Theatre, Just Because announces inaugural Fort McMurray Fringe Festival

“We have so much art in the community. A fringe festival is a really great place to bring it all together,” said Bailey Yarkie of Theatre, Just Because.

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The Fort McMurray-based theatre company Theatre, Just Because (TJB) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the launch of the inaugural Fort McMurray Fringe Festival. The festival promises local artists and performers a chance to give performances that are uncensored and not subject to a jury.

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Bailey Yarkie, TJB’s artistic director, says there has already been plenty of interest from veterans and newcomers from Fort McMurray’s artistic and theatre community.

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“Fort McMurray has an impressive theatre community and so many cultural groups showing off their arts and dance. We have so much art in the community. A fringe festival is a really great place to bring it all together,” she said.

“Anyone who is an artist can submit and connect and share and have a ton of fun in one place. I think that’s really beneficial to the community.”

The concept of fringe began with the launch of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1947. The festival was led by performers and artists who felt rejected or stifled by mainstream establishments. Fort McMurray has had fringe theatre in the past, but this is the first formal fringe festival in the community.

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Yarkie feels Fort McMurray’s theatre community lost something with the end of InterPLAY, an arts festival that ran every summer for more than 20 years and ended in 2013. The festival had buskers, different types of performances and theatre, and live music.

The festival’s last promoter, Events Wood Buffalo, went bankrupt in 2014. Despite a few smaller theatre events at Keyano Theatre, no one has since filled the void left by InterPLAY. Yarkie hopes the Fringe Festival will encourage local performers with ideas for smaller pieces, such as one-person plays or burlesque performances.

“If you submit a piece of work, we can’t say no to you. You can submit the absolute craziest thing and we are a kind of place where you can submit this work and share it,” she said. “Artists from all all kinds of walks of life, all avenues and all experiences can submit, be represented and take part in the festival.”

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To prepare, TJB is hosting a three-part series on what is fringe and how to make submissions. It will also be an opportunity for local artists to meet each other. Those meetings will be held May 27, June 3 and June 10 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at MKD The Space.

The one-day festival will be hosted on Aug. 31 at Heritage Village. There will also be food trucks, street food, buskers and the fringe performances. Submissions are open until June 14. TJB has more information at their website.

“We are so excited to see what our community is going to submit,” said Yarkie.

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