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2019 Fringe Festival


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FOR THIS YEAR'S Victoria Fringe Festival, producer Sammie Gough says there’s an effort to remove whatever could stand in the way of an audience connecting with theatre. “We’re working with the artists to think more about how people access their performance, and what sort of barriers might exist,” she says. “We get the artists thinking about that early in their show creation process.” Last year’s Fringe included a show with sign language interpretation, and one offered audio-described performances. “It’s something we’re focusing on this year.”

The overall structure of the festival always remains constant, Gough says, but “the thing that radically changes each year is who gets randomly selected in the Fringe lottery.” Keeping it fresh also means that artists have begun to “create work in unconventional spaces that are site-specific…[there’s] quite a cool range of spaces this year—acupuncture studio, secret alleyway hidden away in Chinatown, shopfront Downtown.” The theatre work that is performed in these specific locations “is created completely in response to those spaces. That’s always exciting for audiences to go to a show and have no idea if they’ll be roving around and walking, or sitting down in a space, or how that performance presents itself.”

Every year, Intrepid Theatre receives festival applications from 150-200 theatre companies. “Anyone who has an idea for a show can apply for the Fringe,” Gough explains. “Every single Fringe fest in Canada is founded on an open-access principle. They can do whatever the heck they want with their show—no censorship. You get whatever you end up with. Could be an established touring artist, could be a new undiscovered talent; those are the kind of cool experiences you can have at the Fringe…It’s a bit of a free-for-all.”

The “lottery” of selecting 50 shows from the pile of applicants happens in January, Gough says. “We literally draw names out of a hat.” When pressed about what we’ll see this year, she’s coy about revealing the lineup or giving a shout-out to any specific performance. “It’s a mix of newbies and fringe favourites. We try not to highlight specific shows, just because the democratic nature of Fringe is that everyone gets to navigate it on their own terms. There’s always a bit of something for everyone.”


Tickets, passes and schedule available at ticketrocket.co starting August 1. Also available after August 1, 10am-5pm, Mon-Fri at Ticket Rocket, #101-804 Broughton Street. See intrepidtheatre.com for more info. —Mollie Kaye

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