Nanaimo Fringe Festival producer Chelsee Damen holds a festival brochure out front of the Harbour City Theatre. The downtown theatre will be the site of the Nanaimo Fringe Festival

Nanaimo Fringe Festival producer Chelsee Damen holds a festival brochure out front of the Harbour City Theatre. The downtown theatre will be the site of the Nanaimo Fringe Festival

Festival showcases local theatre talent

NANAIMO – Fringe festival features more than 40 productions in eight days at the Harbour City Theatre.

When the Nanaimo Fringe Festival kicks off next month, there will be no shortage of Vancouver Island talent to choose from.

The Nanaimo Fringe Festival will take place from Aug. 13 to Aug. 23 at the Harbour City Theatre.

Among the eight productions in this year’s festival, three are from the Island, with two of them being from Nanaimo.

Festival producer Chelsee Damen says despite there being shows from the Lower Mainland and the United States, it is important to showcase the city’s talent.

“We try to find a balance between these international touring artists … and emerging artists and a lot of those are going to be locals,” she said.

The Nanaimo Fringe Festival began in 2011 and was originally called the Fringetastic Theatre Festival.

Damen says the festival grows each year.

“Last year our attendance went up 33 per cent,” she said. “I am excited to see what happens this year. This is our fifth festival and every year we have seen tremendous growth.”

The two shows from Nanaimo are To Kill a Hummingbird and The Actor’s Nightmare.

To Kill a Hummingbird is a one-hour comedy about a dysfunctional mother-son duo, who are obsessed with hummingbirds. The comedy was written by Kim Clark and Darryl Knowles and stars Jeff James Monson, Lorna McLellan and Jen Shirley.

According to Clark, those who attend To Kill a Hummingbird can expect to laugh and be entertained.

“I think they are really going to have an enjoyable hour,” Clark said. “They will have a fun experience and they will giggle about it later.”

Clark and Knowles came up with the idea for the show after obsessing over hummingbirds themselves.

“They are pretty fascinating and they are local,” Clark said. “Everybody here has their feeders out and so it becomes a bit crazy when you get too many or don’t get enough [hummingbirds.]”

While there are two shows from the United States, two from the Lower Mainland and one from Calgary, Damen says  the festival wants to inspire other local artists such as Clark and Knowles.

“We want to inspire artists in the area to consider trying to put on a show and they don’t need a whole lot of experience to do that,” she said. “They just have to have an idea.”