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Vancouver Fringe Festival

Vancouver Fringe Festival

The Vancouver Fringe Festival is a performing arts festival at theatres and other venues on Granville Island and around Vancouver in September.

In 2021 the festival took place from September 8th until the 19th. The event featured lots of live in-person performances as well as some online shows.

In 2022 festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

 


For tickets and full details see the official Vancouver Fringe Festival website.


 

The Vancouver Fringe

The Vancouver Fringe Festival is a multi-day event showcasing a wide range of theatrical works. It’s hosted by the Vancouver Fringe Theatre Society which is a non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to produce “Theatre for Everyone.”

 

Fringe Information

Below on this page you’ll find information about the following Vancouver Fringe-related topics:

Click on any of the above links, or scroll down for all the information.

 

Obit Play at Vancouver Fringe Festival
Fringe Performer on Performance Works Stage

 

About the Vancouver Fringe

The Vancouver Fringe Festival, or early variations of it, has been running since the mid-1980s. Today the festival involves hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of performances and tens of thousands of attendees each year.

At the Vancouver Fringe “everyone is welcome” and this applies to both audience members and performers.

The selection process for performances involves drawing names out of a hat and giving all applying artists an equal chance to participate. This means actors and their shows range from fairly novice to professional, and from semi-questionable to exceptional.

The quality of the average show at the Vancouver Fringe is surprisingly high, as evident by the fact that the festival is frequently voted the city’s top arts festival by the Georgia Straight newspaper.

If you go to a Fringe Festival performance, odds are you’ll be impressed and have a fabulous time!

 

Bran Don Law at the Fringe Festival

 

Fringe Admission Prices

Admission to Fringe Festival shows is very reasonably-priced. This is great and keeps the event accessible.

 

Regular Ticket Prices

Regular tickets for Vancouver Fringe Festival shows usually cost $15 (which includes taxes and a $3 ticketing fee). The festival is paperless and it’s recommended that all tickets be bought in advance online.

 


For full details about the festival see the Fringe website.


 

Vancouver Fringe Festival

 

Fringe Membership Fees

In addition to the ticket price for each performance, attendees need to purchase a membership to the Vancouver Fringe Theatre Society. The cost of a membership is $10. This is a very reasonable price and its purpose is to help offset the costs of the festival (which are significant). It also allows actors to keep the full base proceeds of sales to their shows (excluding the ticketing fee which typically costs around $3).

Fringe memberships can be purchased at the Box Office, at the door of venues prior to each show, and online during the ticket-purchasing process for pick-up at the event.

Important Note: You must present your Fringe Membership at each performance. Failure to do so requires the purchase of an additional Fringe Membership for $10.

 

Cry-Baby Fringe Musical

 

Special Rates

$15 per show is inexpensive for live theatre, but Fringe tickets are sometimes obtainable even cheaper than that in the form of half-price shows and “Frequent Fringer” passes.

 

Half-Price Shows

Half-Price Shows are simply that – 50% of regular price (or at least they are in years when they can be offered)!

Every day during the first week of the festival, at least in years when there isn’t a pandemic, between a couple and over a dozen performances are offered each day at half price, so $7.50 per ticket instead of the full $15 or so. Generally the earlier in the season, the more half-price shows there are. As of July, 2022, it’s unclear whether there will be half-price shows this year.

 

Frequent Fringer Passes

Frequent Fringer Passes are for people who love theatre and want to attend multiple shows. They come in groups of 4, 10 and 30 shows, are available in limited quantities and frequently sell out.

2022 Frequent Fringer rates are the following.

  • Frequent Fringer 5: $68 – good for 5 performances.
  • Frequent Fringer 10: $132 – good for 10 performances.
  • Frequent Fringer 25: $320 – good for 25 performances

 


For tickets and full details see the official Vancouver Fringe Festival website.


 

2021 Fringe Festival
2021 Festival Shows and Actors

 

Vancouver Fringe Shows

The Vancouver Fringe Festival typically features 100 or so different productions offering as many as 700 performances each season. Each show is different, with some featuring a single actor or actress, and others with casts of over a dozen people plus support folk in the background.

Fringe Festival productions include musicals, stand-up comics, serious subject matter, slapstick, storytelling, dark comedy, dance and all kinds of creativity. Some are political, some touch on serious topics and some are just pleasantly silly.

 

The 2022 Lineup

Below is a list of ten shows scheduled to run in 2022. These are not even close to all of the shows (there’s a little over 100 to choose from). It’s just a sample. –

  • 30 Neo-Futurist Plays – an audience-interactive show where the crowd votes on what they want to see as the performers try and cram 30 plays into just 60 minutes (at Performance Works).
  • Blueberries are Assholes – Vancouver Fringe veteran TJ Dawe takes the stage with a stand-up performance covering a wide variety of topics (at Waterfront Theatre).
  • Cabaret of Murder – a show about the art created by a number of serial killers before, during and after the murders they committed (at the Improv Centre).
  • Delusions and Grandeur – a one-woman performance that is both a cello concert and a clown show, starring Karen Hall who is trained in both classical music and improv (at Carousel Theatre).
  • Discounted Hotpot Centre – a collection of stories of what it’s like to be a native of Hong Kong living in Canada, accompanied by some live cooking (at Granville Island Picnic Pavilion).
  • Neurotic Erotica – a solo show where author Regan Shrumm reads from her latest book about repression, awkward comedy and learning about sex (at the Improv Centre).
  • SELL ME: I am from North Korea – inspired by the tales of women who defected from North Korean, this play is about a teenage girl who makes her way into China and has to fend for herself (online show).
  • Some Poems – David Jordan, the former Executive Director of the Fringe Festival, debuts his first published poetry collection with a theatrical touch (at Carousel Theatre).
  • Tango, to the Pointe – the PointeTango dance company performs at the Fringe once again with a grandiose and energetic recital (at Performance Works).
  • The DK Effect – a one-man comedy show featuring stand-up, music and other eclectic entertainment from award-winning entertainer DK Reinemar (at Revue Stage).

 

2021 Fringe Festival
2021 Festival Actors & Performances

 

Fringe Festival Advice & Suggestions

Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your Fringe theatre choices.

TIP #1: Check the Festival Guide to learn about each show. The Guide lists times, venues, show lengths of time, show descriptions and warnings (like if there’s course language, nudity and age restrictions).

TIP #2: Read the show descriptions carefully in the Festival Guide. Words like “weird,” “LGBTQ+,” “intense,” “18+,” “family-friendly,” “poetic,” “intellectual,” “violent content” and “silly” are good indicators of what to expect.

TIP #3: When you go to a performance ask the people around you if they’ve seen any other shows and what they recommend.

TIP #4: Recognize that everyone is different and what’s entertaining or impressive theatre for some isn’t necessarily for others. At the Fringe Festival there is definitely something for everyone!

 

2021 Fringe Festival
2021 Fringe Festival Plays

 

About Fringe Theatre

Fringe Theatre takes place around the world and performances it features are, by definition, “on the fringe,” which means they are “alternative” and not what you’d normally find on Broadway. The theatre productions at the festival are generally of high quality, but not infrequently with experimental or “unique” subject matter or style.

The world’s largest and original Fringe Festival is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland which has been running since 1947.

In Canada there are around two dozen different Fringe Festivals across the country running between late May and mid-September. Quebec’s Festival St-Ambroise Fringe de Montréal typically hosts the first festival of the season each year and Vancouver hosts the last.

Some theatre groups participate in multiple Fringe Festivals and tour the country with their productions, and others just perform in their home towns.

 

Vancouver Fringe Video

Below is a short video showcasing some of the sights and scenes of the Vancouver Fringe Festival from 2019.

 

 

Actors featured in the above video include performers from the shows Bushel and Peck, Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story, Beaver Dreams, Blue River Blues, Draining the Swamp, and Bombay Black. Others featured are OBIT: A Deathly Serious Comedy, The Adventures of Rocketman and Beano, Interstellar Elder, Stupid Cupid, I Am for You, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Good Game in “Gung Ho!”, Brain Machine and ‘Tween Earth and Sky.

 

Vancouver Fringe Venues

Vancouver Fringe Festival performances take place at a number of different venues. Most are on Granville Island, but a few are in other areas around downtown Vancouver.

 

Granville Island Venues

Theatres and other venues that participated in the Vancouver Fringe Festival on Granville Island in 2021 are listed below.

  • Performance Works – a 200-seat theatre and multi-purpose venue at 1218 Cartwright Street. There is to be a bar open to festival-goers here.
  • Revue Stage – at 198-seat theatre at 1601 Johnston Street (which is the same street as the Granville Island Public Market).
  • Ron Basford Park – located at 1218 Cartwright Street (right next to Performance Works), with an ampitheatre used for various performances.
  • Picnic Pavillion – an outdoor public picnic area at 267 Old Bridge Walk.

 

Below are some venues that are used in normal years, but were not used in 2021.

  • False Creek Gym – the gymnasium at the False Creek Community Centre at 1318 Cartwright Street (which is the first street on the right as you enter Granville Island).
  • The Nest – a “black-box” 50 to 100-seat performance and multi-purpose hall at 1398 Cartwright Street.
  • Waterfront Theatre – a 224-seat theatre at 1412 Cartwright Street.

 

Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island
Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island

 

Other Vancouver Venues

During normal years, Fringe Festival theatres in other parts of Vancouver often include the following (as well as other venues):

  • The Cultch – a 200-seat historic theatre at 1895 Venables Street.
  • Dramatic Works Series – a black box studio at the Vancity Culture Lab at The Cultch at 1895 Venables Street.

 


For tickets and full details see the official Vancouver Fringe Festival website.


 

More Tips & Advice

Below is a list of additional suggestions and information that will help audience members make the most out of their Vancouver Fringe Festival experiences.

TIP #1: Tickets are available at the door, but many shows do sell out, especially the most popular ones and half-price shows. Buy your tickets early!

TIP #2: All ticket sales are final. Neither refunds nor exchanges are permitted.

TIP #3: Don’t forget your Fringe Membership card. You’ll need it for every performance (unless you want to donate an additional $7 to the festival for a second membership).

TIP #4: Out of respect for the actors and other audience members, be sure to arrive in plenty of time to find parking and get settled well before the show begins.

TIP #5: On or around the first night of the festival in years when there isn’t a pandemic, there’s the “Fringe-For-All” opening night event where about 40% of so of the festival’s performances each have a 2-minute opportunity to present their shows. Tickets are just $20 or so and the event is an excellent opportunity to get a taste of the Fringe and to decide which shows you’d like to see in full version.

 

Other Information

To learn more about the Vancouver Fringe, see the official Vancouver Fringe Festival website.

For more information about theatre in the Lower Mainland click Vancouver Theatre or the Shows & Events Calendar.

For ideas about other things to do while visiting a Fringe show, click Granville Island or check out Vancouver’s Calendar of Events.

And for a comprehensive list of major festivals and events throughout the year, see the Festivals & Events Calendar.