Seven artists to watch at the Digital Toronto Fringe Festival
From seasoned artists to emerging talent, here are more than half a dozen names to look for at this year’s Toronto Fringe online.
This is the second year in a row that the Toronto Fringe – the city’s most exciting theater festival – has gone digital. But judging by the descriptions of the 65+ shows in this year’s lineup, everyone has stepped up their technical game. Watching their work online will be a nice break from that twice-weekly Zoom office meeting. And the level of talent is incredibly high. Here are some notable artists to look for in the coming weeks. The Fringe runs from July 21 to 31.
dTaborah Johnson, Writer / Actor / Director, The Incredible Adventures Of That Nice Canajun Girl
The multi-talented Johnson is part of one of Toronto’s most accomplished entertainment families; her brother is actor and director Clark, while her sister is beloved musician Molly. dTaborah – or Tabby – meanwhile, sings and acts. She’ll do a lot of both on her inventory show filled with song (everything from black spirituals to jazz-tinged nursery rhymes), poetic readings (by everyone from TS Eliot to Dorothy Parker), and stories. More info here.
Yaw Attuah, writer / performer, One of the good ones
One of the nicest surprises of Fringe 2018 was Attuah’s Rhymes With Wow, a highly regarded solo comedy about growing up in Fort Erie, Ontario, and seeking love and friendship. His new show, One Of The Good Ones, challenges ideas about diversity, alliance and inclusion. With her magnetic stage presence and biting wit, get ready to say “Wow” again. More info here.
Kenneth T. Williams, writer, Bannock Republic
The horrific revelations of Canada’s residential schools make Cree playwright Williams’ 90-minute show a must-see. Two Aboriginal characters have different feelings about a school; one, a newly elected chief, wants to preserve it as a memorial, while the other wants to clean up the finances of the reserve and possibly get rid of it. The show is sort of a sequel to Williams’ popular and highly produced Thunderstick. With Ed Roy at the helm, expect vibrant characters, solid acting, and a poignant and fun review of a hot topic. More info here.
Sam Roulston, writer / actor, Cringe
Best known as a member of the Bad Dog Theater versatile improvisational team (he’s a frequent performer at Theatresports), the UK-born, affable, mischievous, mischievous skit is also a regular sketch in troupes like Champagne. Boyfriend and DVG and is part of the faculty at Second City. His solo sketch comedy Cringe is inspired by epic – that is, shameful – moments he has witnessed or experienced himself. The show has the festival’s most memorable hashtag: #CringeAtTheFringe. More info here.
Christel Bartelse, co-host, But that’s another story
The name Bartelse in a Fringe (All KIDding Aside, Prank) or Next Stage (The Surprise) show always guarantees a lot of fun. This time, the spontaneous and energetic artist joins forces with Briane Nasimok to co-host a complete storytelling show. The two are now veterans of the format, having co-hosted in-person and virtual editions of the show during the pandemic. Guests at this special edition of the festival include frequent Fringers Chris Gibbs and Tracey Erin Smith as well as Shayna Jones and Colin Mochrie of Whose Line Is It Anyway. More info here.
Selena Vyle, Creator / Performer / Director, Broken Hearted Girl
Over the past few years, Toronto comedy fans have fallen in love with the extraordinary drag queen Vyle, who has become an MVP on shows like the award-winning Canadian Comedy Award show A Sketch Comedy Extravaganza Eleganza! It is therefore normal that Vyle’s last show is entirely devoted to love: the ups, the sorrows, the fabulous outfits. Vyle tells her story in a series of Gei Ping Hohl music videos (with original music by Kitty Creature and lyrics by Vyle), and judging by the trailers on the Fringe site, she more than deserved this reference to Beyoncé. . More info here.
Mohammad Yaghoubi, writer / director, Dance Of Torn Papers
Iranian playwright Yaghoubi was a hit at the Next Stage Festival 2020 with his powerful drama Winter Of 88, about a family in Tehran who are under attack on their city. Now he’s revisiting his award-winning Dance Of Torn Papers, releasing two new pieces titled Mother and Birthday Present. The plays deal with different forms of connection – a relevant topic during a pandemic – and can be viewed in English or Farsi. As a bonus, the writer / director promises viewers a 360-degree immersive experience when they watch. More info here.