Hamilton Fringe Festival

An 11-day unjuried theatre festival that happens every summer in downtown Hamilton

Beating the post-Fringe Blues

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015

Written by Annalee Flint

With another Hamilton Fringe Festival recently finished, many members of the theatre community have the “Post-Fringe Blues”. Something about working so hard on something and spending so much time with like-minded people make it a bit of a let down once it is all over. Yet we also think about how lucky we are to have such an event in this city. A place where a variety of genres and styles of independent theatre can flourish. A place where theatre artists and patrons (and artists who are also patrons) can mingle while discussing, debating, and inspiring one another. A place that brings together people from every corner of the theatre community with such an incredible sense of camaraderie. It would be wonderful if we could keep that feeling going all year round. Of course it is unrealistic to think that it’s possible but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to wait a whole year for another event like that?


Lineups at the 2015 Hamilton Fringe.


Photos by: Dave Pijuan-Nomura


That’s what the participants of the Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training (ALERT) program, which is run by the Hamilton Fringe Festival, were thinking about when given the task of producing a winter theatre festival.

And thus, The Frost Bites Festival was born.

With the tremendous success and growth of the Hamilton Fringe Festival in recent years there is obviously a strong desire in this city for unique and independent theatre offerings. As the Fringe has expanded its audience size, number of performances and venues it uses, it would also be great to be able to expand the amount of independent theatre that occurs year-round. Many Fringe Festivals across Canada have associated winter festivals, the Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto and the Undercurrents Festival in Ottawa to name a couple, so creating a winter festival associated with the Hamilton Fringe seems to be the next logical step in its expansion.

The ALERT team, under Hamilton Fringe Festival guidance, was given the duty to figure out what we wanted out of a winter festival. What we came up with is an incredibly exciting event that will have people hyped up about the future of theatre in Hamilton.

Frost Bites was created to energize and strengthen independent theatre in Hamilton. There has been a real push in the past few years to give a platform to new works by local artists and playwrights. The HamilTen Festival and the Player’s Guild First Stage Series are two excellent examples of that. The Frost Bites Festival aims to be another place where artists will go to innovate and develop their original work to showcase what homegrown talent has to offer.


ALERT participants announce Frost Bites at the Fringe Kick Off, July 2015. Photo: Dave Pijuan-Nomura



We wanted to foster a unique and innovative theatre event while appealing to a broad audience that includes both theatregoers as well as people who may otherwise shy away from the theatre. The result is a site-specific performance event. Site-specific theatre has many definitions, depending on who you talk to, but the simplest description of it is theatre that is created for and/or informed by the particular space the work will be performed in.

The idea of Frost Bites being a site-specific festival is to demystify the world of theatre and perhaps even make it more casual. Some people can be intimidated by traditional theatre settings and with performances taking place in interesting and unusual locations we hope to captivate our established audience and attract a new audience of people who may not normally be interested in theatre.

In the dead of winter, when venue-hopping doesn’t seem like such a great idea, we preferred an event that is self-contained but still allows for the same type of socializing that you see during the summer at the Fringe. Frost Bites combines many shows in different locations within the same building- the amazing and historical site at 270 Sherman Ave North known as The Cotton Factory– with a “Fringe Club”-style lounge where you can grab a drink, hang out between shows, and have the opportunity to socialize with both artists and patrons. The festival is more than just a night at the theatre, it is a whole experience. There will be multiple shows running concurrently at repeated intervals throughout the event. With an array of performances of different genres there will be something for everyone and each show will be no longer than 20 minutes so you’ll have the chance to take in as much as you’d like. Think of it as a buffet. With an assortment of different bite-size pieces of theatre you can sample one of everything or you can sample just a few things that you think you’d really be interested in.


Photo of the Cotton Factory at 270 Sherman Ave N


“The festival is more than just a night at the theatre, it is a whole experience.”

The Frost Bites Festival seeks capture the essence of the “Fringe Festival Spirit” amid an experience which feels fresh and exciting. We will be curating some of the best talent that Hamilton has to offer to create an experience which showcases a wide variety of quality live performances while ensuring that there is something for everyone. We, in the ALERT program, are incredibly excited to be part of this this inaugural festival. We know this event will be spectacular and can’t wait for you to be a part of it. Whether you are an artist or an audience member we invite you join us, it’s going to be a blast.

Applications are online NOW.


We’ll see you in February!


Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 2.23.44 PMAnnalee Flint is a member of the ALERT program run by the Hamilton Fringe Festival. She is a performer and producer and a graduate of the Theatre Arts Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.