Fringe-For-All Launches the St. Ambroise Fringe Festival in Full Swing This Year

Summer in the city looks like shrubbery coming alive and green, not actually referring to the season as Spring, picking out flowers at the Jean Talon Market, bike rides along the canal, a distinct sunshine illuminating the city at golden hour when locals are seen making their way up Jeanne Mance in Docs with their totebags and picnic blankets, or perhaps more definitively: the St. Ambroise Fringe Fest painting the town in the fanciful colors of theater, dance, musicals, burlesque, storytelling, drag races, and beer for nearly three weeks. 

Last night I had the pleasure of witnessing many animate souls convene under the roof of Club Soda for its annual Fringe-For-All, a night where performers have an allotted two minutes to convince the audience to see their full show before the lights dim. Fringe-For-All is a crucial night in the Fringe tradition as it sets the tone for the festival and welcomes the audience to revel in Fringe festivities. This year, the Fringe festival is in full swing, unlike last year that saw its liveliness abated by the pandemic. This time around even the drag races are back! You read that right, Fringe Park returns on the corner of St. Laurent Boulevard and Rachel Street with live music too, all free of charge. 

Among the most provoking of the previews I saw were Mario a un incroyable talent, starring Hugues Sarra-Bournet who certainly does have an incredible talent, among them being the ability to bring limbo to a level of performance art. Sarra-Bournet can be discerned stupefying the audience in his clown art act in suspenders and a “696” contestant numeral on his sweater at Le Ministère from June 11th to June 19th.  Tango, to the Pointe, however, garnered the rowdiest applause from the crowd among all the acts and left the audience wondering what life could’ve been had they taken up ballet as a kid-- or at least it did for me. Choreographed by Alexander Richardson and joining him with fierce pirouettes and intricate footwork contortions one would have never assumed possible, is Erin Scott-Kafadar. Their ballet-meets-tango dance tour will sweep Montreal off its feet from June 10th to the 15th at the Monument-National. Another notable ballet-related show at the same venue is The Awkward Ballerina, an autobiographical tale of playwright Kristin Govers living with cerebral palsy and the challenges and triumphs that ensue. Gover’s play is imbued with themes of acceptance and overcoming obstacles, offering an unfiltered glimpse into one’s experience living with cerebral palsy. Showings are from June 11th to the 19th. Then there's Bad Cup, a screenplay written by Catherine Cléroux and Katia Lemieux, in which an ex-mesntrual-cup-cop investigates a mischievous birth control dealer whose intentions are to control the town’s menstrual cycle. This comedy is being put on at the Mainline Theatre on select days from June 11th to the 18th. Where else would one get to see a show like this?

Supporting the Fringe Festival means supporting Montreal’s independant theater and performing arts scene and you can do so up until June 19th. The Fringe festival is a safe space for unadulterated creativity and also puts all ticket proceeds directly into the artists’ pockets. Throughout the whole duration of the show, I felt inspired and uplifted with the cliché reminder, albeit vital, to “fuck being told you can’t, [and to] fuck it if you don’t fit”, as per the words of the Fringe Festival’s Executive and Artisitic Director, Amy Blackmore, recites at the beginning of every Fringe-For-All.