Fr!nge festival at Laurier takes a hiatus for 2013

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Students who wish to gain film and theatre experience at Laurier may have to look elsewhere this year.

Last year, it was announced on Fr!nge’s Facebook page that the weekend-long play and short film festival would be cancelled that year due to lack of content.  As stated in the Facebook post back in January, the producers of Fr!nge felt that they could not give their audiences the level of quality that Fr!nge felt they deserved. As well, with the lack of content, the running time of the festival would have not been up to Fr!nge standards.

The last Fr!nge festival at Laurier was in January of 2012.

However, in an interview with The Cord, it was revealed that Fr!nge will be taking a year-long hiatus. This is the first time since its incarnation in the 1980’s the Fr!nge has gone on hiatus.

“We are on a hiatus, a chosen hiatus. We chose not to put the festival on this year … we didn’t feel that we wouldn’t have been able to offer any amount of ‘bang’ for a student’s buck,” revealed Luke Dotto, current producer of Fr!nge.

In the hiatus, Fr!nge hopes to begin the transition period by finding a new group of producers and re-formatting the programming from a two to three day-long event to a week-long festival as it had been in previous years.

“We need to return back to what we originally were. In the past few years, it’s become, almost exclusively, a one-act play and short film festival because that’s just the content we had access to,” commented Dotto on the recent reputation of Fr!nge.

“Fringe was originally … an arts festival for anybody that wanted an outlet for anything … it used to a week-long event with different events at different places on campus … we want to move it away from this rigid structure that it has become.”

Dotto also mentioned that in previous years, Fr!nge would simply be passed down from friend group to friend group, but admitted that—while it has worked in the past—this is not a sustainable way to continue leadership.

“Once in a while you’re going to run into a year like this year, where the only people left to run it are graduating, graduated, focusing on grad school or have left school and are in the work force and they cannot commit the time to Fr!nge anymore that they would like to or used to,” he added.

As well, Dotto mentioned a potential partnership with an on-campus organization, but declined to comment as the details have not been worked out and nothing has been confirmed as of publication.

A question that Fr!nge commonly gets is why they aren’t a campus club under Wilfrid Laurier University Student’s Union. However it is much more complicated than it first seems.

To join WLUSU would mean potentially giving up creative control of the scripts.

“As our name implies, we exist on the fringe of the theatre establishment … there are some plays that could be controversial … WLUSU would require script approval and being an organization that is always very aware of its public image and perception we were unwilling to give up that power,” Dotto continued.

While the cancellation of the event is upsetting, this speaks to a larger problem at Laurier. There is a very serious lack of arts culture on Laurier campus right now.
Ron Butler, a former Laurier film studies graduate who was heavily involved with Fr!nge in his final years at Laurier was shocked when the news broke.

“There’s much more advertisements for things like The Cord and sports. It’s a shame that the advertising isn’t there for Fringe … it really gives people the outlet to be artistic,” said Butler.

With the removal of the fine arts program and now the temporary hiatus of Fr!nge, Laurier students are realizing that creative outlets, outside of academia, have become increasingly slim.

“This is a school that doesn’t always recognize the value of creative arts, of visual arts, of performance arts. We removed the visual arts program in the mid-2000’s and that left a void in the arts community at Laurier,” Dotto reflected.

“It’s strong, it’s small but the people here who want to get involved in these things are very passionate about it.”

Students who wish to engage in creative outlets have very few options. While there are clubs that promote creativity in the sense that they focus on a creative aspect, such as the Anime club and Fashion ‘n’ Motion, there are few clubs that foster creativity and have an incubator environment. There are few clubs that encourage student based creation of projects.

“It’s tough to reach the students that we know are out there … we have to double our efforts to even just a few students to respond back with content … I hope they read this, get our e-mails  and see us on campus,” concluded Dotto.

If you want to get involved with Fr!nge now and in the future, contact wlufringe@gmail.com.

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