The Fringe: a little bit of something for everyone

It’s summer again, and that means it’s time for all those amazing festivals that we try to jam into the 3 months before the Winnipeg weather turns cold again.

FringeFrom July 17-28, the festival of choice is the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, a sure delight for the whole family because it offers something for all tastes and personalities. If your preference is for air conditioning and dark, spotlit stage productions, then head inside to watch talented Winnipeg actors and actresses or fascinating international artists perform live. If your preference is more towards siting outside with a cold beverage and watching one of the many free acts from juggling to magic, the Winnipeg fringe festival has you covered there as well. You can take in all kinds of original acts for a very reasonable price, regardless of whether you prefer watching improv, drama, dancing or stand-up comedy. 

Some of the shows in this year’s fringe festival will deliver a real eye-opening experience (I’m hoping my own play, the one-man comedy show Aspergers: a tale of a social misfit (venue 3) which looks at this unique minority group and all the social challenges that they face, will fall into this category). 

As any fringe company working on a tight budget will tell you, one way to find a great play to put on is to check it out first for free at the public library. To get you in the mood and get your blood flowing as you get ready to take in as many shows as possible, check out some of the original plays and/or sources of inspiration used by Fringe groups this year:

  • Published Playwrights.  It can be difficult to make a living as a playwright in Canada, but some do manage! If you peruse the 819-region of our library’s “non-fiction” shelves (also known as the Canadian Drama range of the Dewey system), you’ll find plays like 7 stories7 Stories by Morris Panych (venue 12) and the works of George F. Walker (Adult Entertainment, venue 3) and Daniel MacIvor (Here Lies Henry, venue 15) (caveat:  we don’t seem to have either of those two titles, but we do have numerous other listings by those same playwrights – be sure to check them out if you’re looking for inspiration for 2014!). Nearby in the 812: American Drama section you’ll also find Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno (venue 11).
  • Free Classics. Before checking out the revised works of plays by great playwrights such as Shakespeare and Chekhov, why not read the original? Two Fringe companies are doing versions of Shakespeare this year (As You Like It (venue 19) & Hamlet (venue 25))…we of course have dozens of versions of Shakespeare’s works in our collections – original plays, movie adaptations, graphic novel adaptations, sound recordings of dramatizations, etc., etc… One thing that may not be commonly known is that anyone can own a free copy of Shakespeare’s plays, simply by downloading a copy from Project Gutenberg. Because of their age, all of Shakespeare’s works are in the public domain, which means they’re owned “by everyone.” You can find copies of As You Like It and Hamlet by searching our Public Domain collection in eLibraries Manitoba (once downloaded, the files are yours to keep forever!).
    Anton Chekhov’s works  (adapted for Quickies With Chekhov, venue 21) are also available for free download from Public Domain collections. My recommendation is The Seagull: this play dramatizes the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters; the famous middlebrow story writer Boris Trigorin, the ingenue Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Tréplev.
  • Bizzarre histories. 0312144865Ed Cuddy, fringe actor slash admin coordinator of support services here at WPL, shared the inspiration for Macabre Tales of Horror and Macabreness 3D (venue 6): the censorship saga of the old EC Comics, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s until the implementation of the Comics Code Authority made it illegal to publish comics books with the words “”horror” or “terror” or “weird” on covers. The stories lived on in the pages of Mad Magazine, but the original Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Two-Fisted Tales and Weird Science fell, well, back into the crypt. If you love Macabre Tales and are looking to read on in the same style, try Tales From the Crypt: the Official Archives or Tales of Terror!: the EC Companion, or one of the new Tales from the Crypt comics found in our children’s/youth graphic novels areas.

And if you need a break from fringing, remember that the Millennium library is nearby with access to computers (and air conditioning!) so that you can plan out a strategy for making all those fringe festival shows you don’t want to miss out on (and of course, once you’ve made up your strategy, print out your new jam-packed schedules on our handy printers!). This is definitely going to be a great summer and a great festival, I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am!


One response to “The Fringe: a little bit of something for everyone

  1. As You Like It (Venue 19) at the Fringe last night was terrific. The teens and young adults of the cast did a wonderful job of the Bard’s words. The modern/glam rock setting was pleasing to the eye, the audeince laughter was raucous and the troupe did an awesome job of translating the play down to an hour of great theatre and good fun.

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