Hamilton Fringe Festival

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

The Fringe Blog!

Staff Picks of Fringe: Home Edition!

Staff Picks of Fringe: Home Edition!

Need a little help navigating the Fringe this year? Next in our series of themed Fringe programming picks by our summer staff! This time out we’ve got Fringe Binge: Home Edition, with selections from Avery, our Assistant Box Office Coordinator! What does it mean to call a place “home”?  Is “home” a place where you grew up, where you live now, or where you’re headed? Perhaps “home” does need to be tethered to a place, but instead a time, a person, or a story. No matter where your home is, the Hamilton Fringe Festival has a show that will help you to explore the relationship between identity, belonging, and place. Having grown up with the City of Hamilton as my home, I am excited to see the cast of storytellers share their accounts in Tales from the Hamilton 7 at The Staircase’s Main Space. At The Player’s Guild, the ensemble cast of Up Here tells a story through the medium of physical theatre. Up Here pulls an investigative journalist deep into the secretive stories of a strange town and the people that call it home. Chantrina Tam, creator/writer/performer, explores the concept of “home” as it relates to cultural identity in Someone Between, a one-person piece being performed at Hamilton Theatre Inc. For Eden, a 17-minute interactive art installation at Factory Media Centre, also focuses on The Hammer. For Edenlooks at the experience of being homeless in Hamilton, Ontario. When your home planet faces an imminent apocalypse, where do you go? First Class, a McMaster Honours Performance Series presentation, tells the story of unique characters who find themselves trapped inside of an old diner during an environmental emergency on Earth. Also affiliated with McMaster, We Are Not The Others, is a product of a two-year research project that was funded by the Hamilton Community Foundation. Playing at Mills Hardware, We Are Not The Others uses real stories from immigrant women in Hamilton as it describes their experiences as newcomers to a foreign home. To see all of these shows for only $48 in total, consider using a Fringe Binge Pass, which allows you to see six shows at a rate of $8/each! All money from these ticket sales goes right back to the artists who put on these performances and share their stories of home. Avery is a 3rd year Arts and Science student at McMaster University who has grown up in Dundas and Hamilton. Avery has keen interests in theatre and the Hamilton community. She is delighted to be working with Fringe volunteers, patrons, artists, and staff for the second summer in a...

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ADAM BRYAN: How ALERT helped me produce my own festival

ADAM BRYAN: How ALERT helped me produce my own festival

Hello! I wanted to start this post off with a little introduction. My name is Adam Bryan (not Bryan Adams) and I was a member of the 2017 ALERT Program run by the Hamilton Fringe Festival. I am also involved in this year’s Fringe Festival with my company Red Pants Productions, with an original musical called Jilted. Jilted tells the story of a girl named Sarah whose boyfriend won’t tie her down, so she ties him up! Being a part of the ALERT program was something of a life changer, at least in taking my next steps as a theatre producer in Hamilton. ALERT stands for the Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training program, run by the Hamilton Fringe, which helps teach young artists in the Hamilton theatre scene how to produce their own work or festival, all while working on producing that year’s Frost Bites and the events surrounding it. One of my most memorable experiences was going to Toronto to meet with my producing mentor, Katie Leaman, the Communications Coordinator at Generator, an organization that helps mentor, educate, and empower indie theatre artists in Toronto. Katie helped me find ways to completely revamp the social media presence for my company. With constant changes to social media and how those sites are laid out, sometimes you forget to update portions of your page because you don’t see those sections in the same place anymore. She helped me find the things that were out of date and update them. I also got the chance to see her in action as she taught someone from the Playwrights Guild of Canada how to prepare a media release. Who knew I would be taking advantage of all the skills that I had learned from the ALERT Program so soon? In October 2016, when I started the ALERT program, I had an idea in the back of my mind that I was going to co-produce a one-off theatre festival during the month of May for Mental Health Awareness Month. A theatre mentor of mine had recently lost a long-time friend to suicide and had put some of his projects on hold, including a festival that he had run for the previous five years. I felt very affected by these events and that’s where the idea for MindPLAY all began. A mini festival is something that I never anticipated doing or thought I had the capability of handling before the ALERT Program. I feel like the program is also called ALERT because it makes you aware not only of the task at hand, but of who you need to contact and how you can find the right people and tools to make your project happen. I never imagined running my own festival before the ALERT Program, but I’m so glad I did. Not only was MindPLAY a success, but I already have people asking what’s to come next year. I’m not sure what will happen next year, but I know that after months of waiting, my new show Jilted is in the Fringe line-up. If it hadn’t been for ALERT, I’d be scared. Instead? I am prepared. For more information about ALERT and to read more about this years’ team, click here.   Adam Bryan is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Performing Arts Prep program and...

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Staff Picks of Fringe: It’s Complicated!

Staff Picks of Fringe: It’s Complicated!

Need a little help navigating the Fringe this year? This is the third in our series of themed Fringe programming picks by our summer staff! This time out we’ve got Fringe Binge: It’s Complicated, with selections from Eloane, our summer student coming all the way from Quebec! Human beings are, and always will be, beautifully complicated and their relationships are even more complex. Here’s a list of six shows that demonstrate how difficult and intense but also wonderful, relationships can be. First on the list is The Lost Years, a comedy that skillfully reveals the sacrifices that parents make for their kids. Following is Grandfather’s Secret, a dramedy about discovering what a grandfather is hiding from his family. Again, I have here for you a mysterious drama, Open the Lace Curtains, which presents the story of a family that appears to be normal but who is secretly having issues. Two Sisters is another dramedy that brings us to 1880’s Russia where Anya and Sonia find an empty coffin in Anya’s house. This performance makes us understand how escaping from the past is impossible, but also how sisterly love can conquer all. Next is something a little deeper and darker. Moral Deficit is about two friends, three days, and the end of the dollar as we know it. And finally, there is Perfect Couples. This dramatic show is talking about the impact of mental illness on 4 young adult couples while one of their friends is trying to figure herself out after experiencing trauma.   Eloane Bedard comes to us all the way from Sherbrooke, Quebec on an exchange program with the YMCA. When she’s not working in the Fringe office, you can catch her in Gage Park promoting all things Fringe at the Summer...

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KELLY WOLF: Design and Performance in Small Spaces

KELLY WOLF: Design and Performance in Small Spaces

by Kelly Wolf You can do anything in Hamilton. I really believe that. Several years ago, I decided that if I wanted to be a part of a vibrant theatre community in Hamilton I had to get involved. I volunteered as a Venue Captain in 2014 and was thrilled and amazed by the audiences that showed up and the sense of community that was created. So, some people around the Fringe know me as a Venue Captain. Other people may know me as a set and costume designer. This year, I am producing a new play, Normal Shmormal, that is part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival’s Gallery Series in the Evergreen Cityworks space. Two years ago, I attended the Prague Quadrennial, an exhibition of design for theatre performance from around the world. It changed the way I approach my work; my theatre making. I saw designers crossing over into an area of performativity that really inspired me. In this context, the designers were the instigators. This was so exciting to me and I could hardly wait to get back home to find opportunities to create new work. As a result, I created two site-specific works with other collaborators for the Frost Bites Festival. One Small Drop told three stories of women who might have worked in the Imperial Cotton Factory, and was created to play within the women’s washroom. A second project, In Sight, was inspired by my father’s stroke and process of recovery. Presented in the Art Gallery of Hamilton, performers responded to the existing installation to piece together parts of the story of a life lived. It was fantastic to have the organizational support of the Frost Bites Festival and this year I felt I was ready to take the next step. Fringe Gallery Series performances are no more than 20 minutes long and use the existing spaces as they are, with limited stage set up. As a designer, this kind of a project really appeals to me. I love to listen to what the space provides and to work with that information. We will make full use of the existing storefront gallery configuration. As an organization, the Evergreen Cityworks is committed to making a direct impact upon the way we interact with each other. As we use their space, I see our project as an extension of that mandate on an intimate scale. At the level of family relationships, we are looking for ways that transform the way we live with and understand each other. Normal Shmormal is a sometimes humorous, sometimes serious response to a father/son relationship. The wrinkle in this relationship is that this father and son both have ADHD. When your children are born you check them out; 10 fingers, 10 toes, yes everything is there, great, now moving on. Little do we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. What do we know about the mental health of this child? Parents want to try and raise their children to be as normal as possible, so that they may lead happy lives. It may take a bit of time, but eventually you may start to ask yourself, is this a normal kid? With this project we also want the audience to ask themselves, why are we so hung up on normal...

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2017 FRINGE CLUB: Serve Ping Pong

2017 FRINGE CLUB: Serve Ping Pong

By Anna Camara  Back in May, this year’s festival participants started to ask about the Fringe Club: Is it at Baltimore House again? No, it isn’t, because that location closed for renovations. Where is it? Where do we meet and relax? Well, this summer we meet and relax at Serve Ping Pong, which you could call a sports bar, but of a completely different kind. Five years ago, a group of four friends who grew up playing ping pong in each other’s basements were looking for a project to take on together. They all loved good food, friendly competition and downtown Hamilton. After bouncing around a few ideas, Mark Accardi, Adam Clermont, Kevin Huynh and Gianmarco Silano partnered up to open Serve Ping Pong Bar and Lounge. Right across from the Royal Connaught, they wanted to be part of the rejuvenation of King St. and Gore Park, and at the same time offer something new and fun to do downtown. The second-floor space is … huge. One thousand industrial-strength square feet on two levels offering bars, ping pong tables and exposed brick walls hung with enlarged black and white prints. Just about any famous person you can think of from the last century and this one is pictured playing ping pong, or table tennis, as it was once known. Yeah, Jimi Hendrix playing ping pong. It’s fun just to walk around and identify the players in those grainy photos. Serve is located at 107 King St. E., just a few doors east of one of the Fringe’s main venues, Mills Hardware, and not far from Theatre Aquarius. It is also a one-minute walk from the Lincoln Alexander Centre, where the official Kick-Off will take place on July 19. Guess where the Kick-Off After Party will happen? Serve Ping Pong! That’s only one of the planned events for this year’s Fringe Club. Before opening week, the Fringe will hold several seminars and training sessions, warming up the large rooms for the festivities to come. Here’s what’s coming up at Serve Ping Pong in only a few weeks: DATE TIME ACTIVITY Wed July 19 10pm Kick Off After-Party! Fri July 21 9pm Lip Sync Battles Sat July 22 8pm Ping Pong Competition Sun July 22 8pm Board Game Night Mon July 24 8pm Trivia Night Thu July 27 9pm Karaoke Cabaret Sat July 29 8pm Ping Pong Competition #2 Sun July 30 10pm Closing Night Party & Awards All you need is a 2017 Fringe Backer’s Button and Serve will serve up a great deal: discounted $5.00 beer on tap nightly and an hour of play for half price ($10) with a drink purchase. So join us for great food and company and groove on the fringe-friendly vibe at Serve Ping Pong. The Fringe Club opens at 4 p.m. each day during the Festival. Table tennis...

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SKY GILBERT: Gentrification and Hamilton Artists

SKY GILBERT: Gentrification and Hamilton Artists

by Sky Gilbert Gentrification is a very complicated process to understand, especially as it relates to artists. We are now experiencing gentrification in Hamilton. Gentrification can be defined as the revitalization of the downtown core of a city that was long presumed dead. The unfortunate side effect of that revitalization is that often the poorest and most marginalized citizens not only come to feel unwelcome in what were originally their neighbourhoods, but are often pushed out of their homes in various subtle and not so subtle ways. For instance, I know of a large apartment complex in downtown Hamilton, which has recently transformed itself from a rental property for the poorest of the poor into a plush condo. A ritzy corporation bought the building and subsequently paid the most marginalized of the tenants $2000 apiece to vacate their apartments. The corporation will make much more than that from renovating these apartments and selling them to hipsters! Sure, the neighbourhood is cleared of what some consider to be it’s ‘sketchiest’ inhabitants. But others like me object to the less fortunate being hoodwinked by capitalists who pressure them to leave their homes. Well you can’t stop capitalism. But what you can do is fight for low-rent and mixed housing in Hamilton’s downtown core. Now what does all this have to do with art? Well I, for one, have written several plays about gentrification. Naked Hamilton was a play about a sex trade worker and her drunken boyfriend being kicked out of their favourite bar by the new hipster owner. Another, Commercials for Hamilton, was about two young Toronto salesman trying to sell Hamilton to millennials – but one of the salesman has a dirty secret – he is actually from Hamilton! Next year I’m doing a play about a Toronto hipster and a Hamilton hardcore grifter who meet on a Hamilton front porch. It’s called Bungalow. However, at this year’s Fringe I’m doing a play that is not about gentrification at all. Cheri is about an older woman’s obsession with a younger man. Cheri covers a topic which is rarely discussed – it’s kind of a play about a ‘cougar’ who was once a sex trader worker. It’s hopefully going to be pretty entertaining. It’s a musical, and mostly funny. But when I do art in Hamilton not about gentrification, I worry about becoming part of the problem. You see, innocent artists are often the very first players in the gentrification game. Unwittingly, they move into poor neighbourhoods to start galleries and theatres because the rent is cheap. They upgrade the neighbourhood without capitalist intent. But when not-so-innocent artists produce contentless plays to satisfy the rich gentrifiers (Beauty and the Beast anyone?) in government subsidized spaces, one may rightfully ask, are these so-called ‘artists’ not encouraging these privileged ‘patrons of the arts’ not to challenge themselves and thus contributing to the gentrification problem? My little rebellion is this. My play Cheri, though hopefully entertaining, also has something quite out of the ordinary to say. And that’s all I can say in my defense. Sky Gilbert is a writer, actor, director and drag performer extraordinaire. He is the former artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times theatre and the founder of hammer theatre. Sky has been living in Hamilton since 2004 with his partner, artist Ian...

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Staff Picks of Fringe: Canadian Edition!

Staff Picks of Fringe: Canadian Edition!

Need a little help navigating the Fringe this year? This is the fourth in our series of themed Fringe programming picks by our summer staff. This time, we’ve got a Fringe Binge: Canadian Edition! with selections from Rose Hopkins, our Associate Festival Producer. Whether you’re throwing on all your red and white today, or are feeling a little less than enthused about ‘Canada 150’, we’ve rounded up a countdown of the Fringe shows that celebrate what it means to be Canadian, eh! We’re starting off our Canadian countdown out East with, Swingin’ in St. John’s, the perfect pick if you’re looking for a Martimes vibe with a 60s twist. A little further West brings us to Coal From Hades: The Story of Les Mouches Fantastique, the story of the first queer magazine in North America, published in 1938.  And finally, we hear the former Premiere of Saskatchewan’s story, In This Corner: Eight Rounds with Tommy Douglas, who was voted The Greatest Canadian in 2004.   All of these shows remind us of the rich and varied history of Canada across the country. But, Canada wouldn’t be what it is without the complex and diverse culture that it is now. So, let’s turn our attention to a few shows that are true embodiments of Canada today.   First of is Someone Between, an autobiographical piece created and performed by Chantria Tram that investigates her own Canadian-Cambodian identity. Next is We Are Not The Others a collaborative creation workshopped by McMaster’s Social Work program that looks at the real-life stories of women immigrants to Canada. And finally, how can we celebrate Canada without focusing on the very city we call home with Tales from the Hamilton 7, a storytelling group with anecdotes all about the steel city itself. These six shows will fill up your binge pass, but if you’re looking for something a little extra, check out Your Own Sons written by Hamilton’s own Stephen Near, which takes on the political landscape of our country with a story about a Canadian man who has left to join ISIS. As always, you can see all six shows, and save money with a Fringe Binge Pass – that’s six shows for only $48! Rose Hopkins is an actor, creator, and producer who is thrilled to be joining the Fringe team as this years Associate Festival Producer. She is the founder of Hamilton’s Mooncalf Theatre, the recipient of the 2016 City of Hamilton Arts Award for Emerging Theatre Artist. When she’s not creating theatre or playing with excel spreadsheets, you can find Rose cuddling her puppy, Charro, or looking for retro furniture on Ottawa...

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STEPHEN NEAR: Top 5 Trends of the Fringe

STEPHEN NEAR: Top 5 Trends of the Fringe

By Stephen Near The weather’s getting warmer and the days are getting longer. And all around the city there’s scant space left to rehearse. We must be getting close to another Fringe season. This year, my company is back at the fest so I’ll be performing while trying to catch other shows. Which is why I enjoy looking over what the Fringe has to offer. In the last few years, I’ve written a few blogs for the Fringe about the Top 5 Trends of the Hamilton Fringe. This exercise always informs my choices on what to see so, once again, here’s my take on the top five trends for #HamFringe   1) Dramedy It’s a little bit drama. It’s a little bit laugh out loud. It takes a skillful playwright to straddle the line between silly and serious. And any good director will tell you the best way for an audience to listen to the weighty things you have to say is to let them know it’s okay to smile, too. If you’re looking something not too heavy, and not too light, perhaps these shows will be just right: The Lost Years is an intimate two-hander by Hamilton theatre veterans Peter Gruner and Deb Dagenais, while Toronto’s rejzndkliv stages a Queer coming-of-age parody of Charlie Brown with DOG SEES GOD. Hamilton’s Young Divas are mashing Chekhov with Monty Python in Two Sisters, but you’ll also want to see Vicktoria Adam mixing marriage with witchcraft in Midnight Circle. Fringe performers Liz Buchanan and Jamie Taylor premiere Grandfather’s Secret and playwright Steve Hartwell with director Kelly Wolf present Normal Shmormal. And don’t miss Andrew Lee’s Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench which took home this year’s Best New Play Award.       2) Solo Class The one-person show is an essential part of the Fringe circuit. Often written by the performer themselves (but not all the time), one-person shows give audiences a chance to see a raw theatre performance in action. No matter if they’re dramatic monologues or stand-up romps of comedy, one-person shows engage audiences in ways no other theatre can. Some solo shows are found in other categories, so be on the look-out for some of this year’s highlights: Playwright/performer Chantria Tram asks questions of culture and identity in Someone Between while Helena Cosentino pays tribute to Gilda Radner in Gilda. Melissa D’Agostino directs Mark Peacock in a Flightmare of alternative facts while award-winning Carlyn Rhamey returns with The ADHD Project. Margo MacDonald brings her hit The Elephant Girls back to the Staircase alongside Hamilton’s own Colette Kendall with Over 50 and Other Nightmares. Jennifer Walton directs Marianne Daly in the Open the Lace Curtains and Christel Bartelse talks motherhood in All KIDding Aside while Toronto Fringe veteran Paul Hutcheson performs in Stupefied.   3) Trip the Light Fantastic Fringe is the place to risk. And often the best shows skew away from the so-called well-made play into genres or performances that spiral madly off in all directions. From magic shows to clown to science fiction and kids plays, this year’s Fringe offers a plethora of work that defies expectations while charting bold new directions: Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blue Bird offers magic to family audiences alongside The Secret of Castle Alphabet by Calgary’s HeARTbeat Theatre. Science...

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Staff Picks of Fringe: Pride Edition!

Staff Picks of Fringe: Pride Edition!

Need a little help navigating the Fringe this year? This is the third in our series of themed Fringe programming picks by our summer staff! This time out we’ve got Fringe Binge: Pride Edition, with selections from Kristina Kuhnert, our Assistant Community Outreach and Volunteer Coorindinator! This weekend was Toronto’s Pride Festival weekend and today marks the last week of Canada’s second annual Pride month. We want to share with you all the Fringe 2017 shows that feature queer artists and content. Pride is a time to unite and empower the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. It is a time not only to celebrate where we are now, but to remember and commemorate those who have come before us, and to join together in the ongoing struggle for acceptance and equality. With its equal opportunity application process, the Fringe Festival features artists who might not otherwise have the opportunity to have their voices heard. Fringe 2017 includes many shows that feature queer content and artists. Here are the top six that I am eager to see: Embracing queer history, I am excited about digging into the roots of Canada’s (and North America’s) first queer magazine. Canton/Peterson Productions’ Coal from Hades: Les Mouches Fantastiques takes us back to 1920s Montreal and the passionate characters who published at the risk of perishing! Looking overseas, I cannot wait to take in the lives and adventures of the bloody-knuckled, badass women who terrorized London in Parry Riposte Productions’ award-winning one-woman show, The Elephant Girls. DOG SEES GOD: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (rejzndkliv) features LGBTQ actors of colour telling stories of the realities of navigating sexual identity, loss and bullying. Serious subject matter, but told through the eyes of a Charlie Brown-like character. Featuring complex female characters and queer couples, I am interested in see how PKP’s Perfect Couples takes on the intricacies of millennial communities and mental illness. Featuring his own story, queer artist Mark Peacock recounts tales of his relationship with his mother in Peacock Blue Production’s Flightmare. Lastly, I cannot wait to see Brine (Sage for the Stage) as young queer artists delve into the ways that ‘women’s work’ is transformed through immigration. As always, you can see all six shows, and save money with a Fringe Binge Pass – that’s six shows for only $48! Kristina Kuhnert is a McMaster University Student studying for a double major in Cultural Studies & Critical Thinking and Theatre & Film. She is passionate about people, supporting artists and artwork, and working with children through camps and other event...

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Staff Picks of Fringe: Musicals!

Staff Picks of Fringe: Musicals!

Need a little help navigating the Fringe this year? This is the second in our series of themed Fringe programming picks by our summer staff! This time out we’ve got Fringe Binge on Musicals!, with selections from Kristina Kuhnert, our Assistant Community Outreach and Volunteer Coorindinator! When words fail, music speaks! There is something special about a musical. A good musical manipulates theatre with clever, cheeky rhyming schemes, and songs that get stuck in your head for days. There is truly nothing so spectacular as a cast bursting into a perfectly synchronised song and dance number, except maybe a really heart wrenching, soul searching ballad. This year’s Fringe Festival hosts seven musicals! Taking the emotion of the theatre one step further, they use music and dance to celebrate the joys of human life and love, and then, moments later, to explore the depths of pain and sorrow. A good musical will take you on a roller coaster ride of human emotion and give you an experience that you won’t ever want to look away from. There are many different approaches to creating a musical. Here is why I am excited to see these six musicals in this years Fringe Festival.     Some musicals embrace the joyful, silly side of life. This Is Not A Musical: The Musical (Maxie Liberman) explores what would happen if people really did randomly break out into song and dance. Swingin’ in St John’s (Will Gillespie) shows us how zany the status quo can get when a stranger comes to town. Not always fun and games, musicals can also delve into the darkness of the human psyche. Requiem Aeternam (Maya Ziemann) ponders the complexities of death, goodness and evil. And Acts of Fiction (Francesca Brugnano) asks, in a darkly humorous way, what it takes for a “character” to survive.   Often, musicals help us to explore the powerful feelings of love and heartbreak. Cheri (Sky Gilbert, Dustin Peters) allows us to reminisce about long lost loves and years gone by, while Jilted (Adam Bryan) keeps alive the fiery passion and intensity of young love and the crazy things people do for it. If these shows have caught your eye and you’re ready to learn some new choreography, you can purchase a Fringe Binge Pass and see all six shows for only $48! (Save $12!) “Because who doesn’t want a world where everyone bursts into song and dance?” -Anonymous Kristina Kuhnert is a McMaster University Student studying for a double major in Cultural Studies & Critical Thinking and Theatre & Film. She is passionate about people, supporting artists and artwork, and working with children through camps and other event planning.  ...

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