Lederer employs that same imagination in creating an entire functionality for GoogleShrink™, an on-line therapist that features in her Fringe Festival smash, “With Love and a Major Organ”. Written and starring Lederer, (along with Robin Archer and Martha Ross) “With Love and a Major Organ” is an original romantic comedy about a woman who literally gives her heart to a stranger on the subway.
Lederer says “With Love and a Major Organ” started off as a love letter she wrote for The Walrus magazine competition (“I didn’t win,” she says). However, the playwright did submit her “Dear Stranger…” love letter to Theatre Passe Muraille’s CRAPSHOOT!, an event for emerging artists. She continued to develop the work with TheatreKairos, a writer’s circle, facilitated by industry peers. Lederer was paired up with Aynsley Moorhouse, (who is Artistic Associate for QuestionMark-Exclamation Theatre, along with Lederer) and read her initial draft of the play at HotScrawls.
Lederer says “With Love and a Major Organ” examines, “our ability to connect in a way that is tangible and real.” She explains, “People have such a fear confrontation, I think it’s easy to avoid saying what we think to people directly.” Lederer points out how much control we now have in how we communicate with others – such as Facebook, Twitter, texts. “To actually pick up the phone and talk to a person is scary. And because connection with people can be such a scary thing; it is easy to by-pass.”
The playwright says she loves playing with metaphors in her work. In an earlier play, “Boxed In”, Lederer literally wrote herself into a box for the duration of the play. Originally performed at Tarragon as part of whaleriders, then for Hysteria! at Buddies at Badtimes, Lederer’s character was a young in a cardboard box on Yonge Street. She says that not only allowed her a shell of security on-stage, but also raised questions – “Was she homeless?”
Lederer completed a Masters in Dramatic Studies at University of Toronto, where she studied both acting and directing. Most recently she returned to Toronto after an 11-month acting conservatory at HB Studios in New York, which allowed her to concentrate solely on the techniques of acting. Lederer says everything she studied up until her time at HB Studio was intellectual oriented. “Acting is instinctive,” she says, “and infinitely fascinating and infinity challenging.” It was also a perfect opportunity for Lederer to explore the off-Broadway theatre scene. “It’s so exciting. I loved that there are 40 things you are dying to see all at once.” Lederer says her acting course included international students from around the word, which she found liberating. As part of her course, Lederer wrote a monologue that posed questions which didn’t necessarily have answers. She says she found her acting cohorts from Europe responded to her work with saying, “We don’t need to know the answer.” Lederer reflects while in North America we have a need to understand things clearly.
Lederer has been involved in Toronto’s indie theatre scene in multiple capacities—as Artistic Producer of Paprika Festival, assistant director for Hannah Moscovitch’s “The Russian Play” and for “More Fine Girls”, where Lederer met Martha Ross, who plays Mona, George’s mother who seeks on-line therapy from GoogleShrink™ in Lederer’s play. Assistant directing gives Lederer, “the opportunity to see how other actors work.”
Recently Lederer piloted the television series Upstaged with creator Jacquie Pepall, the BAM Players put on a ‘socially relevant’ production of “Beauty and the Beast”. Exploring the eccentric world of community theatre, Lederer says the cast includes Morro & Jasp, who—in true clown tradition—never dropped out of character, even while being directed.
For now, the talented artist is enjoying great success with her whimsical story of giving your heart away to a stranger.
How in your life are you “on the Fringe?”
Lederer describes a Venn diagram where the ‘human universe’ exists in one circle, and ‘my universe I live in’ in the other, with some overlap. She explains, “I exist on the fringe of my understanding of things. I have so many fundamental questions… that’s why I’m a writer.”
STOP THE PRESSES!
“With Love and a Major Organ” has been selected to be a part of The Best Of The Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival, with three performances:
Wednesday July 18th @ 7pm
Thursday July 19th @ 9pm
Saturday July 21st @ 3pm
Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre, 5040 Yonge Street. Visit www.tocentre.com for more information.
For more information on With Love and a Major Organ visit www.questionmarkexclamation.com
Visit Julia Lederer’s blog at www.questionexclamation.tumblr.com