After a COVID-friendly 2020 edition, Reykjavík Fringe is back with a vaccine-friendly 2021 program. Yup, we’re talking in-person shows—a heck of a lot of them! For those not in the know, the Fringe Festival is an experimental theatre festival that allows those making non-traditional performances to get a main slot and shine.
This year features a wide plethora of entertainment, from burlesque to cat comedy to aerial extravaganzas and more. While picking shows felt a bit like choosing a favourite child, here are a few of the Grapevine’s not-to-miss events. As always, an official Grapevine panel will present our annual Grapevine Award to our favourite act at the close of the festival. Let the games begin!
Storm: The Clown On The Fifth Floor
July 8-10th at 19:00 – Bar Ananas – link!
Meet Storm Dunder: a non-binary multi-media artist whose works seek to showcase the most glorious, grandiose and grotesque parts of existence. Now, journey with them to The Fifth Floor, a topsy-turvy land residing in the worlds between reality and fiction. “‘The Clown on the Fifth Floor’ tells the story of a creature that just wants to know if they were the hero, the villain, or just a child,” Storm writes, explaining that the show features a melange of musical arrangements and sharp words.
Along with the performance, they’ll be dropping two songs at the festival—”Flowers” and “Look at Me”—both of which will be featured in the show. Each track explores post-traumatic stress disorder and the survival tactics used by The Clown to deal with such a debilitating illness. If you’re still not convinced by Storm’s words, know that the show was awarded the Nordic Fringe Network Award in 2019 and the Grand Prix at last year’s Reykjavík Fringe Festival, where it was presented digitally, so it’s gotta be good! You can explore the world of Storm Dunder pre-Clown on their website.
July 3rd – 17:00 – Árbæjarsafn – link!
The word ‘Kvöldvaka’ is an old one. It refers back to those idyllic agrarian times when Icelanders would spend their nights huddled together in someone’s living room, just entertaining each other with whatever they had. Someone would play guitar; others would chime in with their voices as they knitted a sweater. The beer and the good vibes would be flowing. Remember those cold nights?
The kvöldvaka is still achievable nowadays, but often a bit less personal as there is inevitably some patron posting all of it online to prove to their “haters” that their life is more fun than theirs. Not that we’d do that. No sir.
Now add to that the age-old question, “What kind of music would a sheep enjoy?” and you’ve got one of Fringe’s most eccentric and exciting shows this year, ‘Sheep Music’ by Hafdís Bjarnadóttir and the Passepartout Duo, which consists of Nicoletta Favari and Christopher Salvito. At the lovely Árbæjar Folk Museum, the group will create their own kvöldvaka as they serenade Iceland’s prized animals—sheep and humans—with a selection of sheep-approved tunes. They’ve spent the last months travelling around to different herds, playing music to see what got those sheep hooves grooving, so they’re experts in this emerging genre.
Real sheep, of course, will be in attendance at the concert, so please be mindful that the concert is for them, not you. You are invited to join in the festivities, nonetheless. If you miss it at Fringe, the group will be touring across Iceland and the Faroes this summer entertaining our furry friends.
Mr. Magic: Alexander Smith
July 4th, 6th & 8th at 17:00, July 10th at 15:00 – Fringe Hub – link!
Oh, you thought we didn’t have anything for the kids? How silly you must feel! No, we at the Grapevine understand that the tots have to be entertained while you watch some risqué burlesque.
Mr. Magic—a magician—will be journeying to our fair island to offer special magic classes tailored for kids ages five and up. Each one-hour lesson will teach one special trick and the ins-and-outs of how it’s done and also how to perform it. That said, at the end of the lesson, they will have to take Mr. Magic’s magic oath: #1 Practice practice practice! #2 Never tell the secret. #3 Always clean your room. See? Not only will your kid learn how to impress their friends, but they will also become better people. Win-win.
Magic is one of the oldest art forms. Back in the old days, troupes would travel from city to city in colourful wagons, entertaining the masses with sleight of hand and hypnotism. Ok, we don’t exactly know if that’s true, but it happens in movies, so we’re going with it. As times changed, Houdini mastered the art of escape and Penn & Teller added a comedic edge. Then, of course, Harry Potter appeared. It’s unclear if Mr. Magic will help the kids practice their Patronus, though—we’ll have to get back to you.
The Dreamer by St. Edgar
July 10th – 22:00 – Tjarnarbíó – link!
International burlesque/drag superstar St. Edgar is here for a 50-minute one-man fantasy ‘The Dreamer.’ The show—which actually will take place on the Saint’s birthday—is about a drag performer who dedicates their life to beauty, glamour and art (cue the song from ‘Party Monster’). Inspiring that quest, though, is a person simply searching for self-worth and acceptance. While you might think of drag shows as places where dolled-up queens shimmy to “Believe,” this one goes beyond anything you might see on a certain TV show. No, it’s a reflection on the dark side of the search for beauty and perfection—an emotional rollercoaster about the pitfalls of being a performer.
“The Dreamer is a show that started to melt in my head two years ago. It’s a story that lies close to my heart. Some parts of it are inspired by my own life experiences,” St. Edgar told the Grapevine. “The show aspires to spread awareness of mental illness and self love. In today’s society we tend to drown our feelings until we can’t control them anymore. With that said, prepare for an extremely physical and emotional show.”
We also must stress that this is a 50-minute show—how does a burlesque/drag performer do a solo show for that long? Think of the stamina!
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