Five from the Fringe: A Selection of Five Plays First Performed at the Fringe Theatre Event
David E. Kemp is a drama professor at Queen’s University and the
author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.
Five from the Fringe isa collection of new experimental plays first performed at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. Its publication is significant: it allows us to sample some of the most imaginative and innovative experimental writing in Canada today, and it makes this work more widely available for further production.
Ken Brown’s “Life After Hockey” a wistful, funny one-man show uses a national pastime to explore a national identity. Brown, a sometime hockey player himself has made a reputation based on this particular genre as his one-man dramas “Flounder-ing” and “Alma’s Night Out” attest. “The Betrayal,” by bilingual Saskatchewan playwright Laurier Gareau, dramatizes the confrontation between Gabriel Dumont and Father Moulin, priest of Batoche, over the Church’s supposed betrayal of the Metis cause in 1885. “One Beautiful Evening,” a collective compilation written by Small Change Theatre, combines dialogue, masque, and mime to depict two senior citizens out for the evening at a bingo parlour. The play’s multi-media approach does not conflict with a touching simplicity which is most affecting. “The Land Called Morning,” though scripted by John and Gordon Selkirk, is essentially another collaborative work, this time from the Montreal Lake Indian Band. It has an honesty and directness which makes it one of the best examples of indigenous theatre I have come across. The collection is rounded out by what is probably the most “theatrical” of all the plays in the production. “Cut” by Lyle Victor Albert has touches of both the surreal and absurd about it. Gathered in a kind of celestial rest home are a group of characters from well-known plays. As these characters play out their fantasies in a sort of eclectic purgatory, we are treated to a theatre style which is both challenging and sophisticated.
Yet again, NeWest Press, together with this collection’s Editor Nancy Bell and overall Drama Editor Diane Bessai, are to be congratulated for their imagination and foresight in bringing these experimental plays to what I am certain will be a wide and appreciative audience.