A RICH MIX:
This year the Fringe will stage performances by 50 companies at 10 local venues
Vicktoria Adam knew she must be on the stage after seeing “Death of a Salesman” performed in London, England, in her late teens.
“I had seen a lot of musical theatre, but that was my first professional show of straight theatre,” she said. “I remember the scene at the end, when it’s Willy’s funeral. Seeing the actor cry — and her whole body was crying — was so amazing. … It was big and personal and she was able to share it with everyone.”
Adam will stage her one-woman play, “Midnight Circle,” from July 21 to 23 at the Factory Media Centre as part of the 14th Hamilton Fringe Festival, running July 20 to 30 in downtown Hamilton.
A native of a small northern Alberta town, Adam moved to Toronto to study acting, singing and dancing at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. She said she loves the communal experience that’s unique to theatre.
“You’re telling a story onstage and it’s only going to happen that way that night. It can never be exactly recreated,” she said. “And the same happens with the audience. It’s a moment in time that can never be recreated again, and I think that’s very special.”
Adam’s foray into writing plays began a few years ago. This is the first time the 30-year-old will perform her own work, which is about a woman who thinks she’s cursed.
“It will be a little nerve-racking. As actors, we use others’ words. I’ve never performed my own.”
Adam moved to Hamilton four months ago and said she’s excited about the city’s theatrical community.
“The potential feels really positive and really great,” she said. “I cannot wait to see where I fit myself into this theatre community.”
Claire Calnan, Fringe Festival executive director, said despite its turbulent history, the festival is blossoming and this year boasts about 50 companies from Hamilton and the surrounding area as well as Brazil, New Zealand and the United States. Organizers received 100 entries; participants were selected lottery-style during an open event.
“It’s stressful and fun,” Calnan said. “It’s the saddest party because half (of the guests) are bummed out.”
Comedian Martha Chavez will kick off the festival on July 19 at the Lincoln Alexander Centre, with each theatre company presenting a 90-second ex-
cerpt from their show, giving fans an opportunity to plot their schedules.
A fringe festival’s affordability allows artists to take risks, Calnan said. The hit TV show “Kim’s Convenience” was originally a play at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival.
“There are huge costs with producing a show. With the Fringe, there is a participation fee and then we have group marketing, promotion, you get a venue, technicians and front of house support,” she said. “A lot of professional theatre people do shows that are riskier. They try them out in front of an audience to see if it works … It also gives rise to voices that are marginalized by featuring them on a larger stage.”
Hamilton playwright Andrew Lee will stage his play, “Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench,” at the Players Guild on July 21 and 22, 24 and 25, and 28 to 30.
A St. Catharines native, Lee moved to Hamilton in 2005 when he married Katrine Raymond, a music teacher and freelance writer. The couple are parents to daughters Nora and Iris.
An English teacher at Toronto’s Father John Redmond, Lee came to playwriting with the Toronto Fringe Festival’s 24 Hour Play Contest in 2009, where his “The Last Buffalo” finished second.
In 2012, he entered the same contest, where participants are given four elements and 24 hours to pen a play. Lee got a lemur ball, deepest trench, zeitgeist and the phrase “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” to work with. His creation, “Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench,” where a man shoots himself on a busy subway car yet no one claims to have seen it happen, took first place.
He expanded the piece and returned to the Toronto Fringe Festival the following year, where it finished second in the Toronto New Play Contest. Since then, he’s entered the play in other festivals, often receiving accolades. And it’s the 2017 Hamilton Fringe New Play Contest winner.
Lee said Hamilton is emerging as a serious theatre hub.
“When I first (moved) here, it wasn’t quite the same,” he said. “We have Fringe and Frost Bite, and there are a lot of theatre (companies) getting going … People in Toronto are looking at Hamilton. People are paying attention. This is a pretty good place to get noticed. People can have a good career doing theatre here. We’re at the place in time when things are really getting going.”
“Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench.” Isaac Lloyd, Lindsay Wu, Ed Heeley, Arun Varma, Claire Renaud. The Hamilton Fringe Festival runs July 20 to 30.
“The Secret of Castle Alphabet.” Mark Holmes, Rebecca Schnell
“For Eden’s” Chelsea Haraburda
“Midnight Circle.” Vicktoria Adam
“Acts of Fiction.” Rebekah Pullen, Sara Laux, Pat Skinner
‘The ADHD Project.” Carlyn Rhamey