Ottawa Festivals goes to: Fringe preview night!

By Jill Pearce and Emma Poole

After being graciously welcomed to the 2023 Fringe Festivals preview night we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the exciting shows to come! Arriving at the Arts Court Theatre, we were immediately welcomed by staff, volunteers, and talent! There was great music, plenty of smiling faces, and lots of space to socialize before the show. With a delicious refreshment in hand, courtesy of the amazing bartender, we were set up to enjoy the lineup of performers doing mini-previews of their upcoming shows. A main highlight aside from the amazing performances was the welcoming ambiance and accessibility of the Fringe Festival. Not only was the entrance accessible, but the space was inclusive, making an effort to highlight any potential triggers or accommodations one might need. Fringe is committed to making theater accessible to all and highlighting minority performers to make sure everybody gets a chance to enjoy the shows and festival experience! With this year’s theme of promising a show for every taste, The 2023 Fringe Festival has something for everyone and we hope to see you there!

*Keep reading for performance previews and links to get your tickets for the remaining shows!*


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You can purchase tickets for shows on the Fringe website, and also catch free shows such as the silent disco in the courtyard on June 23rd at 10 pm, games night in the courtyard on June 24th from 4-11 pm, a round of encore performances at the Best of Fest on June 25th (various times and Fringe venues), and the closing nights award ceremony from 10 pm ‘til late at the Arts Court Theater and studio! 


The Velvet Duke: All Request Radio

Musical Improv, perfect for quick-thinkers and music lovers! 

Get ready to meet the Velvet Duke! The Velvet Duke is an emerging IBPOC artist laureate, amongst other lands. Velvet’s All Request Radio is a solo-show and entirely improv. It is a culmination of Velvet’s skillset and passion as a performer- think your “Spotify top artists” decided by “Family Feud”. If you love comedy, music, improv, and a good laugh then this show is a must see. The audience is encouraged to engage with the show by submitting made-up song titles which can be done via an online form to ensure that during the show, audiences can sit-back and enjoy without being chosen in the crowd. For Velvet, All Request Radio is a high energy metaphor about life as an autistic queer creator with ADHD. They are dedicated to an inclusive and enjoyable experience for anyone who wishes to attend- thus, every show will be ASL interpreted and include captions (machine automated transcription). Additionally, Velvet is hosting Fringe’s first Black Out Night on the evening showing on Wednesday June 21st. Black Out night is an invitation, communion, and celebration of black audiences and productions. The Velvet Duke is committed to a safe, inclusive and engaging performance guaranteed to make the audience leave with not only an earworm or a desire to delve into musical improv themselves, but also inspired to find their own intersection of skill and joy! Masks will be required at performances and can be picked up at the box office. 


Come see the show at the Arts Court Theatre on: Wednesday June 21st at 8:30pm (Blackout Night!), Thursday June 22nd at 11 pm, Friday June 23rd at 7 pm, and Saturday June 24th at 9pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Mackenzie Langdon, UNSUNG: The Accidental Villains of History 

Farcical, clever, musical, and perfect for the history-buffs!

Mackenzie Langdon is an Ottawa local excited to share her never before seen musical comedy: UNSUNG, The Accidental Villains of History. This original musical is good for audiences of all ages, and everybody is encouraged to check out the show for themselves! Mackenzie is new to Fringe Festival and wears many hats, the hard work and dedication to her production does not go unnoticed through her performance. Apartment 613’s recent review notes that ​​“The prelude musical number was confident and polished, so we were able to settle back in our seats and, at least mentally, say “bring it on!” They did. And they were clever about it.” – Colin Noden (Apartment 613). Mackenzie is one of four actors and profusely recognizes and thanks co-stars Meg Barbeau, Dawson Fleming, and Darcy Tyrrell for their hard work and dedication to her show. She is also the show’s producer, director, props/costume designer, sound/lighting designer, and more! UNSUNG includes a farcical look at historical events, and imagines how they came to be. It features a wide variety of musical styles showing Mackenzies impressive range and ensuring there will be something for everyone! The show introduces characters who had no clue they would be the preclude to some of the world’s biggest disasters and inventions (think the guillotine). The show includes humor and witty tunes all while taking the audience on a trip back in time to explore equally comical and unfortunate happenings. UNSUNG is a must-see at Fringe this year! 

Catch the show at the LabO Theatre on Tuesday June 20th at 10pm, Friday June 23rd at 8pm, Saturday June 24th at 5:30pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Aliya Kanani: Where You From, From? 

Relatable humor and stories of identity. Perfect to connect through our human experiences! 

Aliya Kanani’s show “Where You From, From?” is a comedy show about identity and belonging. This show has sold out at every festival she’s ever been a part of- so get tickets fast! She uses humor to diary audiences so they can delve into tender topics together. Aliya is a Toronto-based comedian who has traveled all around the world to 30 different countries, attended 10 different schools, and speaks a whopping six languages! She used to work as a flight-attendant and has now made it to the screens of on-flight entertainment on the same plans she would work on. You might know her from her role as Ms.Hina in the Best Motion Picture Film, Scarborough which got her nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role. The main takeaway of her witty show is how we are all connected by our human experiences, which is far deeper than the identity labels we wear (our race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, how much money we have, how educated we are, our job titles, etc). Aliya is committed to connecting people through laughter and humility, her show is earnest and a must-see! 

 If you missed her while she was floating in the dead sea, or climbing Mt. Killimanjaro, you can still catch her on stage at the 2023 Fringe Festival at Club Saw on Tuesday June 20th at 9pm, Thursday June 22nd at 6pm, Saturday June 24th at 7:30 pm, and Saturday June 25th at 2:30 pm. BUY TICKETS HERE 


Flora Lee: Sadec 1965: A Love Story

Storytelling of adventures, family, history, and love. Perfect for those who love love and adventure

Flora Le is a storyteller presenting a touching one-woman show at Ottawa Fringe Festival this year. She not only wrote but also stars in Sadec 1965: A Love Story. This powerful storytelling piece is best described as “Motorcycle Diaries” meets “Eat, Pray, Love” set in Vietnam. It follows the story of Flora who once did a solo motorcycle tour through Vietnam. She did this in an attempt to make sense of her estranged father who was born in Vietnam. This plays on the hearts of those who may have unconventional parental relationships and seek to understand them on a deeper level. Her show plays not only on the adventure and explorations of Flora’s time in Vietnam- it contrasts this to love letters written during the Vietnam War. Flora teamed together with many translators and after endless amounts of work and translation was finally able to piece together pieces of her father after finding letters written to his high school sweetheart whom he left behind in the war. This heartfelt story about travel, identity, family, history, and love is a beautiful and original masterpiece crafted by Flora. She transforms pain into beauty and allows a space for her audience to do the same. 

To see this awe-inspiring story and tag along with Flora’s journey yourself, see the show at the LabO theater on Tuesday June 20th at 8 pm, Thursday June 22nd at 6:30 pm, Friday June 23rd at 8:30 pm, and Saturday June 24th at 6:30 pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Sidney Moon and Maggie Decady: May Be A Play

Trials and tribunals of friendship in the digital age. Musical and witty, audiences will feel a sense of friendship and community! 

Algonquin College performing arts graduates Sidney Moon and Maggie Decady are ready and eager to take Fringe Festival by storm with their creation, May Be A Play. Sidney is a Youtuber and is well known for her role as Abigail Williams in the Peterborough Theatre Guild production of The Crucible and for her pipes at the 2022 Grassroots Festival. Maggie is an emerging artist who also partook in the 2022 Grassroots Festival and Hairspray with Suzart Productions. This will be Maggie’s first performance with Fringe Festival and she brings a new and fun energy to this year’s festival! Their witty and charming show is sure to warm the hearts of audiences and keep a smile on their faces. May Be A Play incorporates the digital medium by bringing real life to this hybrid production. It encapsulates the journey of vlogger Sidney Moon who is faced with more than she had bargained for after a “friend” leaves her high and dry in creating her show. Maggie, her college friend, reaches out to assist her with the promise of not having to be on stage. Watch as Sidney struggles with procrastination, creating a show, her mental health, and the ukulele. May Be A Play promises a little something for everyone and can be particularly relatable for audience members going through school and dealing with the trials and tribulations of being young people in a digital world. To find out if there really will be a play… 

To find out if there really will be a play… catch the show at the Arts Court Theatre on Tuesday June 20th at 9:30 pm; Friday June 23rd at 7:30 pm; and Sunday June 25th at 1:30 pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Brown Wasp

An emotional journey of the realities of disease. Humorous and earnest take on the roler-coaster that is life. Creates a space for audiences to connect and make light of sorrows. 

Come see Brown Wasp, the winner of the National Playwright Award for a One-Act Play by Meah Martin, performed by Megan McArtin at this year’s Fringe Festival! Brown Wasp is described as a complete triumph by UMFM Winnipeg and promises to take the audience through a journey of emotions throughout the performance. Megan McArton stars as Sarah St. John as she travels with her husband from Vancouver to Little Lake Manitou (Lake of the healing waters) as she looks for a cure for her ailments. She plans to take the healing powers of the lake literally and float peacefully as her ailments get resolved around her. But, through this, she ends up on a journey harder than she could have imagined. This story is heartfelt and takes the audience through the realities and horrors of disease and the baggage that surrounds it. Brown Wasp touches on heartfelt and serious topics in a meaningful and witty way allowing audiences to truly connect and sympathize with things we can all relate to. Not only is the show humorous, but is full of deep wisdom and will leave audiences feeling connected and touched. 

See the show at the Odd Box Venue on the following dates: Tuesday, June 20 at 5:30 pm Wednesday, June 21 at 9 pm; Friday June 23 at 11pm; and Sunday, June 25 at 3:30 pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Artist Spotlight: The Generic Male

Physical theatre, meets emotional storytelling, and irristably funny comedy


Brought to you by PUSH theatre, and featured in Ottawa’s 2023 Fringe Festival, the Generic Male offers a deeply metaphorical and thought-provoking piece intertwined with the light-hearted, delightfully absurd, and full on hilarious take on the societal constructs of manhood. At first glance, performers Darren Stevenson and Ashley Jones appear to be just as the title suggests – generic white men. However, it is revealed early on that both Stevenson and Jones prove to be amazing performers, weaving humorous narratives with interpretive dance style and acrobatic motions to give tales of fathers and sons, war, death, consent, and more.The variety-style performance seamlessly switches between humour and drama, the physical performances work alongside the narrative stillness to fully captivate the audience. Throughout the one-hour performance, the Generic Male is jammed packed with moments of absurdity that contrast well with moments of emotional connection and physical closeness. From the beginning of the show to the moment the curtain draws, you will laugh, cry, and will maybe even open your heart to generic men! 

The Generic male is performed at the Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Avenue, 3rd floor). Remaining performances on: Wednesday, June 21 @ 8 PM; Thursday, June 22 @ 7 PM; and Saturday, June 24 @ 4 PM. BUY TICKETS HERE


Janoah Balin (zie/zir)- meSSeS solo circuS:  Artist Spotlight

A Family friendly interactive performance, perfect for lovers of talent, dynamic storytelling and learning new things!

Janoah Balin (Zi/Zer) is well know in the fringe community for creating and performing engaging and educational shows for family audiences.sWinner of London Fringe “Best Variety”, Orlando “Kids Fringe Choice”, and “Spirit of the fringe” Elgin, Ottawa Fringe 2023 brings you Messes solo circus! In this one- person, interactive evening- length show, Janoah will keep you entertained while also educating you in the field of juggling-arts! This (opptionally interactive) experience will certainly be quite the specital as the multi talented Janoah brings you sporatic Unicycling, magical puppetry, incredible juggling and assembles a story about learning and labour featuring a wide variety of silly-goofy props! The show is perfect for both kids AND adults as it features capivating visual and educational elements as well. You will leave the show not only delightfully entertained, but also with a new skill to show your friends and family! You wont want to miss out! 

Messes solo circus will be performed at the ODD Box Venue on Tuesday, June 20th 8:30pm, Thursday, June 22nd 10:30pm, Saturday, June 24th 9:30pm, Sunday, June 25th 5:00pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Merkin Sisters: Artist Spotlight

Outlandish variety show, with a complete dis-regard for traditional theatre, perfect for anyone looking to add a little comedic edge to their evening 

Meet the femme trio behind this truly one fo a kind performance; Juno nominated comedy Stéphanie Morin-Robert (JFL, Winnipeg Comedy Fest, THE MOTH), Juno-nominated comedy songstress Shirley Gnome, and  rockstar television puppeteer Ingrid Hansen (Sesame Workshop, APTN, and The Jim Henson Company, and Treehouse TV) have spent a decade creating and performing their live comedy shows across North America. The Merkin Sisters are an outrageous variety show that challenges the seriousnes of what we consider “art”. Ingrid Hansen and Morin-Robert make up the comedy duo, The Merkin Sisters and bring you an outrageous, unapologetically crude, and a unimaginable performance of creative expression. The two sisters present truly vivacious variety show that is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen! Whether its performing in full-body curly ginger hair outfits, flaunting a vulva puppet, or bursting out into song, the show is a rollercoaster of edgy comedy and contunoisly brings prepostoius energy to everything they do on stage. One of the shows notable highlights is that the music featured throughout the live show is original music from The Merkin Sisters 2022 album written alongside comedy songwriter Shirley Gnome. audiences can get a download code at our show to take The Merkin Sisters album home with them! If you have an appreciation for edgy, outlandish, uncensored, and empowering humour, The Merkin Sisters won’t dissapoint! 

 The Merkin sisters will be performing at the Arts Court Theatre on Wednesday, June 21st 9:30pm, Friday, June 23rd 6:00pm, Saturday, June 24th5:30pm. BUY TICKETS HERE


Artist Spotlight: @Interwebbed

Multi-media variety show with thought provoking surrealism and a clown!? Why not?

Award Winning Creator Lauren Brady is presenting her show @interWEBBED, a multi-media clown show that doubles as a artistic commentary on one of present-days most debated questions: “Are we losing ourselves to technology?”.Trained in Baby Clown, Neo-Bouffon, Bouffon, and Neutral Masktrained in Baby Clown, Neo-Bouffon, Bouffon, and Neutral Mask, Brady is renowned in the performing arts community for utilising projection, dancing, clowning, and other theatrical techniques in her multimedia multidisciplinary theatre performances, and @Interwebbed is no acception. The show follows Ted BAMO, a clown exploring the new internet landscape where “likes” are a currency for self-worth and desire, is the main character of the show. Ted walks the audience through the process of increasing their number of likes, addresses the urge for online fame, discusses culture, influencers, and much more. Using various theatrical genres and technology, @Interwebbed  is a very surreal and engaging show that skillfully combines various theatrical elements of dance, horror, drag, clowning, and improv. The hour long performance will hold your attention leave you deep in existential thought long after the curtain closes. 


The show will be performing at Arts Court Theatre Tuesday, June 20th 8:00pm, Friday, June 23rd10:30pm, Sunday, June 25th 6:00pm. BUY TICKETS HERE 


Aritst Spotlight – The Stakeout

Dynamic duo performs this gripping story with comedic fluency that never misses!

Coming off their successful Off-Broadway run as part of the SoHo Playhouse’s Fringe Encore Series in New York City, Ottawa Fringe brings you THE STAKEOUT. Created by theatre artist Martin Dockery, he alongside his co-star Andrew Broaddus deliver a fast paced, quick witted, perfectly executed story about two FBI agents who sit in their surveillance van while simultaneously survailing them. Having met while performing an immersive show in New York City during the pandemic era,  Both Dockery and Broddus were excited about the work they do together and whats to come for the dynamic duo. When their New York play came to an end, the two actors decided to go on tour with a early version of what would officially become, “The Stakeout”. It is noteworthy to mention that the pandemic had a sizeable influence over the theme of the show. Audiences can expect underlying tones of isolation, familial separation, lack of physical closeness, all of which come from experiences endured during the pandemic, experiences that we all can relate to. With impactful themes combined with impecable delivery and creative storytelling, the audience will feel fully immersed in this gripping story from beginning to end. Come see The Stakeout at the ODD Box Venue!

Showtimes: Tuesday, June 20th 10:00pm, Thursday, June 22nd 9:00pm, Saturday, June 24th 6:30pm. BUY TICKETS HERE