Interview with Stefanie Wiens
Interviewer Ed Farolan

Stefanie WiensI didn't get the chance to interview any of the performers during the Fringe Festival, but I managed to email Stephanie Wiens who was kind enough to answer my questions about the hows and whys of being a performer in the Fringe.

Her solo performance of The Big Kissoff was another of my picks because of its unique style. Not only did Wiens act out her part well, she also sang quite nicely. Collaborating with her longtime companion, Angus Kohm, the musical is done in the noir tradition, a satire of the "seamy underworld of organized crime". It was kind of unique: the music reminded me of Burt Bacharach with undertones of Mike Hammer and those hard-boiled detectives of old. Here's the interview:

What's next?

My broad plans are to continue to pursue professional acting opportunities, both through the regular grind of auditions, etc., as well as through self-produced opportunities, such as fringe festivals and equity co-ops. Next up for me I’ll be performing in a school tour of Macbeth (details below). Angus is continuing to write; he has 2 projects he needs to get to work on immediately now that the festival is over. One is a new musical for high schools, for which he has a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council.

Are you coming back to Vancouver ?

We have no immediate plans to return to Vancouver , but you never know!

Are you doing the Fringe tours again, probably Europe ?

At this point, we don’t have a plan for a fringe tour in the immediate future, but you never know. We live in Winnipeg , and I will no doubt participate in the Winnipeg fringe as an actor and/or producer in the future.

What do you do now?

In addition to acting, I work part time as an occupational therapist (OT) at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg (where I’ve worked for the last 7 years). I have been very fortunate in receiving a lot of support from my work (in terms of leaves of absence, flexible hours) in my pursuit of both my theatrical career and education.

Since I was 13, I knew I either wanted to be an actor or an OT, and I have the good fortune of being able to pursue both. Back when I was in university, I followed my parent’s advice, and got the “practical” degree first. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Medical Rehabilitation—Occupational Therapy (BMR-OT)from the University of Manitoba in 1996. I went back to school (while still working part time as an OT) in 2001, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts-Honours Degree in Theatre Performance in 2004.

Are you married?

Although no wedding ceremonies have been performed, Angus (the writer/composer of The Big Kiss Off ) and I have been a couple for 13 years and lived together for the past 7. I performed in 3 shows he wrote and directed (and we toured to Canadian Fringe festivals) in ’96, ’97 and ’98 (the first 2 were ‘large—for the fringe anyway, 7 and 5 respectively—cast musicals and the last was a one-woman non-musical show). This is the first time in 8 years that I’ve performed in one of Angus’ shows.

Are you acting professionally in Winnipeg ?

Yes. In fact, I am in the process of becoming a member of Canadian Actor’s Equity Association. I have been an apprentice for the past 3 years, and am now joining. My first gig as a full CAEA member will be in a school tour of Macbeth (produced by
Manitoba ’s Shakespeare in the Ruins) in which I will play Banquo, the Doctor, the Porter and a Witch!

How did you do box office wise in Vancouver and the other Fringe festivals? Were you more successful in some than in others?

We only took The Big Kiss Off to 2 festivals; Victoria and Vancouver . It had been 8 years since we attended either festival. In Victoria we really saw our box office grow as word of mouth spread. In Vancouver , we saw a similar effect, with a big jump in box office from the first weekend to the second. Overall, it seems we fared very similarly to other national touring groups in Vancouver . We heard from Fringe staff and volunteers that attendance at Performance Works (our venue) was down overall from last year; possibly because there were no other venues near it on the island (where as in the previous year there were 3 venues very near by—2 in the community centre wasn’t used this year, and a tent in the “tour bus” parking lot).

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our internet viewers around the world about your personal and professional life?

People who want more information about this show, past Rubbed Raw productions, or Angus Kohm ’s scripts and scores should go to the rubbed raw website:

© 2006 Ed Farolan