Fringe logo 2016
The Toronto Fringe Festival opens today, but even before the first show goes up, the fest’s unveiled a dramatic new venture: the location of their new Fringe Club.
This year marks the final one that the hub of the festival – where you can buy tickets, attend a talk, get information, eat, drink and gossip before and after shows and late into the night – takes place in and behind Honest Ed’s alleyway. The festival is marking the occasion with a marketing campaign in homage to the institution, complete with a great big shiny logo mimicking the store’s brightly-lit signage.
This time next year, though, it’s moving south to Scadding Court Community Centre, at the southeast corner of Bathurst and Dundas.
While some people were thinking Central Tech might have been the obvious move – after all, it’s not being used in the summer, no? – SCCC is a decent spot. Festival venues Theatre Passe Muraille and Factory Theatre are a few minutes away, and many site-specific shows often take place in nearby spaces.
The move will certainly change the feel of the festival. The current Fringe Club, located right on Bloor West, fits right into the student-fed liveliness of the Annex. While Dundas West is becoming more popular – and hey, there’s a 24-hour Mickey Dee’s there – it doesn’t have the same vibrancy. For now, anyway.
It’ll also be harder to get to by subway, although there are streetcars on Bathurst, Dundas and Queen.
The ever-popular beer gardens will take up residence in the SCCC parking lot, and the outdoor hockey rink will house an arts market, complete with performance stage. There’s no word yet on whether those shipping container-style eateries along the south side of Dundas will take part or extend their hours. They’ve done a lot to transform the neighbourhood.
The festival is looking to integrate the Scadding Court Drama Interact program for youth and young adults who are physically or developmentally challenged into the fest. And it will be working with Scadding Court’s Newcomer Integration Program to provide work and volunteer opportunities. All good things.
The festival will continue to grow. While it will be sad to say goodbye to the little concrete paradise that is Honest Ed’s Alley in the summer, and it’s very convenient to step out of a show at the Randolph or Annex and be right at the Fringe Club, the new spot is promising.
There are a lot of opportunities for site-specific shows nearby, including a public pool and a library. And SCCC is surrounded by a park, which will likely become the site of many brain-storming or romantic post-Fringe Club walks and talks.
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