Last year’s Reykjavík Fringe Festival blew the roof off of Iceland’s alternative theatre scene, and this year, it’s back—bigger, and fringier, than ever.
“We have around 100 shows spanning 265 hours of performances happening over just six days,” beams Jessica LoMonaco, production manager of the festival. “Yes, in just one year, we’ve doubled in size,” adds festival director Nanna Gunnars. With big smiles on their faces, the two talk like kids waiting to blow out their birthday candles. They’re simply bursting with excitement as June 29th, and the first day of the festival, approaches.
The more, the merrier
While last year’s Fringe was extensive, this year’s iteration is even more broad, including not only traditional theatre, but burlesque, stand-up comedy, dance performances, silent discos, puppet shows, digital art, and so much more. It’ll also include special workshops and the premiere of Reykjavík’s Youth Fringe Festival, which will see teenagers take over the Tjarnarbíó stage to show their stuff.
“We realised no younger teenagers were applying, but we know that they are out there making art,” explains Jessica. “We wanted to make it easier for them to become part of the Fringe, now and in the future. We are putting them on our biggest stage with professional tech and professional lighting. It’s a full professional production,” she says, glowing with pride about the close-to-her-heart segment.
Each year is different, Jessica and Nanna emphasise, not only in terms of performers but also subject matter. This year proves to be even more political. “It’s interesting seeing what themes come up each year,” says Nanna. “Now everyone is really concerned about plastic use and saving the environment, and we’re getting theatre that addresses that.”
Jessica nods. “There’s one show, ‘Liquid States,’ which addresses issues of water in the world using video, acting, and shadow puppets,” she explains. “That’s the thing about Fringe,” Nanna interjects. “It’s so current. For example, there’s a video performance about asexuality, called ‘A Sexual Series,’ and people might not be aware of what asexuality is. It’s exactly what’s happening right now.”
Picking shows they are particularly excited out proves to be an impossible task for the duo. Bouncing off each other, they immediately name more than ten they can’t wait to see, starting with last year’s audience picks ‘Goodbye Gunther’ and ‘American Single.’ The latter is a live date, which turned out to be a hoot and a half onstage.
They also name ‘Bleach,’ a story about a gay man in the sex industry, Kimi Tayler’s silent disco, Nordic House’s interactive Romeo & Juliet performance, and ‘Mojave,’ a show about a phone booth in the middle of the Mojave desert, as particularly not-to-miss performances.
“Ok, we should stop,” Jessica says. “We could go on forever.” The women break out into giggles like best friends at a sleepover party. “We just love Fringe!”
The Reykjavík Fringe Festival runs from June 29th-July 6th. Festival passes are 9,900 ISK. Prices for individual shows vary. Get more info at rvkfringe.is
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