Writer/director Brenda McFarlane gleefully returns to the Canadian Fringe and Winnipeg after serving time in Los Angeles and setting up a thriving bath and body product business in New Mexico called Ziryab’s.
This is McFarlane’s second time at Canada’s best fringe, having directed Evan Brooker’s “Growl Sweetly” and her third time here having worked with Winnipeg’s first-ever poet laureate Di Brandt on a stage adaptation of “questions i asked my mother”.
McFarlane got her start in Fringe Theatre, writing and directing 5 hit shows in Toronto which resulted in her being called “one of the brightest young writer/directors around these days” by the Globe and Mail.
- Suzi Got Her Lips Tattooed – Toronto Summerworks Theatre Festival
- Good in Bed – Toronto Fringe Festival
- Shut Up – Toronto Summerworks Theatre Festival
- I Love You So Much I Wish You Were Dead – Toronto Fringe
- Penis Play – Buddies in Bad Times Rhubarb Festival
- Slut – Toronto Fringe Festival, Los Angeles Edgefest, NYC Fringe
McFarlane also produced, wrote, and directed a play with music as an equity co-op at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre called “The Education of Johnny – The Making of a Man”
This prompted an invitation to be a part of The Tarragon’s Playwrights Unit.
She was the recipient of Canadian, Ontario and Toronto Arts Grants.
She attended the Canadian Film Center for three programs including The Film Program’s Writers Lab, Writers Boot Camp, and The Prime Time TV Program. This led to becoming a Banff CTV Fellow.
During all of this, she held many jobs including things like restaurant server (terrible at it), receptionist, house cleaner (Rent-A-Wife), driver (Henson Hour, Super Dave Osborne Show), craftservice (CBC’s 9B), general laborer, assistant carpenter (Phantom of the Opera), and bookkeeper for her parents in their basement.
Unable to figure out how to support herself in Toronto, she took a leap and headed to Hollywood in the hope of finding a home for her particular brand of female-centric, popular mix of humour and drama.
In Los Angeles, she wrote about 6 specs and got a gig writing an episode of Canadian animated series (never aired) called Bitchy Bitchy. She won the Best Teleplay at the Austin Film Festival and placed highly in several competitions and was a finalist for the Chesterfield a couple of times.
She returned to Toronto to do her last play, “Slut” at the Fringe which was a big hit and was produced again at Edgefest in Los Angeles, at the New York Fringe Festival, and in San Diego. It was most recently produced at Edmonton’s Northern Light Theatre ( “refreshing and entertaining” gigcity.ca) and is published by Original Works Publishing and available on Amazon.
Unfortunately, her neurotic fear of making sales calls and a disorder called prosopagnosia or face blindness (inability to remember faces) proved to be big barriers in television and eventually, she had to get a “real job”.
However, she has tried to remain always involved in theatre, teaching playwrighting classes, volunteering with her local theatre groups as much as they will let her, working as the Artistic Director of the Resilience of the Human Spirit Festival in San Diego, and finally, now, returning to Canada with her play “Dog Gone” premiering at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.