed because it was the first thing I’d ever written. And I was really leaning quite heavily on Andrew in the creation of it, but he was always like very firm with me that like, this is your piece. This is not the kind of art that I make when it’s my art. So he just was pushing me to create and made me make all the decisions, but it was so helpful to have that like outside force forcing me to make decisions and to make it into something a lot better than I think it would have been if I just sat and stared at it on my shelf. And I haven’t written a solo piece since then. So I kind of like I have some ideas but like I like I was saying before in the like, last part of this podcast that I just haven’t been feeling very creative since this pandemic. So I, I do have these sort of ideas percolating. But the energy to actually get them down is not present at the moment.
Phil Rickaby 23:15
Are you? Are you writing those ideas down so that you don’t lose track of them?
Holly Brinkman 23:18
Yeah, I mean, I have like a little, like a journal where I keep, like my fragmented thoughts and ideas. It which seems a lot more organised than it actually is, but um, there’s also like a heap of just random papers where I’ve written little things down. But I have kind of like there’s one solo show idea that I’ve been thinking about for a really long time about my Olmos, so my family is like Dutch ancestry. So I’ve been wanting to write a storytelling piece. That’s part storytelling parts like historical fiction, where I like reimagine their lives at the same time as the stories that I’d be telling in my life. So I’ve been kind of the part of working on a new piece where you think about it for a really long time. That’s the stage I’m at with that.
Phil Rickaby 24:22
Um, you mentioned not like not really doing a whole lot of performing of fringe shows or solo head before you started getting involved with fringe. Did you ever have a desire to write a show? Where did that come out of exposure to fringe artists?
Holly Brinkman 24:41
I would definitely credit that almost entirely with fringe. I like I don’t have a theatre background. I don’t. I didn’t go to school for theatre. I did a lot of theatre in high school. But when I went to college, I didn’t. I didn’t really do very much performance at all. So I remember the first year that I did the Fringe Festival was in Montreal, I think it was 2012. And I had like, just finished a work contract. So I was on Ei I was living in Montreal, it was like subletting a friend’s bedroom in this like lovely apartment full of lovely humans. And it was just down the street from the like headquarters of the Montreal friends right on Rachel and sailor Ah, and I just volunteered for the Fringe Festival. And I volunteered like a crazy number of hours so I could get a super pass. And I just volunteered for the fringe and I saw I think I think I saw almost 30 shows that year, and I went to every 13th hour like the moment
Phil Rickaby 25:49
Oh my god, when did you sleep
Holly Brinkman 25:50
I just I didn’t need to it was summer in Montreal. I had just like I had cash in my pocket. I had a bed to sleep in and I had theatre that needed watching I just like devoured the Fringe Festival that year and then the following year I started to work for the Montreal fringe. So that was I was just so inspired I couldn’t believe the grit and authenticity and the weirdness I just loved. I just love that it was like theatre I’ve never seen before. And
Phil Rickaby 26:24
13th hour is one of my favourite things in a Fringe Festival. Yeah, I would agree with that. It’s like, and there’s nothing else like it.
Holly Brinkman 26:33
There’s like a special kind of magic about it. Yes, yeah, yes.
Phil Rickaby 26:37
And too many too few fringes have an evening programme like that. And, you know, it is enough of a party that it is kind of uniquely Montreal, but yeah, there’s something about it.
Holly Brinkman 26:49
I know. It’s Yeah. And when Al LaFrance was hosting it, it was just gold. I just loved it so much.
Phil Rickaby 26:56
That he normally I think he only did he only hosted one year. Was he the host for a couple of years?
Holly Brinkman 27:00
I think he did it two years. So his last year doing it, I was stage managing the 13th hour that year. That was the year that I opened a woman’s guide to being outside at the Montreal fringe. And so I was doing my show there. And then I was stage managing the 13th hour. And it was so wonderful. I also did not get very much sleep that year.
No, you wouldn’t. I don’t I don’t think you would. Yeah. Could I ask you about your performers origin story? Like, did you grow up wanting to perform? What? Like what drove you to to get into theatre at all? I’m always curious about the stories that people have that that what made them want to do this?
Holly Brinkman 27:41
Yeah. I mean, I grew up I did grow up. So I grew up in like, really, really rural. BC. That’s what my solo show was about. And I just, I don’t know, my mom said that I always had a theatrical flair. I like in kindergarten. I was in the Christmas play, and she The play ended. This is the story she always tells anyway. And I got off the stage you could tell it was just like glowing, I was just bouncing off the wall. She said they could barely get me off the stage after our like kindergarten piece was done. And she just asked me, she said, What do you like so much about being on the stage. And I just looked at her in that like, five year old way and said, I go on the stage, everybody looks at me and smiles, and then they all clap. And that was just to me like heaven. And, and so so sort of from there. I if you had asked me when I was 16 like what I was going to be when I grew up, I was gonna I always said I was going to be a movie star. And then I just got very quickly when I finished high school very quickly disillusioned with the like image centric nature of acting and I I didn’t want to engage with it in any way, shape or form, I really didn’t want my job to be what I looked like. And that was the impression that I kept getting from, from acting in a professional way out of Vancouver at at like in 2004. So I just kind of like said, No way I don’t want this at all and, and focused on academics and went to McGill for history and just didn’t, didn’t really perform at all in those in those years. And then yeah, and then I graduated and I did a bunch of different work contracts and I still wasn’t performing and then it was that that summer that I volunteered for the Fringe Festival. When I I saw a version of theatre that I’d never seen before, which was personal and it felt really authentic and It felt really gritty. And it felt a lot more like something I wanted to do. And I the representation of bodies that I was seeing on the stage was so much more diverse than the rapid representation of bodies I was seeing in, you know, theatre are in, like movies and TV at the time. And I just felt like it was a much more welcoming place.
Phil Rickaby 30:31
Yeah, I remember when I was in theatre school, and this is way back in the 19—. And they, we sort of had drilled into us that we must be neutral. Yeah, like, yeah, like that. Like they look at you and be anything. And I don’t think they did us any favours, because, yeah, it was like, you walk into a room and you’re kind of like porridge. Mm hmm. You know, and I think over time, People there’s been more I think of a Be yourself because that’s what they want to see because anything else is a lie. Yeah, you know, they’ll cast you know they’re gonna cast based on you anyway you know if they like you they’ll use you and I’ve seen you know people who’ve who’ve developed know their unique look and that I don’t see many generic people and which is good Yeah, cuz man I was so bored thinking that like, Oh, so I can never have facial hair. I must always you know, do my hair in a neutral way. I can never be unique.
Holly Brinkman 31:36
Yeah. Yeah, I know. I felt a lot of pressure to like, be blonder and be thinner and kind of, and that that, that image of like a, you know, 19 year old girl going into an audition surrounded by people who look exactly like her. is just like what what How could I possibly ever stand out in that sea of sameness? And also, like, How boring and I mean, I will say like, one of the things that drew me to fringe was its diversity. And, and I wish that there were more diverse voices that are were being held up by the Fringe Festival. I don’t think that it’s as welcoming and as diverse a place as sometimes it’s, it’s presented to be I know that artists of colour have a lot of trouble on the fringe circuit. And that’s, you know, often it’s because of so many things. There’s so many like systemic barriers that make touring the fringe circuit and doing what my show partner and I did. Really inaccessible to some People and I wish and I’m trying really hard to find ways to make to make it seem and be a safer place for by POC and indigenous people of colour in Canada and North America as well. But
Phil Rickaby 33:20
yeah, I mean it’s interesting because I think that that you, you know you pick up and you go to various cities and you’re not sometimes those cities have are not as cosmopolitan say as of Vancouver Victoria or Toronto or Montreal, sometimes I think you wonder what could the fringe do to make people of colour be able to succeed in their city that might have a resistance to to people of colour? How can you hold them up? How can you amplify their voices?
Holly Brinkman 33:55
Yeah. Yeah, I think there’s things that you Do like the flyering system in quite a in like a number of Canadian cities is like not a safe system for people of colour to promote their shows through. So we need better ways of of doing that a lot of other white performers that I know we make a point of, you know for going to shout out shows to only shout out shows of people of the artists of colour, or to only shout outs shows of artists of colour or artists with disabilities or because are the artists that have barriers to being able to like, be out on the street and passing out flyers, with their faces on them to strangers as they go by because that’s not necessarily a safe form of self promotion for a lot of people and doing like a flyer Cher, but these are like such small things. I think that the fringe festivals themselves are not necessarily the artists need to really look at like, structurally what can they do and I that comes down to like hiring people of colour to run the festivals and looking at those sorts of structures. I think it’s really unfortunate
Phil Rickaby 35:24
as much as as much as artists can do and artists can do do some it shouldn’t be entirely on the artists shoulders to amplify those voices. That’s not something that should be laid at the feet of, of the artist
Holly Brinkman 35:38
and also of the of the like City Mayors because if you look at festivals, like in Edmonton, I mean that the Fringe Festival brings so much money into that city. So the the, like town, the government of Edmonton needs to do big systemic things to do To make that a safer place for artists of colour to be in an indigenous artists to be because of how important those festivals are economically to that region. Yeah, yeah.
Phil Rickaby 36:16
We’re there. I mean, are there I mean, this is this is sort of like a little bit away from where we’re going. Are there shows that have that when you think of fringe shows that you’ve seen in the past that impacted you that you still think about today moments even in the shows that sort of like you look at as this is what I want to do when I create a friend show?
Holly Brinkman 36:36
Yeah, absolutely. I remember I saw I can’t remember what it’s called now, but the artists Cameron Moore, she created the smart slam series, so like any of the smart slam storytelling nights, she also does performance. So what was her show called it was like a sexual choose your own adventure. And the audience chose what stories she told and how she told them and what clothes she was wearing or not wearing while she told them and that show just like blew my mind and was so incredible and has stuck with me for a really long time. What else? A little orange man by Ingrid Hanson and snafu dance, Ingrid. I’m now very fortunate to count as a close friend and she’s just so talented had that show is has such like heart. And it’s so weird. And I just it like
Phil Rickaby 37:43
it just gets me in the fields every time. That show has one of the only instances of of audience participation that I have literally watched audience members falling over each other. Yeah, to participate at the end of that show. Yeah. It’s It’s so beautiful. Oh
Holly Brinkman 38:01
yeah. And then last year some Victoria artists there the company called rage sweater they were touring two shows Monaco versus the internet. And they won Caf last year and their social justice cabaret, lub dub, and I saw their cabaret. Because we were on the same sort of circuit is that most of the summer, I think I saw it three times. And it changed every time in every city that we were in. And even like, the nights that they were doing it and it was so like the lub dub cabaret was so joyful and unapologetic and beautiful and like hangry but and had such power behind it, and it really the way that it grew and changed over the summer was really beautiful thing and there are some moments that are very hard to describe that I just that like visually and energetically of like stuck In my brain in a very, like, visceral way that I think is the performers of that Monica Ogden and oh, and then yeah, is like, they’re just so amazing. So, yeah, it’s a wonderful. It was a wonderful piece. So that was definitely stuck with me quite a bit. And every year, there’s like, incredible stuff that that sort of gets into you a bit
Phil Rickaby 39:33
that is the magic of the fringe in a way that other festivals don’t have is that you never quite know. what’s what’s going to hit what magical thing will be there.
Holly Brinkman 39:43
Yeah. And there’s always something that you don’t really have any expectations about or you don’t really know anything about. There was this one piece at the Edmonton fringe last year called St Kilda. That was incredible. It was like this Live recorded looped soundscape storytelling, it was creepy. And it I had no preconceived notions of what it was going into it. It was just one where I like had time I slotted into my schedule, I went and saw it and I just could not believe. Like it was a it was a full body like immersive experience. And it was it was such a wonderful surprise for me. So I I always think that that’s kind of the magic of fringe is that you can like just walk in and you can sit through anything for an hour. And it might be life changing.
Phil Rickaby 40:41
That’s the thing is that is that friend gives you the opportunity to take a risk because it’s awesome. For one thing. It’s like $12 Yeah. And second of all, it’s only an hour.
Holly Brinkman 40:53
So like even if you’re hating it. Yes, like you can sit through an hour. We’re like a lot of them are 45 or 55 minutes like and then if, like, I forget who says it. I think it might be john Bennett after his show. He says like, if you see a show that you love to tell like six people, if you see a show that you hated, you talk about it for years, to thousands of people,
Phil Rickaby 41:25
that is so sadly true.
Holly Brinkman 41:27
And it’s just like, it’s, I think it’s fringe artists when we are on tour and we see so many things like we probably see hundreds of shows every tour season. We kind of love those shows that we hate that you get on Saturday, you’re like, ooh, it was bad. And you like sit through it and you kind of love it. That like I saw something that is not something I would ever make or watch again and then like, be really stoked by having a chance.
Phil Rickaby 41:56
But you also have that that shared experience with Whoever you went with the audience Yeah. And you get to you get to talk about it. Yeah. For you know, the whole tour.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s it’s so great. And I mean, the, the people you meet along the way is just so incredible. Like, I was chatting with Carlyn Rhamey, who was the one who like put my name on your call out for podcast people. And we were both just lamenting how even though I was planning on taking the summer off, I was still planning to come and visit a couple of the fringe festivals and still see my community. And like our community has never felt more far apart from each other than we do now. Because even when you’re in the same province or in the same city, as people that you love and respect and want to work with and want to see art that they’re creating, we’re not having the opportunity to do that right now. And I think a lot of us are feeling really, really alone, and really, really really far away from each other. Which is like usually we have the we have the four months of the summer to look forward to. And now we
Phil Rickaby 43:08
should be gearing we should be gearing up to that now. Yeah, I mean, like in the middle of performing
Holly Brinkman 43:13
and like Facebook is such an asshole sometimes because Can I say that? I said that? Yes. Because they like they send your memories from a year ago like what were you doing a year ago? You’re like, Don’t tell me that. Yes, I know. I was in Florida like, stop it.
Phil Rickaby 43:31
Thank you Facebook. Yeah.
Holly Brinkman 43:33
Like, yeah, I know. My life was up a lot better a year ago. Thanks, Facebook.
Phil Rickaby 43:39
I mean, I feel that way when it shows me a picture of me at a restaurant right now. Yeah, but I don’t know. Yeah, me doing anything.
Holly Brinkman 43:46
Totally. Cuz Are you you’re in Toronto, right? Yeah, yeah. So things are still really like locked down there. Hey, pretty much Yeah, cuz things are started opening up here. We’ve like I like I’ve had a haircut. And went out to a pub for dinner. Oh, that was really nice. Everybody’s just like grinning at each other from their tables that are six feet away. Oh my God,
Phil Rickaby 44:11
this would be so weird because we’re all gonna be so happy to go to restaurants when it happens that that’s gonna be us in Toronto where we don’t look or talk to each other.
Holly Brinkman 44:17
Yeah. And like I was at a pub, and it was wing night And normally, like, people get real drunk real fast on weeknights, and you’re like, annoyed by their loud drunken conversation and I found it so quaint. I was like, oh, people getting drunk out in public. Hey, Matt. quaint.
Phil Rickaby 44:33
No, we’re still we’re still pretty locked down is just know restaurants are open. The stores that are open it’s curb service. Right? Yeah, order ahead and pick it up and that sort of thing. And yeah, so
Holly Brinkman 44:45
it’s still, I mean, it’s still super important. And I just worry that on the island, things are really good right now. And I worry that people are like, kind of taking that a little bit to come confidently being like, Oh, my transmission rates are super low on the island and, like, I can just do it live my life. And you’re like, Well, no, no.
Phil Rickaby 45:10
Be very careful. Yeah. Because, you know if we start I mean, we had people here who were like, going to their parents place on Mother’s Day. And then we saw a spike after that so like, we it’s it’s hardest and it’s so much harder as the weather gets warmer. Yeah, people like distancing Yeah,
Holly Brinkman 45:31
and that’s where we’re so lucky here to like on the island, there’s so many places you can go outside that they even the ones that get kind of crowded, they’re not crowded people are still Well, well far apart from each other and able to, to keep a pretty solid distance. So yeah, I before the pandemic sometimes felt too isolated living on an island that only is accessed by a ferry. And now I’m pretty grateful for it. Like feeling Pretty well situated to kind of ride this out
Phil Rickaby 46:06
would you consider creating digital theatre at this point? Is this something that that you’re, you’re mulling over? Um
Holly Brinkman 46:18
I don’t know. I don’t think so. I mean, the kind of goes back to that story of my mum saying that they’ll look at me and then they clap his eye you don’t get that same energy transfer from online theatre and I have things I want to create, but I want to be able to like hear people breathing and shifting in their seats and I want to be able to make eye contact with them while I’m performing it and I want to like there to be an organic nature. You know, whenever you’re doing a solo show, there’s things that change depending on how your audience reacts and I that’s some of my favourite parts. of creating art is like wondering what parts are going to change because of how the audience reacts to them. And to not have that? I don’t know. I don’t want to say like, absolutely not, but it’s definitely something that I really struggle with trying to find, like a reason why I would want to do it.
Phil Rickaby 47:26
Yeah, because it is a different discipline because of that, because you don’t have that audience reaction. You can see it is almost like, it’s not quite television. Yeah, no theatre,
Holly Brinkman 47:40
and I have loads of friends who are like are into, like video editing and a sound editing and graphic design. And so they can make these like weird little Franken videos with cool angles and can kind of throw stuff together. And that’s never been something that I really got all jazzed up with. And maybe I would if I played around with it a little bit more but right now I’m I mean I’m working almost full time and I’m doing my Masters so I’m kind of like I’m using up a lot of my energy that I would normally have for for creation
Phil Rickaby 48:19
Could I ask what you’re doing your masters in
Holly Brinkman 48:21
yeah I’m I’m doing my Master’s in educational psychology with a focus on special education. So I spend a lot of time like thinking about how to support our most vulnerable and complex learners, which yeah has been really interesting and has been a fairly tedious but also really interesting process as we go through the pandemic to to see the different needs as they arise for students and the difficult like shifting. Yeah, needs needs from compact complex learners has been really, really interesting.
Phil Rickaby 48:59
Are there things You’ve known that you’ve learned and seen through your masters that are things that you’re thinking about in informing the theatre that you create.
Holly Brinkman 49:09
Absolutely, yeah. I like I’ve been thinking a lot more about how to make the theatre that I create accessible to diverse minds. I did my solo show in Toronto, I did a relaxed performance of it. And that was a really interesting process. I think if I was going to be creating something new, a new solo show that I would create it with the sort of like guidelines for a relaxed performance in mind so that every time I perform it, it could be performed in that way. And just sort of like thinking about you know, personal storytelling is kind of a mapping of your personal successes and failures. And just in creating that it has, like, forced me to look at my own privilege a lot more closely and to think about Yeah, ways that I can make my art more accessible. And so that I’m not making art only for people who look and create like me. Yeah. Which has been interesting.
Phil Rickaby 50:34
Holly, thank you so much for talking with me today.
Holly Brinkman 50:36
Yeah, absolutely Phil. It was lovely.