Fringe Forges Ahead: artist applications open for 2021


It’s 10 days that can be a foot-in-the-door for emerging artists and gives long-time thespians a chance to tell the stories they’ve always wanted to. 25th Street Theatre is putting out the call for performers for the Saskatoon Fringe Festival (July 29 – August 7, 2021) and space is limited. The organization is honouring commitments to six theatre companies that decided to defer last year but, the rest are still up for grabs.

When the pandemic hit, 25th Street Theatre focused on meeting the audience and performers’ level of comfort. The result was a combination of in-person and virtual performances that brought plenty of Fringe-like fun to the community through the This is NOT That Festival. Opportunities for live performance are rare right now and 25th Street Theatre wants artists to take full advantage of the 2021 Fringe.

“You don’t have to wait for someone else to validate your art. Your name gets pulled from a hat, literally, and the space is yours.”

Executive Director Anita Smith and her team have reimagined the Saskatoon Fringe with safety and comfort in mind. (Photo Provided)

“This is the moment where we go back to the roots of who we are as artists and figure out what we want to say,” says executive director Anita Smith. “The Fringe creates that chance for theatre artists. You don’t have to wait for someone else to validate your art. Your name gets pulled from a hat, literally, and the space is yours.”

This year’s festival will have space for 12 companies to perform live at The Refinery, Broadway Theatre and an outdoor stage in W.E. Graham Park. 2021 will also see the return of the Live from Your Lawn touring shows. There will also be workshops for all ages on the program. International artists will participate in this year’s festival virtually. Those will be available online but also at the Broadway Theatre through special viewing parties where audiences can enjoy several international performances at once.

Yulissa Campos performing in the 2020 Live from Your Lawn event as part of the This is NOT That Festival. (Nicole Stevenson)

“We all have different comfort levels right now,” says Smith. “We want theatre to be accessible for everyone. If that means we bring the show right to your home, that’s what we do.”

Last year proved that fringing safely during a pandemic is possible and 25th Street Theatre hopes artists will come along for the ride. New this year is the Diverse Voices program. Thanks to support from the David Edney Fund for Theatre, three performance spaces will be available Indigenous artists, artists of colour, and newcomers to Canada: at no charge.

For Smith, this year is all about continuing to be an artistic leader on the Fringe circuit and connecting community along the way.

“Fringes around the world are trying to come up with ways for this to work safely,” says Smith. “It’s important because of what the Fringe brings to our artists and what it brings to our community. We could all use a little joy right not and I hope our festival provides that this summer.”

Applications for the 2021 Saskatoon Fringe Festival are open February 23 – March 13. For more information, follow this link.