By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
He’s the monster who started small, rampaged through Old Strathcona like his own pleasure garden, and grew and grew. And he seems to have a history that goes back to the pre- of everything.
As announced Wednesday, our upcoming 37th annual Edmonton Fringe Festival, the continent’s oldest and still biggest, has its signature theme — and a grinning mascot. At Fringe ‘O’ Saurus Rex, coming our way Aug. 16 through 26, you’ll be having an epic-scale live theatre blow-out day and night, noon through the wee hours, with a dino.
Forget extinction; people have a long-standing love affair with dinos, the bigger the better. With Fringe ‘O’ Saurus Rex, our summer theatre bash has burst its buttons yet again. At 229 shows (up from last year’s 220 and 215 the year before that), the 2018 edition is the biggest ever. Of this glorious profusion, some 105 shows happen in lotteried venues, “theatres” outfitted and scheduled by the Fringe. There are 11 of them clustered in and around Fringe headquarters, the ATB Financial Arts Barn — one more than last year’s 10 with a return to the festivities of the Strathcona Community League, the designated theatre-for-young-audiences destination.
The other 124 shows happen in some 29 BYOVS (bring-your-own venues), acquired, kitted out, and curated by artists themselves. Fringe director Murray Utas reports that there’s more clustering of shows in BYOVs. That roster of indie venues, including the Varscona Theatre and Theatre Network at the Roxy, is enhanced by the addition this year of Grindstone Theatre’s newly opened and charming comedy club in Strathcona.
Sugar Swing Ballroom, for example, has a whopping 16 shows in its two-storey locale. Holy Trinity Anglican Church has 18. Together the three venues at La Cité francophone in the French Quarter, curated by actor/playwright/director Jon Paterson, will house 24 shows, eight apiece. The music venue The Sewing Machine Factory (under the Mill Creek Cafe on Whyte at 95 St.) has Fringe shows. St. Basil’s Cultural Centre (71 Ave. and 109 St.) has two venues, a 400- and a 150-seater, and an assortment of Fringe productions — including The Irrelevant Show, invariably a hot ticket wherever it goes.
Utas, whose usual condition of exuberance is already approaching stratospheric Fringe levels, is pumped about this year’s theme, a dream-come-true for props visionaries. “This one is gonna be fun! Just fun!”
The Fringe schedule will be announced Aug. 1. And tickets go on sale Aug. 7. There’s more info at fringetheatre.ca.