Ah! Spring is in the air, and all over Toronto thoughts if theatre people are turning to . . . the "Fringe." Fringe Frenzy reigns in Toronto this year July 4-14.
Conceived in the Poor Alex lobby in 1989, The Fringe of Toronto Festival has been growing bigger and better every year. Check out these attendance figures: 17,000 in 1993, 22,000 in 1994, 24,000 in 1995.
Last year programming ran for ten days in early July, noon to midnight in six venues. More than 500 performances were given by 80 companies. No wonder Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall declared it Fringe Week -- who had time for anything else?
Fringe Theatre Festivals have sprung up all over the world in recent years: Adelaide, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sudbury. Each follows the mandate set down by the grandpappy of them all, the venerable Edinburgh Fringe, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 1997. Fringes are non-juried and all box office proceeds go directly to the artists.
According to Nancy Webster, producer of the Fringe of Toronto Festival performing companies took home a total of $105,000.00 last year. The economic impact on the Annex Theatre District has been estimated at $1.8 million (Canadian). Entries are selected through the extremely democratic process of a random lottery. Be sure to study your souvenir program carefully. You'll find everything from ambitious first-time playwrights to well-known local professionals and traveling shows from abroad.
In addition, there are "B.Y.O.V."; (Bring Your Own Venue) productions; buskers, clowns, and nightly free cabarets. And don't forget the centrally located Fringe Club and Beer Tent are where you can 'Catch the Buzz' (gossip about the hot shows, I mean!).
All shows are a maximum of one hour and priced at $8. or less. A Fringe Theatre Pass may be ordered in advance by phone, fax, or mail. Six shows and a program for $55.
For more information call the Fringe of Toronto Festival office at (416) 534-5919. Fax: (416) 534-6021. Address: Fringe of Toronto Festival, 720 Bathurst St. Suite 303, Toronto Ontario, M5S 2R4. Happy Fringing!