Friday, May 10, 2013

23rd Montreal Fringe Festival announces line-up with a show of linguistic unity ... via bread products!

The 23rd edition of the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival celebrated the fact that it was a bilingual festival … through bread.

At a press conference that was held on May 6 at the Katacombes club to announce its 700 performance strong line-up, Fringe Festival organizers offered members of the media both French toast and English muffins to munch on, and gave them the artistic freedom to make their own linguistic-style creations (I made a French toast sandwich between two slices of English muffins, garnished with strawberries, apple slices and dried apricots, which is pictured at right). As well, festival director Amy Blackmore and interim general manager Al LaFrance did their part in promoting bilingual harmony by pureeing French toast and English muffins in a blender … with Al drinking the doughy concoction (and not feeling the worst for wear as a result).

From June 3-23, the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival will continue its mission of making theatre and performance art accessible to the general public, as well as promoting artistic freedom, diversity and open access, by respecting the integrity of the 111 artistic companies from North America and around the world who will be performing theatre, music, comedy and performance art at this year’s festival, as well as keeping ticket prices affordable to allow audiences to experience as much as possible what the festival has to offer.

“I grew up with the Fringe Festival. It allows people like me who make theatre to try and see what happens,” said Montreal actress Johanna Nutter (pictured above), who participated in the first Montreal Fringe Festival back in 1991 and is the official spokesperson for this year’s fest. In fact, she will be performing her solo show “My Pregnant Brother” on June 10 at the MainLine Theatre – in separate English and French performances – before she brings the play to the legendary Edinburgh Fringe Festival later this summer.

Besides the usual Fringe favorites, such as the Fringe-For-All launch event on June 3 at CafĂ© Campus (in which the casts of practically every show perform a series of two-minute previews for the audience), the Fringe A –Z, the “13th Hour” late night series of shows and the constant string of activities at Fringe Park (aka “the Beer Tent”) on the corner of St. Laurent and Rachel, this year’s Fringe Festival will also offer these interesting highlights: the first ever Kids Fringe series of shows and activities (June 16 and 23), the “Fringe Fake Prom”, followed by “No Sleep Till Waffles”, in which the Fringe crew will serve post-prom waffles (June 7), and “Pierrot and the Moon”, a puppet show performed by the Rosy Cheeks Coop, who is making their first appearance at the Montreal Fringe Fest in 21 years (June 15-17, 19, 22 and 23).

It's no easy task to plow through the festival's impressive, voluminous press kit filled with flyers, press releases and promotional materials about many of the English and French language shows that will be featured. However, after carefully studying its contents during a two hour period following the press conference, I managed to zero in on a few shows that I plan to catch (and review) during this year's Fringe Fest: Acme Burlesque (June 6), The Balding (June 15-17, 19, 21 and 22), Paraphilia: Everyone Has A Sexual Disorder (June 14, 15, 18, 21-23), We are Fish ... Elvis is Water (June 15-17, 20-22), Verbal Diarrhea: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Bomb at Love (June 14, 16, 17, 21-23), Now That I Have Your Attention! (June  13, 15, 18, 20-23), Jess Salomon: Obsession (June 14-16, 18, 19, 21-23), and Zack Adams: Zack to the Future (June 14-16, 18, 20, 22 and 23). 

...And believe me, this is just scratching the surface!

Stay tuned to future blog posts next month for coverage of the sights, sounds and shows of the 23rd St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival (minus the bread products). For more information about the more than 700 Fringe shows, go to