Calgary Fringe Festival
Calgary’s own Alice Nelson is bringing Ms. Sugarcoat to the Fringe | Photo: Courtesy of Calgary Fringe Festival

Calgary Fringe Festival

Weird, wild and wacky theatre descends on Inglewood for 10th year running

Amy Jo Espetveidt

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Alright Calgary, who’s ready to get weird?

The Calgary Fringe Festival kicks off this weekend and with it comes a whole line up of great performances, some from fringe circuit favourites and some from new faces. In fact, this year’s festival is playing host to over 32 local, national, and international theatre artist companies.

“I always encourage patrons to take a chance… and go see a show they would not normally choose for themselves,” says Michele Gallant, Festival Director and Producer of the Calgary Fringe, in a statement. “This is anything goes theatre in the truest sense of the word. With most of the shows being only about an hour in length and most of the venues within walking distance, where else are you going to get that opportunity to see some pretty amazing performances?”

Being the 10th Anniversary Celebration, there are also a few special opportunities to check out including the first Fringe Zone. Each Saturday of the Fringe head to Jack Long Park (922 9th Ave. SE) for special spotlight performances from the festival artists, street performers, food trucks, cartoonists and more.

There’s also a special, 18+ only, pre-Fringe evening on July 27, 2016 at Festival Hall (1215 10th Ave. SE) put on by Cameryn Moore. Dubbed Smut Slam, this night of community storytelling and open mic features festival artists, local guests, and celebrity judges. Tickets are $10 at the door and part of the proceeds go towards the festival.

So what shows are on our not-to-be-missed list? Here are our picks for the 2016 Calgary Fringe Festival:

Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII

July 29 – August 5, 2016
Lantern Church Sanctuary (1401 10th Ave. SE)

Tara Travis is back with one of the best shows to have ever graced the Calgary Fringe stage. In this great, physical show, the six wives of Henry VIII are stuck in purgatory with each other. And they’re all played by the same actress!

Fringe Zone

July 30, 2016, 11:00am – 7:00pm & August 6, 2016, 5:00 – 9:00pm
Jack Long Park by the Alexandra Centre (922 9th Ave. SE)

New this year, don’t miss the Fringe Zone. This outdoor performance event features street performers, vendors, and food trucks. Think of it as Calgary’s home for Vaudeville.

Ms. Sugarcoat

July 30 – August 6, 2016
Lantern Church Sanctuary (1401 10th Ave. SE)

University certainly didn’t prepare Ms. Sugarcoat for the realities of teaching—helicopter parents, entitled students, and political correctness at the cost of telling the truth. And when foulmouthed Pat the Beaver shows up, her controlled world threatens to implode. Starring Calgary’s own Alice Nelson and directed by Dennis Cahill, if you haven’t seen this show before, you’re in for a treat.

Improv Against Humanity

August 1 – 5, 2016
The Blues Can (1429 9th Ave. SE)

Just like the name says, join the Go 4 Broke players and a big deck of Cards Against Humanity for a night of hilarious, yet oh so wrong, improv. Coming off a sold-out run at the 2015 Edmonton Fringe, this is one you won’t want to miss. 18+ only.

Calgary Fringe Best of Venue Series

August 6, 2016
See schedule for details
Prices vary

Starting right off the bat, audiences have a chance to vote for the Best of the Fest, either online or at the on-site box office. The winners (announced August 3, 2016 via Facebook) from each of the five major venues will perform the award-winning show one more time on the last day of the festival. It’s a great chance to cram the best in if you’re short on time!

On The Fringe

August 6, 2016, 12:00pm
Alexandra Centre (922 9th Ave. SE)
$10, cash at the door

Fringe fans won’t want to miss this film documentary from Broken Turtle Productions. The film documents the adventures of artists touring the Canadian fringe festival circuit including Nancy Kenny’s Calgary run of Roller Derby Saved My Soul.

Another great way to check out the fringe is to make a day of it and just drift from show to show. You never know what you’re going to see and it’s a fantastic way to get outside your comfort zone. And if you ever need help, just swing by the On the Spot information booth located at the City of Calgary parking lot on the corner of 9th Ave. and 12th St. SE. The volunteers are always quick with recommendations, directions, and more.

And don’t forget to get your fringe button before your first show! Think of it as your fringe membership. Each button costs $5, assists with covering festival costs and allows the artists to keep 100% of their ticket revenue.

The Calgary Fringe Festival runs July 29 to August 6, 2016 throughout Inglewood. Head here for the full schedule.