Fringe Kicks Off – Promises Theatrical Democracy For Saint John

Last night, Fundy Fringe Festival kicked off its fourth season in Saint John with ‘The Big Tease’. Audiences were invited to come to the BMO Studio Theatre for a sneak peek at the shows and to find out where and when they’ll be playing during the festival.

Fundy Fringe Festival is a six-day summer theatre festival that calls itself “the most democratic form of theatre and performing arts”. All shows are chosen through lottery, and all performances are uncensored and given the same amount of time and space.

This year’s lineup consists of 19 performance companies, set in five different venues around Uptown. Festival Director, Sarah Rankin says of the lineup, “In true Fringe fashion, no two shows are alike. And it’s near impossible to tell which show will be the most outrageous because we never know what we’re going to see on the stage until the festival starts”.

Fringe Festival 2016 aims to make theatre even more accessible, by providing outdoor and pop-up performances throughout the event. “We’ve been working on breaking down the four walls of Fringe. In previous years, our venues have all been indoors. The goal this year is to not only bring an audience to Fringe, but to bring Fringe to the audience,” says Rankin.

Local historian David Goss led a walk-and-talk around the Uptown on Tuesday evening to kick off the event, and Saint John’s own Theatre Narcissus Twelve will be presenting pop-up performances around Uptown throughout the event.

Show topics are diverse, covering everything from the life story of a lobster, to sex trafficking in North America. Says Rankin, “The lineup this year has shows that tackle topics like sex trafficking, accessibility and disabilities and Millennial dreams. These are being featured alongside 1970’s belly dancing, musicals and sketch comedy”.

With so many shows to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones are worth getting off the couch for. Here are a few of our top picks for this Fundy Fringe season:

1. Hamilton! (McKenzie)
We predict this will be the hardest ticket to get this season. A hip-hop musical by Improv. Corp., out of Saint John, this show banks on the popularity of the Broadway show Hamilton, but with a decidedly Loyalist City twist. This one is not to be missed and will be playing at the BMO Studio Theatre.

2. Daddy Issues
Daddy Issues is a one man show presented by Peter Aguero out of New York City, about a son’s relationship with his father. What sets this show apart is Aguero’s masterful storytelling ability. We predict he’ll have audiences hanging on his every word. The show will be playing at the Saint John Ale House OH! Room for the duration of the festival.

3. Galactic
Presented by What’s That Spooky Noise? Productions out of Halifax, Galactic is a musical comedy about three space explorers who become stranded on a deserted planet. The acting is on point, the music is great and it’s going to be very funny. Galactic will be playing at the BMO Studio Theatre.

4. Magic With An Edge
Rynestone is a professional magician from Ottawa and will be presenting his edgy and at times even dangerous magic act at the BMO Studio Theatre throughout the event. This one is rated PG and is a great pick for the whole family.

5. The Velvet Undergrad
This show is a dark and funny look at the Millennial struggle. A one man show written and directed by Neil Bonner of Saint John’s Carp of Truth, it promises to have lots of pop culture references and dirty jokes. Leave the kids at home for this one. Playing at the Mary H. Oland Theatre in the New Brunswick Museum.

All shows are $10 cash-at-door or a $60 festival pass will get you into eight shows. For more information on the Fundy Fringe Festival or to see the show schedule, visit fundyfringefestival.com.

(Cover photo: Neil Bonner in ‘The Velvet Undergrad’ by Jon O’Kane)

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