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Inside three mouth-watering shows at Toronto Fringe 2024

toronto fringe
/By / Jun 30, 2024

If you happen to have a hankering for raw, unadulterated art in its purest form, you’ll surely find it at the Toronto Fringe.

The festival has provided a platform to artists since its foundation in 1989, presenting a lineup of uncurated performances to audiences eager for authentic storytelling each summer. This year, from July 3 to 14, the festival will once again fill theatre spaces across Toronto, with 77 shows taking place at 16 different venues spread throughout the city. 

What’s particularly unique about the fringe model is that every show has been chosen based on a lottery or a first-come-first-serve system, preserving the authenticity and diversity that make it one of Toronto’s most beloved exhibits of performing arts. And a lack of curation certainly does not equal a lack of quality — some of the city’s best and brightest are preparing to share their new works on stages in the coming days. 

One such show is Koli Kari, a genre-bending live cooking show, written by Ganesh Thava and playing at the Tarragon Mainspace. The show centres Ravi, who’s about to share his mom’s famous chicken curry recipe. 

But right as he’s about to cook it, the chicken comes to life and stops him, questioning whether or not the recipe is his to share. 

“We will be doing live cooking and blooming of spices, so you will smell a lot of beautiful smells that should be evocative of whatever it means for you,” Thava said in a Zoom interview. 

For members of the South Asian diaspora, he hopes the aromas will be particularly familiar, eliciting memories of family, community, and home. 

“At the core of it, you do see a very intimate relationship between a mother and son unfold,” he said. “It is an immigrant relationship that is tenuous, but I think the mother-son dynamic is very universal.” 

And if you sit in the right seats, you may just be lucky enough to try a sampling of some of the food the actors will be cooking right there on stage.

Another highlight to look out for is Sarah St-Fleur: La Québécoise, a humorous storytelling show about St-Fleur dealing with complicated feelings about her relationship with her mother while welcoming people into her world as a Black Franco-Canadian, playing at Native Earth’s Aki Studio.

St-Fleur has been performing standup comedy for the past 10 years, but this is her first time putting on a full-length solo performance in which she shares intimate details of her life.

“My storytelling style is really like talking to a friend — I’m very big on connecting,” she told Intermission

The importance of connection is even more important to St-Fleur because she’s originally from Montreal, a city she describes as warm and welcoming. Moving to Toronto left her reeling from culture shock — particularly when it came to the coldness of the people, compared to what she was used to. 

“I want it to be warm, I want to bring you back to the apartment that I grew up in,” she said. “Even if sometimes I’ll be talking about stuff that really triggered me and hurt me, I want people to feel comfortable listening and understanding another reality. And it’s also going to be fun.” 

And then there’s Rosamund, a new musical from Fringe veteran Andrew Seok starring musical theatre titans like AJ Bridel, Gabi Epstein, and Heeyun Park. Showing at Jeanne Lamon Hall at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Rosamund is a modern reimagining of the traditional Sleeping Beauty story featuring nods to the original tale, including evil fairies and a sleeping curse. Beyond that, everything else is turned on its head. 

In Seok’s words, “it’s a story about a princess who rewrites her own story and fate to take control of her own life.”

Seok drew inspiration from Les Misérables and Disney movies for the musical, combining the epic-ness of the former with the magic of the latter to create what he calls “a true fairy tale.” 

While Thava, St-Fleur, and Seok are all eager to see how audiences receive their works, they concede that putting on a Fringe show is far from easy. As relative newbies, St-Fleur and Thava have had to rise to the challenge of wearing many different hats and working tirelessly to ensure their visions come to life. 

Seok knows that experience well, facing one of his toughest Fringe seasons last year and swearing to himself he wouldn’t put himself through it again. His 2023 show, The Man With The Golden Heart, was a hit, but his own worries about failure left him feeling constantly stressed leading up to and throughout the festival.

After taking some time  off, Seok returned this season with a new attitude: a refusal to get anything but enjoyment out of the creative process this year. 

He imparted this wisdom to St-Fleur and Thava during our Zoom interview, as he’s done many times before in his role as a mentor to other Fringe creators. But this time, he’s finally taking his own advice.

“I’ve been telling myself any time anything happens, ‘It’s just going to be what it’ll be. It’ll come together,’” Seok said. “We’re here for the beauty and the joy and the love of creating art.”

You can learn more about the Toronto Fringe here.

Mira Miller

Mira Miller

Mira is an arts, lifestyle, and health freelance writer based in Toronto. She covers intersectional feminism, issues affecting the 2SLGBTQ+ community, theatre, body image, and more. In her spare time, you can find her listening to the soundtrack of a musical, watching Broad City, or dreaming about her next meal.



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