Sept. 8, 2006
She's one funny old broad
Susan Freedman brings a new play to the Fringe Fest.
Susan Freedman is a self-confessed Fringe Festival addict, and
her addiction has led her to create a trilogy of one-woman shows
for the Vancouver Fringe Festival, the third of which opens tonight
at Pacific Theatre.
Sixty Four and No More Lies follows successful Fringe runs of
Fifty Seven and Still Lying About My Weight and Sixty
with More Lies About My Weight.
In an interview with the Independent, Freedman, who has acted
on and off since she was a child, explained that she was originally
turned on to the festival when she was living in the hotbed of Canadian
fringe culture, Edmonton. There, she was working as director of
radio for the CBC and catching every fringe show she could.
Freedman said she believes the Fringe is a fabulous opportunity.
"There is nowhere else that performers, writers and technical
people can have a creative idea and at a reasonable price ... get
an opportunity to put on what you want," she observed. "It's
not juried, it's not censored."
So when she moved to Vancouver in the early '90s, Freedman said
she was disappointed to find the Vancouver festival at the time
to be, in her words, "pretty weak and a bit of a downer."
That's when Freedman took matters into her own hands: "I went
to the Fringe office and talked myself into getting a job."
That gumption, along with her past experience, earned her the position
of marketing director of the Vancouver Fringe from 1994 to 1998.
So how did she go from promoter to performer?
"[There was] one show I saw in particular," she said,
"in which a guy was naked throughout the whole show, and trust
me, should not have been, and it was ... horrible. I mean, you wanted
to chew your leg off to get out of there. It was so bad that I said
to myself, 'By God, I can do this.' "
And that's when she began to write her first show. She said that
it was challenging because she had never written a play before,
but she "had always fancied myself a writer" and knew
that if she wrote a piece, she would automatically get the lead.
She said that a lot of the shows she had seen consisted of people
in their 20s and 30s talking about the ups and downs of their lives.
She felt that she could do the same thing only from an older
perspective. Her life experience she's been married three
times and has four children as a result of blended families
provided fodder for a comedic take on topics like dieting, menopause
and growing up as a Jewish princess in 1950s Winnipeg.
Freedman was very nervous at the debut of her first show but, she
said, "I have friends, thank God, who came. And they liked
it, and they laughed and I got good reviews."
Freedman philosophized that her previous shows have been successful
because everyone, no matter how old, can relate to her themes. "I
think the real truth," she said, "is that there are about
seven problems we North Americans who have enough to eat have; and
we all have some of them at any given time. Maybe in a slightly
different way, but we all have the same stuff. It's all about relationships
and confidence and just making it through the best we can."
Sixty Four and No More Lies also deals with the joys and
pains of life and aging, but Freedman said that unlike her previous
shows, it's more of a one-woman play than a stand-up routine. "It's
meant to be funny, but at the same time true. It's about survival
and certainly about growing older and growing up. I think that's
true, too: we never stop [growing up]. It's never done. We're always
sort of figuring out how to travel through a little more happily
On the link between Judaism and her productions, Freedman noted,
"I think [being Jewish] has everything to do with my view of
the world and getting through bad stuff and then turning it into
an irony and turning it into a joke. That is absolutely how the
Jews have made it through."
For show times and tickets to Sixty Four and No More Lies,
call 604-257-0366 or go to www.vancouverfringe.com.
Kelley Korbin is a freelance writer living in West Vancouver.