Your Guide to Storytelling at the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival

If you’ve already picked up your copy of the 2005 Ottawa Fringe program, you may have noticed something. There’s a LOT of storytelling going on. In fact, 18 of the 56 shows taking place—one-third of Fringe shows!—have been classified by their producers/creators as storytelling. If you don’t see anything impressive about that, think of it this way: it’s double the number from last year’s Fringe Fest, when 9 out of 60 shows, or 15%, were classified as storytelling.

That being said, I saw a whack load of Fringe shows last year, and I’d say there were several others that could have been called storytelling but weren’t (at least not in the Fringe program, which provides audiences with a one-stop place to find brief descriptions of every show). I sense that there is a growing recognition of what storytelling is, both by Fringe artists and their audiences, that is making it worthwhile for artists to acknowledge their shows as storytelling. It’s in their best interest to accurately project to people the genre/style of the show both as a means to manage expectations and to capitalize on a surging excitement for contemporary and traditional storytelling.

This year storytelling is an especially popular form for artists travelling from out of town. You’ll be able to catch storytelling from artists based in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the USA, along with several artists who are bringing shows from their home bases elsewhere in Ontario.

I plan to catch as many shows as I can, but between volunteer shifts and taking off early for a summer roadtrip, I may not get around to seeing all 18. Here are some of my storytelling picks that I’m most looking forward to catching at the 2015 festival (see the full list of shows at the end):

  • The Untitled Sam Mullins Project | Sam S. Mullins | sammullins.com (Toronto)

I first heard Sam Mullins’s voice on The Moth podcast when he whomped me with his story “Tinfoil Dinosaur.” His sweet, geeky honesty and self-deprecating humour won me over and I’ve been sort of stalking his whereabouts ever since, looking forward to the chance to hear him live.

  • Bursting Into Flames | Martin Dockery |www.martindockery.com (New York)

Dockery is a personal star of my annual Fringe Festival experience. His solo shows The Bike Trip and The Surprise are exhilarating, and his play Moonlight After Midnight, which won best original at last year’s Ottawa Fringe, was magical and mesmerizing and was stuck in my head for days afterwards.

  • I Think My Boyfriend Should Have and Accent | Emily Pearlman | micasatheatre.com (Ottawa)

I’ve adored every play of Emily’s I’ve ever seen, where her energy and whimsy nearly knock me off my seat. I’ve had a bit of a preview of this show, having seen part of it which was developed for (un)told: Soul Preservation in September 2014. I can’t wait to see how her fully-developed show has turned out.

  • And of course, there’s the not-to-be-missed but somewhat secret (but you’re allowed to know!) (un)told open mic special edition happening for one night only during Fringe at Club Fringe (located at Club SAW, 67 Nicholas Street). The (un)told open mic normally takes place the fourth Monday of the month and allows Ottawans to take the stage to tell an original story on the nightly theme. This month, this special edition open mic features all Fringe artists telling 5 minute original stories about their travels on the road. Monday, June 22, 8pm | untoldottawa.com

Planning to catch some shows during the Fringe? Send us your reviews to let us know which storytelling shows are must sees! Tweet, FB message, or email us and we’ll share your reviews on our blog.

Catch the Ottawa Fringe Festival June 17-28, taking place at various venues around downtown Ottawa. Tickets to most shows are a steal at $12 (even less if you get in on half-price show deals) and every penny goes back to the artists. | www.ottawafringe.com

See you at the Fringe!

-Liz M., (un)told producer

Full List of Storytelling Shows, in no particular order (details taken from the 2015 Fringe Program)

  • I Think My Boyfriend Should Have an Accent | Emily Pearlman (Ottawa)
  • Crushed | Avalina Corazon (Ottawa)
  • Spotlight On… | Crush Improv (Ottawa)
  • Working Title: Undecided | Drawing Board Productions (Ottawa)
  • O God | Faith and Arts Ottawa (Ottawa)
  • The Sink | A Nick Wade and Whimsimole co-production (Ottawa)
  • Bursting Into Flames | Martin Dockery (New York)
  • Shit I’m in Love with You Again | Crowning Monkey  (Toronto)
  • Keith Brown: Exchange | Keith Brown (London, ON)
  • Lara Loves Leonard | Lara MacMIllian (Stratford, ON)
  • The Orchid and the Crow | Daniel Tobias (Melbourne Australia)
  • The Cockwhisperer…A Love Story | Colette Kendall  (Hamilton, Ontario)
  • Japanese Samurai Don Quixote Challenging Against English Giant Windmills | Hiroshi Shimuzu (Tokyo, Japan)
  • The Untitled Sam Mullins Project | Sam S. Mullins  (Toronto)
  • Newfound Histories | A Vagrant (Toronto)
  • The Inventor of All Things | Jem Rolls (Edinburgh, UK)
  • Threads | Tonya Jone Miller (Portland, USA)
  • Nantucket | Mark Kenward (Oakland, USA)
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About (un)toldottawa

(un)told is a monthly Ottawa event featuring original stories told live. Candid and heartfelt, whimsical and extraordinary, (un)told features authentic storiestold in an intimate setting without notes, sets, or props. Each show starts with a theme. An ensemble of tellers – anyone who has an inkling to tell a story, regardless of experience – explores the theme, often in unexpected ways. This isn’t stand-up, pontification, or abstract performance art. The stories are reflective and enlightening and have never been told in this way before. It’s like getting together with our most enigmatic and introspective friends to connect through the spoken word. (un)told happens the fourth Monday of most months in Ottawa.
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