A Fresno fringe weekend
Nat Vickers and her bike, Luna, have been through a lot of kilometers together.
More than 25,000, in fact.
The Toronto fringe performing artist will tell you about life with Luna in “Girl on a Bike,” her solo show at the “Seattle to Fresno: Best of Fringe” three-day weekend festival at Mia Studio & Gallery. Vickers took the burgundy colored Norco touring bicycle, which is covered with stickers from places around the world in which the pair has pedaled, on a 7,000 kilometer bike trip across her native Canada. It took them three months.
Win tickets to any performance of “Seattle to Fresno”: See details on how to enter below.
She camped along the way, staying in places she figured she wouldn’t be bothered (graveyards were always a good bet), inevitably bumping into fellow travelers and accumulating wacky and poignant vignettes.
“When you’re traveling people want to tell you their stories,” she told me in a phone interview.
Last October she decided to turn the experience into a solo show for the fringe circuit. It debuted July 2 at the Regina International Fringe Festival.
“Girl on a Bike” is one of six shows that are part of “Seattle to Fresno,” which is sponsored by the Rogue Festival. This year’s offerings include dance, storytelling, comedy, and magic. Two of the shows are headlined by out-of-town performers such as Vickers. (The other is Brad McEntire, a Dallas fringe performer who played in a 2015 installment of “Seattle to Fresno.”) The other four feature local performers: Shane “Scurvy” Spears, Tim Mannix, Laura Splotch, and the Fresno Dance Collective (NOCO).
This is the fourth year for the “mini-fringe” festival, which is geared toward people for whom a once-a-year fix at the Rogue Festival just isn’t enough. The goal is to bring “first-class fringe theater” to Fresno on a regular basis. The festival is curated by former Rogue producer Jayne Day and Grant Knutson of Seattle’s Minion Productions. All shows are $10.
Vickers brings an interesting background to life on the fringe-festival circuit. She recently received a doctorate in theater and environmental studies from the University of Toronto. (Her thesis is on animals in performance.)
Does she want to teach?
“I did want to at one point,” she sighs. “I think I’m much more of a traveler.”
She proved that point by taking time off from her Ph.D. with her bike trip across Canada, which stretched from Halifax to Vancouver. It’s not as if she had to worry about getting lost: She took the Trans-Canada Highway the entire way.
Her penchant for camping in places off the beaten path (read: no overnight fees) caused a few surprises.
At one stop, a man approached her after she’d set up for the night in front of what she thought was a church. “Are you really sure you want to do this here?” he asked. “I just want you to realize that you’re camping outside a crematorium.”
That moment didn’t make it into Vickers’ show. But plenty of other experiences along the way did. (She even depicts some of the people she met with puppets.)
Reviewing the show in Edmonton’s Vue Weekly, Katie Robertson writes:
It will not only send you on an empowering adventure, it will also challenge your limbic system with a freewheeling ride all the way from excitement to terror and everything in between. The solo act performance includes dramatic lighting, sound effects, and puppetry to keep your eyes glued to the set, though, you won’t need it because she commands the stage and captivates her audience with ease.
And don’t forget Luna. In this bike tale, she’s definitely best supporting actress.
The Munro Review is giving away two pairs of tickets to any performance in the “Seattle to Fresno: Best of Fringe” festival, which opens Friday, Sept. 8, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 10.
To enter, tell us which show you’d like to see. (See the complete schedule below.) Two winners will be randomly selected. Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7. Your tickets will be waiting for you at the box office.
‘Seattle to Fresno’ schedule
All performances are at Mia Studio & Gallery, 626 E. Olive Ave., Fresno.
“Wet-Wired for Weird (even wetter?)”
Starring: Shane ‘Scurvy’ Spears
Times: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9; and 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10
Description: A delightfully acidic series of ill connected vignettes and passionate rants about kinky sex, internet culture, end times, true noir, and shameful thoughts; collected and curated with only one rule…..no segues: featuring the verbal machine gun misanthrope Shane “Scurvy” Spears, creator of hit shows “We All Hate You” and “Cap’n Scurvy’s Apocalypse Hoedown Revival.”
“Implausibly Delicious! — The Magic of Tim Mannix”
Starring: Tim Mannix
Times: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8
5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10
Description: Comedy magician/Mentalist Tim Mannix returns to the “Seattle-to-Fresno” Mini Fringe with his latest show, Implausibly Delicious! Rated “H for hilarity, his stand-up comedy act is sure to tickle your funny bone. “Mannix treats every show like he’s on a huge network station. He cares about every detail and making sure the audience will have a good time!”
“Nothing is Beautiful; Everything is Fine”
Starring: Alexandra Tiscareno & Fresno Dance Collective (NOCO)
Times: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8; 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9; and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10
Description: A dance piece on three themes: human connection, conformity and wonder. In angsty political & social times, art is where we explore current ideas, express our voices and manifest hope. The lens through which we see our lives may change from hour to hour, day to day… sometimes our perceptions and patterns of thought extend throughout long seasons and lifetimes. But in this refreshing though experiment, we look at the world through different lenses and practice tolerance.syncopated, and complex.
“Girl On A Bike”
Starring: Nat Vickers
Times: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8; 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9
Description: A two-wheeled adventure of Canadian proportions! “Girl On A Bike” spins strange-but-true stories of characters from a ride across the country: from graveyard groundskeepers, to wild west proprietors, and wanderers with secrets only fit for strangers. Girl On A Bike is a one-woman storytelling show that retraces a real-life bike ride across the Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver, uphill and against the wind the whole way.
Starring: Laura Splotch
Times: 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8; 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9
Description: The story of a dreamer, beat down by life but keeps on dreaming about the big win … with scratchers. Barbie q is the queen of the trailer park and works hard — hard being the operative word here — at keeping that title. Maybe, just maybe, she will come out on top…
“Robert’s Eternal Goldfish”
Starring: Brad McEntire
Times: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9; 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10
Description: In this solo show by Brad McEntire, the audience comes face to face with Mr. Robert J. Roberts. Roberts has a huge problem with people. All people. One day he becomes the unlikely custodian of a magical goldfish and Mr. Roberts’ misanthropic view of the world is seriously challenged.
Here’s a promo for McEntire’s show:
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