40th Fringe Festival, weeks after reopening, to be smaller affair

The 2021 Fringe Festival will take place Aug. 12 to 22 as an in-person and digital event.

The hybrid festival will have capacity limits and fewer indoor venues. 

“It’s going to be very different but we are going to do it,” artistic director Murray Utas said.

The Fringe was forced to cancel its 2020 festival due to the pandemic.

“Our industry was literally shut down completely. Artists did some work online and figured out some digital stuff but we’re not film, we’re not Netflix, or any of that,” Utas said.

According to the director, the festival had over 250 indoor shows in 2019; this year, the Fringe has 53 shows.

“We’re not going to kick the doors wide open. We’re not going to say, ‘Look we’re going 100 per cent capacity’ – even though we can," he said. 

"We want to keep that space. I think people are ready to come back together but we want to respect that they’ve been apart for so long."

Murray says he has received support from artists unable to perform this year due to safety measures.

Hoola-hoop performer Amanda Syryda said, "I actually managed to land quite a few virtual gigs during the pandemic – it kept my skills up and kept me motivated. The in-person is really exciting."

Masks will be required inside the theaters and when in close contact with other people, such as lining up for food and beverages. Unlike previous events, tickets must be purchased to watch the performers. There will be no street viewing, in order to prevent crowding. In order to ensure capacity limits are being met, there will be a fence bordering the Fringe grounds.

For those who wish to watch the performances from home, there will be a digital livestream available.