In late 2016, Holly Brinkman was given the opportunity to bring a one-woman show she had been toying with for years to the stage for the first time.
The Victoria middle school teacher had been performing at storytelling events since 2010, recounting tales from her formative years and young adulthood. She said she grew up around relatives who would tell colourful “whoppers” and was drawn to performing herself.
“I started to seek out watching storytellers doing a full-length, hour-long show and got to be friends with quite a number of storytellers. And talking about their process and with some good encouragement from them [I] started to develop my own idea,” she said.
Her work got the attention of Victoria’s Intrepid Theatre, which granted her a slot in its You Show series for up-and-coming artists. She had a month and a half to weave her short stories into a full stage show.
“It was fast. It was very intense,” Brinkman said.
“The date that they were giving me to perform it was six weeks away and then I put my head down and did a lot of writing.”
That writing became A Woman’s Guide to Peeing Outside and other Adventures. In the show, Brinkman tells her life story from her childhood in rural B.C., through her high school years and ending with a move to Montreal where she “really came into my own.” The show is framed as a stop on a book tour for her fictional bestselling guidebook on outdoor urination.
Her first reading was at the Intrepid in February 2017. She spent the next few months developing the script into more of a performance and crowdfunded more than $1,500 to bring her production to the Montreal Fringe Festival, where A Woman’s Guide… made its proper debut in June. Brinkman followed that up with a visit to the Victoria Fringe Festival in the fall. She said it’s been exhausting but rewarding putting on a solo show.
“I was looking at the ensemble casts and being like, ‘Oh, that would be so great,’ just to have that buddy with you to have a bit more support,” she said.
“So it is lonely sometimes, but then also it’s like your success is your success and your failures… you have to very much own both of those experiences.”
The performances come to a halt as the school year started up again but Brinkman is bringing her show back on the road for a four-performance swing through Gabriola Island and Nanaimo from Jan. 11 to 14.
Brinkman said she hopes to continue touring the show and hopes to bring it to more rural communities where the residents will most relate to her subject matter. Wherever the venue, she’s always eager to step in the spotlight and share her story.
“I’m always amazed. When I start it’s like, ‘OK, you’re just going to be talking for an hour, you got this,’” she said.
“And then I get onstage and then it feels like five minutes go by and then it’s over.”
WHAT’S ON … A Woman’s Guide to Peeing Outside and other Adventures comes to Gabriola Island’s Roxy Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. All tickets $15. The show continues at the Harbour City Theatre in Nanaimo on Friday, Jan. 12 and Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults, $16 for seniors 65 and over and $12 for young adults 29 and under and students.