(Some of) what’s coming to this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival

Lovecat Theatre co-founder Bronwyn Henderson stars in The Russian Play.

Even non-theatre-goers gets behind the annual play marathon the Vancouver Fringe Festival. This year’s 10-day event takes place from Sept. 5-15 and, as always, features a variety of different styles and topics (though some themes do emerge). Plays take place mostly on Granville Island along with a few East Vancouver locations. And, as always, the selections are un-juried, un-censored and drawn from a hat or chosen on a first-come, first-served basis.

Along with over 100 shows, the festival presents a bar (at Ocean Art Works on Granville Island), which is all-ages and open evenings and weekend afternoons.

Tickets for shows are $15 and on sale now, with half-price tickets offered for select performances. Below, we’ve highlighted a mere handful of plays (note: these are not recommendations, but merely sneak peeks based on which companies and performers were enterprising enough to send in materials to the author of this post).

See below for more about this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Opening Night on Sept 4. Join  Fringe Alumni Abdul Aziz (Fake Ghost Tours) and Davey Calderon (Big Queer Filipino Karaoke Night) for the traditional Fringe-For-All, which features 40 two-minute previews, hors d’oeuvres and desserts from The Keg and Dockside Restaurant, new products from Georgian Bay Spirit Company.

Tommy’s Amazing Journey—Fringe Fest vet Kevin Armstrong (Opera for Heathens) presents his solo rendition of The Who’s 1969 rock opera in honour of its 50th anniversary. Not only does he sing every role, but Armstrong also plays foot-operated drums and an eight-string acoustic guitar to recreate the sound of the band. Armstrong’s previous experience includes performing opera and musicals in German-speaking Europe. He performs regularly with Vancouver Opera, as well as an actor in film, television and commercials.

Pretty Beast—”LA-based Japanese comedian Kazu Kusano shatters the stereotype of the demure Asian woman” in this one-woman show, according to a media release. Making its Canadian debut at the Vancouver Fringe, the show is based on Kusano’s experiences growing up in Japan with schizophrenic mother and an alcoholic father. (But it’s also supposed to be funny; Kazu is the undefeated champion of Joke-E-Oke, the joke karaoke contest at SF Sketchfest where, in 2010, Robin Williams said that he loved her impersonation of comedian Sam Kinison and called her “hilarious.”) The show premiered and sold-out at Crazy Woke Asians Solo Performance Festival in Los Angeles in 2019, and won Best of the Fest.

The Walk in the Snow—Jem Rolls is an experienced Fringe performer with a number of one-man shows under his belt, many of which look at forgotten but influential historical figures. In The Walk in the Snow, the UK performer looks at Lise Meitner, a WWII-era Jewish physicist who never got her due. It’s the follow-up to Rolls’ successful Fringer The Inventor of All Things.

The Robber Bridegroom—Chimera Theatre (Kamloops, B.C.) adapts a dark Brothers Grimm fairy tale through puppetry and physical theatre. In The Robber Bridegroom, an impoverished miller tries to save his mill by arranging a marriage for his daughter to a wealthy man from out of town. But something wicked lurks in the woods where the bridegroom lives…

A scene from Chimera Theatre’s production of The Robber Bridegroom: A Grimm Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm, adapted by Andrew G. Cooper.

The Russian Play—Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s satire won the 2006 SummerWorks (Toronto) Jury Prize for Best Production. Theatre critic Kamal al-Solaylee, writing in The Globe and Mail, said that “It’s that rarest of all theatrical experiments: a clever satire with a beating heart.” This production from Vancouver company Lovecat Theatre features live music with violin and percussion.

R’n’J: The Untold Story of Shakespeare’s Roz and Jules—Now based in London, Vancouver-raised Carmina Bernhardt comes home with her original tragicomedy and a U.K. cast and crew. Coming off a run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the contemporary sequel to Romeo and Juliet is multimedia production that mixes blank Shakespearean verse and contemporary language, and blends live theatre and film clips.

The cast of R’n’J: The Untold Story of Shakespeare’s Roz and Jules.

Besides individual tickets, Frequent Fringer Cards are available for four, 10, or 30 performances. For tickets, Frequent Fringer Cards and full schedule/descriptions visit VancouverFringe.com (Tickets also at the Fringe Box Office, 1398 Cartwright Street on Granville Island, open from Sept. 3-Sept. 15.) A one-time Fringe membership fee ($7) is also required

Program guides are available at select Blenz Coffee locations and other businesses.

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