Amanda Logan is a lover of the arts. Whether it’s learning from the Theatre Arts program at Algonquin College, calling sound and lighting cues for sketch comedy shows Just Like You!), using makeup to bring monsters to life (Kavalier’s Kuriosities), or acting in front of an audience as a parody of Khaleesi (Game of Bones) or a woman hungry for fame (The Melville Boys); this multi talented artist does it all. Her crowning achievement (thus far) is the creation of the Toasted Theatre Company, which she co-founded with her friend Lauren Cauchy.
Lauren Cauchy is an Ottawa native and graduate of theatre studies from the University of Ottawa. She loves to exercise her teaching skills by sharing her performance, writing, and directing experiences at Arts Express Ottawa, Insight Theatre program, and Christie Lake Kids. She has performed with Ottawa based companies Counterpoint Players, Dead Unicorn Ink, and Vacant House Theatre. Her talents are on full display helping run Toasted Theatre Company with her friend Amanda.
Ahead of an encore presentation of their show Lauren & Amanda Do It at the Fringe Encores, Apt613 was able to sit down with the duo and find out about the influences behind their latest endeavor.
Apt613: Hi Amanda and Lauren, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Can you tell us about how you two met?
Lauren: We met each other through theatre, actually on a Fringe (Festival) production about four years ago. It was during the Atlantic Fringe, now knows as Halifax Fringe. We were both on the same show, but were a little frustrated with the show… there are a lot of facets to writing and producing, but we noticed that one was the lack of three dimensional female characters… even I was playing a pretty stock character.
So when Amanda and I got back from the trip… she brought over a bottle of wine and we started talking about writing our own shows with dynamic and plot driving female characters and that’s how it all came to be.
How did you come up with the name for Toasted Theatre Company?
Amanda: About a couple of months after our evening of wine and talk of creating a theatre company, I texted Lauren and said: “Hey, Orlando Fringe applications are open. Should we apply?” And we said, fuck it, let’s apply and I guess now we have a theatre company.
Our company developed organically, so much so that we named it after the bottle of wine we were drinking (that day). We were brainstorming company names that evening and both looked at the bottle we were drinking and said: “how about toasted?” And it stuck.
What are some places where you have been able to perform?
Amanda: The first place we ever went (as Toasted Theatre Company) was Orlando Fringe. We premiered a play there called Chocolate Cake. This summer we did Ottawa Fringe, and we’ve also done Winnipeg Fringe as well.
Can you tell us about the format of the show, Lauren and Amanda Do It?
Amanda: We’re both passionate about sex education and wanted to do a game-show style type of show. Lauren could host it, (I) would direct it.
You hope, that through your show, a safe space is created for the audience to open up and have a more serious dialogue about sex and body image issues. What are some of the memorable things you’ve both experienced through the show?
Amanda: There is one segment we do where I read entries from my teenage diary. I read, verbatim, what I wrote down when I was 17. I talk about my body image issues and about the struggle with bulimia and how that always related to how worthy I felt.
The first time I read (the diary) on stage, a stranger came up to me after the show and asked to hug me. I said: “absolutely.” Then she started crying and said how she always felt alone and didn’t realize that other people were going through the same thing (with bulimia). That’s when it dawned on me that maybe this is an important thing we’re doing here.
We also have a segment where we read questions from the audience and we had one comment that said: “I don’t respect people who have rape fantasies. Can you please elaborate on this for me.” So we talked about the topic on stage…
Lauren: … and in any kind of fantasy, no matter the topic, obviously consent is a huge part of it…
Amanda: … yeah, and after we covered the topic (of rape fantasies) on stage, a young woman, probably in her early twenties, came up to me after the show and asked if she would talk to me one on one. And we had this conversation where she opened up to me about how she was a survivor of sexual assault… and a couple of months ago, her and a really close friend were having a conversation and her friend had told her about how she was interested in pursuing a rape fantasy sexually. Her friend had no idea that she had been sexually assaulted. And so, because of that (conversation), she hadn’t talked to her friend for three months. But after she and I talked through her question, she (forgave) her friend and decided to text her and was planning on seeing her again…
Lauren: … yes… at no point do Amanda and I claim to be experts, we’re just really starting the conversation and inviting the audience to share their thoughts in a safe space.
For example, we had one question regarding anal sex, and I was like: “I don’t really know a ton about anal sex.” And somebody in the audience put their hand up and said: “I do.” So we brought them up on stage to share their experiences.
Amanda: … and sometimes people come up to us after the show and share some really humorous sex stories too…
Lauren: yeah… people see us being loose and very open in sharing our stories on stage and see the audience reaction, which is usually laughter, and feel like they want to share their stories and get that same kind of positive reaction back.
We want (our show) to be like a conversation between two best friends over a glass of wine
What do you hope people get out of your show?
Amanda: Right off the bat, we like to tell people at our show that we foster an inclusive and safe space and people should respect whatever is shared and not feel like they are obligated to share any of their own stories. We also like to let our audience know that they have the ability to leave the theatre and then return if they wish, if something did get too much (for them to handle) and it’s without any judgement.
Lauren: We want (our show) to be like a conversation between two best friends over a glass of wine and not everybody has those kinds of relationships in their life, or those kinds of support systems to be able to have those thoughts or ask those questions without feeling like they’re being judged. And this could potentially be a forum or an avenue for people to be let in on these types of conversations that are important and also really fun. People really like talking about sex.
You can catch Lauren and Amanda’s show on Friday November 24 and Saturday November 25 at 8pm at the Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Avenue). For ticket info, please visit http://ottawafringe.com/fringe-encore/