From it’s humble roots in an IGA parking lot in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant area, to dominating the entirety of Granville Island and beyond, the internationally recognized Vancouver Fringe Festival has grown into a can’t miss expression of what art is meant to be, accessible.
“The Fringe” as it is so aptly referred to as has become almost as impactful of a business model globally as it has become a welcomed addition to Vancouver’s theatre scene.
Priding themselves on “accessibility” for performers and spectators alike, The Fringe bends over backwards (both literally and physically) to provide an atmosphere of inclusion through entertainment. Priding themselves on inexpensive tickets to the now 700 performances in just 11 days, it’s no wonder The Fringe has been embraced so readily by Vancouver. Be it thespians, artisans, musicians, puppeteers, comics, poets, filmmakers, sculptors, designers, maestros, singers, novelists, writers, and creators alike, Vancouver’s Fringe Festival is a remarkable sight to behold.
The first iteration of The Fringe saw 220 performances take up seven venues, with just 25 volunteers and a grand total of 4000 attendees. Whereas the monster that today’s Fringe has grown up to become could give Mary Shelley’s (monster) a run for her money, expecting 700 performances, in 80 different venues with a whopping 500 volunteers, the attendance numbers to this year’s “part theatre, part party” are sure to be staggering.
Having sold out of Frequent Fringe passes prior to the festival even starting, the longtime celebration of silly and queer is posed for another solid run of 11-day fun.
A unique glimpse as to just how far the festival brass are willing to take the “inclusive” theme, all mainstage shows are drawn out of a literal hat to establish who is going to play in the conventional spotlight.
But don’t be saddened if the show you wanted to see does not draw main stage, at The Fringe artists are encouraged to BYOV (bring your own venue) and end up popping up everywhere and anywhere. With performers in the past losing their gear as well as soliloquizing in actual washrooms as their backdrop, no theme is too absurd for The Fringe to not try out at least once.
With about as far across the spectrum as live entertainment can get, range wise The Fringe appeals to children and grandparents alike.
Not being content at just showing, The Fringe offers some telling with many “hands on” opportunities to learn and interact at the festival’s several workshops.
This year’s festival comes with genre classifications such as “Funny”, “Silly”, “Weird”, and “Naughty”. “Intense”, “Warm & Fuzzy”, “Tear Jerker”, “Intellectual” and an array of other unconventional entertainment classifications ensure that there is something for even the fuddiest of duddies.
Of the dark horse shows not getting the press that some of the larger productions see, Vancouver Weekly has it on first hand authority that “Tragedy + Time Served = Comedy” is indeed a “can’t miss”.
Starring the creator and co-founder of the uproariously hilarious series of Comedy Shocker stand-up nights at The Rickshaw Theatre, you don’t have to wait until October 1’s “Decalogue of Death” (Comedy Shocker#9) to see the natural taboo laugh-generator Mark Hughes on stage.
In “Tragedy + Time Served = Comedy” at The Fringe, Mark Hughes is poised to ask a question that between being a comic and his time in the “clink” he’s asked maybe a little too often; “How much time am I doing”? Hughes stands to chronicle his sordid past involving his time on the streets and the addiction that eventually landed his incarceration. Though if you have seen Hughes’ hilariously offside standup, he’ll never be able to get through the story without first having the audience in stitches. A man who is prone to stirring up just a little bit mischief, if you are not a couple litres lighter of laughter induced tears by the end of the show you had better check your pulse.
Not for the feint of heart, the snooty or kids (of any age), if Hughes brings half the funny that he does to his standup or Comedy Shocker shows you’ll be going home with a (rhymes with mitt, eating) grin.
Other notable productions you are not going to want to sleep on include: “I Have My Own Steps Mom!” and “How To Adult: The Musical”.
Starring the talented and beautiful Jill Raymond and written by the gifted Amy Dauer “How To Adult: The Musical” sees four potty-mouthed twenty-something year olds go through the ordeals of (as they put it), “getting their shit together”.
“How To Adult: The Musical” looks into the often awkward process that anyone over 30 can sit back and chuckle with sardonic glee at, while those under said age squirm at the mirror held up before them. Through a series of sure to be hilarious song and dance numbers (music written by Peter Abando) “How To Adult: The Musical”, will be hosted by The Cultch; a venue that if you have never been before, may be the best in the city for theatre style productions.
Anyone familiar with Vancouver’s ever expanding and second to no-city’s burlesque community will know the elder of the Sisson Sisters Act. Comprised of co-creators Cydney Eva & Lindy Sisson “I Have My Own Steps Mom!” is being held at Firehall Arts Centre on Cordova and asks the following:
“What steps will this mother-daughter dancing duo come up with together in this hysterical historical groovy dance down memory lane? Can go-go and Al Gilbert’s jazz technique hold up to vogue and waacking? Get up and get down- cause it’s going to be fun and funky!
Warning: include learning the “car dance” and a few of Grandpa’s vaudeville skits”
So whether it is your first Fringe or your 25th there is a venerable plethora of shows on The Fringe schedule suited just for you.