A dancer’s journey into the body movements of orchestral conductors. A one-man Avengers extravaganza. An abstract sci-fi dramedy that delves into the world of mental health. A musical set in a London Tube station elevator.
Yep, you guessed it, it’s Fringe time again.
The Vancouver Fringe Festival is a celebration of all kinds of theatre, running for 11 days in September. It features more than 700 performances that attract some 40,000 attendees over the festival’s run.
Mainstage shows are situated on and around Granville Island at venues including the Revue Stage, Performance Works and the Waterfront Theatre, as well as at the Cultch Historic Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab. Plus, the festival includes a Bring Your Own Venue category that allows artists to stage original work in unconventional places – so you can find shows at more traditional locations such as the Firehall Arts Centre and Havana Theatre, alongside parks and parkades.
This year’s festival runs from Sept. 5 to 15. For full information, schedules and tickets, see www.vancouverfringe.com.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s Burnaby connections:
Vancouver-based dance collective The Body Orchestra brings to the stage a triple bill of contemporary dance choreographed by Jenn Edwards, who was raised in North Burnaby. The Body Orchestra is a collective of freelance dancers formed in 2016 by Edwards and choreographer Jennifer Aoki, who met as dance students at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts.
Before that, Edwards studied at Burnaby’s HZ Ballet Classique, trained as a competitive figure skater at 8-Rinks’ Champs International Skating Centre, and graduated from Alpha Secondary.
She’s now based in Toronto.
The 60-minute show is performed by a cast of seven. It features the premiere of Imposter Syndrome, an examination of self-doubt that’s described as an “uproarious, cathartic romp.” That will be followed by Other Creatures (2017), a quieter work exploring the dystopian worlds created by Greek film director Yorgos Lanthimos, followed by the title piece, Conduit (2016), a “dreamy ride inspired by the movements of orchestral conductors.”
Conduit is onstage at the Cultch Historic Theatre: Sept. 6 at 7 p.m., Sept. 7 at 1:10 p.m., Sept. 8 at 3:25 p.m., Sept. 10 at 9:20 p.m., Sept. 13 at 10:45 p.m., and Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
2. DIDN’T HURT
Poet-actor-playwright Rodney DeCroo tells his story about a tough upbringing - as his website explains it, “growing up poor in a hard-as-nails working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and isolated in the bush of Northern B.C. amidst violence, addiction and suicidal thoughts while being raised by a Vietnam war vet” – in a show that’s directed by Fringe veteran T.J. Dawe. Dawe, who grew up in Burnaby, is also the dramaturge. (It’s one of four shows at this year’s festival involving Dawe, by the way.)
Didn’t Hurt is on at the Cultch Historic Theatre: Sept. 5 at 9:15 p.m., Sept. 7 at 3 p.m., Sept. 8 at 9:15 p.m., Sept. 10 at 5 p.m., Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 2:30 p.m.
3. OPERATIC PANIC ATTACK
This one stars Jessie Award-winning Fringe fave T.J. Dawe (www.tjdawe.ca), who grew up in Burnaby. Dawe, who’s the playwright, performer and producer, tells a story “about being a theatre student, sexual anxiety and discovering beautiful music,” as a show synopsis says.
The Winnipeg Free Press said the show may be Dawe’s best work. And since Vancouver Fringe will mark Dawe’s 117th Fringe festival (his 15th time in Vancouver alone), you can bet that’s pretty high praise.
Operatic Panic Attack is on at the Firehall Arts Centre: Sept. 6 at 8:15 p.m., Sept. 7 at 7:45 p.m., Sept. 8 at 4:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 7:45 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 1 p.m.
4. ONE MAN AVENGERS
Yes, it’s T.J. Dawe again – the Burnaby-raised Fringe veteran is the co-writer of this one-man comedic outing, starring Charlie Ross (whose previous solo outings have included One Man Star Wars and One Man Lord of the Rings). Ross plays more than a dozen Marvel superheroes in an hour-long, all-ages show.
One Man Avengers is on at the Havana Theatre: Sept. 6 at 7:45 p.m., Sept. 7 at 10:15 p.m., Sept. 8 at 3:45 p.m., Sept. 9 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 12 at 7:45 p.m., Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m.
5. GIRLS NIGHT IN
Because, obviously, T.J. Dawe wasn’t busy enough, the Burnaby-raised artist returns as dramaturge for Girls Night In, which is debuting at the fringe. The show is described as “a music set embellished with stories, jokes, choreography, wine and chocolate,” by Monica Lee and the Couch Choir – featuring Dawe’s partner and co-creator of last year’s show A Sad-Ass Cabaret, Lindsay Robertson.
Girls Night In is on at the Havana Theatre: Sept. 5 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 7 at 1 p.m., Sept. 8 at 7:15 p.m., Sept. 10 at 7:45 p.m., Sept. 13 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 10:15 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 2 p.m.
6. RED GLIMMER
An Alpha Secondary grad is at the helm as Dusty Foot Productions brings its new work, Red Glimmer, to the stage. The emerging, female and non-binary interdisciplinary theatre company was formed by the Burnaby-raised Patricia Trinh, who is the writer and director of Red Glimmer.
The show, described as a “suspenseful, abstract, sci-fi dramedy,” uses a non-linear plotline to tackle the theme of mental health. It follows two main characters: a woman who involuntarily takes an internal trip after falling into a deep depression, and a scientist hired to perform an experimental procedure, the Emotional Facelift, to eradicate the woman’s ability to re-experience emotional pain.
It will star Marissa Burton as Woman and Alysson Hall as Scientist M4.66.
Red Glimmer is onstage at What Lab (1814 Pandora St.): Sept. 5 at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 7 at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 8 at 5 p.m., Sept. 10 at 6:45 p.m., Sept. 13 at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 6:45 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 3:15 p.m.
7. GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Burnaby’s Paneet Singh is the producer and director for Guards at the Taj, written by Rajiv Joseph and starring Adele Noronha and Andeep Kalirai. The two play Imperial guards who stand on duty at the famed Taj Mahal in India in 1648.
“A flourishing empire, an architectural marvel, one of the cruelest acts in (perhaps fabricated) history, intense drama, and at the centre of it all... a weird bromance?” says a write-up about the play.
Guards at the Taj is on at the Vancity Culture Lab: Sept. 5 at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 7 at 1 p.m., Sept. 8 at 4:35 p.m., Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 5:45 p.m.
8. SIS NE’ BI-YIZ: MOTHER BEAR SPEAKS
Written by Burnaby’s Taninli Wright, this play is inspired by the true story of a Wet’suwet’en artist who walked 1,600 km across British Columbia to empower First Nations children and other marginalized youth.
“Guided by the spirits of her Tsets (Grandfather) and Sis Ne’ (Mother Bear), this captivating emerging artist weaves personal and ancestral narratives that cut to the heart of racist systems and intergenerational traumas, as she triumphs to find her own voice,” says a synopsis.
It’s directed by Julie McIsaac.
It’s on Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at the False Creek gym, 1318 Cartwright St. It’s part of the Fringe’s Advance Theatre series, featuring dramatic readings of five new works by Canadian women playwrights.
Awkward Stage Productions returns to the stage with this 90-minute musical set in a lift in the Covent Garden Tube station in London.
It takes place in the imagination of one man, a busker, as the audience meets seven seemingly random characters in the lift with him: a businessman, his secretary, a gay male ballet dancer, a female lap dancer, a French teacher and two American tourists.
The cast includes Burnaby teacher Stefanie Stanley as the French teacher. (Fittingly enough, Stanley is an actual French immersion teacher, who’s been seen onstage in a number of productions with Align Entertainment right here in Burnaby.) It also includes Burnaby’s Jesse Alvarez as the ballet dancer.
It’s directed by Andy Toth and Erika Babins.
Lift is on at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova St.): Sept. 5 at 6:45 p.m., Sept. 7 at 9:45 p.m., Sept. 8 at 2:15 p.m., Sept. 11 at 5 p.m., Sept. 12 at 8:15 p.m., Sept. 13 at 5 p.m., Sept. 14 at noon and Sept. 15 at 7:15 p.m.
10. TADPOLE: THE LAST EPISODE
A Simon Fraser University grad is at the heart of this production from Theatrecorps. Creator and performer Eddy van Wyk holds a bachelor of fine arts in theatre performance from the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts.
The show, by a non-neurotypical artist, is based on traditional taboo experiences with mental wellness, illness and the medical system. As a synopsis puts it, “tadpole: the last episode carries you underneath the veil of mental health stigma and taboo into your playful, dark, light and sensual side.”
It’s on at What Lab, 1814 Pandora St.: Sept. 6 at 6:45 p.m., Sept. 7 at 3:15 p.m., Sept. 8 at 6:45 p.m., Sept. 10 at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 12 at 6:45 p.m., Sept. 14 at 8:30 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.
Theatre Terrific returns to the stage with a play by Susanna Uchatius that addresses “the personal and public value of work, the hierarchical status of different types of work, who works where, and why,” as a show synopsis says.
The cast and crew include people who are neurodiverse (those on the autism spectrum and those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and brain damage) as well as other underrepresented artists.
Theatre Terrific won the Inclusion Through Innovation Award from the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion in 2013.
Workin’ is on at the Woodwards Atrium: Sept. 6 at 6 p.m., Sept. 7 at 2 p.m., Sept. 8 at 2 p.m., Sept. 13 at 6 p.m., Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. and Sept. 15 at 2 p.m.
12. PIECES OF EIGHT
Two Burnaby actors appear in the cast of this new show from Publius Productions. Jesse Ajohn and Amelia Gray-Hyre appear as two Vancouver millennials who join a group of eight singles working to achieve home ownership in Kitsilano. The resulting tangle – which includes a variety of internal disagreements and passions, not to mention run-ins with the mayor and property developers – sets the stage for an entertaining and relatable night at the theatre.
Ajohn graduated from Mount Royal University in theatre arts in 2012, landing an acting job with Theatre Calgary’s Shakespeare in the Park that year and following it up with a few more shows over the following years. He moved to Vancouver in 2017 to continue his pursuit of theatre and film.
Gray-Hire first got involved in community theatre in Rockport, Ontario at the age of 12 and performed in more than 25 theatre productions in the five years after that. She moved to Vancouver to study acting at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts, with an eye on pursuing a career in film acting.
Pieces of Eight is onstage at the Waterfront Theatre: Sept. 6 at 10:05 p.m., Sept. 7 at 4:35 p.m., Sept. 8 at 12:15 p.m., Sept. 9 at 5 p.m., Sept. 12 at 8:30 p.m. and Sept. 14 at 7:45 p.m.
Do you know of a missed Burnaby connection? This list is as complete as we could make it at publication time, thanks to extensive files from the Vancouver Fringe Festival communications team, but there’s always a chance we’ve missed a Burnaby performer, director or other artist. If we’ve missed you, please give us a shout – email Julie, firstname.lastname@example.org.