Ottawa’s Emerging Artists Ready for Action at the Fresh Meat Theatre Festival

Paul Rainville. Chris Ralph. Margo MacDonald. Catriona Leger. Evolution Theatre. MiCasa Theatre. These are names you’re likely to be familiar with if you’ve spent any time within the professional theatre scene in Ottawa. But there’s a new generation of talented kids ready to put their names out there. People and companies like Jonah Allingham, Tess Mc Manus, Dead Unicorn Ink, and May Can Theatre. Enter the Fresh Meat Theatre Festival, running at the end of September.

The Fresh Meat Theatre FestivalThe Fresh Meat Theatre Festival is being organized primarily by recent Ottawa Theatre School grad, Jonah Allingham. Seeing a lack of avenues for emerging artists to showcase their talents, he came up with the Fresh Meat Theatre Festival. Running for three nights at the end of the month, each of six emerging artists or companies will present an original twenty-minute show as part of an evening of theatre. The performers include Jonah Allingham, Tess Mc Manus, and Jake William Smith on the solo show front and May Can Theatre, Dead Unicorn Ink, and improv group GRIMProv rounding out the roster. The event will take place at Pressed on Gladstone where audience members can enjoy drinks and food while they take it all in.

Now if all you’re having when hearing “Fresh Meat” is visions of sweaty locker rooms, army boot camps, or gang initiations, don’t let what might have been (arguably) a poorly chosen name fool you. There is a lot of talent in this group.

The Fresh Meat Theatre FestivalBoth May Can Theatre and Dead Unicorn Ink come off of two years of very popular and well received shows at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, and Tess Mc Manus has recently returned from a successful three-city tour of her popular and charming one-person show, Donkey Derby. All three are good bets. Jonah Allingham, and Jake William Smith are bigger wild cards. Allingham debuted a one-person show called In Waves at this year’s Fringe which received mixed but fairly positive press and Smith has yet to stand on stage on his own with a show he’s created. At the very least, though, they’re both capable actors, with Allingham being an OTS grad and recently seen in their production of The Suicide, and Smith embodying the lead role of a private dick in Space Mystery from Outerspace. The performers who make up GRIMProv have their funny bones in the right places but their show will be unpredictable by it’s very nature making them the wildest card of the bunch.

We’ll see what we’ll see in any respect, and any of the six could be a huge surprise in any direction. Which, when you think about it, is half the fun of a buffet-styled night at the theatre. What is certain is that all of these artists are trying to grow their brand and continue making a name for themselves, so they’re holding nothing back. And that above anything should make it worth getting out to.

And hey, six shows on one ticket. You’re bound to like at least one. Unless you’re a grumpy old curmudgeon wondering why these ar-tistes are interrupting your panini eating.

Official breakdowns for four of the shows:

Backpack Theatre (Jonah Allingham):

Caution: Don't Feed the Mermaids

Caution: Don’t Feed the Mermaids

Summer of ’34 is the story of one man’s quest for redemption aboard a stolen bicycle in rural Ontario amidst Canada’s Great Depression. Jim Phillips is a down and out alcoholic dealing with the loss of his job, ex-communication from hisparents, and most importantly his little brother’s ongoing struggle with tuberculosis, and its extremely expensive treatment. When a large amount of opium falls into Jim’s hands by chance, he sees a way to save his brother’s life and redeem his own.

Dead Unicorn Ink:

Madeline is a lot like most girls her age. She doesn’t feel like she belongs, she’s harassed by her peers, and she longs for some true companionship. The difference between Madeline and most girls is that her hands are slimy tentacles. One night she finally has enough and plans to escape to the ocean, a place where maybe she can belong. On the coast she meets a mermaid. Madeline quickly learns that this creature of myth behaves nothing like the mermaids she heard about when she was a child. This mermaid is vain, malicious… and hungry. Will Madeline become caught in the mermaid’s jaws? Or is she destined for much worse?

Tess Mc Manus, Tales She Tells

Tales She Tells

Little Green Hat (Tess Mc Manus):

Through storytelling, song, and movement, Tales She Tells is a compilation and combination of Irish mythology, oral tradition, and newly created narratives – specifically on the topic of love.

May Can Theatre:

Dusk is a great horned owl desperately searching to validate herself as a mother by caring for someone other than her eggs. Dawn is an orphaned deer looking for guidance and a home. Maybe because of their rigid schedules, quite possibly by convenience, or uncontrollably by fate, the two find each other. It is through their unlikely friendship that the audience is presented with a narrative about fate, a search for substance, and animals. PArt story telling and part pretend, puppets and fun round out this new piece from May Can Theatre.

The Fresh Meat Theatre Festival has a three night run, September 28th to September 30th. It all goes down at Pressed (750 Gladstone) with a ticket price of $15. Show(s) starts at 7:00.

Oh, and the majority of our second podcast was devoted to talking about Fresh Meat so give that a listen. It includes a chat with the lovely and talented ladies of Fresh Meat, Sylvie Recoskie (Dead Unicorn Ink), Tess Mc Manus, and Madeleine Boyes-Manseau (May Can Theatre) who talk all about the festival, the shows, and their development processes. Why are you still reading? Give ‘er a listen.

Other Media

The Production Ottawa Reviews for The Fresh Meat Theatre Festival
The Fresh Meat Theatre Festival in Review (APT 613)
The (not so fresh) Fresh Meat Post (Visitorium)

(If you know of any press not listed here, leave us a comment or send us a note.)


The following photos were taken by Production Ottawa photographer, David Pasho at the media launch for Fresh Meat. A larger gallery can be found on our Facebook page.


What do you think? Will you be attending Fresh Meat? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Tell me in the comments below 

Preview article prepared by Allan Mackey.
Photographer: David Pasho 


Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

Links to this article.

  1. [...] As of publishing, you have one single chance left to see Snapshot. Do that, at the GCTC Studio, then see Fresh Meat on Sunday. [...]

What do you think?

We fully encourage discussion and want to know what you're thinking but always remember to keep it civil and don't make any personal attacks against the article author or another commenter.