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Shifting the Fringe: An Update on the 2020 Vancouver Fringe Festival

Shifting the Fringe: An Update on the 2020 Vancouver Fringe Festival

The Fringe may look different this year, but it’s still the Fringe. Our “Weird” character was part of the 2018 Fringe Program Guide cover and promotions (including being featured on a limited run of Fringe t-shirts!). Originally illustrated by Chris Ross, Weird has been re-illustrated by Kitty Cheung with a 2020 twist.

The Vancouver Fringe Theatre Society is excited to announce its plans to move forward with staggered dates for the 2020 Fringe Festival. Live performances and events will take place beginning with our previously scheduled Festival dates of September 10-20 and extending to select dates in October, November, and possibly December.

This year’s focus will be on live performances from local artists while some digital events may be made available. The in-person, concentrated Festival events will be held at fewer venues with limited capacity to meet the guidelines laid out in the BC Restart Plan and a safety plan will be in place and available to patrons, volunteers, and artists in advance. As always, community safety remains the Vancouver Fringe Theatre Society’s top priority. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and look for guidance and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada, HealthLink BC, and the BC Centre for Disease Control.

We are delighted that the Fringe can highlight local artists in 2020. We are currently confirming which artists are available and eager to present their work and anticipate that September 10 to 20 will be a kick off with limited performances and workshops, with more shows taking place October 1 to 10, October 29 to November 8, and possibly extending to November 28 thru December 8. We will announce 2020 Fringe shows, schedules, and additional details at the beginning of September.

In the meantime, we want to extend a note of thanks to Fringe staff, board, partners, patrons, donors, volunteers, artists, sponsors, and funders for your patience and support during this challenging time. We are keen to continue “creating an open and vibrant independent theatre community” as per our Mission Statement, and are grateful to you for playing your part in building the community despite the pandemic. We look forward to seeing you, from six feet away, soon.

Belated Happy World Fringe Day!

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Check out the hashtag #WorldFringeDay on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see how Fringe Festivals around the globe celebrated the 73rd year since the very first Fringe in Edinburgh!

On July 11, Fringe Festivals around the world celebrated the 73rd year since the Fringe was first conceived. That day in 1947, eight groups who were turned away from performing at the Edinburgh International Festival took things into their own hands by performing at the “fringes” of the newly-formed festival, marking the first-ever Fringe Festival. 73 years and 200 festivals across six continents later, the Fringe is still going strong!

To celebrate World Fringe Day, we gave a shout-out to other Fringe Festivals around the globe by dropping some fun facts over on our Instagram stories. If you missed it, don’t worry—it’s in our highlights so you can view it anytime!

As the first Fringe in Edinburgh showed, the Fringe concept embraces adaptability and innovation. And although the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed or cancelled many Fringe Festivals this year, they still find ways to bring in the Fringe spirit through it all. For example, the Toronto Fringe hosted their digital festival alternative, The Fringe Collective while 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon recently wrapped up This Is Not That Festival, a physically-distanced and online alternative to the Saskatoon Fringe Festival. As for Vancouver Fringe, we’re very excited to get into the Fringe-y spirit with the staggered Festival starting this September!

Rohit Chokhani Chosen for Executive Leadership Program

A collage of headshots of the participants and the mentors of Business / Arts' Executive Leadership Program. Caption: Congratulations to Rohit Chokhani for being one of the 10 arts leaders in Canada chosen for Business / Arts' inaugural Executive Leadership Program! Check out their website to learn more about the program, including this year's participants and mentors.

Congratulations to Rohit Chokhani for being one of the 10 arts leaders in Canada chosen for Business / Arts’ inaugural Executive Leadership Program! Check out their website to learn more about the program, including this year’s participants and mentors.

Congratulations to Executive Director Rohit Chokhani for being one of 10 arts leaders across Canada selected to participate in Business / Arts’ inaugural Executive Leadership Program! This program seeks to uplift current arts leaders’ goals and ambitions within some of Canada’s largest arts institutions—perfect as the Vancouver Fringe Festival forges and envisions the decade ahead.

Supported by Canadian Heritage and RBC, this year-long mentorship program pairs Rohit with Gideon Arthurs, who’s currently the CEO of the National Theatre School of Canada. Aside from Gideon’s work in the theatre industry and being a cultural leader in the Toronto community, what makes this mentorship special is that Gideon used to be the Executive Director of the Toronto Fringe!

In selecting the 10 arts leaders for the inaugural Executive Leadership Program, they encouraged and welcomed applications from equity-seeking communities, with diversity and inclusion among the criteria. You can click here to learn more about the program, as well as the other participants and mentors for Business / Arts’ Executive Leadership Program.

The Fringe and Theatre Wire at the Jessie Awards

A collage of headshots and show image of Jessie Awards winners who were Fringe and Theatre Wire alumni. Caption: Congratulations to this year's winners at the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, especially to the Vancouver Fringe and Theatre Wire alumni! Clockwise from top left: Chris Lam, Elizabeth Kirkland, Derek Chan, the show image from Alley Theatre and Touchstone Theatre's Inheritance, Deb Williams, and Jan Derybshire.

Congratulations to this year’s winners at the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, especially to the Vancouver Fringe and Theatre Wire alumni! Clockwise from top left: Chris Lam, Elizabeth Kirkland, Derek Chan, the show image from Alley Theatre and Touchstone Theatre’s Inheritance, Deb Williams, and Jan Derybshire.

The 38th annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards were held on June 29—virtually, of course! Hosted at a social distance by Fringe alumni Omari Newton (Blackbird) and Sara Vickruck (Poly Queer Love Ballad), the Jessies celebrate excellence in Vancouver’s professional theatre community. We want to congratulate all the Jessie nominees and winners, especially those who are Fringe and Theatre Wire alumni!

Two shows that were sold through Theatre Wire were honoured at the Jessies. Touchstone Theatre and Fringe old-timers Alley Theatre were lauded with Significant Artistic Achievement: Outstanding Innovative and Immersive Storytelling for the show Inheritance: a pick-the-path experience. And from Slamming Door Artist Collective’s The Sea, Fringe alumna Elizabeth Kirkland won Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role!

Fringe veteran Jan Derbyshire won two Jessies for Critics’ Choice Innovation and Outstanding Original Script for the show Certified, which premiered at the 2016 Festival. Nominated alongside Jan in the Outstanding Original Script category were other Vancouver Fringe veterans: Deborah Vogt for Big Sister, and Derek Chan for Chicken Girl!

And speaking of Derek Chan, he was honoured with the Sidney J. Risk Award for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright for his work on Chicken Girl! This show was part of the 2018-19 Theatre Wire season and you may recall him as the winner of the 2015 Fringe New Play Prize for Starstuff: per aspera ad astra!

Another emerging artist recognized for his potential was Chris Lam, who was awarded the Ray Michal Prize for Outstanding Work and/or Body of Work by an Emerging Director. Chris is no stranger to the Fringe, having most recently directed Amelie at the 2019 Festival and Big Queer Filipino Karaoke Night in 2018.

Deb Williams, who’s a familiar face at the Fringe and Theatre Wire, won the Gordon Armstrong Playwright’s Rent Award for co-founding and coordinating The Flame! Her work in Vancouver’s storytelling series was cited for continuing to provide “a marvellous, joy-filled resource… [and] celebrates the essential power of the liveness of theatre.”

You can re-watch the virtual edition of the Jessie Awards show here and cheer on all the nominees and winners. With the Fringe being a springboard for many artists’ careers in theatre, we are proud to see their work honoured!

While we celebrate the community, we also want to acknowledge the ongoing critiques and discussions led by BIPOC Artists to pursue systemic changes at the Jessie Awards. On July 20, Fringe alumni Shanae Sodhi and Lili Robinson hosted a Zoom town hall called Taking Space: A BIPOC Discussion About the Jessies. We’ll be sharing any public follow-up events on our social media, so keep your eyes out for that!