An insider’s perspective: the making of a Fringe Festival act

Amy Marschak | Boulder Weekly

I never thought that I would write a play about healing from sexual abuse, but as I was driving to Winnipeg to perform another play, scenes for just such a play kept popping in my head. I pushed them away and told myself that if I get into the Victoria Fringe Festival, then I will write that play. I knew this was safe because I was far down on the waiting list for that festival. Twenty minutes later, I checked my messages and there was a call from the Victoria Festival that I had gotten in. I was petrified. On the Victoria application, I had made up the title An Angel Cried A Tear Last Night, but I had no idea what the play would be about.

After that Winnipeg performance, I realized I had only four and a half weeks to write this new play, and I realized it would have to happen while driving from Winnipeg to Victoria. Out of fear, I procrastinated for one week … three and a half weeks left. I told myself that wherever I was at 7 that night, I would find a place to rehearse and begin to write the play. That time arrived and the only place that I could find was the backyard deck that a stranger had volunteered.

The sun was setting and I was standing on a stranger’s deck. My internal critic screamed, “This play will be horrible!” But I could not let my internal critic win. So I laid down, closed my eyes and allowed a scene to pop into my mind. I took the first idea that came to me and rehearsed that scene until it was polished. I wrote down notes to remember the scene and repeated the process.

I continued traveling and stopped in Brandon, Manitoba, where I met Tim. Later that day, I convinced a hotel to let me use their banquet room to rehearse in. Tim asked if he could watch — I have always believed in opening my rehearsals to anyone who was interested in attending — and despite being scared and this being the second day that I was writing the piece, I said yes. He liked it so much, that my fourth night there, I had an audience of Tim, Tim’s friend, Tim’s sister and Tim’s sister’s friend.

During these rehearsals, little songs popped into my head, so they were put in my play. The voice of my inner child who knew the secret spoke and she too was put in the play. Little by little, piece-by-piece, the entire play came from my mind and burst onto the stage.

I continued my journey west. Because I was traveling alone, I would do anything to get external feedback. Once, while rehearsing in an empty classroom in Calgary, I walked outside the building and invited random students to come and watch various scenes.

Finally, the play was ready, but no one had seen the full piece. I invited the people housing me in Victoria to see it. They were very moved and recommended it to others. I was still scared but when it opened at the Victoria Fringe, the audience loved it, I was very grateful.

The process was not easy. I was constantly doubting myself. Going back into the memories was quite difficult, but I am very glad that I did because I have been able to validate so many other survivors’ experiences, help others to better understand this silent epidemic and give hope to all.

Amy Marschak performs An Angel Cried A Tear Last Night at the Boulder Fringe Festival at Topo Ranch, 1505 Pearl St. on  Thursday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. For more information and to buy tickets, visit