In its 28th and largest year yet, the Vancouver international Fringe Festival is set to once again take over Granville Island in hopes of wowing audiences with an eclectic and extraordinary mix of theatre randomness.
The 10-day festival, which has long been a cornerstone in Vancouver’s live performance community, is themed A Fringe Odyssey: The Outer Limits of Theatre. True to form, this year’s Fringe has a mixture of vets, newbie performers and interesting new features to garner even the most inexperienced theatregoer.
“It’s our most ambitious Fringe to date as there will be 97 shows,” commented executive director David Jordan. “Last year we had 86 and the year before was 68 so it maybe a little too ambitious but the critical mass is really exciting.”
If that multitude of one man shows, musical productions and thespian works seems daunting, the Fringe organizers have devised a new way to help skittish or indecisive ticket holders.
“We are doing some things to try and help the audience navigate that hugeness,” said Jordan. “We’ve created an escort service so if you don’t know where you’re going or what to see you can show up and somebody who’s really comfortable with the Fringe and sees a lot of shows will take you to see a show.”
These escorts could be anyone one from a Fringe volunteer to just an avid attendee.
The program works in partnership with The Only Animal’s Kendra Fanconi, the Fringe and burgeoning artists for six months in and around Granville Island, scouting places to host theatre events in the most unconventional venues.
“There are really interesting spots chosen this year by the artists. We’ve got those that are taking place and have been created specifically for the repair shop for the trucks for the cement factory on Granville Island. There’s the kids playground there’s a parking garage, so there’s lots of interesting places for people to discover theatre in,” said Jordan.
There is also a wide selection of musical theatre involved in this year’s festival such as Dramaturgy’s Hip-Hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos! Which takes likes of Shakespeare’s greatest works and parodies them with that of the east coast/west coast rap feud.
Or kevztunz Productions’ Opera for Heathens. “An idiosyncratic, multi-lingual journey through 300 years of vocal music, [it’s] an opera, musical and rock cabaret for the 21st-Century. From Mozart to Meatloaf, Rock to Rossini, Superstar to Styx, Kevin Armstrong showcases his dexterity on guitar, as well as his 4-octave vocal range.”
Bring Your Own Venue is trying out some new venues this year as well with the CBC hosting a production at the Waldorf Hotel.
“There’s a group that is putting together a George F. Walker suburban Hotel series, who is a very famous Canadian playwright. The plays all revolve around motels. They will be staging all six of them at the Waldorf hotel in the rooms so that’s very ambitious and exciting,” said Jordan.
Even if the theatre is not for you the festival continues to host the Fringe bar with comedy, panel discussions and live music programming by Winniecooper.net’s Tristan Orchard. Some of this year’s acts include: Jay Arner, Hot Panda, BESTiE and Tough Lovers.
This year’s Fringe Fest runs from September 6 -16. You can also scope out the best of the best during the Pick of the Fringe on September 19 to 23. Tickets to theatre performances are always $10 Thursday through Sunday, with the exception of some early half-price shows, and $12 on weekends. Visit www.vancouverfringe.com
By Katherine GreenBC, British Columbia