Surprises in Store
by Brendan McNally
“Actors love to dress up,” Zach Counsil tells me at the recent Fringe Festival Media Launch, “and I can’t really get into details, but there’ll be big surprises on the Fringe-O-Ween night.”
Counsil, this year’s Courtyard Host, is referring to one of the many events planned at the Ottawa Fringe Festival Courtyard on Daly Street. It’s the place where theatre goers and performers can relax between shows, exchange personal reviews or dress up for 90s Prom night, another bit of fun planned. “This year the Courtyard will be an event to itself,” says Counsil of the schedule, which also includes burlesque shows, karaoke and free concerts.
It’s all part of the 17th annual Ottawa Fringe Festival, the capital’s largest theatre festival with 14 downtown venues showcasing 54 productions and more than 300 performances from June 20-30. “It’s the first year that it’s mathematically impossible to see every show,” says Festival Coordinator Melanie Karin Brown.
This year’s festival once again features a lineup of local, national and international acts. The furthest group travelling here is Sri Lanka’s Nishandhi Dance Troupe, while Sappho…in 9 fragments is coming over from London, England. The latter has a local connection as Ottawa’s own Jessica Ruano directed the solo performance that’s been receiving rave reviews.
Says Ruano, writing from London where the play just closed, “I love the Ottawa Fringe Festival for its contagious energy, accessible venues, and dedicated artists. I’ve been involved in the festival over the years as a volunteer, as a promoter, and as a reviewer. I’m thrilled to come back this time as a director and to introduce Victoria Grove, who plays Sappho, to my wonderful hometown.”