25 THINGS YOU CAN’T MISS AT THIS YEAR’S FEST

NOW Magazine - Fringe - - Front page -

The Toronto Fringe, the lit­tle An­nex the­atre fes­ti­val that could, is 25 this year. It’s grown to a whop­ping 148 pro­duc­tions in 33 venues all around the city. How to choose from among the come­dies, dra­mas, site-spe­cific ad­ven­tures, dance works and ev­ery­thing in be­tween? Check out our reviews (at now­toronto.com/ fringe). And, in hon­our of the sil­ver an­niver­sary, here are 25 things you can’t miss.

THE TORONTO FRINGE THE­ATRE FES­TI­VAL fea­tur­ing 148 lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies at 35 venues. Opens Wed­nes­day (July 3) and runs to July 14. $10 at the door, ad­vance $11 (in­cludes $2 ser­vice charge); FringeKids $5 for those 12 and un­der. Ad­vance tick­ets sold up to three hours prior to show­time, on­line, by phone or from July 3 at the fes­ti­val box of­fice at the Fringe Club (581 Bloor West). At least half of all tick­ets go on sale at the venue one hour be­fore show­time. No late­com­ers. See com­plete Fringe list­ings at now­toronto. com/fringe. 416-966-1062, fringe­toronto.com.

You might be tempted to leave your cell­phone on dur­ing Alex Nuss­baum’s Fringe show. In Hand­book To The Fu­ture: A Brave New Wor­rier, the writer and stand-up dis­cusses our de­pen­dence on tech­nol­ogy and will likely be il­lus­trat­ing his show with his own iPhone 4S.

“Hey, I’m guilty of con­stantly check­ing it if there’s noth­ing else to do,” says the lanky comic, hold­ing up the phone dur­ing our in­ter­view. “I see it as a sort of tran­si­tion tech­nol­ogy. In­evitably, it’s just go­ing to one day be a part of us. Cell-sized robots in our brain will link us to a cloud. And we’ll be able to com­mu­ni­cate tele­path­i­cally with peo­ple around the world, cre­at­ing a sort of hive mind.”

Through mono­logues, sketches and the oc­ca­sional mul­ti­me­dia dis­play, he com­pares tech­nol­ogy to re­li­gion and dis­cusses how our phones have be­come the way we seek com­mu­nity and con­nec­tion.

The North York-raised per­former has al­ways been pretty cere­bral – he started out want­ing to be­come a sci­en­tist. Even in his com­edy act, he’s used to com­mu­ni­cat­ing big ideas. But a the­atre is dif­fer­ent from Yuk Yuk’s, and he’s look­ing for­ward to de­liv­er­ing a show with­out hav­ing to con­stantly get laughs.

He be­gan work on it after tem­po­rar­ily giv­ing up stand-up. In L.A., he tried to get his green card and was mak­ing in­roads in writ­ing, voice work and act­ing when he was told he wasn’t ap­proved and, after stay­ing in the coun­try a few more months, had to re­turn home.

“My tim­ing wasn’t great,” he says, laugh­ing. “I ar­rived in L.A. six months be­fore the writ­ers’ strike, and then the econ­omy col­lapsed. I ended up los­ing a bit of my en­thu­si­asm.”

But things are look­ing up. After the Fringe show, he’s tap­ing a Just For Laughs set for TV broad­cast, and af­ter­wards he’ll be work­ing on new com­edy ma­te­rial for a CD.

But first he has to fig­ure out if he’s go­ing to al­low tweet­ing and cell­phones dur­ing his show.

“We’ve got a Twit­ter hash­tag, #new­wor­rier, so you can tweet any of your wor­ries about tech­nol­ogy us­ing it,” he says. “But there’s no WiFi in the the­atre, and do I re­ally want peo­ple on their phones while I’m talk­ing?

“This is my first Fringe show, and it’s al­ready am­bi­tious that I’ve got tech and stuff. I don’t know if I need any­thing else to worry about.” If the show’s video el­e­ments fail, he’s pre­pared. “I’ve got an old-fash­ioned easel,” he says. “Be­cause one thing tech­nol­ogy teaches you is you al­ways need backup.” GLENN SUMI

From July 4 at the Tar­ragon Ex­tra Space.

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