By Kyle Wells
Monday Magazine contributor
It’s often weird, frequently wonderful and never dull; the Victoria Fringe is back and with it comes a new slate of performances sure to challenge, delight and inspire.
Everything from dramas to dance, stand-up to spoken word and musicals to magic will be on display when the second oldest fringe theatre festival returns to Victoria. Annually, the festival draws around 20,000 people, making it the largest theatre festival on Vancouver Island.
This year, 47 shows have been picked by lottery from submissions that came in from around the globe. There are some guidelines, but the performances themselves are uncensored, providing for a free and open artistic atmosphere.
There are audience advisories for shows, to make sure people know what they’re getting into, but in terms of topics and content, anything is on the table.
“Fringe lives on the edge of boundaries,” says Heather Lindsay, executive director of Intrepid Theatre and Victoria Fringe. “It’s an uninhibited space for anything to happen … It might be riskier, but it brings people together, to take risks together…that’s part of the excitement.”
Fringe kicks off with a free public preview event in Cenntennial Square on Wednesday, Aug. 22. There, in a carnival-like celebration, each performer from the festival will perform a two minute piece from their show, to give a taste of what the full performance will be like. Fringe Fest devotees use this, along with the guide, to help determine which performances they will see over the course of the festival.
The other primary guide people use is word of mouth. Standing in line for a show you’ll hear numerous conversations around what people enjoyed and what they didn’t, everyone in queue doing their amateur sleuthing to figure out where best to spend their time.
Following this path will lead you into new, rewarding places, Lindsay says.
“Take a risk. Experience an artist from out of the country. Support someone locally. See a drama if you always see comedies. There is so much to see and you can’t go wrong.”
Victoria Fringe runs from Aug. 22 to Sept. 3. For more information and tickets visit intrepidtheatre.com.