“I went there to find myself, but lost my mind instead.”
From press release:
Sometimes it takes years to get a story right.
The true events in Alex Eddington’s new storytelling-and-music show Yarn happened a decade ago, when he took a summer job on the remote Isle of Mull, Scotland. Yarn will run at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival (July 3-14, 2013) – but this isn’t the first time he’s shared these stories.
Alex wrote Wool in 2006 and toured it to the Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton Fringe festivals – his first Fringe tour of five. Back then, he was a composer newly turning his hand to writing; Wool was a poetic travelogue without a strong story arc. Alex put Wool in his back drawer and wrote several very different plays, including the solo musicological comedy-thriller The Fugue Code in which he played 11 characters at the 2007 Toronto Fringe.
But the Mull stories kept resurfacing. In 2011 he created Fuzzy Logic, a composition for narrator and six musicians based on his observations on the habits of sheep written during that summer on Mull.
Yarn has taken shape since 2009, first as shorter pieces performed in workshops and open mics, and now pieced together into a new script – equal parts funny, wistful and probing – that traces the effects of isolation on his 23-year-old self in a time of personal transition and doubt.
“Alex Eddington has great chops for storytelling, a mischievous, absurd manner with a tune and delightfully clever uses of props both musical and not.” – Bryan McLennon, Theatre in London
Alex moved to the Isle of Mull to calm his thoughts, compose and write, but he was increasingly plagued by his loud inner monologue – here taking the shape of a deceptively cute lamb puppet named Buttercup. A new friendship with an elderly neighbour led to his obsession with standing stones and gradual descent into superstition and magical thinking, convinced that Good and Bad Luck were fighting over him. Looking back, Alex is able to make fun of his younger self but also finds some perspective on that summer’s events. He sees this partly as temporary craziness brought on by being alone, but also as his mind’s way of coping by spinning tales. Alex chose to frame the script of Yarn with a traditional Scottish story – about a young man who is blown across the sea and into a new life – to draw a parallel between the storytelling of the human mind, and the storytelling that binds human societies together, especially in the harsh landscape of the Scottish Isles.
One of Yarn‘s charms is a unique approach to live music. The show is peppered with both quirky original songs about sheep behaviour, and fragments of familiar songs that are sometimes looped and distorted like the earworms that get stuck in your head. Eddington likes to learn a new skill for each show. In 2005 he learned accordion; in 2008 it was sleight-of-hand. This time it was the ukulele, and becoming comfortable with being a strumming singer. He also plays Scottish tunes on a baritone horn, and colours his stories with live sound effects using a battery of unexpected objects.
The casual music in Yarn is paired with a casual storytelling style, created with the help of director/dramaturge Tyler Séguin. The audience is meant to feel as though Alex is recalling his stories just for them. All of helps to create an unusually intimate theatre experience, as though we are sitting around a fire sharing stories and songs, living through dark times with the help of humour and music.
This intimacy between performer and audience is strengthened by the venue. Majlis Multidisciplinary Arts (Fringe venue #27) has a unique indoor/outdoor arrangement; the stage and audience are sheltered from wind and rain, and yet the audience has the pleasure of sitting in an “art garden” in a quiet corner of the city. Inevitably, the show will be accompanied by ambient sounds (some beautiful, some less so) that constantly connect the audience to their surroundings. The show is timed so that the sun will set over the course of the performance, gradually replaced by lanterns and bike lights.
Yarn, presented by Acky-Made (in association with the Toronto Fringe Festival), plays the following dates at Majlis Interdisciplinary Arts (163 Walnut Ave.):
- July 04 07:30 PM
- July 05 07:30 PM
- July 06 07:30 PM
- July 07 07:30 PM
- July 08 07:30 PM
- July 09 07:30 PM
- July 10 07:30 PM
- July 11 07:30 PM
- July 12 07:30 PM
- July 13 07:30 PM
- July 14 07:30 PM
Tickets cost $10 and can be bought at the door, or purchased in advance at fringetix.ca or by phone at 416-966-1062, extension 1. Additional fees apply to advance purchases.
Please note that latecomers are never seated at Fringe performances.