“...a marvel to see ...conveys a huge repertoire of emotional representation.”
Karen Seeley, Mooney on Theatre – Toronto, July 7, 2018
How Hard Could That Be?
2018 Toronto Fringe Review
Karen Seeley, Mooney on Theatre – July 7, 2018
The Toronto Fringe Festival offers up an energetic one man show with How Hard Could That Be? (TA Productions), now playing at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace. That one man is Trent Arterberry, and he takes you along with him as he looks back on his life as a mime.
Arterberry uses mime to enact the highlights of 25 years of touring. His physicality is perfect for the job. I have seen mimes in my day, but I think this play is the first time I really looked at a mime performance and thought about how it really, really looked like the mime was in a box. I didn't know that mimes could be so interesting. His birth re-enacting is a marvel to see. His rubbery face conveys a huge repertoire of emotional representation.
In addition, Arterberry was very creative in the ways he used his body to enable the audience to imagine the scene before them. No extra set or scenery was needed. There were minimal lighting effects, and the sound that was used were mostly songs, like when he imagined himself being a rock star.
I thought that his act was charming, and he was engaging. You could see why he would be a hit with children. He trusts his audience to be imaginative and go along with him on the ride.
While he has funny stories, he is not afraid to reveal his failures as well. It is surprising just how hard it is to look at a sad mime, but he also showed how touring made him sad. Even through bad times, he kept smiling and keeping his energy up. He's a man who knows the show must go on, and he is open enough to share, warts and all.
It is amazing that Arterberry was able to maintain a career in miming for 25 years. One of the reasons I wanted to see the show was to find out what his secret was. He does reveal it (and I won't spoil the surprise by telling you what it is), but while he looks to the past, he never gets to the present. So I was left wondering why his story seemed to stop in the past and why he didn't say what he expects to do in the future.
“Trent Arterberry is brilliant... genuine, authentic... wonderful and heartwarming.”
Sheila Martindale, Monday Magazine – Victoria, August 28, 2017
FRINGE REVIEW: The Great Pretender – wonderful and heartwarming
by Sheila Martindale - Monday Magazine posted Aug 28, 2017 at 11:00 AM
Trent Arterberry is brilliant! The Great Pretender is the story of his life and career, told in his inimitable mime – well, with a few actual words thrown in! This guy's movements are fluid, are staccato, are precise. They tell the tale, they describe the story, and we know exactly what they mean.
Not only that, but he is genuine, authentic; he doesn't gloss over the bad stuff, like the failure of his first marriage due to the stress of touring. But he celebrates the good stuff with heartwarming joy. And he has a million-dollar smile.
A native Californian, he found himself performing in the remote and uncivilized province of British Columbia, and he stayed! Definitely our gain, folks.
You can see this wonderful artist at the Downtown Community Centre (755 Pandora): Tuesday August 29 at 5:30 pm, Wednesday August 30 at 7:00 pm and Saturday September 2 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $11, or $9 for students and seniors. Remember your Fringe Button.
“The story is a delightful and personal account of finding your calling and overcoming the obstacles that life throws up.”
Chad Jarvie-Laidlaw, Showbill.ca – August 27, 2017
VICTORIA FRINGE FESTIVAL 2017: THE GREAT PRETENDER – AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FAKER
Review by Chad Jarvie-Laidlaw – Showbill.ca Editorial DirectorAugust 27, 2017
If you think that mimes are just silent white-faced fellas in striped shirts stuck inside invisible boxes, prepare to have your ideas of the art-form challenged by the charming Trent Arterberry.
The Great Pretender is an autobiographical look at Trent's career as a professional mime, treating the audience to major points of his life, from the womb to his decision to move to British Columbia. Through narration, amazing facial expression, and impressive control of his body, Trent tells of his struggles to escape the box of what his friends and family thought he should be (there had to be an invisible box bit) and finding inspiration in mime artistry. The story is a delightful and personal account of finding your calling and overcoming the obstacles that life throws up.
The show is most successful when Arterberry is at his most convivial, turning set pieces of mime performance into confessions about the highs and lows of his life. At times the speech feels a little too polished, resembling more a presentation than conversation, which distances the audience from the action. A couple of sound and lighting cues were delayed, contributing to a slightly uneven pace for the opening performance.
Bottom Line Trent Arterberry is an impressive mime artist, and challenges your preconceptions about the art-form. While The Great Pretender may not ultimately tell a totally new story, Trent's mime skills are exceptional, and well worth checking out.
“Performer doesn't need words to get his young audience going.”
Cam Fuller, Saskatoon Star Phoenix – June 3, 2015
“...he fascinates his young audience and involves them in trying some of his moves.”
Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine – Toronto, July 10, 2014
XNOW Magazine,Toronto Fringe Review:
by Jon Kaplan July 10, 2014
Returning for his second appearance at FringeKids!, rubbery mime Trent Arterberry grabs children from his first entrance with an arsenal of body movements and self-generated sound effects. In short episodes as a racing-car driver, a pilot, a robot, a digital dude, a puppet named Mr. Bigg and the classic man-trapped-in-box scenario, he fascinates his young audience and involves them in trying some of his moves and realizing the power of the imagination.
“His opening piece had the audience grinning from ear to earand I kept grinning and smiling for the rest of the show.”
Sam Mooney, Mooney on Theatre – Toronto, July 4, 2014
Think Bigg (Trent Arterberry) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review
By Sam Mooney, Mooney on Theatre, July 4, 2014
My grandson Max (5) was pretty excited when we arrived at the Palmerston Library to see Think Bigg, one of the shows in this years FringeKids! I was looking forward to seeing Trent Arterberry’s show as well. Last year his show, The Secret Life of Walter Manny, sold out and I missed seeing it.
Think Bigg is high energy, fast paced and funny. It will appeal to adults as much as it does to children.
Arterberry is a mime who talks. And does sounds effects. His opening piece had the audience grinning from ear to ear and I kept grinning and smiling for the rest of the show. My face was sore at the end.
The children in the audience loved Arterberry, laughing and giggling as he did amazing things with his body and face. He explained mime to us and gave us a couple of lessons. Even if I had a hundred years to practice I doubt I could ever learn to do the thing he does with his head. I could learn to do the blowing up the balloon thing though. It was lovely to see everyone in the audience blowing up their imaginary balloons.
He’s great with kids, he explains things but doesn’t talk down to them.I’m not usually a fan of mime but I loved the show. Arterberry is amazing.
Max really enjoyed the show. His favourite part was Roboman and I can understand why. It was hard to believe that it wasn’t a robot on the stage. I foresee much robotic action on Max’s part over the next few days.
Max is a super shy kid and he was so engaged that he actually managed to gather the courage to ask a question at the end of the show during an impromptu Q&A session.
He has a brother who will be three in September. His mum asked him if he thought that Desmond would enjoy the show. Max thought that Desmond might be a bit scared but the show is really cool so probably he’d like it.
He was positive that his friends would really like it. The program suggests that it’s suitable for kids 4 and up and you might want to be guided by that. Of course all kids are different and you know your children and what will engage them.
“The young audience loves the rubber-faced and -bodied Arterberry's creation of fantasy scenes...”
Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine – Toronto, July 11, 2013
Review By Jon Kaplan NOW Magazine
Toronto; July 11, 2013
Blending text and mime, performer Trent Arterberry contrasts the real and fantasy lives of the young Walter Manny, a hero-in-training whose imaginative worlds are more exciting than his everyday experiences.
Initially considered a weirdo by his peers, Walter proves himself and learns not only that he can be appreciated by others but also that his imagination works best when he uses it in a focused manner.
The young audience loves the rubber-faced and -bodied Arterberry's creation of fantasy scenes, where Walter turns into a cowboy, firefighter, pilot, race car driver, secret agent and rock star without the use of props, set or costumes.
“A perfect children's performer... He can have kids in awe one moment, and then suddenly reduce them to fits of giggles with a single glance.”
Istvan Dugalin, Mooney on Theatre – Toronto, July 5, 2013
The Secret Life of Walter Manny (Trent Arterberry) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review
By Istvan Dugalin, Mooney on Theatre, Toronto, July 5, 2013
The Secret Life of Walter Manny is playing at the Palmerston Library and is part of FringeKids! This is the second exceptional kids show I’ve seen at Toronto Fringe this year. Trent Arterberry's one-man show is a fast-paced and high-energy adventure which both parents and their children will find fun and poignant.
The story is about the Walter Manny of the title, and the many adventures he has in his own mind—thanks to his very active and vivid imagination. The show is about imagination—how much fun it is, and how it can sometimes get us into trouble.
As befits a show about imagination, the stage is bare except for Trent Arterberry And he is more than enough to fill it! His has such an intense and inviting presence that you can’t help but be immediately sucked in. He is a perfect children’s performer and creates a goofy and exciting atmosphere. He can have kids in awe one moment, then suddenly reduce them to fits of giggles with a single glance.
His polished and inventive mime work allows children to use their imaginations to create the fantastic scenes that play out in Walter Manny’s mind.
He drives racecars, goes on secret missions, and fights fires! Afterwards, he often finds himself having to face irritated adults (his Gran and his teacher) and the mockery of fellow classmates who do not understand his antics. Everyone wants him to focus on the real world, and get his imagination “under control.”
But, Walter Manny takes this in stride. He tries to remain calm, and is always open to the possibility of making friends, but never quite connects functionally to the real world. That is, until his imaginary adventures come in handy.
A fire breaks out in the school and Manny must harness his imagination to save a friend by creatively employing objects within the classroom that people would normally take for granted.
Having saved the day, Manny is applauded by his Gran and his Teacher, and accepted by the classmates who used to make fun of him. Manny was able to focus his imagination and use it to his advantage in the real world.
The Secret Life of Walter Manny shows kids that their imaginations, and their playing, are important. They should follow their interests, and learn how to apply their ideas and skills to help make the world a better place. And teachers and parents should try to channel that imagination, rather than stifle it.
Essentially, this is basic hero mythology—Walter Manny explores the dangerous unknown, battles chaos, and creates something orderly and safe as a result of the encounter. And so, the real world becomes a more understandable and benevolent place for him.
Arterberry’s persona is spirited, goofy and conspiratorial. He captures the kids’ full attention from his entrance and they are completely with him until the end.
With his guileless persona, he forms a silent pact with them—sometimes adults just don’t seem to understand! But, the story strives to show them that the people who love them want to understand; sometimes, they just need a little shove in the right direction!
The mimed adventure sequences are a treat. They are polished and detailed, with a silliness that will appeal to youngsters.
This is exceptionally well-crafted children’s theatre!
“The play, a true gem, resolves with a nugget of wisdom as useful for adults as it is for children. Rating ★★★★ and 1/2 stars.”
Cory Ruf, Times Colonist – Victoria BC, August 28, 2012
Fringe Festival: Family-oriented fare lets the imagination run wild
By Cory Ruf, Times Colonist, Victoria, BC, August 28, 2012
What: The Secret Life of Walter Manny
When: Aug. 29 to 31
Rating: ★★★★ and 1/2 stars
In this one-man show, Victoria's Trent Arterberry plays Walter Manny, an eight-year-old boy whose imagination gets him in regular trouble at home and at school. Using only his wiry body, elastic face and shape-shifting voice, the middle-aged thespian acts out Walter's daydreamed worlds of adventure - being a heroic fireman, playing for a bigleague baseball club, boarding an alien spaceship - as well as the child's collisions with reality. The play, a true gem, resolves with a nugget of wisdom as useful for adults as it is for children - your imagination has pretty nifty realworld applications.
“Arterberry's genius is... twofold—storytelling that doesn't patronize and the agility to make it vastly entertaining.”
Varnya Bromilow, Monday Magazine – Victoria BC, August 30, 2012
The Secret Life of Walter Manny
by Varnya Bromilow
Monday Magazine, Victoria, BC, August 30, 2012
This guy is good. From the minute he takes the stage, Trent Arterberry as Walter Manny is the picture of pure artistic commitment. Using mime, dance and his winning grin, Arterberry brings the character of a wildly imaginative little boy to vivid life. Walter, who lives with his grandmother for reasons that are left unsaid, dwells in a hypercolour world where he is a pilot, fireman, dancer, spy and naturally, Luke Skywalker. Arterberry’s genius is that he not only keeps the junior crowd thoroughly entertained sans props of any kind for 45 minutes, but he also leaves room for a wonderfully heartfelt lesson about playground politics. Walter is an eccentric, fated to great things perhaps, but like most of those souls a little lost in the rigour of the scholastic system. Considering his target audience, Arterberry’s message is surprisingly nuanced — imagination is a gift indeed, but a gift to be managed if it’s to really benefit you. Arterberry’s gift is twofold — storytelling that doesn’t patronize and the agility to make it vastly entertaining. Suitable for five and up.
“The actor, Trent Arterberry, has a great imagination and does lots of great sound effects while he acts out all these roles... This is a hilarious show.”
Gracie Threlfall (age 9), Culture Vulture – Victoria BC, August 25, 2012
Theatre Review: The Secret Life of Walter Manny
by Gracie Threlfall (age 9)
Culture Vulture Victoria — August 25, 2012
Walter Manny is a kid with an overactive imagination. None of the other kids at his school like him, they all just think he’s weird. Even his gram and his teacher don’t get him. He spends his days daydreaming because that’s the only thing he really feels comfortable doing—but he gets in a lot of trouble for doing it, because he’s not just sitting there. No matter where he is or what he’s doing, he just ends up daydreaming that he’s an airplane pilot, a race car driver, a fireman, a cowboy, being trapped by aliens, a baseball player, a sword fighter, a secret agent and a dancer. But when a fire breaks out while he’s daydreaming, we all learn how a good imagination can end up saving the day.
The actor, Trent Arterberry, has a great imagination and does lots of great sound effects while he acts out all these roles in this 45-minute show. He is so good at changing voices, too. I really liked it when he was a secret agent. It was really cool when he was using pretend suction cups to climb a wall, because it really looked like there was a wall there. All of the props in this show are imaginary, but you’d have to be a little older than five to be able to understand everything that happens in this story. My seven-year-old brother loved this show, but his four-year-old friend had a bit of trouble following it.
The Secret Life of Walter Manny is part of the Fringe’s FamilyFest at Langham Court Theatre. I really liked going to Langham Court, as it has a pretty big stage. Most kids’ shows come to our schools, so it seemed pretty special to see a kids show in an actual theatre.
In the end, Walter Manny does a great job saving the day! This is a hilarious show. If you like using your imagination, don’t miss The Secret Life of Walter Manny!