By Genevieve Nickel
This 12-day celebration of theater and other performance arts should keep you on the edge of your seat. There won’t be a shortage of entertainment because the 31st Fringe Festival boasts 58 companies, 350 artists and 400 performances. Many of those performances have multiple show dates.
This is more than previous years thanks to the new venue at St Andrews church on Douglas allowing for an extra seven shows.
Last year’s Favourite Ensemble of Fringe, Paper Street, is back with a new show WAR: Improv is Hell.
Other returning favorite is SNAFU who was a runner up for Fringe Favourite Visual/Puppetry in 2016 for the Little Orange Man show. This year the company is performing a female solo show, Interstellar Elder.
Sammie Gough, producer of Fringe, is particularly excited for the female solo lineups “especially, Pamela Bethel who will be performing After the Beep and Lana Schwarcz performing Lovely Lady Lump,” he said.
Other shows featuring solo female artist at Fringe this year are Olive Copperbottom: A New Musical by Charles Dickens and Penny Ashton and Hyena Subpoena and A Woman’s Guide to Peeing Outdoors.
New local must-see act is Fake Ghost Tours by Abdul Aziz and Shawn O’Hara. The pair originally intended the show to be for stand-up comedy but the jokes were too site specific for an audience outside of Victoria.
“We met in old downtown Victoria and started getting a lot of material because Victoria is historic and touristy,” said Aziz. The show that bills itself as themselves as a “100 per cent accurate and legitimate walking tour of Victoria’s most definitely haunted locations” ensures hilarity.
Another new local show to look out for is Puente Theatre’s Gruff at Banfield Park performed outside by the sea. A puppet musical about what happens when the grass really is greener on the other side.
Last year 20,000 people came out to see the performances. Sean Guist, marketing and development manager for Intrepid Theater, is happy to work on the business and organizational side of Fringe because it allows performers to really focus on the art.
“The best part of Fringe is to see the lineup at shows, hearing people’s reviews and seeing the magic unfold,” said Guist.
Unlike Uno Fest or OUTstages, also produced by Intrepid Theater, shows selected for Fringe aren’t curated but chosen by a lottery system. Guist explains that 50 per cent of the theater lineup must be local content, 35 per cent national (which includes the US) and 15 per cent is international. Other than that, “We literally draw names from a hat.”
Gough spilled the beans on one of Fringes best kept secrets. “Audience members have the opportunity to dip their toes in fringe waters by going to Centennial Square to see free two-minute teasers of most shows that are presented throughout the festival,” she says.
Those eager to have a sneak peek can from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on August 23.
Entry fees are at the discretion of the artist and 100 per cent of revenue goes to performers. For more info, visit the Fringe website at www.intrepidtheatre.com/festivals/fringe-festival/