Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

Winnipeg Fringe Festival at the Cube in Market Square

The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is an alternative theatre festival held each year for twelve days in July in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The 28th festival ran July 15–26, 2015 and the 2016 festival will be July 13–24.[1]

The 2015 festival indoor attendance was 108,706, which was up from 104,859 in 2014. For the 10th straight year ticket sales were higher than the year before. Ticket sales were 101,488 in 2013 and 100,621 in 2012. The 2015 total was helped by 237 sellouts. Total ticket revenue was $800,142,[2] up from $761,522 in 2014.[3]

In 2013, there were 169 companies and a total of 1,410 performances, which brought in $705,553.75 in revenue.[4]

The 2012 festival was the 25th anniversary festival. That year 100,621 tickets were sold up from 87,851 in 2011. The 2012 festival saw 175 sellouts and $686,188 in box office revenue. There were 172 companies performing at 32 venues and supported by 913 volunteers.[5]

In 2010, the 24th Winnipeg Fringe Festival had 150 companies performing at 24 venues with a total of 86,717 tickets sold for a total box office revenue of $600,698.[6]


Founded in 1988 by the Manitoba Theatre Centre with Rick McNair as the first Executive Director, the festival has three key principles: 1. Festival is non-juried; 2. Artists have freedom to present whatever they want on stage; and 3. 100% of the box office goes directly to the artists.[7]

In its first year ticket sales were 14,000 across nine days of performances. That figure was 26,000 in 1989 - year two of the festival. It climbed to 44,709 in 1999 and was over 60,000 in 2001.[8]

Chuck McEwen, former director of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is the current executive producer, and has been in charge since 2008.[9] The festival's venues are centred in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District with the Old Market Square serving as the outdoor stage location. But as the festival has grown there are venues outside that district but still close to Winnipeg's downtown.

The Winnipeg Fringe Festival is modelled on the Edmonton Fringe Festival and provides several venues for performing companies, but some companies arrange their own venues, which is more like what occurs at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Regardless, all venues have paid technicians and volunteer ticket sellers and ushers.

The performing companies at the festival are both local and from across Canada and around the world. For example, the 2005 festival featured performers from France, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and South Africa as well as across Canada and the United States.

The Manitoba Theatre Centre, 2006. During the Fringe, the front façade of the theatre is covered in hundreds of handbills and posters for various plays.

Paid attendance briefly set a record high for North America in 2009 with 81,565 tickets sold,[10] surpassing the then previous record of 77,700 set at the 2006 Edmonton Fringe. However, the Edmonton Fringe festival currently holds the North American record for 2011 with 104,142 tickets sold.

Annual theme

The festival has a different theme each year. The theme in 2015 was "We're all <blank> here," where the blank was filled in variously. On the program, it was "mad," but on the website for Volunteers it was "friends." In 2014, "We like when you watch" was the theme. The Big Top was the theme in 2010,[11] and other previous themes have been the F word, meaning "fringe," and James Bond. In 2012 there was no theme, as that was the 25th anniversary edition of the festival.[12]

Harry S. Rintoul memorial award

The Harry S. Rintoul Memorial award was established by the Manitoba Association of Playwrights to recognize the best play written by a Manitoban and performed at the festival. Sydney Hayduk and Justin Otto won the 2015 Rintoul award for The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a two person play that they also performed.

Bill Pats won the 2014 Harry S. Rintoul Memorial award for Executing Justice.[13] Jessy Ardern and Ariel Levine won the 2013 Rintoul award for The Hound of Ulster.[14] Scott Douglas won the 2012 Rintoul award for The Touring Test.[15]


Coordinates: 49°53′49″N 97°08′13″W / 49.897°N 97.137°W / 49.897; -97.137

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