First Fringe on Boyle Street
Local playwright debuts new production at The ARTery
We fringed and were unhinged in Boyle Street this past August. With the premier of Timothy J. Anderson’s latest play Tokyo 1965, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival crossed the river into the historic heart of Edmonton for the first time in its 31-year history. Performed by Anderson and directed by Jake W. Hastey, Tokyo 1965 ran in the ARTery from August 17-26.
With Tokyo 1965, Anderson, a long-time resident of Boyle Street, worked theatrical magic as he blended fact and fantasy in his exploration of art, choice, and passion through the life of real-life superstar baritone Ettore Bastianini. Bastianini ruled the opera world of the 1950s with his “bronze and velvet” voice, an instrument of power, subtlety, and emotion. But suddenly, his voice changed and he began to be booed off the stage. What he never told anyone was that he’d been diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. He chose to die rather than undergo a life-saving operation that would have cost him his voice. In 1965, he went to Tokyo to deliver a series of final concerts.
This ambitious undertaking was an example of how many people working together can make an idea a reality. Originally intended to run in the new Boyle Street Plaza, the play was left without a home when the scheduled opening date was pushed backward. Thanks to the support of Mary Ann Debrinski and The Quarters Downtown, a new stage was found. The Boyle Street Community League lent a hand with publicity, promotion and front of house management, and the ARTery was a great host!
The inclusion of the arts in urban renewal is of paramount importance. Old Strathcona, home of the Fringe, itself was rejuvenated in no small part due to the activities of arts and artists. In her August 18 column, Paula Simons of The Edmonton Journal wrote, “Certainly, artists – theatrical and visual – have already played a huge role in the renaissance of areas such as 104 Street, 124 Street, and 118 Avenue. They’re the quintessential urban pioneers and early adopters, who seek out affordable performance, studio, and gallery space, add cachet to a rundown neighbourhood, and make it intriguing and attractive for the rest of us.”