Posted 2015/08/16 by jeremy in On The Street

Getting intimate at the Fringe

Yes, there’s a special energy at the Edmonton Fringe. It grows out of people relating to one another in creative, new, vulnerable, fun ways – sometimes, in the most intimate ways.

Telling stories is how we relate to each other, and sometimes it’s how we work through our deepest and most profound feelings. With that kind of energy all around, it’s not surprising that Fringe performers occasionally strike up romances with one another.


Eleanor O’Brien, writer/star of Lust & Marriage.

For audiences as well, date night at the Fringe is fraught with various potential. Eleanor O’Brien, whose show Lust & Marriage explores our traditional notions of relationships through Dan Savage’s famous “monogamish” lens, has seen couples react in all kinds of interesting ways.

“I have to be careful of who I flyer. There are people who won’t take my flyer,” O’Brien reveals. “I had one couple who just eviscerated the show. They were married 42 years, Catholic, and really had nothing good to say about the show. I asked them if it was the subject matter and they said, ‘oh, no, no, no.'”

Why such reactions? “This play really asks you to look at the concept of monogamy and ask, why are we so committed to it… I mean, there are 40 million people on Ashley Madison.”

So how do theatre couples cope? Antonia Lassar, playwright and cast of PTSD: Post Traumatic Super Delightful, says that for her, theatre is a way to work through some of her issues in relationships.

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Antonia and Artem in Pair of Animals Wants to Marry You

In PTSD, Antonia explores the topic of sexual violence on college campuses. A survivor herself, she handles a delicate subject with humour, even so far as to choose a clown as a main character. “Clowns are the ultimate vulnerable, honest speakers, so to make this show, a clown was perfect.”

Last year, Antonia and her boyfriend Artem hosted a reality-marriage-show together, Pair of Animals Wants to Marry You, where each night they would convince two strangers in the audience to be married on stage. (I was one of them.)

This year, while Antonia is performing at the Edmonton Fringe, Artem is in Philadelphia performing there. “Artistically, we’re on different paths, which is why we’re not doing a show together this year.”

It works for the couple, but exploring different paths is something that can at times be uncomfortable – as O’Brien can attest.


“My job is to be professionally vulnerable, because being vulnerable is really the pathway to being open hearted and whole-hearted living,” O’Brien sums it up. “So what I’m doing is helping people tell their stories… setting an example of being vulnerable, honest and real about what’s going on in my relationship, and I think that’s sort of rare.”

“What I hope is that when people come to the show, it will give them something to talk about in their own lives. Ultimately, it’s about finding what makes y0u happy.”


And if either of these shows (or any of the many other Fringe plays about relationships) don’t make you happy, at least they’ll get you talking. After all, why not stir things up on date night?

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