Hamilton Fringe

A 12-day unjuried theatre festival that happens every summer in downtown Hamilton

Your Backstage Pass To The Fringe

Posted by on May 27, 2014

Written by Robyn Cunningham


Robyn Cunningham

Robyn Cunningham

I was born with an addiction…

to theatre.

When my friends in elementary school were carrying lunch boxes plastered with the faces of Simba, The Little Mermaid and Pokemon, I was begging my mom for one with the cast of Rent or Les Miserable.

Growing up in a rural community, my peers were not exposed to theatre in the way I was. My mother being an actor/musician and my sister working in the Toronto theatre community, gave me a unique insight into this magical world of make believe that I found much more compelling than any animated film or TV show.

As I grew up, I learned that my addiction was uncommon. I learned that loving something whole-heartedly the way I embraced the stage, was sometimes seen as uncool or “nerdy”. This dilemma was only worsened by the response of my high school guidance counselor, who appeared in catatonic shock when I shared my ambitions for theatre school.

I remember her words exactly to this day,

“… but don’t you want to be able to get a job?”

I responded between clenched teeth,

“No, I would like to be able to have a career.”

This type of negative outlook is the inspiration behind my idea for the Backstage Pass Program. This program is a chance for emerging artists to gain experience and knowledge about the theatre community that is located right on their doorstep. In many high school’s guidance departments, theatre school and careers in the arts tend to be handled as a risky choice. In my experience when someone doesn’t know about the arts, especially their local community of working artists, it is difficult for them to provide a clear outline of expectations.

This program is designed for students who are eager to infiltrate the theatre community and learn from the pros who’ve already crossed these barriers of creative negativity. We want to show emerging young artists that they can thrive with hard work, dedication, knowledge and support of artists around them. So many young people believe they must escape to Toronto, Vancouver or New York to really participate in a thriving theatre scene. This program is here to prove otherwise.

The Backstage Pass at the Hamilton Fringe grants young theatre artists in the local area a chance to get involved in one of the city’s most valuable and influential theatre festivals. During the 11-day run of the Hamilton Fringe, members of the Backstage Pass will get a chance to:

  • See 10 Fringe shows
  • Participate in talk-backs with Fringe artists
  • Take workshops with local industry professionals
  • Gain insightful knowledge from guest artist talks
  • AND  develop entrepreneurial skills under the guidance of Fringe staff and associates

If you are interested in pursuing a career in theatre, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

To receive an application form, please email Robyn at [email protected].

Robyn is a theatre artist and a proud new Hamiltonian. Upon graduating from the Dramatic Arts Department at Brock University in 2012, Robyn was chosen as the Directing and Dramaturgical intern with The Shaw Festival. Since completing her internship Robyn has expanded her passion in theatre by working for The Toronto Fringe Festival, SummerWorks Theatre Festival and Malabar Costumes in Toronto. Robyn looks forward to a long future with the Hamilton theatre community.