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