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This year I wanted to visit another Fringe Festival outside of The Edmonton International Fringe Festival that I attend every year. Recently, I drove down to see some shows at The Calgary Fringe Festival. This festival started in 2006. This year there are 26 different shows at the festival.
My First Time at the Calgary Fringe
Most of the venues for the shows are within walking distance of each other in the Inglewood area. On the weekend, shows are happening all day, but because I was visiting during the week shows weren’t starting until the evening (5 pm). That’s okay though because Calgary is a big city with lots to do. If you are in Inglewood, there are also some great restaurants (like Without Papers Pizza where I had supper), shops and bars to visit. Coming to the neighbourhood in the evening most of the stores were closed, but I would imagine things will be much busier this weekend.
I’m used to Edmonton’s Fringe Festival, which is large and busy all-day for the 10-day duration of the festival. The Calgary Fringe Festival was quieter and smaller than Edmonton’s Fringe. Travel and theatre are not something you partake in because you want to see and experience the same things you can do at home. It was kind of nice to go to a smaller theatre festival that wasn’t crazy busy all the time.
The Shows I Saw
Since I only had one evening at The Calgary Fringe Festival, I showed up at the box office and just randomly selected a few shows to see. My picks mostly had to do with choosing shows that were in venues within walking distance. I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking would only cost $2 for the evening.
The Hudson Bay Epic!
The Hudson Bay Epic! is a partly true, and somewhat fictionalized version of a historic Canadian event, Henry Hudson’s ill-fated voyage on the Hudson Bay (named after Henry Hudson) in 1610. Hudson was an explorer and had discovered many different waterways in North America (or found for the Europeans who didn’t know they existed). The fictionalized portion of the story was about a young woman, disguised as a guy getting onto the ship’s crew. This three-man show from local theatre troupe, Frivolous Fools Performance, was a fun and inventive play. A little bit of history, a bit of drama, a love story, and some creativity (sound effects and music added with a creative set of found instruments) made for an enjoyable show.
This is a hilarious one-man from Jeff Gandall. At 19 Jeff finds out he is starting to go bald and believes this is because he’s still a virgin. The Balding was a hilarious show. I can’t identify with the whole going bald at 19, but I can identify with the whole, “I was kind of stupid at 19” sort of thing (and admit it, you might be able to identify with that aspect too). With just a chair, a mic, some lighting effects, and a bit of music this is a pretty intimate show. The story was hilarious, and the audience was in stitches several times.
Einstein! was another one-person show written and performed by Jack Fry about, well genius astrophysicist Albert Einstein. The play tells about the period in Einstein’s life when he was coming up with his famous Theory of Relativity. Fry breaks the fourth wall a lot during this show, and he shows a more personal and flawed side to Einstein as well. The show had quite a bit of drama, with some funny moments. Although I did find the pacing dragged in a few spots, I thought the show was creatively written and well-acted.
I left Calgary shortly after 11 pm to drive back home. I only regret I wasn’t able to stay another day and see more shows. The Calgary Fringe Festival wasn’t exactly how I had imagined, but it was an enjoyable theatre festival with creative performances, memorable characters, and well-written stories. Going to the Calgary Fringe was a great way to spend a summer evening.
Things You Should Know
The Calgary Fringe Festival takes place in the Inglewood neighbourhood for ten days in early August. Information about specific dates shows, and venues can be found here. I received a media pass for The Calgary Fringe Festival, but all opinions about The Calgary Fringe Festival and the shows I saw are my own.
If you are looking to spend more time in Calgary you can book your hotel here.
Have you been to The Calgary Fringe Festival?
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