Art lovers, clear your agendas for the first half of September! The Vancouver International Fringe Festival is coming back again. This year, the festival will enrich your cultural life from September 6th to 16th, followed by the Pick of the Fringe, taking place from September 19th to 23rd. Here is a brief introduction to the festival and some useful information about what you can expect to experience at Fringe 2012.
While I think Fringe is a fascinating event, I do realize that there might be people who have absolutely no idea what it’s about. The Vancouver International Fringe Festival is the largest theatre festival in British Columbia, annually (since 1985) produced by the First Vancouver Theatrespace Society. The motto of the society is “Theatre for Everyone!” and this represents the Fringe festival perfectly. Everybody is welcome to attend and experience theatre in a unique, non-conventional, informal, and very interactive way. Come and enjoy the exciting atmosphere of fun surrounding this popular festival. The fact that Fringe has been repeatedly voted Vancouver’s Best Arts Festival by Georgia Straight readers speaks for itself.
This year’s edition of the festival is going to be as exciting and as culturally rich as ever! The number of visitors is expected to reach 30,000. All of them will have a chance to witness some of the 754 planned performances by 97 groups. More than 700 performances give everyone a chance to choose a show according to their taste. It’s impossible to mention them all in this article, but you can look forward to Tales Told by Idiots, How to Love: The Headphone Play, Where’s My Flying Car?!, Two Blondes With a Passion, She Has a Name, Three More Sleepless Nights, God Is A Scottish Drag Queen, Bad Day to be a Juggler, Sex, Religion, and Other Hang-ups, A Short History of My Life as A Bear, and many, many (I am not exaggerating at all) more. To learn more, you can download the official programme as a PDF file.
Due to the explicit content of some of the performances, the festival might not be ideal for children younger than 14. Not many people under this age are passionate about theatre, however, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Despite the seemingly limiting age warnings, Fringe truly does want to give a chance to everyone. If you didn’t know, you will most likely be impressed (I know I was) by the Mainstage shows’ selection technique. The artists who receive 100 per cent of regular box office revenues generated during the Festival are always chosen by lottery (they are literally drawn out of a hat), and all of them thus have an equal chance, and being picked is pure luck. Those who were not chosen for the Mainstage this year can still “Bring Their Own Venue” and perform for the public just about anywhere.
The signature fundraising event and opener of the 2012 edition takes place at 7:00 P.M. on September 4th at Performance Works (1218 Cartwright Street on Granville Island). Tickets are available from $40 (or $60 or $100, depending on the seats). If you purchase one, you can look forward to silent and live auctions with professional performer auctioneer Elias Arjan and the entertaining David C. Jones, as well as delicious food and drinks.
Pick of the Fringe
Like every year, the Public Market Pick of the Fringe will showcase the ten most popular shows of the festival. The best shows will announced at the 2012 Awards Night on September 16th. Good luck to everyone!
Fringe, although a theatre festival, is not only about theatre. Artists, organizers, volunteers, and visitors are encouraged to socialize at the Fringe Bar, which has a special programme (mainly live music) every night. Funk, house, and hip-hop DJ Thomas Maxey, Jordan Klassen, Garage/Soul band The Ballantynes, Indie music (even a musical) and much more are prepared to please you with music. Non-musical events include The Fringe talk show(s) hosted by comedian Riel Hahn, where the audience will have a chance to get to know some of the artists, or a comedy night featuring Rotten Writing, hosted by Sara Bynoe and mocking the worst books in print. Have fun!
Tickets for the festival are already on sale online! In-person ticket sales are to begin on August 30th at the Fringe Box Office on Granville Island. Everyone who wants to take part in the festival has to purchase a $5 Membership card and bring it to every show they are attending (just to show they have it).
Tickets for the weekend shows cost $12 each, while those for shows taking place during the week (Monday-Thursday) or after 10:00 P.M. during the weekend are on sale for $10, and tickets for the Public Market Pick of the Fringe are available for $18. If you are planning to attend many shows, I suggest you consider the $90 Frequent Fringer Card, which is valid for ten shows. Just remember: “No Latecomers. No Refunds. No Exchanges. No Exceptions.”