Fringe Theatre Festival fans always find a range of talent on stage... from folks who have never been on stage, to writers who are a bit more established in their field.
Say... established enough to win the most important literary award for drama in Canada.Vern Thiessen
fits into that latter category.
The Winnipeg-born writer's plays have been produced around the world, and he's been nominated for a Governor General's Award
twice - winning for his 2003 play Einstein's Gift
(produced locally by Winnipeg Jewish Theatre in 2006).
Playwright Vern Thiessen. (Chronic Creative)
But this year, Thiessen returns to the Winnipeg Fringe directing The Courier
, a one-man show he wrote and first performed more than 25 years ago. This time, Toby Hughes (recently seen performing the lead in Shakespeare In the Ruins' Henry V
) takes on the role Thiessen originated in 1987. But Thiessen is also performing Back To Berlin
, a 2005 play he wrote as a follow-up to The Courier
, at the festival this year.
In an interview with CBC Radio, Thiessen - who performed at the first festival in 1988 - reflected on the Fringe's history. "The biggest changes that I've seen in the Winnipeg Fringe over the years have been the non-changes," Thiessen says. "And that is that it has remained a theatre festival, and that people are coming to see plays, and that the outdoor part of the festival hasn't taken it over."
Although established as a playwright, Thiessen has continued to return to the Fringe (most recently in 2010 with his one-man show Bungalow
). "It's been a thrill over the years to come back to the Winnipeg Fringe and see the crowds grow," he says, "and yet see the spirit of the festival remain, and that's been so critical to the success of this Fringe festival. And that's why I come back."Tune into Scene On Air Saturday, July 21 for more Fringe interviews and reviews by Joff Schmidt.