The first Fringe Festival of theatre in Toronto was conceived in 1989, and was based on a nominal budget of $24,000. In 1997, celebrating its ninth year as the leader of independent theatre development in Toronto, the Toronto Fringe is one of the fastest growing on the national circuit. Last year, 30,000 people attended more than 500 performances of 82 shows in six venues, with more than $130,000 in box office revenue turned over to Fringe artists.
Located in the Annex neighbourhood, The Toronto Fringe Festival is the most significant event in that area of Toronto, creating an economic impact of more than two million dollars locally, last year receiving the $10,000 Lieutenant Governoris Award in recognition of the building of exceptional private sector and community support.
In the 1960s theatre companies began producing Canadian scripts, and the evolution of a national Fringe circuit developed. Now the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals boasting 16 festivals from coast to coast has the same mandate: 100 percent of box office receipts go directly to the artists.p> Why go? Toronto's largest and most eclectic theatre festival offers you theatre for ten days and eleven nights from July 3-13, 1997. Tickets are $10 or less, and Frequent Fringer Cards can save even more. Six theatres house 13 productions each, all within walking distance of one another. An Open-Air Stage was introduced last year with entertainment for the whole family, complete with an arts and crafts show and sale; the centrally located Fringe Club (with Advance Ticket Booth); Upper Canada Beer Gardens; and the free TEN by TEN at TEN Cabaret Series.
This year's offerings include arts groups from Ontario, Canada and around the world. Eighty-three companies will perform 600 shows. You can party every night at the centrally located Fringe Club in the Tranzac at 292 Brunswick Avenue half a block south of Bloor on the west side and get your tickets for the day after. If you want to come with your sense of adventure, and catch shows as you feel like it, all tickets go on sale at each venue 1 hour before each performance. Programs are available at a large number of local bookstores.
The venues are The Robert Gill Theatre, The Poor Alex Theatre, Glen Morris Theatre, The Annex Theatre, 720 Bathurst Street, The Helen Gardiner Theatre, George Ignatieff Theatre. Some favourite groups who sell out quickly are Michael Healey (The Hugh Bris Co. Presenting Yodellers), Mump & Smoot (comedy -- Tense), Shakti, a company from Tokyo, Japan (always a favourite -- Eros of Love & Destruction II) and the egrab bagi aspect of the whole festival.p> Grab a program - available soon. Call the Toronto Fringe Festival Hot Line if you get stuck. (416) 534-5919.-- By Ray Ellicock
Theatre News Canada -