Where The Wild Things Fringe: the monster is coming!

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

“And now, let the wild rumpus start!”

As announced Thursday, the upcoming 38th annual edition of the Fringe Edmonton’s roaring summer theatre monster — the oldest and still the biggest on the continent — has its signature theme. Come August 15 to 25, you’ll be doing your theatre binging Where The Wild Things Fringe.

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For 11 days and nights in Old Strathcona and beyond, you’ll be rumpus-ing with the imaginative creations dreamed up by artists,  in a world of mysterious transformations, risks, and bright ideas. The theme was chosen from hundreds of suggestions — witty and whimsical, through truly off-the-wall . “What’s wonderful,” says Fringe director Murray Utas, “is that it’s a suggestions from my KidsFringe team submitted to me on their last strike day last summer,” as they packed away the fun.  As you will have gleaned, Where The Wild Things Fringe takes its cues from the memorable 1963 children’s picture book by Maurice Sendak.

Its story of an unruly kid who finds himself sailing to an island of wildly fanciful beasts — and becoming king) — told in a mere couple of hundred words — has inspired movies, plays, operas, animations, a notably oddball 2009 Spike Jonze adult feature film…. Now it’s inspired the most monstrous-ever edition of an un-juried, uncensored festival that, as Fringe director Murray reveals, has a record number of shows, 264,  ensconced in 48 venues. A dozen of them are “official” and programmed by lottery, and the rest are BYOVs (bring-your-own-venues) found and equipped by artists themselves.  

In the Sendak book the rampaging monsters have a certain double-sided attraction to consumption: “We’ll eat you up – we love you so!” It speaks to the crazy, animating, viral effect that the Fringe has on its ever-increasing audiences. Besides, the 2019 nickname, with its siren call to the imagination, resonates with AND adults (Obama called it one of his favourite books ever). Ah, not to mention energetically kid-like adults such as Utas. He calls the festival in his charge, happily, “out of control monstrous.”

Tickets to Where The Wild Things Fringe go on sale Aug. 7. By the 15th, bedtime is officially cancelled. Check fringetheatre.ca for further details. In the meantime, consider this: “There should be a place where only the the things you want to happen, happen….” 

There is. And it’s happening soon.

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