Contributing Editor Jennifer Garceau gives us insight into the 2014 Nanaimo Fringe festival. For more On The Fringe, check out our mini-reviews, and our interview with Festival Producer Chelsee Damen. 

An evening of work can be unpredictable at a café in downtown Nanaimo with a liquor license. There’s a mix of artists, working class, upper crust WASPs, white-collar types, and general left-of-centre folks creating an idyllic laissez-faire community.

Chris Ronald Performs at the Hub

This year, The Vault was selected to be the Nanaimo Fringe Hub venue, though I didn’t think it would’ve made much of a difference to my already whimsical evenings.

Fringe Festival taught me how passionate Nanaimo is for its theatre community. There were nights where we were at full capacity with people I had never seen before. Also, observing the actors before and after shows intrigued me. The unique music shows and performance artists doing standup kept me attentive all shift long.

The first show was on a typical night and wasn’t overly busy. I poured tea, chai latté’s and beer until midnight.

The music genres ranged between youthful indie rock, blues-inspired folk, and classic singer-songwriter. The following nights ranged between reggae, experimental electronic, and modern progressive rock. I enjoyed the earnestness of The Owl and the Pussycat, the bold experimental nature of The Massless and Friends, the audio textural experience of Mona Cold, and the raw stories of Chris Ronald. Tucked in between the music were stand up comedians, performance art monologues, and the Best of Fringe awards.

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I loved being included in the daily realities of the Fringe Festival—seeing the actors before each performance, being a part of their pre-show ritual and seeing them exuberant and proud with their various family members and supporters after the show. I loved catching snippets of attendee’s reviews, complete strangers giving each other reviews on what show they have to catch, and watching people experience the bohemian bliss for the first time at the Fringe Hub location for two weeks.

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