Fringe Fest offers cutting-edge performances

The city boasts a vibrant festival scene, ranging from the über-country Calgary Stampede to the Dragon Boat Festival. However, for those who are looking to dabble in a little bit of everything, the Calgary Fringe Festival may be just the ticket. Fringe festivals occur all over the globe, with the inaugural event taking place in 1940s Edinburgh, Scotland. The tradition of uncensored, non-juried theatre festivals continues to be at the fringe’s foundation.

“Artists submit applications and then there’s a draw, that way it’s unbiased,” says festival director Michele Gallant. “You never know what you get. It could be something for the kids, an artist that’s pushing the envelope or something wacky. There are so many different types and levels of art and performance that offer a wide range of experience.”

This year’s festival goes from Aug. 10-19, with indoor theatre events, film festivals, outdoor events and exhibits spread throughout the city. The kick-off Community Arts Festival event takes place at Municipal Plaza in the downtown core from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“The outdoor events are a bit smaller this year,” notes Gallant. “The Community Arts Festival on [Fri., Aug. 10] will feature three aldermen racing on bouncy balls attached to bungee tethers, competing for their communities to have the festival next year. For those who miss the Friday celebration, the community of Inglewood with play host to the event the next day.”

The festival is concentrated in the downtown core area and there are up to half a dozen shows a day, each about an hour long. Add that to the street performers, vendors, photography and body art, and Gallant encourages people to catch as much as they can.

The Fringe Festival’s unique Film Festival also returns this year at the Legion along with the debuting Bare Bones Theatre. Bare Bones is an alternative creation that gives those with smaller production values a chance to perform. Rather than having full-blown lights and the traditional theatre production values, there is a room with chairs and a light that can be turned on and off. The openness to everything along with the support of all levels of art is what the fringe is all about.

“A hundred per cent of the profit from ticket revenue goes back to the artists,” Gallant boasts. “We really encourage everyone to get involved and check it out.”

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