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Fringe celebrates 25 years

September 8th, 2013 · No Comments

Shows in thirty-five venues dazzled audiences

By Beth McKay

The Toronto Fringe Festival held its 25th anniversary from July 3rd to July 14th and, to celebrate, a whopping 148 shows were performed at 35 venues and entertained countless theatregoers. Though it may have been difficult to attend all of the Fringe shows because of the high number of performances, one that should not have been missed is I Hired A Contract Killer, a play performed by the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. This show initially appears heavily dramatic; upon viewing however, it is fantastically comical. The play portrays the serious and common issue of job loss, and juxtaposes this element with the extreme measures that the main character, Henri Boulanger, takes to fill the emotional void of losing his job. In response to being fired, Boulanger hires a contract killer to murder him when he least expects it; however, he has a change of heart before the murder comes to fruition. This bleak plot line creates a humorous atmosphere to which audience members can relate and chuckle at the measures Boulanger takes after being laid off. The plot line is partnered with a unique and ingenious dramaturgy which both the director and Randolph Academy students have carefully constructed.
I Hired a Contract Killer is originally a 1990 cinema film, and the Randolph Academy has used the basis of the film to their theatrical advantage. “It was written as a film. There are 57 scenes in the movie, and we got it down to 47. This play is basically an adaptation,” said Bruce Pitkin, the play’s director. Pitkin has been with the Randolph Academy since 2006 and this is the fourth Fringe Festival play which he has directed. Though he has travelled the world working in theatre, he explained that he greatly enjoys the Toronto atmosphere. “Students here [ at the Randolph Academy] access a joy in their work that doesn’t exist in other places. They have a skill set that is very different; each student brings their own special talent,” Pitkin said.
Pitkin further expressed that he cannot replicate film on the stage, but rather he plays with the audience’s visual perspective. A narrative was written for the screenplay, and Pitkin has adapted the film narrative to suit his rendition, which creates a hybridity of live performance and film. “At times we turn the whole piece around and let the audience see it from another side,” he explained, while making a conscious effort to not reveal any of the play’s surprises.

Randolph Academy Students Matt Raffy (left) and Brittani Byrne (right) star in I Hired A Contract Killer during the Toronto Fringe Festival's 25th anniversary.

Randolph Academy Students Matt Raffy (left) and Brittani Byrne (right) star in I Hired A Contract Killer during the Toronto Fringe Festival’s 25th anniversary.

Randolph Academy student Jordi O’Deal expressed her excitement for this play and explained that this is her first major role at the Randolph centre. “There are ten people in the cast and we have all been working together since we started school, so since last January,” O’Deal said. She has multiple roles in the play including the landlady and a thug, and she also plays the  guitar in the performance.Pitkin and O’Deal explained that the students create all of the soundscape for the play, as there is no recorded sound. “It goes from creating a subway train, to a thunderstorm, to bar scenes. Some sounds we do in a unique way which provides humour,” Pitkin said. Randolph Academy student, Jordi O’Deal expressed her excitement for this play and explained that this is her first major role at the Randolph centre. O’Deal has multiple roles in the play and explained, “There are ten people in the cast and we have all been working together since we started school, so since last January.” If you did not get a chance to see this performance visit www.randolphacademy.com for upcoming show times

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