Fringe fest always a surprise

by Patrick Gauthier

June 7, 2010

‘Absolutely different mix every year’ for theatre smorgasbord

TRACEY TONG/METRO OTTAWA

This year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival features a diverse lineup with dance, comedy, drama and even puppetry, said the festival’s executive producer, Natalie Joy Quesnel, at the festival launch yesterday.

When you walk into an Ottawa Fringe Festival show, there’s a feeling of anticipation and uncertainty that comes with not knowing quite what to expect.

After all, the festival’s lottery system gives seasoned theatre veterans and wannabe performers an equal shot at becoming part of the 14th annual festival, which runs from June 17 to 27.

“There’s always something really exciting and there’s always a dud,” said Catriona Leger, communications manager with the festival. “It brings an absolutely different mix every year. You never know what we’re going to get, but there’s always something for everyone.”

“I’m really excited about the diversity in this year’s lineup, because there really is something for everyone,” said the festival’s executive producer, Natalie Joy Quesnel. “There’s dance, there’s comedy, there’s drama, there’s puppetry, there’s strange, there’s normal, there’s pretty much everything and anything.

That’s what I’m most excited about. You never know what you’re going to get at the festival.”

This year’s performer lineup includes Bob Wiseman of Blue Rodeo and returning Fringe celebrities, including Australia’s Jonno Katz, who won last year’s best solo performance in The Accident and Toronto’s Rachelle Elie, who created Joe the Perfect Man.

Other highlights include Ottawa’s Margo MacDonald, who created Shadows, a sensual, gender-bending recollection of the true life and times of Eva LaGallienne, the queen of the American stage in the 1930s, for the show. From the U.S., David Gaines presents 7(x1) Samurai, a one-man, 42-character take on the legend of the Seven Samurai and from Japan, Hiromi Yano performs a solo clown show.

More than 13,000 people are expected to attend the festival this year.

June 17 to 27

• This year’s Fringe features 60 shows and 350 performances in 15 venues, including five official venues (the SAW Gallery, the Academic Hall and Studio Leonard Beaulne at uOttawa, the Arts Court Theatre and the Arts Court Library) and 10 bring-your-own-venue locations that the artists themselves have arranged.