Source: Toronto Tonight!, July 27–August 10, 1989
Three weeks, more than forty productions, four venues. Those were the stats for the first Fringe of Toronto Theatre Festival, which marks its twentieth anniversary this year. Among the titles first-year audiences sampled: Blood Everywhere (You Should’ve Seen It), God is Dead as a Doorknob, Hurtin’ and Hootin’, and Siamese Twins Joined at the Smile.
Organizers kept the first edition small to test the waters. “Initially we only wanted 25 companies involved,” noted producer Gregory Nixon in an interview with Now, “but the submissions were so good that we found another venue and took 40 applications. There’s no reason that future festivals couldn’t accommodate 100 or 150 companies.” Participants hoped to create an event that didn’t frighten the general public. “We want people to be drawn in by a title, a photo or word of mouth,” said Nixon. “They might spend a day in the Annex, hanging out in cafes, drinking cappuccino and sampling the theatre around them—either on the street or in a space. The ideal attitude toward the Fringe is to be easy-going and check out something that sounds interesting.”
Of the venues used during its initial edition, only the Palmerston Theatre will welcome Fringe audiences this year, though it now caters to children’s productions—look elsewhere for the “tales for adults only” that were promised for one of its first Fringe shows.
Additional material from the July 20–26, 1989 edition of Now. Torontoist’s coverage of this year’s festival begins with a preview tomorrow.