I arrived in Montreal last Monday before I premiered Roller Derby Saved My Soul on Tuesday at Zoofest. I met up with some Fringe friends and then did something I had not done in almost two years. I drank beer. Beer is so cheap in Montreal! I had no choice if I wanted to get buzzed on a budget. And boy did I need to get buzzed.
I had asked my venue manager how many tickets were sold for opening night:
"Three or four," he replies.
I was still burnt from Ottawa Fringe. There I produced a great French show at an English festival and no one came to see it. Now I was producing a great English show at a mostly French festival and I was terrified the same thing would happen again.
On Tuesday, the day of my tech, the day of my opening night, on Tuesday, I had a nervous fucking breakdown. I sat and choked back tears into a water bottle on the corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent. No, it wasn't just about the ticket sales, other things had happened that day that completely threw me for a loop, but in that time I questioned every life choice that had brought me here. I questioned my abilities as an actor and a writer. I questioned my ability to tour a show. Obviously, I was not cut out for this lifestyle. Obviously, I had made a big fucking mistake in coming to Montreal. Obviously. I wondered if it was too late to back out of Edmonton Fringe?
Though I had a lovely Fringe friend try and comfort me, after a decent enough tech rehearsal with a brand new stage manager, I fully broke down in tears. I turned to this incredibly patient and enthusiastic kid who I had never met before and told him that I was terrified.
He looked at me and with utmost kindness told me that he would be worried right now if I wasn't feeling that way. He told me the show was great and very funny and maybe I should go eat something because everything was going to be fine.
Needless to say, he was right. Over 60 people were at the show that night. At least those are the registered attendance numbers. That doesn't include media, other artists and volunteers. All in all, I think I had an average of 75 people per night. I was the only English show to be reviewed by the Montreal Gazette and it was a glowing one at that:
"Kenny is a charmer... undeniably original."
By the end of the week, the festival was ready to offer me a holdover performance. Unfortunately there was no room left in the schedule and so I am now back in Ottawa getting ready for the next adventure.
Montreal, you surprised me. You surprised me big time.