This piece was submitted by Andrea Swallow. She is the creator, producer and performer of The Lady and the Leg, an improvised one-woman murder mystery party which is bound to shakeup this year’s FRINGE. Andrea’s piece is the second in QDF’s series of artist-submitted works detailing experiences creating at the 26th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival.

This was my first time participating in the Montreal Fringe Festival and I told myself that as a first timer, keeping things simple would be the key to my success. However, being who I am I quickly strayed off course. I found myself handing in my show description for the festival program at the last minute: one woman improvised murder mystery party.

What have I done?

Everyone I spoke to said the same thing. “That sounds really fun, but how are you going to do it?” It was a question to which I had yet to find the answer. My living room was covered in pages of notes, sticky-tacked to the walls like those of a detective who’s been chasing a serial killer for twenty years, the kind of psychopath who calls you on your birthday from a payphone to tell you where he is, but when you get there it’s just your ex-wife’s house, and she and her new husband are having a BBQ, and it’s BYOB, and you show up empty handed, looking like a fool. I felt utterly overwhelmed.

Never again.

I found myself procrastinating like my life depended on it. Netflix, snacks, naps, snacks, CraveTV (it’s not as good as Netflix,  but it has HBO), snacks, naps, more Netflix (because CraveTV sucks and Netflix has Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, where Tina Fey plays a character with the same name as me and it just feels like fate has finally brought us together.) I used to think that the main obstacle of putting on a one-person show was discipline, forcing yourself to work when no one is there to tell you binge-watching three seasons of Entourage is unacceptable on so many levels. Turns out that maybe my procrastination was all part of the process. As I went through rehearsal after rehearsal with my amazing team of the most supportive, funny, and creative people I know , the serial killer paper filled walls began to take on the form of an actual play. All my elaborate ideas had transformed into a simple and fun production, just like I had set out to create in the beginning.

Taking the time to break away from the show and allowing myself to be “lazy” by watching TV ended up really helping me focus on the show when rehearsal time came. I could feel the female comedy mecca that is Netflix pulsing through my veins. Lily Tomlin, Ellie Kemper, Maria Bamford, hear me roar!  I was rested, focused, and a thousand times less neurotic than when I started out. I now have a piece of work that I am excited to bring to the festival, although, admittedly, I still have those first-timer jitters. Don’t come to my show expecting an empty black box stage with a single light pouring down on my naked body while I monologue for 45 minutes about why I’m terrified of balloons. Just know that I truly did as little as possible to put on my biggest show yet.

Mannequin Romance Mysteries Presents: The Lady and the Leg plays at Eva B (2015 St-Laurent). For tickets and more info check out the FRINGE website!

Dates and times:
Fri June 3 6:00pm
Sat June 4 2:00 & 6:00pm
Sun June 5 6:00pm
Wed June 15 6:00pm
Thu June 16 6:00pm
Fri June 17 6:00pm
Sat June 18 2:00pm & 6:00pm

Pictured above: Andrea Swallow as Cordelia Weatherbee. Photo credit: Vadim Gran.

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