August 21, 2017


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Fringe festival comes close to new record

The 30th edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival scored the second-highest indoor attendance in its history, coming up short of the heights of its 2015 record.

But it was close, says festival executive producer Chuck McEwen, who helped organize a record-breaking number of shows — 188 — over the 12 days of the annual fest, which ran from July 19 to 30 in 30 venues throughout downtown Winnipeg.

After crunching the numbers, McEwen says this year’s attendance totalled 104,908, "just shy of 105,000."

That eclipses every other Winnipeg fringe with the noteworthy exception of the 2015 edition, which broke the festival’s previous records with an indoor attendance number of 108,706 for 182 shows.

The 188 shows (two shows cancelled before the festival began) were mounted by 186 companies.

Fringe vets Mike Delamont and James & Jamesy each had two shows playing this year.

"It was a very strong year artistically," McEwen says. "It seemed like a phenomenal amount of exceptional work this year.

"The other thing that was new was the ticket price change," McEwen says, referring to an uptick of one or two dollars for admission to 60 per cent of the shows, with the remaining 40 per cent sticking with the $10 admission.

"I didn’t hear a lot of complaints about the ticket price change, but you never know if it might have affected how many shows certain patrons could attend this year."

The fest did set a new daily record in its 30-year history when 10,840 tickets were sold on July 22, despite a torrential afternoon rainfall.

McEwen says that overall, the weather was certainly more favourable than last year, when it rained for five days of the festival. Three evenings of performances were all but rained out.

The 31st edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is slotted for July 18 to 29, 2018.

On Sunday night, the Rintoul Award for Best New Manitoba Play at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, established by the Manitoba Association of Playwrights to honour the memory of playwright Harry Rintoul, was awarded to Wren Brian, the Whitehorse-born, Winnipeg-based author of the absurdist drama Anomie, which played at Venue 30, the Platform Centre.

The award includes $500 and a SuperPass donated by the fringe festival. Twitter: @FreepKing

Read more by Randall King.


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