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Mini-Fringe March Madness

March 19, 2015

March Fringe Madness

TJ Dawe spoke to Andrea Warner from the Georgia Straight about Marathon and his personal journey.

TJ Dawe spoke to Andrea Warner from the Georgia Straight about Marathon and his personal journey.

The Fringe may be far from your mind—the Festival is six months away—but we’re having a mini-Fringe till March 29 with Marathon and Virtual Solitaire running back to back most nights at Studio 1398 on Granville Island—and the press is excited too!

“Don’t be alarmed – you haven’t slept through the summer… if you missed the Fringe Festival last fall, here’s your chance to catch some of that frenetic Fringe goodness, which by the way goes wonderfully with a little side of spring break.” —Metro News
Marathon is equal parts art and personal exorcism, but it’s also entertainment. Balancing the heady and heavy with comedy and catharsis is Dawe’s specialty.” —the Georgia Straight

TJ Dawe sat down with CBC’s Sheryl McKay of North by Northwest for an interview about Marathon. And Virtual Solitaire‘s Dawson Nichols got personal with Vancouver Presents, revealing his former relationship with the CIA and a cremation service in California.

Get your tickets today and see what everyone’s talking about!

Celebrate World Theatre Day with the Fringe!

Theatre is pretty important. We organize a whole Festival around it—and we put on shows outside the Festival—and we support Vancouver’s theatre community by encouraging you to see more theatre. That’s why World Theatre Day makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

Thanks to Krzysztof Warlikowski and World Theatre Day, you're getting a very special deal on March 27!

Thanks to Krzysztof Warlikowski and World Theatre Day, you’re getting a very special deal on March 27!

World Theatre Day was started in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute and is held every March 27. Many organizations put on special events and a special message is created by a well known theatre maker. This year’s message comes from Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski. He’s really deep. But he’s on point when he says “there is nothing that can reveal hidden passions better than the theatre.”

And who doesn’t feel passionate when they can see two great pieces of theatre for half price?! That’s right! To celebrate World Theatre Day, you can see Marathon and/or Virtual Solitaire on March 27 for $12.50 each—that’s just $25 for both shows! Enter coupon code THEATREISGREAT when buying your tickets to activate the discount.

Want to be creative like TJ Dawe?

TJ Dawe has been creating and performing theatre for years, but that doesn’t mean his projects just happen. There are a thousand ways to get in the way of being creative. And he knows them all. There are also very specific ways to stimulate creative ideas, and to see them through to completion.

TJ Dawe can help you come up with a creative practice --because creativity is good for you. Photo by Diane Smithers.

TJ Dawe can help you come up with a creative practice –because creativity is good for you. Photo by Diane Smithers.

TJ has come to believe in the healing power of creativity. We’d all be better off if each of us has something we did—writing, dancing, painting, photography, slam poetry, woodworking, podcasting, sketching, singing, crafting, playing an instrument—on a regular basis, whether there’s any potential to make money doing it or not.

“In our society, we tend to relegate creativity to either a hobby or a job,” TJ said, “but it’s more helpful to think of it like exercise. You do it because it’s good for you. And because it feels good. No expectations beyond that.”

TJ and his partner Lindsay Robertson will present their Discover Your Creativity workshop on March 28, which will focus on activating, sustaining, and involving others in a creative endeavour. Each of us will find one of these three areas easier than the other two. And each of us will find one of them more challenging.

“My blind spot is in the social sphere,” TJ explains. “I tend not to reach out to others to collaborate.” For his creative practice, TJ’s been playing the guitar, taking lessons from an instructor, and regularly playing at an open mic. “If I’m accountable to others, it helps me get over that particular block, and it helps me actually stick to my plan. And in the end I spend time doing this thing I really enjoy doing.”

Each workshop participant will come up with a plan for what creative thing they’d like to make a part of their life, which incorporates their habits and blocks.

Join TJ on March 28 for the Discover Your Creativity workshop. Visit the Facebook event or the Event Page at for more information and details on how to register.

Hot Copy: a Publicity Workshop for Fringe Artists and Creative Types

Have you tried to get media attention for your event but you’re not getting results? Are you a complete newbie? Or are you a marketing hot shot that craves even more media coverage? We have the solution! Deb Pickman, co-artistic director and ensemble member of the Vancouver theatre company shameless hussy productions, and Communications & Marketing Specialist for Theatre at UBC will return to host Hot Copy, a marketing and publicity workshop to help you get the media attention you need!

Media maven, Deb Pickman, will be leading a publicity workshop for Fringe artists and other independent artists, April 13.

Media maven, Deb Pickman, will be leading a publicity workshop for Fringe artists and other independent artists, April 13.

While the workshop will focus on marketing a Fringe Festival show, the low and no-cost tips and tricks are ideal for independent artists looking to promote themselves and their events.

Learn the basics of a press release and when to contact media outlets, what are the key elements to choosing promotional images for posters and flyers, crafting your 30 second elevator speech, social media tips, and more. Plus, Deb will answer as many questions as time allows!

This workshop will be held on April 13 at 7:00pm at Carousel Theatre on Granville Island. It is free for artists participating in the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival and $10 for everyone else. Please RSVP to publicity[at]

More about Deb Pickman: A veteran of the Fringe circuit, Deb co-created, performed in, and publicized noted and notorious Festival hits for over a decade—and went on to become a specialist in social media and all aspects of publicity for the arts. Aside from her work with shameless hussy, she currently holds the position of Communications & Marketing Specialist for Theatre at UBC where she earned her BA in Theatre. Deb is a recipient of the Vancouver Sun People’s Choice Award for Outstanding Actress and two Jessie Richardson Award nominations. See her next on stage in the hussies premiere of Love Bomb, Sept. 25 – Oct. 10 as part of the Firehall Arts Centre’s 2015/16 season. More at

We’re Hiring!

Being a Fringe staffer makes you soooo good-looking. Photo by My City Photos.

Being a Fringe staffer makes you soooo good-looking. Photo by My City Photos.

The Festival is coming and we’ve starting hiring for seasonal positions! Be sure to check our website regularly as openings will be posted over the next few months.

First up is the all-important Communications Coordinator, who writes and posts our newsletters as well as the bulk of our social media (and manages a few other projects too).

Next is the indispensable Assistant Volunteer Coordinator, who helps organize our nearly 600 volunteers who run the Festival on the ground.

We’ll start recruiting volunteers in June, so stay tuned for news of the volunteer application being available online.

And a special shout out of thanks to our Partner, Shear Comfort, who provides crucial support for our volunteer program. We couldn’t do it without you, Shear Comfort!

The Theatre Scene

Just a taste of what Vancouver has to offer in the way of Theatre


Obaaberima (top) tells the story of crossing continents while Cultivation (bottom) questions systems of faith.

March 19-28
Firehall Arts Centre
Three personal perspectives on the mental health care system are presented in maladjusted, which will be performed as forum theatre—where the piece will be performed twice each evening. In a second version, audience members are invited to participate and intervene in the story to explore its conflict.

March 24-April 4
The Cultch
Imprisoned in Canada for committing a violent crime, a young man from Ghana tells his cellmates a story on the eve of his release. Through storytelling, dance, and live music, Obaaberima (“girlboy”) chronicles a young African-Canadian’s journey across continents, genders, races, and sexualities. Tickets from $19!

March 25-28
Pacific Theatre
A discharged soldier shows up at a charismatic church retreat: he won’t participate, but refuses to leave. An intense relationship with the pastor’s daughter brings into question the systems of faith—religious and political—we create in order to survive. A script-in-hand staging of a new play by Krista Marushy.

We know Fringers love checking out new plays, so you get 15% off admission to evening performances of Cultivation! Promo available online only, with code FRINGEPT.

Fast Times at Fringe High

March 4, 2015

From Virtual Fantasy to Technological Reality:

Inside Dawson Nichols’ decades-long obsession with virtual reality

In the 1990s, Dawson Nichols took a job that made him spend more time on a computer than with his wife—and while this may seem normal today, it wasn’t then. “One day at work, I saw someone playing solitaire on their computer,” Dawson said. “You wouldn’t be caught dead playing solitaire in real life.” That moment got Dawson thinking about how computers are changing our lives and instigated his show, Virtual Solitaire, which will be part of the Fringe Presents series this March 17-29.

The VirtuSphere is probably very similar to the

The VirtuSphere is probably very similar to the “hamster ball” Dawson was in at the Human Interface Technology Lab while researching Virtual Solitaire.

Dawson conducted a lot of research, even visiting the Human Interface Technology Lab, which was researching ways that virtual reality could be used as a tool for the US Armed Forces. While there, he stepped inside a large hamster ball to see what it was like. “There were a lot of angular planes. They hadn’t figured out curves yet,” Dawson said. But the general population had a hard time conceiving of it all together. “I had to explain what ‘surfing the web’ was to people when I started performing Virtual Solitaire, let alone trying to get the concept of virtual reality across.”

But the show was a hit with comparisons to William Gibson novels, the Matrix, and David Cronenberg. Virtual Solitaire received five-star reviews and won Best of the Fest at the Edmonton and Saskatoon Fringe Festivals thanks to Dawson’s ability to portray over 20 characters in this murder mystery set inside, and outside, a game.

20 years later, virtual reality has advanced exponentially. Microsoft’s HoloLens is in development and may be ready as early as the end of the year, and the Oculus Rift is on the horizon as well. But Dawson says that doesn’t change Virtual Solitaire. “It’s a meditation on the isolating effects of technology,” he explains. “And we’re all still questioning if technology is helping society or if it’s getting in our way.”

Watch this preview for a taste of the show:

Virtual Solitaire will be presented March 17-29 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island. Get your tickets here.

Not a Teen Comedy, but TJ Dawe’s Real Life

Not only did TJ have to deal with the embarrassing fact that his dad was also his principal, but he also had a mullet to contend with.

Not only did TJ have to deal with the embarrassing fact that his dad was also his principal, but he had a mullet to contend with too.

Being a high school student with your dad as the high school principal sounds like the premise for a teen comedy, but it isn’t—this was TJ Dawe’s life. Through elementary school, TJ heard his dad’s stories of school athletes and he tagged along to the games and competitions his dad coached. When TJ got to high school, he wanted to take part in the school spirit to, so he joined the track and field team. But TJ’s experience with school sports wasn’t as glorious as he’d hoped—and that’s the starting point for his latest show Marathon, which will be presented this March 17-29.

“It was embarrassing to have your dad as principal,” TJ shared, “but as a kid, I saw his love of sports and I figured that’s how I’d get my dad’s approval.” But as TJ explains in Marathon, sports weren’t his forte. “When I was failing, I rejected any notion that I even wanted to win. It’s a way to cover up your vulnerability, to turn it into a joke.”

TJ experienced a tug of war between sports and the arts and he soon realized that his dad was supportive, regardless of what he wanted to do—and we all know which side won. And his dad’s reaction to Marathon? “Dad was flattered—and surprised that I shared stories he didn’t even remember.”

Marathon will be presented March 17-29 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island. Get your tickets here.

Reminder! You Need a New Password

We’ve now switched to new ticketing software which will make your future ticket purchasing experiences easier and smoother than ever!

You’ll be able to access account information that you previously provided when purchasing tickets, but you will have to reset your password. When you first sign in with your email, just hit “Forgot Password” and a temporary password will be sent to your email and you’ll be prompted to create a new one. Go on, test it out and buy some tickets!

PS: There will certainly be some minor weirdness as we try to make things pretty. Thanks for your patience.

Crushing on Fringe Lovers

Many Jimmies wearing nothing but pasties!

Many Jimmies wearing nothing but pasties!

Glitter glue, red paper hearts, and hot pink envelopes littered the Fringe office early February as volunteers and staff got together to craft special Valentines for a special group of Fringers who help make the Festival possible in a substantial and loving way—our donors (aka Fringe Lovers)!

Many Fringe Lovers help create the Festival in other ways too—they’re volunteers and artists. Some host Fringe artists in their home, invite all their friends to see shows, and then they donate more! We’re bursting with love for these special folks, so we sent them Valentine’s cards—this time with Jimmy wearing nothing but glittery pasties!

Thanks to all these Fringer Lovers who create a vibrant community of theatre makers and goers in Vancouver! The Festival wouldn’t be possible without you.

Didn’t get a Fringe-y Valentine’s? Want to contribute to your Fringe community? Donate today and keep an eye out for our annual fundraising campaign, Spring for the Fringe, this May! We love you guys!

The Theatre Scene

Just a taste of what Vancouver has to offer in the way of Theatre

Cat Killer (top) will get you walking, while Triumph of Love (photo by Tim Matheson) plays with gender roles.

Cat Killer (top) will get you walking, while Triumph of Love (photo by Tim Matheson) plays with gender roles.

Ribcage: This Wide Passage
March 3-8
Firehall Arts Centre
Recreating a piece of Canadian history you’ve probably never heard of, spoken word artist Heather Hermant shares the history of Esther Brandeau, a Jewish woman who landed in Quebec City in the 18th century and disguised herself as a Christian male labourer.

Mozart & Salieri
March 4-14
The Jericho Arts Centre
Did Salieri really hate Mozart? 7 Tyrants Theatre Company takes on the notorious rivalry between the composers in this adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s classic tale of genius, jealousy, and murder.

Cat Killer
March 5-15
Presentation House Theatre
Travel into the mind of a of an Ottawa criminal, supposedly responsible for the kidnapping of 400 cats in the span of two months! This collaboration between Presentation House Theatre, Capilano University’s Theatre Program, and Theatre Wrede from Germany takes audiences on a live and interactive “video walk.”

Triumph of Love
March 19-April 4
Frederic Wood Theatre at UBC
Directed by Fringe Alumni, Barbara Tomasic, this modern musical adaptation of Marivaux’s 18th century romantic comedy follows Princess Leonide as she literally wears the pants so that her beloved Agis can return to his rightful throne. It’s not her fault if her deceptive dress-up causes the entire household to fall in love with her!

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