Calgary Fringe Festival
July 29 to August 6, 2011
I know it’s hard right now to think of life beyond Stampede, but once your feet recover from boot blisters and your liver has forgiven you for everything naughty you’ve ingested, I’m hoping you’ll be yearning for some non-cowboy cultural entertainment. And I can think of no better way to ease yourself back into the theatre than Calgary Fringe Festival.
For those of you who don’t know, Fringes are non-juried, uncensored theatre festivals that showcase many plays over several days throughout various venues. Calgary Fringe is presenting a combination of 27 local, national and international productions for a total of over 160 performances over 9 days. The plays are usually one-act or short 2 act plays (60 to 90 minutes tops) with very reasonable ticket prices. From what I can see on the Calgary Fringe site, ticket prices are running between $15 to $10 per ticket depending on the show.
I have visited Fringe Festivals in many cities over the years and I have learned the good, the bad and the ugly of attending this kind of festival:
• I have seen many fabulous productions at Fringe Festivals, several of which have gone on to national and even international acclaim.
• At such inexpensive ticket prices, the value for your money is usually very high with these productions
• The atmosphere at Fringe productions are really casual and fun, meaning you don’t have to dress up to go and enjoy
• 100% of the ticket money goes directly to the artists – talk about supporting the arts!
• Most of the productions are new works and consequently there are no reviews to help you decide which play to see
• Popular plays sell out fast, meaning that you do need to plan to attend the shows you are interested in seeing
• Because the plays are performed at different times throughout the schedule, sometimes it’s impossible to see the productions you are keen on
• Because the shows are un-juried, the chance that you’ll end up seeing a clunker is very real and can be very painful
Yes I have seen my share of stinkers at Fringe festivals, but many times this was because I didn’t pay enough attention to the play descriptions beforehand. For example, I know that I do not like mainstream comedies, which is generally what gets played at Fringes. So when I’ve gone to a Fringe comedy and found it too dumbed-down for me, it really was my own fault. My advice – know your taste, read through the play descriptions and pick a few that sound like they are your speed. When I’ve taken the time to do this, I have always managed to see at least a couple productions that I really liked and I’m excited to find a few more this time around.
And if you are asking, here’s what I’m seeing this year:
This is Our Youth
Spitting in the Face of the Devil
Houdini’s Last Escape
The Duck Variations
Check back staring July 29th for reviews from the Fringe and Happy Stampede everyone!