2012 Toronto Fringe Festival: Site Specific Shows

Get your theatre outdoors, in a bar or on a bus at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival

Cast of Socratic Theatre Collective's Terry Pratchett's MORT. Photo by Jonathan East.

Terry Pratchett's MORT

 What: Fantasy fans rejoice! Terry Pratchett's novel about Death's apprentice comes to life in Stephen Brigg's stage adaptation (presented by Socratic Theatre Collective).

Where: University-College Quadrangle (15 Kings College Circle).

Why: We asked Socratic Theatre Collective artistic director Liz Bragg what makes site-specific theatre exciting.

A: It's exciting because it's AWESOME. I know, maybe not the most articulate response, but it's the most honest I can give. There's an automatic reaction to site-specific theatre which leads everyone, not just theatre people, to go "that's so cool!".

Ok, so why does everyone react that way? My theory is that it's because people like the contrast between the reality of the space and the constructed reality of theatre. That contrast can be a collision between reality and theatre (is that person walking down the street going to walk through the scene?), or it can be a merging of two realities (this real bar is now playing the role of a fictional bar, and the fictional characters are sitting around just like the real customers). You don't get that in traditional theatre; reality there is controlled in every aspect by the production. Put it this way: in traditional theatre, reality has been tamed. In site-specific theatre, it's wild.

The Taming of the Shrew

 What: Shakespeare's controversial comedy about courtship, marriage and love finds new life in a staging by Shakespeare BASH'd.

Where: The Victory Cafe (581 Markham St.)

Why: We asked producer Rob Kraszewski what makes site-specific theatre exciting.

A: I think site-specific theatre is exciting because it showcases the adaptive power of the theatre in a very tangible way. In our production, we place William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in a bar, where the audience is able to drink beer, revel, and have the play occur all around them, creating an immersive experience.

This is a play that would have been performed for the rowdy masses in Elizabethan England, and bringing it outside of the confines of the theatre into an unconventional space like the Victory Cafe not only allows the play to grow and change with its surroundings, it also nods towards the history of the text. Site-specific theatre allow artists to shake off the perceived ostentation that can come with presenting your work in a traditional space and simply present their work for consumption. It's really quite freeing, in the sense that it puts the focus on the work, showing that art can exist anywhere.

Camp Shecky. A Play on a Bus

 What: Sassy Roo Productions presents Camp Schecky. A Play on a Bus by Nicki Gallo. "Get your camp on" with the quirky staff as the bus drives through the streets of Toronto.

Where: Honest Ed's Parking Lot (581 Bloor St. West)

Why: We asked the show's creator Nicki Gallo what makes site-specific theatre exciting.

A: Site-specific theatre is exciting because you are able to step further into the world of the play. The setting is all around you and your imagination and senses are triggered. For example, with our show Camp Schecky. A Play on a Bus, you will hear the hum of the engine, feel the plastic seats, watch the city pass by as you look out the window which are all a part of riding to summer camp. Hopefully site-specific theatre isn't just about the novelty of the location but like every good show, it tells a story and the actors and audience are changed after being on that bus, or in that bra store, or in that bar, or taxi, or gallery, or church...

Visit fringetoronto.com for a full list of site-specific shows.



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