After an extended period of rest, Fredericton’s Next Folding Theatre Company have announced plans for a three year season of work to begin in January with the sketch comedy production, Snakes Are Cool, by Jake Martin.
Somewhere back around the start of the pandemic, Next Folding Theatre Company announced it was entering into an indefinite hiatus. While just about every theatre company at the time was struggling to figure out how to navigate a future full of uncertainty, there was something about NFTC’s announcement that felt final. Like it really was the end. And when I brought this up in conversation with company co-founder Ryan Griffith, he didn’t say much to reassure me we’d ever get to see another show from Fredericton’s fringiest theatre making collective. It seemed to me like the company had reached the end of its wildly creative run.
But now it would appear the rumours of NFTC’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Last week the company released a statement announcing plans for a three year season of work with one simple overarching theme – joy.
“This season is going to extend over a period of three years. It marks a return to theatre for us,” said Griffith. “We are going to be producing shows that spark joy for us and there won’t be too much of a connective tissue other than that. We’re going to be producing shows that inspire joy, because right now people need to be able to laugh together. We’ve programmed this comedy to hopefully give people a chance to do this.”
NFTC will be back on stage in just over a month from now with the production, Snakes Are Cool, by New Brunswick theatre artist and NFTC alumnus Jake Martin.
“Next Folding has always felt like a bit of a home company for me and I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without it so yes, I am thrilled to be able to make some weird Next Folding magic again,” said Martin. “I was a part of Next Folding’s very first show back in 2010 and I ended up doing so many shows with them I’ve lost count.”
Martin describes Snakes Are Cool as a collection of sketch comedy material he has been developing on stage in Toronto over the last few years.
“Originally, the idea was to create a solo sketch show that I could tour and do at festivals around the country,” said Martin. But as we’ve been working on it, it’s expanded into a bit more of a solo-ish sketch show. I think there are a lot of brilliantly funny people in Fredericton but there hasn’t been a lot of sketch comedy. I’m excited to do something a little different.”
Snakes are Cool will be the first show produced by NFTC since Songs of a Seer in March 2018. A planned production, A Treatise of Neverending Things, had been in rehearsal during the early part of 2020 only to end up cancelled as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’re very excited to be developing this original New Brunswick script, to add to the canon of New Brunswick theatre” Griffith says. “New Brunswick has a rich culture and a vibrant history and it deserves better representation on the world’s stages. By building original New Brunswick works, we move towards this goal.”