I must admit, I’m behind the eight ball on Montreal’s Fringe Festival. Before Monday’s media call at Les Katacombes bar, I had heard of the Festival, but I didn’t really know what it was all about, having spent most of the past 20 summers or so in the Laurentians.
Knowing what I know now, I regret missing out on 20+ years of this uncensored, all-out fabulous festival of arts, music and theatre. But as the old cliché goes; ‘better late than never’.
For those of you who are newbies to the Fringe Festival, here’s a little run-down;
WHAT is Fringe?
As quoted from the website;
The Canadian Fringe Festivals® are built on four principles:
1) No Artistic Direction. Artists are selected by lottery.
2) No Censorship. Artists have complete freedom to present ANYTHING.
3) Accessibility to artists. Anyone can apply to the lottery.
4) Accessibility to audience. Ticket prices are kept low and 100% of the ticket price is returned to the artists you see on stage.
For more detailed information, please visit the CAFF home page: www.fringefestivals.com
WHEN will Fringe take place?:
From June 4th, to June 24th, 2013
WHERE does Fringe happen?:
Click onto this map for venue locations which are spread across Plateau Mont Royale;
Fringe Director Amy Blackmore graciously took a few moments to explain a bit of the history as to how this unique festival came to be;
“It’s basically a festival that started in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1940’s that comprised of artists who were not accepted into the Edinburgh International Festival but decided to proceed with their shows in parallel with the actual festival…on the ‘fringe’.”
Before long, Fringe fests popped up in various cities across the world. Canada’s first fest was held in Edmonton in 1983 and 30 more were born soon thereafter. Montreal was initiated into ‘Fringedom’ in 1991 on St. Laurent Boulevard with Kris Kieran and Nick Morra at the helm, and our fest has exploded into a full-blown Plateau sensation with over 700 shows and 250 participants.
Fringe participants are chosen by lottery and the genres are as follows; Cabaret, Cirque, Clown, Comedy, Dance, Fringe After Dark, Fringe Park, Music, Musical Theatre, Opera, Theatre and Visual Arts and there will be a Fringe For Kids section, designed to attract fringe-goers with toddlers and pre-teens
The important thing to remember is that nobody is censored. Blackmore explained that it is crucial for artists to have a voice and that voice be accepted in a community. The festival is 100% non-profit, with any residual income going straight back to the performers and artists.
2013 Fringe spokesperson, Johanna Nutter, who was a former Fringe winner (2009) for her one-woman play ‘My Pregnant Brother’, took the stage to welcome the media and stress the importance of inclusiveness and the impact of being able to express your creativity in such an open-minded milieu.
Incidentally, Nutter was asked to perform at the ‘grand-fromage’ of Fringe festivals this summer in Edinburgh. This woman is going places.
Blackmore illustrated the significance of bilingualism by presenting the media with a buffet of English muffins and French toast. She then stuffed the toast and muffins into a blender, along with random toppings in order to symbolize the blending of cultures & languages that makes our Montreal Fringe Festival so unique. For now I’ll dub it ‘Fringlish‘.
Keep an eye out for the bilingual program book (looks like a newspaper) at various newsstands across Montreal for showtimes, ticket prices and venue information.
Stay tuned for ‘Fringe; Part Deux’, a perspective from the performer’s point of view.