Ottawa Fringe Festival
Performances all take place in downtown Ottawa. Three of the regular stages are located at the University of Ottawa, including Alumni Auditorium, Studio Léonard-Beaulne, and Academic Hall. Two others are located at Arts Court: Arts Court Theatre and Arts Court Library. The venues are all within walking distance of one another.
Fringe Shows and Attractions
Throughout the festival, a Courtyard is set up just outside of Arts Court to provide refreshment and a location for mingling with the artists.
Most Fringe performances are plays, and most last an hour or less, though since 2009, a limited number of 90 minute spots have been available. The content of the plays varies since acceptance to the festival is by lottery, and the shows are not juried in any way. Because Ottawa is a bilingual city, both English and French productions are presented at the Fringe, though a small number of productions in past years have been bilingual.
Each patron must purchase a $2 Fringe Pin, which is valid for the entire festival. No admittance will be granted to a ticketed performance unless the patron is wearing a Fringe Pin. The proceeds from selling the pins help to defray the costs of putting on the festival.
Most performances are ticketed events, and require the purchase of a ticket on top of the Fringe Pin. Tickets generally cost $10, and each performance's opening show is usually a two-for-one special. For those attending multiple shows, discounted admission is available in the form of five- and ten-show passes, for $40 and $70 respectively. In keeping with the core mandate of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals, one hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales go to the performers.
Performing at the Ottawa Fringe
The Fringe seeks to minimize its impact on the artistic decisions of its performers. Thus the festival allocates its limited stage time by lottery, with a certain percentage put aside for local, Canadian, and international troupes. Each winning troupe will get to perform its show in the same venue at different times, from a little after noon to midnight, over several days. The rotation of time slots helps to even out the audience-dampening effects of performing late at night or when most people are at work.
Since anyone able to meet an application fee can apply to perform at the Fringe, and berths are awarded by lottery, the quality of the shows can vary widely.
The Ottawa Fringe has spawned at least one international success. Ottawa playwright and actor Pierre Brault's one person show, Blood on the Moon, tells of the trial, (perhaps wrongful) conviction, and execution of Patrick J. Whelan for D'Arcy McGee's murder. After its successful Fringe run, Brault performed Blood on the Moon at the National Arts Centre, toured the show across Canada, and even brought it to Ireland.
Audiences at the Fringe are encouraged to vote for their favourite shows from each venue; the most popular troupes are allowed to remount their productions for one last show at the end of the festival. The most popular company gets to remount their show later shortly after the festival.