The 31st Vancouver Fringe Festival was a fantastic kick off to a fourth decade of creating opportunities for performing artists to showcase their work and connect with audiences—all while coming together for a great big theatre party! This year even more people attended the Festival with a nearly 7% increase in attendance—and we haven’t even counted attendance at special events or the Big Rock Brewery Fringe Bar yet!
We’re feeling pretty proud that our new ticketing system ran smoothly and that audiences and volunteers were able to use it with few problems. But we’re especially proud of the strides made this year towards equity and accessibility.
In this inaugural year of Advance Theatre: New Works by Women, the Fringe teamed up with Ruby Slippers Theatre and Equity in Theatre to showcase dramatic readings of five new plays by women playwrights. Women are underrepresented in professional theatre with women accounting for as few as one-third of working playwrights, directors, and/or artistic directors. While the Series doesn’t solve the problem, we are proud to have played a part in highlighting the issue. Not only did the Series attract the attention of many artistic directors and presenters, but our core audience was game to sample these new plays—even at the reading stage! We heard ripples throughout the Festival about Jill Daum’s Forget About Tomorrow, about Early Onset Alzheimer’s, and received an email from Barb Wolfe, the Performing Arts Programmer at the Surrey Arts Centre: “LOVED Jill Daum’s Forget About Tomorrow reading. Laughed my head off and tried to keep my sobbing to a minimum. Very moving.”
Improving the Festival’s accessibility was a successful venture this year. Not only did we try to provide as much information as possible on wheelchair accessibility for all our venues, but we worked with Vocal Eye to improve accessibility for people who are Blind or Partially Sighted; signed up for the Access2 Program to provide tickets to attendants accompanying patrons; became part of the Cultural Access Pass program to welcome new Canadian citizens through cultural events; artists donated tickets so we could partner with Kids Up Front; and we offered two American Sign Language interpreted shows as well as a list of shows that would be more accessible to audiences who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or who do not speak English. In addition, we partnered with Douglas College’s Sign Language Interpretation Program and the Westcoast Association of Visual Language Interpreters for free interpreting services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing volunteers during the Festival. Hiroko Kitayama, the Program Assistant for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department at Vancouver Community College told us that the “Vancouver Fringe Festival is one of my favourite festivals personally, and I am very excited to know that you are working towards improved accessibility and inclusivity. Inviting people in the Deaf community to volunteer for the Festival is a great way to introduce them to the joy of the theatre. I am very proud of being a fan of such thoughtful, considerate Festival.”
We also received great feedback from our artists about the Festival:
“This was my first ever Vancouver Fringe. The experience was such a positive one. From the employees, to the volunteers, to the audience base, to the beautiful backdrop that is Vancouver, the Festival was one of the best I have been to. … I am so flattered and excited about both of the awards I won [the Public Market Pick of the Fringe and the BC Touring Council Award], especially considering the insane amount of excellent work showcased at this festival. I can’t wait to make the Vancouver Fringe an ongoing part of my artistic year.”
—Adam Francis Proulx, Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets
“This year for us epitomized what the Fringe is all about. We finally made the plunge and took the chance on creating our own work—paying the (exorbitant) fee we normally paid to some US license company to two local emerging artists to write a new Canadian musical, and then committing our resources to working and developing it for presentation at the Fringe. Where else could it have found its voice with such support and success? That Fringe platform for launching new faces, new voices, new works is like no other. … An absolute kick starter for our young authors and our performers.” —Sandra Herd, Executive Director of Awkward Stage Productions, TITUS: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus
To top it all off, we were informed after the Festival that YOU voted us the Best Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver through the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver readers’ poll again! You’ve voted for us so many years in a row that we’re in the Straight’s Hall of Fame for being voted in the top spot for over 10 years! This is especially funny knowing that the Straight’s theatre critic, Kathleen Oliver, had to volunteer as an usher so she could get in to see and review Brendan McLeod’s Brain, which sold out its Festival run (and it’s Pick performance).
Thanks to all our audiences, volunteers, artists, sponsors, donors, staff, and everyone who contributed to making the Festival a success this year!
Want to share your Festival experiences? Tell us about your experiences as a patron this year by filling in this quick audience survey!
It takes a lot of people to put on the Fringe, and not just artists, staff, volunteers, and donors. Each year many businesses join the Fringe community to help achieve our shared goal of theatre for everyone! Take a peek behind the scenes and see why your Festival couldn’t be as fantastic without them!
Don’t you love Granville Island? CMHC Granville Island hosts the Festival’s home base—but we’re all over the city, too, and car2go makes the logistics easy, while adding fun (and lucrative) games to the Festival Hub!
We could be invisible! Then what? Without the marketing and publicity support of the Georgia Straight, The Peak 102.7, St. Bernadine Communications, and, of course, all those Blenz Coffee locations that distributed Program Guides, we’d be invisible and you wouldn’t find us!
Did you love the Fringe Bar? Big Rock Brewery and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly literally fueled that love. Meanwhile, BeatRoute Magazine gave online promotional support for the free music series that kept our toes tapping—unless you were taking a break for a photo with My City Photos (and you can tag yourself on Facebook)! The special nights with the G Adventures Purple Passion cocktail and the Barefoot Moscato sampling only added to the fun. Night after night, these sponsors transformed the Fringe Bar into THE Vancouver party spot to socialize and help fund your Festival!
Yes, why DON’T we start things off with a party? WE DO! If you weren’t there, you missed out! This event is the biggest fundraiser and sets the tone for the Festival. Of course, the complimentary Big Rock and Barefoot libations helped parched guests, but The Liberty Distillery took things over the top with samples of their Basford cocktail and hand-crafted spirits. Not to be outdone, Dockside Restaurant, Emelle’s Catering, and The Keg Granville Island set the bar higher with smoked salmon and chili squid; tomato, chèvre, and basil pastry puffs and stuffed cucumber cups; sliders and shrimp cocktails, and more. Nobody went hungry and everyone enjoyed it amongst the local flora arrangements from Olla Urban Flower Project.
Are you going to Peru?… on a scooter?!?! You could have been… really! G Adventures made it a possibility! Motorino offered not one, but TWO chances to make your green future a reality either with an electric scooter and bicycle! And then there’s chocolate. Camino bestowed the yummiest prize of all: a basket of chocolatey goodness! Just buying Raffle tickets got you a G Adventures/Fringe umbrella or a handful of Camino minis! These companies helped raise funds for the Festival and Fringe artists!
Where are all the robots? There aren’t any! Nearly 600 volunteers do much of the work! If you volunteered, you already know that Shear Comfort helped make our volunteer program possible along with all the donors who supplied food and beverages to make those shifts go by a more comfortably.
These Partners are part of your Fringe Family! Please join us in thanking them for helping make the Festival so amazing!
Now that the Festival has wrapped up, we turn our attention towards our latest project to support Vancouver’s theatre community. If you haven’t heard yet, it’s called Theatre Wire and not only will if give you access to the independent shows that are happening in Vancouver, but you can get a three or six show pass! It’s a theatre subscription, but to a collection of independent Vancouver companies who are putting on stellar work.
But Theatre Wire isn’t all about tickets! We’re digging up Vancouver’s theatre history, interviewing people (well, comedian Sara Bynoe is interviewing people) about their theatre stories, and other fun stuff. The best way to stay on top of it is to sign up for the Theatre Wire newsletter.
Fringe Festival Holdovers
Spilling Family Secrets: TONIGHT! Oct. 8 only!
TJ’s Kitchen: now-Oct. 10
Small Town Hoser Spic: Oct. 9-10
Can’t get enough Fringe theatre? Missed these shows during the Festival? Here’s your chance! Tonight’s the night to catch Spilling Family Secrets, Susan Freedman’s real life story of snooping into her parents’ old love letters. Can the letters spill secrets of their inspiring marriage—and shed light on Susan’s marital misadventures? TJ Dawe continues presenting his various hits with Marathon (Oct. 8) and his latest, Burn Job (Oct. 9 & 10) up next. Small Town Hoser Spic is based on Pedro Chamale’s experiences of trying to find a home, culture, and national identity while being a first generation Hispanic Canadian growing up in Northern BC.
Oct. 23, 2015 – May 29, 2016
Theatre Wire starts in earnest on October 23, the opening night for Twenty Something Theatre’s Tender Napalm—about surviving in the face of catastrophe and exploring the process of grieving and healing without cliché or clumsy sentiment. Theatre Wire’s season runs through till next May and there are plenty of shows to choose from. You can get your three or six shows pass now! Visit TheatreWire.com for a list of all shows and sign up for the Theatre Wire newsletter for the latest updates and more theatre news from Vancouver’s independent theatre scene!
Oct. 23 & 24
Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
Chase Padgett delivers a virtuosic performance as he becomes six different guitar players—each with their own distinct voice, views, and musical style (Blues, Jazz, Rock, Classical, Folk, and Country). 6 Guitars was a huge hit at the 2013 Vancouver Fringe Festival where it won the Public Market Pick of the Fringe, the BC Touring Council Award, and the Georgia Straight Critics’ Choice Award.
If Seth Cohen was your first crush, or Taylor Towsend was your role model, you should probably check out The O.C.: The Musical, held-over at the Public Market Pick of the Fringe tonight (Thursday, Sept. 24) only. You don’t even need to be a fan of the TV show to enjoy this unauthorized musical parody. VanCity Buzz says, “The O.C.: The Musical is 90 minutes of hilarious, ridiculous parody that will keep you entertained from the moment you sit down.”
The Pick is on through Sunday, September 27 at the Revue Stage on Granville Island along side the Pick Plus, shows that were so popular at past Fringes or at other Fringe Festivals that we had to present them for you! Here’s some info on the Pick and Pick Plus shows running all week!
Tonight (Thursday, Sept. 24) at 9:00pm
Giant Invisible Robot
Winner of the Georgia Straight Critic’s Choice Award at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe, Jayson McDonald is back as Russell, a terminally shy man whose imaginary friend is programmed to destroy.
“Jam packed with observant humour and emotional honesty.” —the Vancouver Sun
Friday, September 25 at 7:00pm
Searching For Dick
Tara Travis talks to dead people in this true story of Tara’s visits to psychic mediums as she tries to connect with her husband’s parents. (Includes brownies from the spirit world!)
“Ouija board says, see this one.” —the Vancouver Sun
Friday, September 25 at 8:45pm
Canadian SLAM champ and award winning novelist, Brendan McLeod sold out his entire Vancouver Fringe run just days into the Festival. An intense comedy about what it means to be good, coming of age, mental illness, and the nature of thought.
“Among the most prolific artists in the city … [who] strives for deeper significance.” —the Georgia Straight
Saturday, September 26 at 7:00pm
Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets
Rub-a-dub-dub, the Baker was found dead in the tub! Now his husband the Butcher is on trial. And what ever happened to this mysterious Candlestick Maker?
“Proulx is a winning versatile performer, [and] his puppets [are] inventive and full of personality.” —Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine
Saturday, September 26 at 9:00pm
God is a Scottish Drag Queen III
Canadian Comedy Award Nominee Mike Delamont returns as everyone’s favourite deity in a new testament. First World problems, prayers, and everything else you’ve wanted to know in the third chapter of the insanely popular trilogy.
“The barbs came so fast, the 60-minute show whizzed by.” —Edmonton Journal
Sunday, September 27 at 5:00pm
Mrs. Singh & Me
Love is in the air, but Mrs. Kuldeep Singh is having none of it. Her instincts could be right or she could be missing out on the best son-in-law she could ever ask for—Raj, whose methods are as extreme as his heart is sure.
“Both audience-pleasing funny and a serious account of intra-cultural, intergenerational tensions.” —Jerry Wasserman, Vancouver Plays
Sunday, September 27 at 7:00pm
TITUS: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus
Blood, gore, dismemberment. Now imagine it all set to music! What could possibly improve murder and mayhem better than singing and dancing?! More than a parody, more than an adaptation—it’s a bloody grand time!
“There’s not a note, line or dance step out of place in this, yes, delightful re-imagining (from Vancouver company Awkward Stage Productions) of what is often called Shakespeare’s bloodiest play.” —Shawn Conner, the Vancouver Sun
Don’t let the opportunity to stave off your Fringe withdrawal pass you by! Tickets are available online now and if shows are not sold out, will be for sale at the Revue Stage starting 45 minutes before show time!
Our volunteers make the Fringe possible. We can’t say it enough. Almost 600 volunteers worked in various roles, from ticket selling, to ushering, to bartending, and more. We threw a party for them this past Tuesday to celebrate and thank each one of them for their contribution to this incredible Festival. At the party, awards were given to volunteers who went above and beyond for the Festival. A few artists had special performances—including juggling on a human slack rope and a Bhangra dance lesson. We drank, were merry, and gushed over another successful Festival.
A huge thank you to Shear Comfort for their indispensable support for the 2015 Festival Volunteer Program!
We also had support for the Volunteer Program from:
The Great Jamaican
Big Rock Brewery
Cookies By George
Costco (Downtown Vancouver)
Douglas College Sign Language Interpretation Program
Duso’s Italian Foods
Firehall Arts Centre
Origins Organic Coffee
Real Canadian Superstore (Metrotown)
Vancouver International Improv Festival
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
and Vancouver Theatresports League!
The Festival just ended, but we’re already on to the 2016 Festival! The Fringe and Playwrights Theatre Centre are calling for applications for the fourth year of the Fringe New Play Prize. The winning project will receive dramaturgical support from PTC and a free guaranteed spot in the Mainstage Category at the 2016 Festival.
Last year’s winner, Derek Chan, finished his run of Starstuff: Per Aspera Ad Astra and in a brief speech at the 2015 Awards Night said that it was an incomparable experience and the chance to work with Kathleen Flaherty from PTC was game-changing. Plank Magazine praised the evocative production of his show: “[Starstuff: Per Aspera Ad Astra has] interesting stage direction that produces an anti-gravity effect and the stillness of space.”
BC writers and producing teams with a project for the 2016 Festival are encouraged to submit scripts. The application checklist is available here.
Submit applications to submissions[at]playwrightstheatre.com with “Fringe New Play Prize” in the subject line along with the PDFs of your script, production plan, and resume attached. The deadline for applications is October 2, 2015. The winner will be announced at the Fringe Lottery Party in December.
For more information, contact Kathleen Flaherty.
Attention performing artists! Do you want to be a part of the 2016 Fringe Festival? Have you ever thought of touring the Fringe Circuit? Check out what the Circuit is like through Nancy Kenny’s documentary, shot during her tour of the 2014 Fringe Festival Circuit.
Applications are now open for the Canadian Association of Fringe Festival’s Touring Lottery. Companies that are selected will be guaranteed a spot in all of the Fringe Festivals they want to perform in and will have even more time to put together their touring plans.
The 2016 CAFF touring lottery application deadline is 5:00pm (CST) on October 9, 2015.
For the general Vancouver Fringe Festival application dates, stay tuned! We will announce them via our newsletter soon!