Couple integrates Vancouver Fringe Festival into wedding plans

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      Here's the definition of Fringe devotion: Robyn Williams-Dann.

      Williams-Dann has volunteered for the festival for eight years. She's worked as ticket seller, venue captain, and crew chief. She usually clocks over 40 hours each year, and watching an average of 25 to 30 shows per year.

      She and her fiancée, Jason Kurtz, also support the festival with donations: not only do they donate money but Kurtz, of Kurtzastan Custom Kicks, has donated his shoe artwork for the festival's silent auction.

      And Williams-Dann adores the festival so much that—no joke—it will be integrated into her wedding arrangements.

      By phone, Williams-Dann explains that she and her fiancée, who were engaged on March 31, aren't big on weddings. Accordingly, they're just having a small wedding ceremony with her parents at Jericho Beach (where they had their first date).

      But having her parents come into town from Kelowna was part of her festival-oriented strategy: they'll babysit her four-and-a-half month twin babies so that the couple can catch some Fringe shows while honeymooning at the Granville Island Hotel for their first night alone in months.

      But as if that wasn't hardcore enough, here's the pièce de résistance: for the wedding reception, they're asking their guests to catch a Fringe show or two, and then have a drink with them at the St. Ambroise Fringe Bar on Saturday (September 7).

      By doing so, she hopes to bring her guests into her world as "a way of introducing other people to the Fringe."

      It's all part of her master plan to help the Fringe take over the city (if not the world, as most domination plans go).

      "We're still every year surprised that not as many people know about or heard of but don't ever go," she says, "whereas in other cities, in Edmonton, it's a major happening…and we'd love to see Vancouver turn into that because the mandate is theatre for everyone and it really just is…."

      The prospect of attending the festival for the first time, as some of her guests will be doing, can be daunting for some. To help out newbies, she's giving a few recommendations of shows to see, including Arnie the Carnie's House of Mystery, Little Pussy, and Kitt & Jane.

      But her general advice for anyone trying to figure out how to tackle the daunting magnitude of selections, she recommends asking the Fringe concierge service or volunteers for their "insider information" or at the box office where she says there'll be "people who know the Fringe inside and out".

      But most of all, she advises people just to "take a chance".

      As to what inspired such fervent dedication to the festival (which runs until September 15), she says she found where she belongs.

      "The first year that I was at the Fringe…it just felt like it was the right place for me. It was a sense of community, so much selection, some really high-class, really well-performed shows, but also a lot of weird, kooky kind of theatre, which I particularly am into."



      Michael Puttonen

      Sep 7, 2013 at 8:58am

      Way, way back in th 1940s, when Vincent Massey dedicated himself to a ten-year struggle to have public funding for the arts in Canada, these are the kind of people he was thinking of...the lovers.

      Congratulations to them from everyone who loves people who love the theatre - may they have many more Fringes together, twins and all...

      Brian Paisley, the brilliant and lively founder of the Fringe Movement (Edmonton, '82), in Victoria now(?), would get a kick out of this I'm sure. "Love At The Fringe" BYOV