Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is an annual alternative theatre festival held every summer in the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Founded in 1988, it is one of the largest fringe festivals in North America.

The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival was founded by the Royal Manitoba Theatre Center, the oldest English-language regional theatre in Canada, with playwright, actor and director Rick McNair as the festival’s first executive director. Like most fringe festivals, Winnipeg Fringe is guided by three key principles: no jury, complete artistic freedom, and 100% of the box office revenue goes directly back to the performers. At Winnipeg Fringe, artists can present whatever they want on stage, there’s no artistic supervision or censorship.

At the inaugural Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, about 14,000 tickets were sold across nine days of performances. In 2009, the festival’s paid attendance briefly set a North American record with over 81,000 tickets sold, surpassing the previous record set at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). Although Edmonton Fringe has since reclaimed the record, Winnipeg Fringe still remains one of the biggest alternative theatre festivals in North America.

The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals and thus follows the rules endorsed by the Association. Performing acts are selected on a non-juried basis – Winnipeg Fringe uses a lottery to select participants. The festival doesn’t restrain the artistic freedom of the participants and gives them back 100% of the ticket revenue. It also provides several venues which have paid technicians and volunteer ushers and ticket sellers.

The performing companies at Winnipeg Fringe are both Canadian and from around the world. For example, the 2005 festival featured performers from all across Canada and the United States, as well as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and South Africa. Each edition of the festival has a different theme which sets the tone of the event. Of course, performances don’t have to follow the theme literally but it’s nice when they have at least something to do with it.

In 2021, the event was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

Photo: Brett Howe




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