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Attending the Fringe Festival in Toronto, Ontario: Theatre Festivals Held in the Summertime in Southern Ontario

Published by Ira Leduke

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There are three things to remember when attending The Fringe, Toronto’s theatre festival. Bring cash, prepare for anything, and most importantly, be on time. Late comers will not be admitted, ever.

There are 29 different Fringe venues this year, all situated in downtown Toronto. Some of the shows are performed in actual theatres but the more daring spots this summer include a third-floor bathroom in a community center and the loading dock of a department store.

Insider Information and Meeting Other Fringe Fans

The epicentre of the festival is at The Fringe Club, (292 Brunswick Ave.) located in the city’s Annex neighbourhood. The lively beer tent is often buzzing with “Fringers” discussing what they have seen before heading out to catch the next show.

All of the Fringe venues are either within walking distance of The Fringe Club or easily accessed by public transportation. Tickets for each show will go on sale one hour prior to the start time at the designated venue. Leave ample time to ensure a ticket and a seat. All Fringe shows run on a first come, first seated and the festival is highly attended by locals and visitors alike.

Although a small portion of advance tickets can be purchased online for each show, part of the true Fringe experience is what happens in line before the show. Quite often there will be street musicians and entertainers, as well as cast members from other shows out promoting their work.

The History and Rules of the Fringe Festival

The Fringe is not new, nor is it exclusive to Toronto. In fact, the idea of the Fringe began in Edinburgh, U.K. more than 50 years ago. The concept is to allow all artists the opportunity to produce their show regardless of “content, form or style.”

What helps to make the Fringe unique is how the productions are chosen. The entertainers don’t need to be famous or established as an actor or writer. Anyone with an idea and the entrance fee can apply. The Fringe is run on a lottery system and it is literally the luck of the draw.

Each show cannot be longer than 90 minutes, though the bulk of the shows are about an hour long. To ensure that there is a wide range of artists represented at the festival the mandate is always 75% local, 15% national and 10% international production companies.

Important Things to Remember and Rules to Fringe By

The Fringe Festival is unjuried and the content of the shows can be anything from a lighthearted comedy to an offensive political farce. Check the free Fringe program (available at most venues) for any audience warnings and age limits.

  • Be on time.
  • Always bring cash.
  • Remember sunscreen and water.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.

See plays, musicals and dance productions at bargain prices at the Fringe of Toronto festival, running in various locations in downtown Toronto from July 1 to 12, 2009.

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