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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:

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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!

Web Sales Temporarily Unavailable

March 2, 2015

Please note that web sales will be temporarily unavailable on March 2 and 3 as we upgrade to new software. For more information on this change, read about it here.

Hold tight till March 4 when things will be back up and running!


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