While the 2015 London Fringe Festival may be months away, Executive Producer Kathy Navackas is not resting on her laurels after a highly successful 2014 event. She has been hard at work planning and organizing the annual 12-day theatre festival, staging a couple of one-off Fringe shows, and securing new venues for the shows which will entertain Londoners June 2 to 13.
Heading into its sixteenth year, the London Fringe has for all intents and purposes become a full-time, year-round event for the ubiquitous Navackas.
This September, the Fringe reprised Judy: Stonewalled!, one of the most popular shows from the June festival with Jayson McDonald’s Magic Unicorn Island (formerly known as World War Three) on the same bill.
Navackas is excited about two Fringe productions coming up in January and February. First up is Jon Lachlan Stewart’s show Big Shot, a co-production of the Fringe and London’s Grand Theatre, being staged in the McManus Studio Theatre in the Grand Theatre, January 22 to 24.
In light of recent events in the United States, the show’s plot is extremely timely, as this synopsis from the show’s Press Release suggests:
“A shooting has just occurred on the Vancouver Skytrain, and a twelve-year-old boy who was at the scene of the crime retells it all for the audience, in the style of his favorite action movies. Complete with slo-mo stops, freeze frames and fast-forwards, the boy weaves in and out of every character involved, all a part of Vancouver’s diverse, fractured communities. Big Shot is a portrait of the cultural tensions that spark violence within an urban community — and a riveting piece of multi-media physical theatre.”
Playwright Jon Lachlan Stewart is electrifying in the role of the boy, says Navackas. “It’s a really, really good high energy show done up in movie form and we’re thrilled to be co-producing the show with the Grand,” says Navackas. “Stewart’s physical transformation into the various characters is spellbinding and not to be missed.”
For a preview, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzHOsW4GF18&feature=youtu.be
Some artists approach the London Fringe to come back when on they are on tour. Such is the case with Mike Delamont, who brings his highly popular God is a Scottish Drag Queen, back to London for three encore performances February 19 to 21 at the Grand Theatre’s McManus Studio Theatre.
Written and performed by Delamont, God is a Scottish Drag Queen was an audience favourite and was selected as the Funniest entry in the 2014 festival. It will be the perfect antidote for the February blues!
Navackas says an amazing line-up of new and returning international, national and local theatre companies is already in place for the June London Fringe Festival. She is especially excited about the addition of three new Old East Village performance venues — the Palace Theatre, Procunier Hall, and the Palace’s Rehearsal Hall (The Bank) — for Fringe 2015.
“Venue accessibility and affordability have been ongoing issues facing the London Fringe,” says Navackas. “We are unable to find enough affordable space in the downtown, so adding these three spaces will allow for the continued growth of the festival.”
Faith Coates, General Manager of the Palace, is thrilled with the news that the Fringe is coming east. “It was like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one — incredibly exciting news that we could put together three venues so that Fringe could make the OEV part of the Festival. We are over the moon and ready to welcome everything and everyone Fringe to the OEV culture district,” says Coates.
She adds, “Kathy and I have talked for years about bringing Fringe to the OEV. It has been a dream of ours for a long time and I am so happy that things finally fell into place. To be able to connect the downtown arts scene with the OEV is incredibly exciting and I know that everyone here is going to pull out all the stops to welcome all the Fringe patrons and troupers.”
The Fringe will continue to present festival offerings at the McManus Studio, Spriet Family Theatre, The Arts Project, and The Good Foundation Theatre. Popular activities like the Dundas Street Festival and Nuit Blanche will also continue in the downtown. New will be an Old East Village Street Festival on June 6.
For more information about the London Fringe, visit www.londonfringe.ca/
Also on the boards is the King’s Players’ Bare: A Pop Opera January 29-31 at King’s University College’s Kenny Theatre. According to Taylor Bogaert, one of the play’s producers, Bare is “centred on a group of friends in their senior year at a Catholic boarding school. The main characters, Peter and Jason, carry on a closeted romance. Peter wants to go public with their affair, but Jason isn’t so keen on the idea, and feels that his entire world would crumble if the relationship got out. The teenage characters of St. Cecelia’s deal with issues of sexual identity, diversity, inclusion, bullying, drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancy, same-sex marriage and suicide throughout the story.” Call 519-200-3430, or email KPtctickets@gmail.com for tickets.
Help celebrate theatre excellence in London at the 13th annual Brickenden Awards Night, January 26, at the Wolf Performance Hall. For more information, visit www.brickenden.org/
Rick Young, whose work has been published in local, regional and national print and online publications, was the Managing Editor, Publisher and founder of The Beat Magazine, an independent London arts magazine, from 2009 to 2014.