Vancouver Fringe Announces 10 Award-Winning Shows for 2023

Pushing the limits of performing arts over a grand total of 11 days (and featuring more than 500 performances across 85+ shows), Vancouver Fringe played out its 2023 Festival to crowds of over 10,000 – packing houses and selling-out shows across the board.

Coming to a close on Sunday, September 17, the inimitable Fringe Bar played host to this year’s much-anticipated Awards Night – a celebration of the many artists involved in this year’s Festival, and a congratulatory affair for those productions that particularly resonated with Vancouver audiences.

Delivered by an expert panel made up of many of the organization’s long-standing supporters, Vancouver Fringe proudly crowned 10 captivating new works in recognition of the Festival’s riskiest, provoking and most inspiring acts.

This year’s award-winners included:

Winner: CVM & Reid Jamieson with The Pigeon & The Dove: A History of Hatred & Love
A powerful new folk opera about pigeons(!) and the causes of housing insecurity. A mix of comedy, social justice, and dark yet danceable songs.

In partnership with Stir Magazine, Vancouver’s digital hub for all things arts and culture, the ‘Stir Social Impact Award’ honed in on productions with an impactful message on the world as it stands today, leaving audiences walking away with new perspectives to support meaningful change.

In celebration of their award category’s chosen winner, Stir said:
Our team of writers were struck by how many shows at this year’s Fringe explored social issues, from ocean ecology to gender roles, in inventive and impactful ways. But one production stood out for the way it spoke about what is arguably the most pressing crisis in Vancouver today: homelessness. CVM & Reid Jamieson’s production was one of those shows that reframed all of your assumptionschallenging the stigma of homelessness through heartfelt and often haunting storytelling, interwoven with beautiful music. It is hard to imagine anyone walking away from The Pigeon & The Dove without being changed in some way.

Winner: PointeTango with Tango in the Dark
Direct from Buenos Aires, award-winning dance co. PointeTango presents an electrifying show combining the passion of Argentine tango with classical ballet.

The ‘Volunteer Choice Award’ is delivered each year to the production that most clearly stole the hearts of our dedicated volunteer team. With over 300 volunteers – the lifeblood of Vancouver Fringe – contributing to the vote, this coveted award represents the many voices of those who truly make the Festival happen.

Delivered on behalf of the team by Vivian Baihe Qi, Volunteer Coordinator, they were pleased to share:
“As most volunteers will tell you, one of the best parts of volunteering for Vancouver Fringe is being able to watch shows. Returning to the Fringe following a successful run in 2022, Tango in the Dark was highly anticipated amongst this year’s repeat volunteers. Before long, that excitement had spread throughout the entire volunteer base. We at the volunteer team were also swept up in this enthusiasm and, upon watching PointeTango’s electrifying performance, it is clear to see why Tango in the Dark was such a crowd favorite.”

Winner: Gravity Theatre with Private Parts: The Secrets We Keep
Joanna reveals the secrets she keeps from others and those she keeps from herself. A one woman show sharing the private parts that have fueled, fed and f*#ked her!

As determined by our returning ‘Audience Choice’ survey, this award spotlights the production most-loved by our loyal Fringe audiences. Earning a whopping 12% of the vote out of a total of 1,200 voting participants, Vancouver Fringe is proud to award Private Parts: The Secrets We Keep with the coveted title for 2023.

Having attended over 40 shows this year alone, long-standing patrons Elaine McRitchie and Russ Miranda said:
“We were so honored to be asked to present an award at this year’s Awards Night. The atmosphere was jubilant and the Fringe Bar was packed. We were lucky enough to present the ‘Audience Choice Award’ to Private Parts: The Secrets We Keep. We saw this show and loved it! All the winners were so deserving, and we simply can’t wait for next year!”

Winner: BadPuss Productions with ParaNorma PI
ParaNorma, the peculiar PI with supernatural abilities, channels eccentric otherworld witnesses when her inner-demon decides to take control.

In partnership with The Cultch, Vancouver’s most diverse and innovative arts centre, the ‘Artistic Risk Award’ provides a financial prize of $1,000 to the artist who most exemplifies the Fringe ethos of breaking down tradition by taking some form of risk in their production, who embrace uncertainty in service of their art, as well as the potential for failure, and who test out new paths in performance structure, style, and content.

In recognition of their chosen act, Lisa Mennel, Communications Manager at The Cultch, said:
“We were so excited to be included in this year’s Festival as jury members for the Artistic Risk Award. Between the full panel of three, we saw 29 shows that had self-selected to be considered for this award, which honours shows that have shown exemplary risk-taking. We were so very impressed by all the shows that we saw and can honestly say that risk-taking is alive and well at the Fringe.

Paranorma PI stood out to all of us as a quirky and unique show which was risky while being hilarious! It took us all by surprise and stood out as something we had not encountered in any other Fringe shows we saw, subtly bringing in commentary about current events in the world while presenting a hilarious night of joy and laughter. We were also so thrilled to see a fat body on stage taking up space and being sexy as hell!

Winner: Theatre Group GUMBO
Established in Osaka by Director Kayo Tamura in 1994, Theatre Group GUMBO has performed original works in 33 cities across 10 countries and received many awards.

The ‘Spirit of the Fringe Award’ goes to the artist or artists who best exemplify the ethos of the Fringe, whose 39-year vision and mission continues to push for ‘Theatre For Everyone’. These artists support other artists, build community, and share in the joy of making art.

Proudly delivered by Vancouver Fringe Executive Director, Duncan Watts-Grant shared:
“Theatre Group GUMBO absolutely are the Spirit of the Fringe. They support other artists, and care so much about this community we create together. Vancouver Fringe is thrilled to recognize the incredible attitude and joy they brought to the Festival this year.”

Winner: Batrabbit Productions with Rat Academy
Hi we R the last two rats from EDMANTON. WE made a show for U people. pls come. learn how 2 rat with US… U will not hate it. Pls come. We hav cheese.

Runner-up: Cameryn Moore / Little Black book Productions with muse: an experiment in storytelling & life drawing
Runner-up: Ragmop Theatre with UNDERBELLY
Runner-up: “Maarika is Funny” Productions with Peaches: The Play!
Runner-up (Vancouver Special): Brunch Comedy with Brunch: A Comedy Show

The most renowned and beloved accolade within this year’s awards slate, the ‘Best of the Fest Award’ spotlights the top shows that display an extraordinary level of theatrical quality and creativity. Also known as “the shows that everyone is talking about”, Vancouver Fringe is proud to deliver this award to support each production’s future life.

Wrapping up the awards ceremony with this beloved accolade, Duncan Watts-Grant, Executive Director said:
“This year we had an incredible diversity of artists and shows. It was a showcase of the art in the Fringe movement, and so many newcomers who absolutely blew us away. The Batrabbit team and their hysterical Rat Academy represents so much of what the Fringe is for, giving emerging artists the chance to take risks and try new things.

Brunch Comedy deserves a special shoutout as Vancouver locals in our ‘Vancouver Special’ selection, recognizing excellence from Vancouver. Ragmop Theatre with UNDERBELLY had us laughing so hard we could barely breathe, and both Cameryn Moore and Maarika Freund brought moving, thoughtful and, at times, challenging shows that asked audiences to leave preconceptions at the door.”

On behalf of the entire staff, Vancouver Fringe would like to congratulate these incredible artists for their deserved crown titles, while also recognizing the outstanding work of this year’s wider artist cohort. The success of Vancouver Fringe hinges on the fine talent that continues to return year-on-year, and the team could not be more proud of its exceptional 2023 Season.

Special thanks also to Ola Dada, the comedic talent who previously participated in the Festival in 2021, who adorned this year’s striking key imagery. This fall, audiences can catch Ola’s live comedy special at Elysium (1240 Thurlow St) on October 14. For more information and to book tickets, visit:

Vancouver Fringe returns for its 40th Anniversary in September 2024. More info coming soon.


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