Fringe finds itself close to the core

Now in its fifth year, the Calgary Fringe Festival hopes to carve out its own unique market in the city and southern Alberta.

Festival director Michele Gallant says Calgary Fringe began after she and her husband were involved in a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 2004.

“We were walking through the site and both of us noticed the artistic atmosphere,” says Gallant. “It was so open, it didn’t matter what type of theatre you had on stage, it was great. Calgary doesn’t have something like this, this is ridiculous, we need to bring something to Calgary.”

So they did. In 2006, the Calgary festival was hosted along 17 Ave, but attendees had difficulty finding the different venues. The festival moved downtown in 2007 before finally settling in its new Inglewood home the next year.

“Ever since we came to Inglewood, it’s now our home. Patrons and artists and volunteers, everybody has loved it,” says Gallant. “It’s the oldest neighbourhood in Calgary. It has a very small hometown feel and it’s very artistic.”

“Ever since then it’s been growing like hotcakes.”

Gallant says the festival hopes to develop its own unique vibe that sets it apart from its bigger counterpart up north in Edmonton, where Fringe has been running for almost 30 years. The Calgary organizers pride themselves on putting on a great show that is still accessible to the average person.

“[Edmonton] is the second largest festival in North America, for me personally I don’t know if I want to get that big,” says Gallant. “I think it loses the whole camaraderie festival atmosphere in terms of people being able to find shows.”

This year the festival hosts 27 different fringe artists and a variety of genres including kid shows, musicals, puppetry, dance and comedy.

“We have not heard one bad thing about any of the shows,” says Gallant. “A lot of the patrons say the quality of shows this year, for whatever reason, are exceptional.”

With such praise she finds it hard to choose between any of the shows to recommend.

“I will tell you that our Best of Fest winner that we announced today is ‘The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over,’ ” says Gallant, adding the show will have a special performance this coming Saturday at 1 p.m..

“There’s just so much going on, this is an opportunity for people to come and check out really great acts for really cheap price,” says Gallant. “None of the shows are over $15 and most of the shows are only an hour. For the price you would normally pay to see one theatre show you can take in three or four different acts.”

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