Kelly Straughan, the Fringe’s new head hon­cho

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The Fringe’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Kelly Straughan, knows ex­actly what it means to have a show drawn in the Fringe lot­tery.

“It’s im­por­tant to have a non-cu­rated fes­ti­val that gives ev­ery­one from the school­teacher writ­ing a first play to the sea­soned veteran an op­por­tu­nity to be part of this kind of event,” says Straughan as she pre­pares for the fest’s 25th edi­tion.

“The Fringe has been part of my ca­reer since I di­rected a pro­duc­tion in 2004. It led me to do an M.A. in di­rect­ing, and I honed my craft in later Fringe and Next Stage shows such as Time­bomb, Wake and The Red Queen Ef­fect.

“Over the years, I started to ap­pre­ci­ate the Fringe on a wider scale – what it does for the arts ecol­ogy as a whole. I see it as a way to test the wa­ters, em­pow­er­ing artists to ex­press them­selves and pro­duce their own work and not feel they have to sit and wait for some­one else to ini­ti­ate.”

That led to the re­al­iza­tion that the Fringe, a phe­nom­e­non that has branches across the coun­try, is about more than a per­son or group putting on a play.

“It’s big­ger than that, in­volv­ing au­di­ences meet­ing the art­works and artists ex­press­ing them­selves.”

For the Fringe’s sil­ver an­niver­sary, Straughan’s planned some spe­cial events, in­clud­ing an alumni party at the Tran­zac Club on July 11, a se­ries of buskers, bands and food trucks at the Fringe Club and an un­der­ground dance party July 6 on the sec­ond level of Hon­est Ed’s park­ing garage.

“That way,” she smiles,” we don’t have to worry about be­ing too noisy for the neigh­bours. It gives us a chance to party like it’s 1989, when some of us were a lot younger.”

Events like that can draw peo­ple even if they’re not reg­u­lar theatre­go­ers.

“And when some­one is hav­ing fun at the fes­ti­val, they’re likely to take in other parts of it and see a play.” JON KA­PLAN

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