Atlantic Fringe Festival director Thom Fitzgerald believes “fringing” and queer people were made for each other.
“Fringe festivals by nature celebrate outsiders,” Fitzgerald says. “Traditionally, queer entertainment is not mainstream entertainment. I think queer artists gravitate toward the Fringe because Fringe embraces diversity in a way mainstream theatre never has.”
This year’s Atlantic Fringe Festival celebrates 23 years with a stellar lineup of queer content.
After the success of his award-winning Gay White Trash in 2008, playwright Michael Best returns with Go to Hell. The play follows Johnson, a self-obsessed gay lawyer, who dies and finds himself in one circle of hell. And it turns out the Catholics are right – all gays do go to hell.
Best says his latest production looks at values, identity and redemption. “I was travelling alone in Greece and had come from Mykonos — a hedonistic gay mecca, which was great but a little overwhelming — and I think I started to feel a little Catholic guilt from all the misbehaving I did there. But there was no atonement for it.”
Best turned to writing and began scripting the first draft of Go to Hell, which he wrote originally as a screenplay and later adapted for theatre. “Being a recovering Catholic, I’ve always had a penchant for skewering religion in many forms and just kind of turning those beliefs on their head,” Best says. “It would surprise people that I do consider myself a Christian — I was even married in a Baptist church.”
Meanwhile, Ian Mullan’s Bend explores a Halifax love triangle, and Kim Parkhill’s Phaedra’s Bed is a play about mortality, desire and social conventions. Part reality, part fantasy and a blend of past and present, Phaedra explores the boundaries of love and consequences of lust.
Finally, director Richie Wilcox’s Unsex’d, written by Jay Whitehead and Daniel Judes, is an inaccurate historical play set in Elizabethan times about two male players fighting over the role of Lady Macbeth. “When I think about this in a queer sense — some gay men I know had funeral parties for their 30th birthday,” Wilcox says. “People are really scared of aging in this culture and losing their beauty. Unsex’d tackles these issues in an entertaining and humorous way.”