BETTER PARTS written and performed by Nicole Stamp, with Paul Clifford on bass. Runs in rep to October 29. Rating: NNNNN
Nicole Stamp is a big fan of fluffy culture.
"You know, pop music, stupid reality shows, makeover shows," she explains. "But sometimes I wish these things had a bit more craft."
While Stamp is anything but fluffy herself - she's determined, ambitious and has a razor-sharp mind - she admits her piece Better Parts falls into that light genre.
"I'm not trying to convey some message about changing the world," she laughs. "My goal here is to create laughter. If not laughter, then smiles. I love people leaning forward, with their eyebrows up, thinking, 'What's she gonna say next?'"
Fans of the versatile artist have been wondering what she's going to do next, as well. After promising directing gigs at the Fringe and SummerWorks, and a terrific turn in one of CanStage's summer Shakespeare offerings, Stamp took on a high profile gig as a host/producer/director at TVO Kids. (She tells me that Better Parts is not suited for her junior TVO audience.) Last year she impressed as part of the terrific ensemble in an indie production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide.
Her current show is a poetic, jazzy monologue - accompanied by Paul Clifford's acoustic double bass - that riffs on a writer/actor's daydreams while walking home from her temping job. She imagines herself immaculately outfitted, creating and inspiring brilliant works of art, pursued by a series of smitten lovers.
"It's pretty much all fantasy," she says. "I don't think I can be held responsible for my daydreams."
She began the piece back in 2002 as part of the Butterfly Body collective, a group of women writing about body image. She developed it later into a spoken word piece for a cabaret night at Lula Lounge, putting out a mass e-mail searching for a double bassist to perform with her.
After lots of revisions - including endless nights in Koreatown cyber cafés writing pages of text - she reduced the piece to about 17 minutes.
"I see a lot of shows that are good but go on way too long," she says. "It's better to have people wanting more. Yearning is a better feeling than satiation."
Gaining a big rep
Theatre Passe Muraille's ambitious Stage 3 kicks off with nine shows in repertory
STAGE3 A repertory series of nine plays and late-night music. Presented by Theatre Passe Muraille and Obsidian at Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs through November 27. $15-$30, Stage3 pass $80. 416-504-7529, www.passemuraille.on.ca