Edmonton International Fringe Festival

Edmonton International Fringe Festival
Photo: fringetheatre.ca
The Edmonton International Fringe Festival, often referred to as simply Edmonton Fringe, is the largest and longest-running fringe theater festival on the North American continent. It is held every August in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta.

A fringe festival is an independent performing arts festival that focuses on experimental and innovative productions. Most fringe festivals are unjuried, i.e. they accept all submissions and impose no censorship on the content of the shows. All or most of the ticket revenue goes to the performers.

The world’s first fringe festival was held in 1947 in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has served as an inspiration for similar festivals around the world. The Edmonton International Fringe Festival became the third open access theater festival in the world and the first event of its kind in North America.

The Edmonton Fringe was founded in 1982 by Canadian writer and theater producer Brian Paisley. Paisley walked as the festival producer for a decade and left his position in 1991 to focus on film instead of theater. The festival is held in Edmonton’s historic district named Old Strathcona. The district has several permanent theaters as well as a number of other venues that are converted into temporary theaters during the festival. Besides, the Edmonton Fringe hosts numerous street performances right in the streets.

Unlike the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where artists have to find and run their own venues, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival provides artists with a venue for a set number of performances and two technicians, as well as general marketing and front-of-house and ticketing services. All the artists need to do is apply and pay an application fee. Some performers and groups, however, prefer to arrange their own performance space independently. This model is known as “bring your own venue”.

As we’ve already mentioned, the Edmonton Fringe is an unjuried (open access) festival. As it is unable to accommodate all applicants due to limited venue space, the participating acts are chosen by lottery. The Edmonton Fringe welcomes local, national and international artists. Although the festival focuses on contemporary theater, it also showcases other performing arts including music, dance, circus, and more.

Over 800 performers present more than 200 shows at the festival each year. Since its inception, the Edmonton Fringe has become North America’s largest fringe festival based on indoor ticket sales. In 2016, it attracted more than 850,000 attendees over 10 days.

Edmonton International Fringe Festival

Photo: Kurt Bauschardt




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