Audiences out in force for this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival

ON STAGE

What: Victoria Fringe Festival
Where: Various locations, including Victoria Event Centre, Langham Court Theatre, Metro Studio Theatre and more
When: Through Sept. 1
Tickets: $11 and under at the door of each event, with a $6 membership button from Ticket Rocket (1050 Meares St.) or Fringe HQ(1609 Blanshard St.)

The good news for those interested in the ongoing health of the Victoria Fringe Festival is that the alternative theatre showcase has been on the receiving end of huge crowds during its in-progress 33rd edition. The bad news for theatregoers who can’t plan their way out of a wet paper bag is that they will need to change their ways or miss out on some of the best theatre programming in the country this week.

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Following the Victoria Fringe Festival’s opening night on Aug. 21, audiences have been out en masse for productions both local and international, according to marketing and development manager Sean Guist of the Intrepid Theatre Company, which produces the Victoria Fringe.

“People are really paying attention. They are doing their research and are really looking at what shows have buzz coming in.”

Advance tickets to 20 shows have sold out thus far, and organizers are expecting a further 10 to sell out by the time the 12-day festival wraps on Sunday. “We have had more advance sell-outs than ever before,” Guist said. “And we’ve had shows sell out this year before the performers have even arrived, which is crazy. And that is even for shows that have never been here before. That has never happened.”

There is a silver lining. While a performance with acclaim can wreak havoc on those making last-minute decisions — producers make 50 per cent of the tickets to each performance available in advance — the remaining half are sold at the door. With careful planning, attendees will have every opportunity to see a performance.

Previous editions of the Victoria Fringe have boasted shows from 58 participating theatre companies, but this year’s edition is down to 47. That makes the number of tickets sold all the more impressive, according to Guist.

“We were seven tickets shy of setting a record last week, but this is a smaller festival. This many shows selling out in advance is incredible, and is something I haven’t seen in my seven years here.”

Josephine, Into the Tango, GRL PWR, 5-Step Guide to Being German and Dear Samantha are among the performances that have enjoyed sold-out success thus far. Guist said those hoping to see some other hits this week should plan in advance if they are eager to see performances such as False Profits, Jon Bennett: Playing With Men, Lub Dub, 13 Dead Dreams of “Eugene” and Ingenue.

The Victoria Fringe is part of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals, and takes place near the end of the Fringe season. That means shows making their way across the country arrive at Fringes in Victoria and Vancouver (Sept. 5–15) with some wind beneath their wings.

Guist’s advice is to plan now for performances taking place days down the road.

“Tickets go on sale an hour before each performance, so I would get there early to grab those tickets. That’s the great thing — you do have a chance. There are tickets for you.

“Most of the venues are close together, so if you are at a show and can’t get in, wait for 15 minutes and there’s another show starting somewhere else that you can get to.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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