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Day of the Dead!

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Contemplating Nos Disparus – November 1, 2015

Who are Nos Disparus? Those who are no longer with us, except in spirit and by the impact of what they gave us.

On November 1, just a few hours before the Latin American Dia de los Muertos, some of the biggest contributors to the Fringe community gathered to contemplate some other past supporters who have passed on. For a third straight year at Los Cuervos Taqueria y Cantina, Fringe Executive Director, David Jordan led us all in a celebration of the past, present, and future of the Fringe.

First we heard about three significant Fringe community members who have left us lonelier for their absence, but richer for their presence:

Roy Sumpter
Roy was the perennial volunteer and was widely recognizable greeting revelers at the Fringe Bar in his red jacket and flashing tie pin just as he was all around town helping numerous other organizations! In his 80s when he left us, Roy often told us that the Fringe was one of or the top communities he enjoyed supporting—not least of which because when he was amongst other Fringers he never felt old! The Festival simply couldn’t operate as it does without its 500+ yearly volunteers, and, in many ways, Roy embodied that volunteer spirit that defies age to enjoy and add to the Fringe energy. That spirit lives on in part thanks to him!

Mike Taugher
Mike was the Chair of the Vancouver Island University Theatre Department and one of the founders of the Nanaimo Fringe Festival. He died suddenly this past August, having created a prolific local theatre legacy—Chelsee Damen, a Nanaimo Fringe producer, told David that, “Just about everyone I know in the local theatre community has worked with or been taught by Mike.

Denis Simpson
Well-known for his legendary TV show, Polkadot Door, Denis also performed on virtually every Canadian theatre stage and was a towering influence in Canadian theatre. His autobiographical solo show Denis Anyone? began at the Vancouver Fringe before going on to be an Arts Club Theatre production, winning a Jesse Award. Beloved by audiences and colleagues, alike, Denis was a stalwart supporter of independent theatre. He mentored many emerging artists, including Berend McKenzie, also directing his show nggrfg, which enjoyed great success on the Fringe circuit (including here in Vancouver).

Roy, Mike, and Denis may have left us, but they left us better off for their presence and work, their legacy. In that spirit of making a difference that survives your own time amongst us, David toasted these Fringers and challenged us all to consider what their legacy might look like, how they might leave behind a better, stronger Fringe community. He asked us all, “How might you contribute to a Fringe Forever?”

On the Day of the Dead – November 2, 2014

Every year, the Fringe brings together a haphazard group of people: artists who are trying something new, who want to tell personal stories, who create something magical on stage; volunteers who not only work their 20 hours, but offer to stay and help; audience members who see two shows or 30 shows; and everyone in between.

The Fringe wants to bring all these people together more often—through events like our year-round series The Fringe Presents. On November 2, the Mexican Day of the Dead, we held another such event.

For a second year in a row, super-dedicated Fringers gathered at Los Cuervos Taqueria y Cantina. Over tacos, margaritas, and churros, we all took some time to get to know each other a little better. We recalled Fringes past and imagined future Fringes, and shared our hope that the community the Fringe creates will always exist.

As the evening unfolded, Fringe Executive Director, David Jordan, got up on a chair to welcome everyone. He reminded us that the Day of the Dead is meant to honour those who have passed. He then shared the story of his uncle Charlie, whose funeral he attended this past year. David’s memories of Charlie are those of a child—he remembered Charlie teasing a pet bird by moving a toothpick back and forth across his mouth as the bird kept trying to grab it. Charlie was a joker.

By the end of his life, Charlie was in an assisted living home. While David thought at first that this was sad, he learned at Charlie’s funeral that Charlie was well-known and appreciated—he and his roommates had created a community within the home, one that, for Charlie, was filled with the art he loved, that a friend had painted and given to Charlie. Far from being alone, Charlie had been surrounded by a community he’d helped create—showing David that Charlie’s impact had been more than he imagined.

For many of us, that’s exactly what we want: to have our own community, especially one filled with art. It’s a big part of what the Fringe tries to create, and the promise of such a community far into the future, a Fringe Forever, was what we got to celebrate that chilly November night.

The Very First Fringe Day of the Dead Gathering!

What an amazing party we had on November 3, 2013 at Los Cuervos Taqueria y Cantina! (Scroll down for photos from our Day of the Dead launch event!)

Fringe staff work tirelessly to bring you joy.

Fringe staff work tirelessly to bring you joy.

Almost 50 Fringe enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the future of the Fringe! Donors, volunteers, artists, Board members, and staff enjoyed the most delicious gourmet mini-tostadas and tacos. Washing them down with a full range of tasty “cocteles,” we socialized for a couple of hours while awesome Mexican tunes played through the restaurant. We got to know each other better as Fringe Executive Director, David Jordan, told us the story of his grandfather inspiring his theatre career. Then David talked about the Fringe’s illustrious 30-year history and invited us to join in supporting a long and healthy Fringe Forever.

Jimmy sugar skull

Jimmy loves el Dia de los Muertos!

Afterwards, as we finished off the piping hot churros dipped in chocolate sauce, everyone went home with their own traditional sugar skull, hand-made by Fringe staffers over the previous week, and a nifty Fringe Forever fridge magnet. Smiles and satisfied tummies all around, it was a great way to start off the Fringe’s 30th Anniversary year and its long and fabled future!

 

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