Storefront Fringe festival: expect the unexpected

Theatre Kingston's Storefront Fringe Festival is back and official this year with 17 diverse shows spanned across eight days taking place in three empty storefronts on Princess Street.

Festival director Mariah Horner explains the exciting part about a fringe festival is everything is spontaneous, from the selection of shows, to the locations they play in.

“In order to be considered a fringe festival, all of the shows must be chosen by chance. And we actually pulled them out of a giant cauldron at the (Sir John A’s Public House) in March,” she says.

This may be a risky way of doing things, but as someone who has applied for events and been rejected, Horner says it’s a great way to give opportunities to people who may not always get them.

"We embrace risk and really anyone who wants to apply can apply. And you know what, the work ends up being – some of it is a little whacky, but a lot of it is really brave. And stuff that maybe wouldn’t have had the chance to be seen if it wasn't chosen by the way of the lottery."

The 17 selected shows range from old plays, to new musicals, kids shows, comedy and magic. Horner says half are out-of-towners (one performer has even come all the way from Brazil) and the others are local, including a musical by Blue Canoe Productions and a comedy/magic show by Kingstonian magician David Eliott.

Each show is about one hour and costs $10, with all of the money going back to the artists. Guests also need a $3 fringe pin to enter the venues, which comes with its benefits: 15 per cent off everything at the Storefront Fringe Festival’s home base, The Alibi (which is also where you purchase the pins), until the end of June and a few other special offers at downtown restaurants.

As for the locations of performances, "The artists only get to see the spaces they’re working in a week before they start. That’s terrifying. But because of that it makes artists come up with these creative and interesting ideas,” Horner says.

The fringe festival shows will run from June 23 to July 1. The venues include 177 Princess St. (previously the XO Lounge), a dark, dramatic spot with chandeliers, 274 Princess St. (previously American Apparel), a white walled, hardwood floor modern atmosphere and 259 Princess St. (previously Indigo), which brings a more industrial feel

“I really love being able to surprise people with things that are relatively ordinary,” Horner says. “You know, with the storefront festival, these storefronts that we’re turning into theatre spaces are places that people walk by every day."

Other fringe festivals in big cities like Toronto and Ottawa have been around for over 20 years and Toronto features more than 100 performances. Though Kingston isn’t quite there yet, Horner has high hopes for a growth of the fringe.

"This could become, if it’s supported in the city, a real institution and a real hotbed of indie theatre."

Horner says the fringe festival would not have been a success without Brett Christopher, the artistic producer of Theatre Kingston, who was a key player in bringing last year's storefront festival to the stage.

For a full schedule of the performances for this year's festival click here.

*Seating at the shows are first come first served.*

#Festival #Kingston #theatre #Fringe

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