Manitoba

Couldn't make it to the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival? Here's (some of) what you missed

Boundary-pushing plays, snacks on the street, a contribution to Canada's growing conversation about sexual assault and a wash of white actors and audiences: For better or for worse, the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival had it all.

The festival had a number of notable moments, including those that raised questions about safety and inclusion

The 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival had a number of notable moments, including those that raised questions about safety and inclusion. (CBC)

Boundary-pushing plays, snacks on the street, a contribution to Canada's growing conversation about sexual assault and a wash of white actors and audiences: For better or for worse, the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival had it all.

For those who couldn't be at the theatre festival, which started on July 13 and ended on Sunday, here are some of the notables:

'It was wrong'

Leading up to the fringe, a fixture of Winnipeg's improv scene published a Facebook post about her experience with sexual assault at the festival.

"I'd love to say it was one man, one time, but it was a ton of men, too many times," RobYn Slade, 30, wrote.

From a separate perspective — one of someone who is a member of the creative community; a self-employed artist with no human resources department to contact — Slade contributed to a growing, country-wide conversation about female vulnerability to sexual assault and its aftermath on university campuses and in the Canadian legal system.

The finale

As the festival drew to a close, CBC theatre reviewer Joff Schmidt recommended 12 must-see shows.

His review suggests music, acrobatics, slapstick and drama characterized Winnipeg's Old Market Square on the fringe's final weekend.​

The list shows the variety of styles, talents, imagery and story lines that makes the Winnipeg Fringe Festival magic.

Bella Culpa, for example, was a salute to vaudeville, suitable for the whole family, according to Schmidt. 

Space Hippo, on the other hand, had "great comic timing, stunningly beautiful shadow puppetry and winsome tunes [that made] the strange journey of a hippo through space completely engrossing," he wrote.

#FringeSoWhite

Have you noticed how white the Fringe is?

CBC's Kaj Hasselriis posed the question before reporting that out of 169 shows at the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival, he could find only 14 with Indigenous performers and performers of colour.

Why the lack of diversity? "The festival is limited in how much it can do to affect the ethnic and cultural makeup of its shows, since a lottery system is used to determine who gets in," Hasselriis wrote.​

A selection of handbill's from the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Kaj Hasselriis)

Family friendly

While the Winnipeg Fringe Festival has controversial aspects, summer days in the Exchange District, animated street performers and tasty treats make it family-friendly, too.

Fruit Flies Like a Banana was the only show of six CBC recommended for all ages to get a five-star review.

"The remarkably inventive blend of music, dance and acrobatics delivered here by Boston's the Fourth Wall Ensemble is quite unlike anything else you'll find at the Fringe," Schmidt wrote. 

"It's completely delightful."

with files from Joff Schmidt, Kaj Hasselriis

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