The 2019 St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival isn’t just around the corner, it’s on right now. Until June 16, you can catch one or several of the dozens of shows being put on in the greater Plateau area by a litany of local and visiting artists, representing nearly every conceivable genre of performance art.

“Fringe has definitely already started,” says festival director Amy Blackmore. “The Fringe For All was last Monday and it was a blast. We packed Club Soda with Fringe fans and hard-core folk.”

While the festival starts at lower gear with a series of warm up events and other shows, the A-Z section of the programming is going in full force now and Blackmore says that certain themes and trends have made themselves apparent this year. “The thing about the Fringe is you never know what the year is going to be like. You don’t know what the shows will be like until you open and you see the Fringe for All and the two-minute pieces. And the truth is, I really feel like this is a special year where people are really telling stories that are close to their heart and belong to them, which is pretty exciting.

“Most of the shows this years are world premiers. So whether it’s a collective of artists who have come together or whether it’s a one-person show, we’re noticing that there seems to be this activism angle. People have things they want to say about the world.”

Some of the shows that fit in this theme include the play Culver, about two co-workers drawn into different online worlds in a post “#MeToo” era; Stephanie Morin-Robert’s Blindside, which offers an empowering and comedic account of having a glass eye throughout childhood; and Exits, a queer coming-of-age story about a runaway teen and her love of Moby Dick.

“We have other shows that are about family and values,” says Blackmore. “We have a show with a baby in it this year. There’s something about family that’s coming through as a theme. There’s a mother-daughter combo but there’s also a father and son doing a show together. You don’t always get to see that at the festival so it’s kinda’ nice.”

The series of outdoor concerts will also be returning to the Fringe Park this year, starting with a performance by the Kingpins on Thursday, June 6. “We really see the timing of the festival as the kick-off to summer. It’s really reflected in our poster this year. Some people think it’s a sunset. I prefer to see it as a sunrise. It depends what time you Fringe at.”

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