There is nothing predictable about the Fringe. The alternative theatre and performance festival, now its 26th year, is a creative crapshoot of the weirdly wonderful. And just like most offbeat, non-mainstream outlets, it allows women to not only share the stage equally with men; it actually lets them shine.
Since the vast majority of film and theatre productions continue to be staged by, directed by, written by, and performed by men, it’s nice to see the Fringe buck that universal trend.
“The festival is really female solo-show heavy this year– particularly, at Montreal Improv.,” Montreal Fringe Festival English Media Director, Julie Santini told me. “In that venue alone, there are seven solo shows by women. Many nights at Montreal Improv, one could stay there and see only solo female shows back to back to back.”
Here are a few Fringe shows (in no particular order) featuring some kick-ass women. They are irreverent, cheeky, thoughtful, original, unapologetically sexual, and have something really interesting to say. You should check them out.
Presented by Thea Fitz-James – Montreal, QC
Like a TED talk that falls apart, NAKED LADIES seeks to answer the question why women get naked on stage. A combination of performance art, history lecture and storytelling, NAKED LADIES speaks to the crisis around the naked female body, trying to understand its contested position between stigma and celebration.
Presented by Colette Kendall – Hamilton, ON
This show was awarded the Best Solo Show at the Hamilton Fringe Fest. Here are some past reviews: “If you can get past the title, this show should not be missed.”, “This is the story of one woman’s quest to find the love and penis of her dreams. A phallic journey both humorous and dark.”
Presented by Lisa Pedace – San Diego, California
Why are we here? What happens when we die? Is it safe to hand-wash cashmere? Lisa Pedace mixes stand-up comedy, cabaret and more as she tackles life’s BIG questions and lots of little ones too. Also some medium-sized questions… This one-woman show was the Winner of the Outstanding World Premiere Award at the 2015 San Diego International Fringe.
Presented by Grit ‘n Gusto – Montreal, QC
Are you sometimes a little too loud? Does your face give away your acute displeasures? Great! You might be a messy bitch. Put on your bitch face, take a shot of whisky, and join Jessica Rae in her one woman show about why we all need to become bitches.
Presented by Cameryn Moore/Little Black Book – Somerville, MA
The spectators are early, her lover is late, and the players are due any minute. Not the best time to question what she’s doing here, waiting to get naked in a room full of strangers, but with 60 minutes before the game starts, it’s all the time she has left. Cameryn Moore is big, brash, and bold in her very personal recounting of her very active sex life. No holds barred for this lady whom I’ve seen perform on numerous occasions.
Presented by Nisha Coleman – Montreal, QC
From a swamp in Muskoka to the streets of Paris, author and storyteller Nisha Coleman tells a personal tale ranging from flatulence to mutism to street performing. Told in her signature comedic style, Nisha tackles the emotional gamut with humour and grace. Self-Exile is a quest away from and eventually back to the self. The buzz is really good for this one-woman show. I wouldn’t miss it.
Presented by Itinerant Tinker – Montreal, QC
At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, Nellie Garner becomes the first woman to attempt the Edmonton trail to the Yukon. As she confronts the great risks involved in seeking great fortune, the journey becomes a test of her bravery and ambition – and her will to survive.
I saw this one-woman performance and I was completely mesmerized by the real-life adventure, Adriana Bogaard’s poetic storytelling, Jen Vien’s stellar performance, and the accompanying visuals. There is a very strong feminist component to it. It’s about a woman in the Gold Rush forging ahead amongst men under brutal conditions to forge her own path and make her own life. Highly recommend.
A special nod to all Burlesque performances! I’m a huge fan of this art form, which continues to celebrate female sexuality, sensuality, and empowerment in the most non-judgemental and liberated way. Montreal’s very own Ms. SugarPuss concludes her burlesque performing journey with Love and Pasties, Miss S, and Australia’s burlesque queen Becky Lou comes to town with Shake.
Keep in mind that this is but a fraction of the over 800 performances available to you at the Montreal Fringe. For more on all the shows and the schedule, simply go to the Fringe website.
Bonus Feminist Comedy!
The Fringe has come and gone, but you still can’t get enough of female performers or strong feminist material? Not to worry. The Pretty Feminist Comedy Show is a one-night-only comedy show featuring both men and women who happen to be both feminists and funny. Wait… is that even possible? Don’t be silly, just go.