Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jeff Onore: Still busy, still has problems, eh?

Jeff Onore is busy brushing up on his Canadian, or whatever language it is that they speak up there, north of Newburyport, beyond Salisbury even — in the Maritimes, eh, where the Clipper City comedian and self-described "international sophisticate" will be taking "A Busy Guy With Lots of Problems." The production, which is difficult to describe, especially since the guy never bothers writing press releases, but explores themes of sexual obsession and failed relationships, has been accepted in the Atlantic Fringe Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "I don't know how it happened," says Onore. "I'm just a crazy kid with a dream."

The festival runs for ten days — or liters, as the Canadians measure time — at various locations in Halifax, in the Great White North, as the MacKenzie Brothers used to say, but luckily for him, Onore will only have to hang around for half that, doing five shows in three days, "which, for a guy like me, is pretty arduous," he says. Especially when he has two two-set nights ("which is pretty intense and a little bit intimidating," he says) and has two shows that are perilously close to his normal 10 p.m. bedtime. He knows staying awake, let alone alert, under those pressure-cooker conditions will be a challenge even for a kid with a dream.
Onore has seen his share of literary successes lately. Several of his plays‚ including “The Realtor" and "Psych Date," have been staged at the New Works Festival. “Let Freedom Ring” won Best Short Play honors in 2007. "A Busy Guy " was staged at Independent Submarine's 1 x 1 Festival of Solo Performance and 1 x 1 Redux in Newburyport two years ago, and in "Dig It," a shared production with playwright Leslie Pasternack two years ago at Stage Left Studio in New York. It also took top Audience Favorite honors in last year's Boston Fringe. The show is not static. He adds new material or reworks old stuff, but not so much that it would warrant bringing notes or a laptop on stage. For the Atlantic Fringe, he's looking at the script to weed out local references or Americanisms. "It will be funny see how it transates into their language," he says. He'll be one of the few Americans there, and local audiences will likely be happy about that.
"It's all new to me, it's like walking on a tightrope, it's exciting," he says. "It's weird to be talking about it this way, no one ever talks to me about it." He's reminded of the whole press release issue, how they're generally a good way to get information out there. "Yeah," he says, "maybe I should pay more attention to that." But, until that issue sorts itself out, he's gonna focus on festivals as a way out of his press shortcomings. "Festivals are the way to go," he says. "They provide the stage, they sell the tickets, they do everything that's hard for me to do. If I could just get them to handle the press releases and maybe do the acting, I could sit back and really let the accolades roll in. "

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: The Atlantic Fringe Festival runs from September 3-10 in various locations in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Newburyport comedian/playwright Jeff Onore will perform "A Busy Guy With Lots of Problems" five times at The Living Room, 353 Agricola Street. For more information on Onore, click here. For a complete Atlantic Fringe Festival schedule, click here.

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