Next week 172 theatre companies from Winnipeg, from across Canada and from around the world will descend on downtown Winnipeg. It's the 25th annual Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.
Yes, the festival is bigger than ever before with 22 more acts than last year. Events take place in 31 venues around Winnipeg's downtown. And of course there are also all of the outdoor activities around Old Market Square.
"LOON" is presented at the School of Contemporary Dancers
The very first festival got under way in 1988 with a pancake breakfast and a polka band. 43 acts performed in five un-air conditioned
"The thing that's really great about the festival is the spirit," declared Larry Desrochers, the festival's original executive producer. He spoke at this year's festival kick-off on July 11.
"One of the goals of the festival was to change the way people thought about theatre, and I really feel the festival has done that over the 25 years."
Chuck McEwen is the current executive producer. He announced that in honour of the 25th anniversary, the festival is offering fringers the chance to 'get their Fringe on' with the 25 Hour Fringe.
From 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 21 to noon, Sunday July 22, patrons can attend all the Fringe shows of their choice. Then they can spend overnight at the Tom Hendry Warehouse for a theatre extravaganza featuring eight acts.
"There's going to be coffee flowing and we'll even give them breakfast in the morning," McEwen promised.
Harmony Parent and Miss Robin Redbreast in "Stretchmarks"
Hiroshi Koshiyama and Naomi Guilbert are members of the local taiko drumming group Fubuki Daiko
. They are thrilled to be preparing their first indoor Fringe show, called Godzilla vs. Led Zeppelin
. And it's their first major local production in six years.
Ken Godmere of Emanate Productions from Ottawa is touring his show Vernus Says SURPRISE.
"This is our first time at the Winnipeg Fringe," he enthuses, "and we're very, very excited and honoured to be here."
All proceeds from the box office go directly to the performers. But the
festival also accepts donations. McEwen announced that a generous
Fringer has pledged to match all donations up to their fundraising goal
of $25,000.The Fringe Festival runs July 18 - 29. CBC Manitoba will be your go-to place for the Fringe. Our CBC team will review all 172 productions and they will be available on our website cbc.ca/winnipegfringe by Sunday, July 22.