What’s old is new again: Saskatoon Fringe Festival features theatre, art, and a Broadway return

Elias Faingersh performs part of his show "A Solo from the Pit" for Saskatoon Fringe previews on July 27, 2022. (Supplied / Photo by Nicole Stevenson Photography)

It’s that time of year again — the Saskatoon Fringe Festival is back once more.

But it’s not the same old festival gracing the Broadway District for another year. 25th Street Theatre, which runs the festival, has added a few new wrinkles and is bringing back some old hits from festivals of years past.

“I see how (the Fringe) is an opportunity for artists to connect directly with their audience, to experiment, to try something new,” 25th Street Theatre artistic and executive director Anita Smith said.

The classic attractions of the Fringe Festival are still around: new theatre shows by local and touring artists, buskers and artisans, a variety of food trucks and activities for all ages in W.E. Graham Park behind École Victoria. But this year the Fringe is bringing back one key feature of previous iterations — a street fair on Broadway itself.

“Broadway Days” on August 5th and 6th will close off Broadway Avenue from noon until 10 p.m. and bring vendors and performers out onto the street. The street festival — a collaboration between the Fringe and the Broadway Business Improvement District (BID) — is a callback to the days when the Fringe fair took place almost entirely on the street.

“I know people are nostalgic for those days we were a big presence on Broadway,” Smith said. “We will go back on Broadway for two days, we’re able to do that because we have the support of the Broadway BID … this is quite an experiment this year.”

There are some new additions to the formula this year, as well — the first annual Fringe Fun Run, a 5K run or walk in solidarity and support of the Fringe, will take place on August 6th.

Another new event honours a renowned Saskatchewan artist: the Thelma Pepper Art Walk on the final day of the Fringe invites participants to walk along a pre-set path to take pictures with Polaroid cameras to create a large collaborative art project from the photos.

The event honours Pepper, a Saskatchewan photographer whose most iconic work captured the spirit of the Prairies with black-and-white photos of rural women and men.

And all of these events, old and new, don’t take into account the 18 new Fringe theatre shows on display across three stages in the Broadway area.

“You don’t have to walk in and buy a ticket right away. You can walk around the site, pick up a program, see what interests you,” Smith said. “But you just have to set foot on the site. It’s a vibrant place of creativity, of risk-taking. It’s just an exciting place to be.”

Numbers that Matter – The Saskatoon Fringe Festival:

126 — The number of ticketed shows during the run of the Fringe Festival

$16 and $13 — The price of a general admission ticket and a youth (12 and under) ticket for shows, respectively

200 — The number of busking shows across the Fringe grounds during the festival

10 — How many food trucks will be serving delicious dishes

60 — The number of artisans who will be showing and selling their work

110 — the number of volunteers who help make the festival a reality

5th and 6th — The dates of the Broadway Days street fair

The Saskatoon Fringe Festival runs from August 3rd to 12th, 2023. Admittance to the festival grounds is free; tickets for theatre shows can be purchased in-person or online at www.25thstreettheatre.org.

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