Fringe-for-All: What's Coming This Year @ Fringe

Montreal’s Fringe Fest has officially begun! Now is the perfect time to pick up the program and start planning which shows you want to see. But sometimes, the short descriptions of shows can be vague. When in doubt, there’s Fringe-For-All, a chance for media and spectators to get a short preview of each show. Artists are given two minutes of stage time to do whatever they want. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a scene from their show, but it’s an opportunity to introduce the themes, the overall plot or the characters. At the one-minute mark, the lights will flicker to give a warning. If the artists go beyond two-minutes, the sound will cut and the lights will go out.

This year, Fringe-For-All took place at Club Soda. Upon entering I was met with the eyes and shouts of the performing artists, segregated to balcony section of the main room. The evening began with a speech from artistic director (read: fearless leader) Amy Blackmore. Switching between French to English, Blackmore opened with a poem, which can be summarized simply as “fuck what anyone tells you, do what you want, achieve your dreams.” After a roaring approval from the audience, Blackmore invited the three hosts of the evening: Kenny Struele, Dayane Ntibarikure, and Cat Lemieux, who showed her support by wearing a large, inflatable bee costume. Throughout the night, the hosts would come on the stage between previews to crack a joke and introduce the next act.

Two minutes is not a lot of time to sell your show. Artists had to make an impression in a grandiose fashion, whether it was throwing candy or whoopee cushions into the audience, stripping down to their undergarments (or even their bare breasts) or making a wet mess on the stage. Near the end of the night, it begins to get exhausting, especially if the event runs late as it did. You can only clap and holler so many times. But the hosts tried their best to break the monotony and low energy with 11-second dance parties.

Of the previews, a few stick out in my memory: SCUM FM for cracking a Nazareth record over the head of a heartless executive. Mid Knight for smashing a piñata representing childhood. CLIO for their puppet of a giant clitoris. Is That How Clowns Have Sex? for answering audience questions about sex in as little time as possible. And finally, […]morph for their truly surreal performance set to a very creepy version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Are you kicking yourself for missing the Fringe-For-All? Don’t worry, because there will be an International Fringe-For-All (featuring all the out-of-town acts) on June 6th at Petit Campus. Also, if you’re setting out this week to catch some Fringe shows, don’t forget to tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #FringeBuzz