Fringe Preview: Buckle My Shoe

Anna Pappas collaborates with people she’s known for decades


BUCKLE MY SHOE by Alexis Bernier and Nastasia Pappas-Kemps, directed by Anna Pappas, with Gina Clayton and Lily Scriven. Presented by Ergo Arts at St. Vladimir Theatre. July 2 at 8:15 pm, July 4 at 11:30 pm, July 5 at 9:15 pm, July 7 at 1 pm, July 8 at 6 pm, July 9 and 11 at 1:45 pm. See listing.


Long-term relationships, both onstage and off, are the key to Buckle My Shoe, a collaboration between artists of different generations.

Jointly written by award-winning writers, veteran Alexis Bernier and teenaged Nastasia Pappas-Kemps, the show deals with Emma, whom we see both as a 40-something, sleep–deprived worrier and as an 18-year-old filled with excitement about the potential for life and love.

Bernier, director Anna Pappas and performer Gina Clayton have known each other for a quarter-century and collaborated on some 10 shows.

“It’s amazing to work with people who know me so well that I can make a gesture or say a word and they totally understand the rest of my idea,” smiles Pappas. “The two of them make up the deepest creative relationship I’ve had over the years, and I feel so safe developing a script with them.”

Add another connection to the show: Pappas is mother to Pappas-Kemps and has “always dreamed about working with my daughter.”

In terms of the writing, the two authors devised their sections separately, and then the whole team worked on combining the two voices.

“We chose the writing that reflected the older Emma and her dilemma of hiding the true object of her -affection from her husband,” says Pappas. “She has trouble confessing it even to herself and wonders whether her marriage would unravel if she did tell her partner.”

Examined from several angles, the nature of her secret love drives the production as the younger and older Emma meditate on attraction and -desire maybe wanting is as important as having.

“Alexis’s writing is filled with fleeting images, like a suggestive water-colour that leaves you with impressions rather than concrete specifics. Nastasia’s, on the other hand, offers a young person’s perspective and voice it’s more realistic and colloquial.

“Over the course of the show, the voices start to meld, and the two Emmas address each other.”

The director’s impressed with the easy working relationship among the women, despite their relationships outside the show and their differences in age.

“It’s quite an experience to see my daughter as a writer and realize the similarities we share as creators. I wish I’d had at her age the confidence she demonstrates she knows herself as an artist. I’m gratified that Nastasia and Lily Scriven, who plays the young Emma, are so clear on their path.

“It makes me feel hopeful for our future artists.”    

jonkap@nowtoronto.com

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