By Geneviève Dale
CALGARY — August makes for long and warm summer evenings, times for you to linger outside in the last days of summer. The Calgary Fringe Festival is an event that lends itself to those nights of wandering around, and going where a whim takes you. The festival features artists from all across Canada and beyond: some seasoned Fringe veterans, and some making their debut with you as the first audience. You can buy a Fringe Pass, which admits you to a certain number of whichever shows suit your fancy, or you can buy tickets in advance online for specific plays. However you Fringe, the festival is a great way to get your theatre fix before the start of the fall season. Here are some Fringe Picks to check out.
SmartArse, by Rob Gee
Coming to us all the way from Leicester, England, Rob Gee is a fixture of the Fringe Circuit in Canada and internationally. Scooping up accolades left, right, and centre, his work has made frequent Fringe-goers’ must-see lists. This piece explores Gee’s childhood school and his experiences of being a creative child. It also delves into his father’s early years in an institution for war orphans. Expect something a little bit weird and quite a bit mind-blowing from SmartArse.
Chase & Stacey’s Joyride, by Stacey Hallal and Chase Padgett
Lantern Church Sanctuary
August 2-9 (no shows August 5 or 7)
This duo from Portland, Oregon, has hit the road with their musical sketch comedy. The show is largely based on improvisation, so if you liked it once, it may be one to check out again. Audiences at the Ottawa Fringe loved this show that has been described as a hybrid between the performances of Reggie Watts and an episode of I Love Lucy. Expect thrills, chills and more than a few spills.
Kitt and Jane: An Interactive Survival Guide to the Near Post-Apocalyptic Future, by SNAFU Dance Theatre
Lantern Church Gym
August 1-9 (no shows August 4, 5 or 7)
From the company that brought you the Montreal Fringe favourite Little Orange Man, this is another trip with SNAFU Dance Theatre into the world of some very interesting young minds. Two awkward 14-year-olds take over their school’s assembly to prepare their fellow students for the coming inevitability of the Apocalypse and how to make sure they survive what’s to come. This company is known for their bizarre and entertaining shows with lineups around the block. If you’re in for an unpredictable night where puppets, multimedia and some audience interaction are inevitable, this is the show for you.
Dancing with Demons: A Fractured Fairytale, by Shana Cordon
Lantern Church Gym
August 2-9 (no shows August 6 or 8)
This one-woman show puts its performer to the test with multiple characters and a fantastical premise. A writer is held hostage, with a demon taking over and her characters finding themselves unsure of their future. This is a darkly comedic performance featuring live music and a lot of physical theatre and voice work. Aficionados of the crafts of writing and acting will find this a juicy and enjoyable performance.
Sansei: The Storyteller, by Mark Ikeda
Lantern Church Gym
August 1-7 (no shows August 6)
Canadian history is more complex than the tale of exploration and determination we were often taught in school. There is a great deal of darkness in it, and Calgary’s Mark Ikeda is bringing his family’s story to the Fringe audiences. Drawing from interviews from family members who lived through the Japanese internment camps, Ikeda takes the retelling of their lived experiences to the stage, using spoken word and humor to tackle this important part of Canadian 20th century history. Surprisingly, he finds a silver lining to what his family lived through in the camps: had they not been interned, he says, he wouldn’t be alive today.
Wilma-May and Her Tight White Socks, by Jennifer Roberts
Alexandra Centre Society
August 1-9 (no shows August 5, 6 or 8)
Local playwright and performer Jennifer Roberts brings the character of Wilma-May to the stage. The poor thing is so afraid of almost everything in the world that she has stockpiled supplies to live in exile from the terrifying world forever. She has everything she needs, until she realizes she has forgotten light bulbs. And the thing she is most afraid of? The dark. This show uses clowning and audience participation to tell the story of one very strange girl and her rather peculiar predicament.
Me & My Monkey, by Bradley Spann
August 2-9 (no shows August 6-7)
This play is based on true events from LA-based playwright and performer Bradley Spann about growing up in South Central Los Angeles. He recounts the escapades of living with three teenaged older sisters, a kid sister, divorced and neurotic parents, and, you guessed right, a monkey. He’s also developing a love for comic books and the world within them. This is a solo performance that plenty of audience members will be able to relate to in at least one way or another, and will be an entertaining glimpse into one man’s early years.AB, Alberta, Calgary Fringe Festival, theatre