Fringe Roundup Review: 2018 Edition

The 2018 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, known as Fringe ‘O’ Saurus Rex, took place August 16-26 and featured more than 1600 live theatre performances across 38 venues. It was another record-setting year with more than 817,000 visits to the festival grounds (up 9,000 from 2017), 133,276 tickets sold generating $1.46 million in box office revenue (up 10% from 2017), and 419 sell out performances.

“I think the numbers truly speak for themselves this year, with record setting ticket sales, our efforts to put the theatre back into the festival have clearly resonated with Fringers,” says Artistic Director Murray Utas. “We work hard to create a space for artists to get their work to the masses, in an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and we think we’ve done that. We are thrilled with yet another successful year and can’t wait to explore more incredible theatre headed our way in 2019.”

Here’s what the growth in Fringe ticket sales looks like over the last 15 years:

Once again, Taproot published a daily Fringe Roundup during the festival, written this year by Mel Priestley. In addition to highlighting the reviews and headlines as they came in, Mel featured a different Fringe topic in each edition. She also made use of the festival’s Randomizer button to select a new show to review each day.

Here’s a look back at our coverage for 2018:

August 16 – The Fringe has begun!

The festival kicked off with the opening ceremonies at 7pm at the ATB Financial Outdoor Stage. The ceremonies were be hosted by Fringe Theatre artistic director Murray Utas and artistic associate Hunter Cardinal, and featured 20 Fringe artists and taiko drum group Booming Tree.

August 17 – KidsFringe expands

This year, KidsFringe moved a few blocks east to the Strathcona Community League (10139-87 Avenue). Mel’s first review was of Big Ol Show, “one of the Fringe’s more popular shows, and one that received a lot of early buzz.”

August 18 – Fringing on the streets: outdoor performances

Everyone’s first Fringe show is probably an outdoor performance. In this edition, Mel reviewed Beers About Songs, “Ryan Adam Wells’ heartfelt musical storytelling show.”

August 19 – Eat your way through the Fringe

The Fringe received about 50 applications from food vendors, about half of which made it in. From Mel’s review of Maybe Baby: “What starts out as fun voyeurism quickly starts to feel not so fun, maybe even wrong.”

August 20 – Daily Discount tickets

The Daily Discount Booth was introduced a few years ago as a way for people to see shows for less than the usual price of a ticket. Every day of the Fringe, tickets to a different set of shows are available at discounted rates. In this edition, Mel reviewed Buyer & Cellar, “the Edmonton debut of Jonathan Tolins’ off-Broadway hit.”

August 21 – Fresh and fabulous Fringe finds

Part of the charm of the Fringe is browsing through all the artisan tents scattered throughout the grounds. There were over 40 artisan vendors at the Fringe, some of whom have been Fringing for years and others who were brand new to the festival. Mel reviewed Balls of Yarn, an “unapologetically odd” show that “you can send your friends to if they want to see something more out-there.”

August 22 – Imbibing at the Fringe

Grabbing a drink in the beer tent between shows is one of the best parts of the Fringe. There were three booze tents on site. From Mel’s review of One Thousand Flowers Blooming: “Putting my phone in a microwave was a Fringe first for me.”

August 23 – Browsing books at the Fringe

Books probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind when thinking about the Fringe, but the festival actually has some great options for bibliophiles. In this edition, Mel reviewed Thunderprov, which is “long-form improv punctuated by a number of mini, non-sequitur scenes riffed off some aspect of the main event.”

August 24 – Digging through the festival archives

Fringe ‘O’ Saurus Rex was the 37th incarnation of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. The first festival was held in August 1982 and was founded by Brian Paisley, who was the artistic director of Chinook Theatre at the time. From Mel’s review of An Anthology of Ghastly Tales: “The first bit is definitely the spookiest and I would have enjoyed a couple more honest attempts for a good scare, but the campiness was fun too.”

August 25 – How much does it cost to do a Fringe show?

Staging a Fringe play costs more than you might think. Even a simple one-man show requires a fairly big chunk of cash, so performers need to budget carefully. In this edition, Mel reviewed WASP, “a play written by Hollywood funny guy Steve Martin.”

August 26 – Holdovers make the Fringe last a little longer

Every year, the Fringe selects a half dozen shows for its Holdover Series and gives them an extended run for another few days after the end of the festival. This year’s holdovers run from Wednesday, August 29 to Saturday, September 1. Mel’s final review was of Eddie Poe. “Even if you haven’t read a word of Poe, there’s a lot to like about Eddie Poe,” she wrote.

That’s a wrap on the Fringe Roundup for 2018. Thanks for reading along. Enjoy the holdovers!