This year I wanted to visit another Fringe Festival outside of The Edmonton International Fringe Festival that I attend every year. Recently, I drove down to see some shows at The Calgary Fringe Festival.
The Calgary Fringe Festival was started in 2006, and this year there are 26 different shows playing at the festival. Most of the venues for the shows are within walking distance of each other in the Inglewood area. On the weekend, there are shows happening all day, but because I was visiting during the week shows weren’t starting until the evening (5pm). That’s okay though because Calgary is a big city with lots to do. If you are in Inglewood, there are also some great restaurants (like Without Papers Pizza where I had supper), shops and bars to visit. Coming to the neighbourhood in the evening most of the stores were closed, but I would imagine thing will be much busier this weekend.
When you travel it’s a bit natural to compare things where you are to where you’re from. I’m used to Edmonton’s Fringe Festival, which is huge and busy all-day for the 10-day duration of the festival. The Calgary Fringe Festival was much quieter and smaller than I had expected, which is quite different from what I’m used to at home. Travel and theatre are not something you partake in because you want to see and experience the same things you can at home. I go to see and experience something different than I’m used to. This is true is even in Calgary, a city I’ve been to more than 30 times. Actually it was kind of nice to go to a smaller theatre festival that wasn’t crazy busy all the time.
Since I only had one evening at The Calgary Fringe I showed up at the box office and just randomly selected a few shows to go to. My picks mostly had to do with seeing what show was next, and making sure I was picking shows in venues that were easy to walk to. I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking would only cost $2. I also decided to see a third show later on as well. Here are the shows that I saw.
The Hudson Bay Epic!
This is partly true, and partly fictionalized version of a historic Canadian event, Henry Hudson’s ill-fated voyage on the Hudson Bay (named after Henry Hudson) in 1610. Hudson was an explorer and had discovered many different waterways in North America (or discovered for the Europeans who didn’t know they existed). The fictionalized portion of the storyline was about a young woman, disguised as a guy getting onto the ships crew. This 3 man show from local theatre troupe Frivolous Fools Performance was a fun and inventive show. A little bit of history, a little drama, a little love story, and some creativity (sound effects and music was added with a creative set of found instruments) made for an enjoyable show. The Hudson Bay Epic! is playing for one more show at The Lantern Church Sanctuary on August 9 at 3:30pm.
This is a hilarious one man from Jeff Gandall. At 19 Jeff finds out he is starting to go bald, and believes this is because he’s still a virgin. This was a hilarious show, and while I can’t identify with the whole going bald thing (or thinking that would be correlated to being a virgin) I can kind of identify with the whole, “I was kind of stupid at 19” sort of thing (and admit it, you might be able to identify with that aspect too). With just a chair, a mic, some lighting effects, and a bit of music this is a pretty intimate show. The story was great, and so was the pacing. The Balding is playing for two more shows at The ArtPoint Gallery – August 8 at 6pm and August 9 at 8pm.
Einstein! was another one-man show written and performed by Jack Fry about, well genius astrophysicist Albert Einstein. The show tells about the period in Einstein’s life when he was coming up with his famous Theory of Relativity. Fry breaks the fourth wall a lot during this show, and he shows a more personal and flawed side to Einstein as well. The show had quite a bit of drama, with some funny moments. Although I did find the pacing dragged in a few spots I thought the show was creatively written and greatly acted. Einstein! is playing at Festival Hall for one more show on August 9 at 3:45 p.m. It is also coming to The Edmonton International Fringe Festival starting August 14.
I left Calgary shortly after 11pm to drive back home, and I only regret I wasn’t able to stay another day and see more shows. The Calgary Fringe Festival wasn’t exactly how I had imagined, it was an enjoyable theater festival with creative performances, memorable characters, and well-written stories. It was a great way to spend a summer evening.
The Calgary Fringe Festival runs until August 9 in the Inglewood neighbourhood. Information about shows, and venues can be found here. While I received a media pass for The Calgary Fringe Festival all opinions about The Calgary Fringe Festival and the shows I saw are my own.
Have you been to The Calgary Fringe Festival?