She’s hiking up her short skirt and getting ready to butch it up across the country.
Halifax playwright Lee-Anne Poole is getting ready to take her play Short Skirt Butch on a tour of eastern Canada. It begins in Fredericton, New Brunswick, then travels through Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, winding up back east in Halifax, with performances at the Queer Acts theatre festival.
The play debuted at least year’s Atlantic Fringe Festival, winning praise from both audiences and the press. Xtra wrote about the play last September, and since then, Poole has done a little bit of tweaking to her story of Jean, a recently dumped queer woman who decides to air her grievances. “I think of Short Skirt Butch less as a play and more like storytelling, with elements of standup comedy,” Poole says. “No matter what kind of relationship you are in, how many people are involved, sexually open or closed, heartbreak is heartbreak. It's horrible and it drives us a little mad sometimes.”
Poole is no stranger to telling stories. She has written original works as well as adaptations – she recently adapted Jean Genet’s The Maids, in a piece called The Obedients, calling it a “sexual re-imagining” – and is currently working on finalizing her latest project, Kinky Kitten Club. She also curates a blog called Filthy Emails, a collection of online mash notes. Down East caught up with Lee-Anne as she was getting ready to embark on her tour.
Q: How did the tour come about?
A: The three of us had a really great time on the Atlantic Fringe production of Short Skirt Butch last year. But it was a workshop production for us. I was writing up until the last minute and making rewrites during the run. All that being said, the Fringe run got amazing houses and some great reviews. People laughed their asses off, and I love that. I wanted to take some time after the Fringe run, really finish writing the piece and then give Stef and Bryden (the play’s lone actress, and the director) some time to really rehearse it (without me butting in with rewrites!). It’s also just such a fun, and funny, show. It’s been hard to let go of. We all wanted back at it and thought there would be an audience for it outside of Halifax, so we got to planning this.
Q: What are you expecting from your audiences?
A: During our workshop production word of this show spread like wildfire. We had our first few small houses with supportive members of the theatre community, and then it was like someone told the dykes! We ended up with packed houses of people standing in the back and sitting on the floor in the front. With audience members walking up to us afterwards to say things like, “It was so great to see a character that actually talks like me.” We were happy to have every audience member there, but it was a different sort of joy to see the audience this piece was made for appreciate it. The laughs were louder and longer, to say the least! We are excited to bring it back and to a wider audience.
Q: You're ending the tour with shows in Halifax, for Queer Acts. Any changes since the last incarnation of the show?
A: Definitely. We just finished workshopping some rewrites around the table, and I’m really happy with them. We’ve amped up how crazy Jean gets. She’s a bit of a caricature. Very blown up. She stalks, she steals, has a total breakdown due to this breakup. Not the most healthy way to deal with things, nothing I would recommend. But I think at the heart of it, everyone can identify with that feeling of loss . . . and maybe even wish we could act on some of those crazy thoughts that pop into our heads at times like that. Jean acts on all of them.
Short Skirt Butch opens in Fredericton on Sat, June 30, 8pm, Gallery Connexion
Montreal: Mon, July 2, 8pm, MainLine Theatre
Ottawa: Thurs, July 5, 9pm, Venus Envy
Toronto: Sun, July 8, 8pm, Glad Day Bookshop
Halifax: Thurs, July 19 to Sun, July 22, 10:30pm nightly, Queer Acts Theatre Festival, The Bus Stop Theatre
To reserve tickets, call 902-402-5706, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.