This morning’s box office report has confirmed what audiences, artists, volunteers and staff have felt to be the Ottawa Fringe Festival’s greatest opening weekend to date. Just over 5,000 attended shows this weekend, including a record-breaking 13 sold out performances.
“The line-up is stacked this year. Which I wish I could take credit for,” says Festival producer Patrick Gauthier. The Ottawa Fringe Festival is not curated but is programmed by independent producers who enter via lottery plus Bring Your Own Venue (“BYOV”) productions. “There’s a lot of name recognition in the 2015 program. Ottawa favourites like Emily Pearlman, Rachel Eugster, Margo MacDonald, and touring artists such as Martin Dockery, Gemma Wilcox, Jem Rolls, Sandy Gibson, Jeff Leard, and Sam Mullins,” says Gauthier. “They’re each the calibre of performers myself and others will buy tickets to see no matter what they’re doing.”
Ottawa artists, nationally and internationally touring performers alike have shared enthusiastic audiences. Three world premieres by Ottawa-based artists sold out on opening night: Whose Aemelia? by Rachel Eugster, I think my boyfriend should have an accent by Emily Pearlman, andThe Elephant Girls by Margo MacDonald.
I think my boyfriend should have an accent by Emily Pearlman has been two for two on sold out performances, and The Elephant Girls by Margo MacDonald sold out its opening night in advance and even an 11pm Sunday night performance sold out.
MacDonald’s hit Shadows sold out its entire run in 2010. “I kept telling myself that surely wouldn’t happen again this time. So, to then have my very first performance of The Elephant Girls completely sell out in advance was, alone, the biggest surprise and the most encouraging thing. Amazing,” said Margo MacDonald following her opening night.
Also a world premiere, Heart Puppetations by Ottawa-born Toronto-based Sandy Gibson has had two consecutive sell outs to open his 2015 run. Gibson’s Portable #3 won a Metro Best of Fest award in 2014 and was runner-up for the Critics’ Pick award that same year.
A total of four shows have been on sell-out streaks since opening night. New Yorker Martin Dockery has sold out his first four 2015 performances of Bursting Into Flames. Dockery won the Metro Best of Fest award in 2012 for his original show Wanderlust and year after year has produced hits at the Ottawa Fringe such as The Bike Trip (sold out performances in 2013), Moonlight After Midnight(Critics’ Pick, 2014), and The Surprise (Metro Best of Fest, 2014).
More sell outs include opening nights of The Untitled Sam Mullins Project by Sam Mullins, andInescapable, a world premiere performed by Fringe veterans Jon Paterson and Martin Dockery, directed by Vanessa Quesnelle.
“We also have artists who haven’t been to Ottawa for years but are doing incredibly well,” adds Gauthier. “Gemma Wilcox, John D. Huston, Rachelle Elie, Colette Kendall—proving Ottawa Fringe audiences have long memories.”
About the Ottawa Fringe Festival: An open-source festival without curators and where performers keep 100 per cent of ticket sales. Since 1997, the Festival has generation more than $1.42 million for independent artists.
For a complete schedule, ticket information and more, see the official program atwww.ottawafringe.com