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Quest Theaterworks returns from festival inspired

Theirs was one of 3,200 productions. Twelve performances in total, with only the props that could be walked on stage by the actors, within minutes of one show ending and theirs beginning. Welcome to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“We had a cloak room, used by 20-30 other shows — it was a glorified closet for a dressing room,” said Lois Ewing, who, along with her husband Scott, brought their production of “Gidion’s Knot,” by playwright Johnna Adams to the world stage through Quest Theaterworks.

Lois Ewing and Trish Adair starred in the two-person play focused around a parent-teacher conference. Both women, along with Scott Ewing and the production’s director John Deaderick, were among a group that made the trek to Scotland last month for the festival.



The experience was both amazing and humbling, Adair said.

“On one hand, it was so truly amazing just being a part of being an artist among artists. … On the other hand, there were eight people at the show,” Adair said of the audience.




With so many shows and performances to take in, each production typically sat between four to eight people at each show. At eight people in the audience, “Gidion’s Knot” was above average in attendance the entire time, she explained.

But that’s how the Festival Fringe is designed to work, hundreds of venues — some grand, some middle of the road, such as theirs and some small.

Scott Ewing took in one production staged in a shipping container. Most productions use stripped-down sets and emphasized a focus on the art of theater — the acting and script.

“It’s a real dichotomy … being an artist with no audience,” Adair said.

Lois Ewing agreed about the no-frills experience. There were times the two women stood at the front of the line to get into their own show, holding set props.

They walked on stage and started performing within 10 minutes, a stark change to their typical pre-performance routines of arriving to the theater hours early prepare for a role in a quiet space.

“There was no quiet,” Lois Ewing said.

Even with new performance conditions, all three said the trip to the festival was a worthwhile venture for the nonprofit theater company. They received a lot of positive feedback from those who attended “Gidion’s Knot.”

“I feel like it was a huge success. We wanted to bring this piece of theater to an international audience,” said Lois Ewing.

“In terms of art, we were right up there,” Adair added, referring to the top tier shows of the festival. “We were completely validated.”

“And it was fun,” Lois Ewing said with a smile.

For Scott Ewing, the trip confirmed what Quest Theaterworks were all about — producing theater that moves people, without a lot of, well, production.

“What I learned is that ‘good’ is a subjective thing. It’s all about writing and acting. I’m looking forward to presenting more things that are less produced,” he said.

In fact, the experience was so inspirational, Scott Ewing said he is now writing three shows, all spurred by the trip.

Adair admitted to being struck with inspiration and has also begun writing since their return.

The edgy script for “Gidion’s Knot,” about an intense parent-teacher conference, had originally published in December 2012 in American Theater Magazine. Since then, it has spread quickly across the country in at least seven major cities, including New York, Chicago and San Francisco and many smaller markets as well.

Quest originally produced a workshop of the play last November in Grass Valley as part of a fundraiser to support the nonprofit arts organization.

They will stage “Gidion’s Knot” once again at 8 p.m. Sept. 13, 20 and 26 and at 2 p.m. Sept. 14, 21, and 28, at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, 112 Nevada City Highway. For tickets and more information, call the box office line at 530-366-5888 or go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gidion-s-knot.

To contact Features Editor Brett Bentley, email bbentley@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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