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The risk factor

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Pick of the Vancouver Fringe offers surprise, wit

What: Pick of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival

Where: Millennium Place

When: Sept. 16-18

Risk.

It’s not just a board game anymore.

And at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, which began Sept. 5 and runs through Sept. 15, it’s the operational element around which all plays function.

Just two days left to catch the best and brightest in experimental theatre at shows in various locations around Vancouver. Then it comes to Whistler.

Like the speed limit in Texas, the subject matter for the Fringe Festival is wide open – uncensored, and unjuried.

Owing to this unusual stance, the festival has been known for creative surprise, and theatre that bends the boundaries.

"The Fringe offers risk and experiment for the artist, and offers them the chance to do things in a more experimental way," says Michael McLaughlin at First Vancouver Theatrespace Society, which produces the Fringe.

The show operates on a first come, first served basis, part of a world-wide network of fringe festivals that originated in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1940s.

The "theatre in the raw" is not amateur night. Although there are actors of different levels and experience, all are committed to anything theatrical and everything entertaining.

Meanwhile the FVTS mandate is to promote interest in the arts, in particular drama, and to bring to the attention of government the creative drama needs in the community.

Mclaughlin, who has held artistic director roles in theatre for most of his life, says the Vancouver Fringe is "different from any other artistic endeavour, so it’s like an empty vessel, that fills up."

A juried committee selects the "Pick of the Fringe," the best of the best, which is announced Sept. 12 (after Pique’s deadline). Then the Pick of the Fringe debuts in Whistler Sept. 16.

Criteria the jury consider include artistic excellence, innovation (including concept or elements of set design), and popularity, based on how well the show performs at the box office.

While it’s known that actors perform at this show for love – not for money – the Pick of the Fringe acts give them an extra punch.

"What we try to do is select the shows which for one reason or another should have a longer life," says McLaughlin.

While it was not known at press time which performances will be seen in Whistler, there is an intriguing lineup to chose from. There’s no shortage of humour, from title to plot.

Dodgy titles? Got ‘em!

"Wank" from Hooper’s Troopers, is a one-man show starring Jacques ‘One Crazy Frenchman’ Lalonde in a show from playwright John McGie.

No censorship means audiences experience the weird and wonderful in Canadian theatre.

Looking for your 15 minutes?

"15 minutes of Fame" blends performers’ agility with audience wit, as audiences pay $3 to watch teams create a brand new show using an improv-style technique.

Love Barbie but hate that Ken guy?

In "Barbie Screams" audiences meet their dream date in a fairytale of romance and abuse.

The history of Canada in one hour? No problem. "The Canada Show," an all-ages show from Monster & Quest Theatre, one reviewer quipped: " I learned more here than six years of social studies ever taught me!"

Troubles with underwear? "Wedgie" from Jason Patrick Rothery looks at the war zone of childhood, a presentation from Up in the Air Theatre Society, who also produced "Pyropronomania" at Fringe 2000, which was runnerup for best overall production.

For more information about Pick of the Fringe contact the Millennium Place box office at 604-935-8418. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students.

After the Pick of the Fringe is done in Whistler it will move back to Granville Island’s Waterfront Theatre from Sept. 19 to 22.

At Granville Island there are opportunities to meet and mingle with some of the Fringe performers. The Green Room, a patio at Performance Works, provides a rest area where actors and audience members can share their thoughts and feelings or just relax with a drink before the next show.

Show a, Sept. 16, 7 p.m. and Sept. 17, 10:30 p.m.

Show b runs Sept. 16, 8:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sept. 18

Show c runs Sept. 17, 7 p.m., and Sept. 18, 8:45 p.m.

Show d runs Sept. 17, 8:45 p.m. and Sept. 18, 10:30 p.m.

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