From Iceland — RVK Fringe On Top!

RVK Fringe On Top!

Published June 30, 2023

RVK Fringe On Top!
Rex Beckett
Photo by
RVK Fringe Festival

The RVK Fringe Festival is ready to take over the city

When you live on the fringe, anything goes. At least that’s the way things go at the RVK Fringe Festival, one of the hundreds of global fringe festivals all stemming from their great foremother in Edinburgh. Back for its sixth year, the Reykjavík-wide festival is the largest its ever been and bringing some big names, both local and international, along for the ride. Taking place June 26 to July 2 at over a dozen venues in downtown Reykjavík, the RVK Fringe Festival truly has something for everyone.

If you’ve never dipped your toes in the Fringe festival waters, it’s a platform that hosts performing arts of all kinds, from standup and theatre to cabaret, dance, spoken word, circus acts and more. The styles and shows are wide-ranging and as rule-breaking as the festival’s name implies. This year’s festival is co-directed by part-time Iceland resident and performer Andrew Sim, who regularly hosts the Alternative Assembly showcase nights as his character Linda, “a crazy old old lady who is scary but also very relatable and plays with the audience.”

I think Reykjavik is a sleeping giant when it comes to Fringe festivals. It could become one of the places people absolutely want to come to preview their shows before they do Edinburgh.

“I think Reykjavik is a sleeping giant when it comes to Fringe festivals,” says Andrew. “It could become one of the places people absolutely want to come to preview their shows before they do Edinburgh, because of the amount of great venues and great rooms that could be transformed and the amount of tourists in the city at the time that we’re doing it.”

The chaotic nature of Reykjavík’s venue bookings and cultural life make it somehow easier for a Fringe event to go on, given that it relies so much on spontaneity and on-the-street word of mouth. The festival team are using that to their fullest advantage this year, sending their team of 50-plus volunteers out to hoot and holler at passers by and steer them to the dozens of shows and showcases.

The full festival program is still being curated and will hit the world wide web soon, but we’ve gone ahead and picked out some of the hot happenings that we’ve been hearing about. Check these out and head over to rvkfringe.is for the full schedule.

ICE AGE & Factory

Taiwan-based contemporary dance company RIDT are bringing two dance shows that sound absolutely stunning and truly unique. “ICE AGE” is a disabled-led, international collaborative dance piece created by visually impaired choreographer Chang Chung An and disabled French choreographer Maylis Arrabit. It’s a story about how loneliness and curiosity attract people into another space and time seeking empathy and consideration during the pandemic. Their second show “Factory” is an experimental work not only referring to literal factories, but also as a metaphor for life, expressing the hardships and challenges of living within a factory space.

Shoes

A one-woman show by queer interdisciplinary dance artist Kristen Helen Poppe, the show “Shoes” queers the boundaries placed on us by society through dance and story-telling. Incorporating five dance styles that all use a different type of footwear (Tap, Irish, Flatfooting, Ballet and Modern), Kristen takes us through her genre-defying journey of life, dance and queerness.

Mary & Mietek 

After a full-scale run in London in 2022, the Katla Theatre Company are bringing their award winning show “Mary & Mietek” to Reykjavík for its international debut. Written by Maria Laumark in collaboration with Abi Smith and the company, the show is based on the real love letters of the grandparents of one of the company’s associates, Charlie Sloboda-Bolton, who found their correspondences from 1945. Jumping between 1945 and present day, it’s an inter-generational love story for the ages.

Rise

After wowing the 2022 edition of RVK Fringe Festival with her show “Shattered”, Diana Varco is back with “Rise,” an intense and dramatic storytelling performance. Full of magical realism and lightened by sound and movement, the solo play is just Diana and three empty chairs on an otherwise bare stage. Bringing up issues of trauma, substance abuse, existentialism and childhood rage, Diana brings out her many difficult parts with poignant commentary and searing comedy. “Rise calls the viewer to dive deep into the very concept of rage, judgment and self-sabotage,” says Diana. “To cultivate compassion for ourselves and others, find strength in our stories and discover hope in the moments that hurt us the most.”

Transhumance

Taking a surreal journey through the landscape of gender, award-winning queer clown Ania Upstill explores the meaning of being a trans human, or simply human, within a society that wants to constrain us with binary concepts. As a genderqueer and queer performer, Ania delivers a heartfelt and physical journey through and around gender norms, full of joy and buoyancy. In a time when the conversation around gender are so tender and often heated, Ania’s clowning brings some much needed beauty and humour around the subject. “We make art that celebrates the beauty of embracing your authentic self, because visible joy is a political act in the struggle for equality,” says Ania.

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