Be a Friend of the Arts

Poster for the 31st Annual Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival

It’s summer in Edmonton and with that comes what seems to be an endless array of festivals, but my favourite one of the year is the upcoming Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, which runs every August. The inaugural year having taken place in 1982, 2012 marks the 31st anniversary and the biggest one to date. With 1800 performances and 215 shows in 52 venues, this remains the largest theatre festival in North America.

Over the last few years I’ve really grown to love the Fringe. So much so that I have managed to break my record of shows attended each year with a total of 29 in 10 days in 2011. Every week and a half of the festival is a whirlwind of performances. I always forgo reading reviews beforehand, taking a chance on what I see, and I truly have never been disappointed by a show.

These are my favourites from the last two seasons.

2010

The Pumpkin Pie Show – Commencement

A heartwrenching show about the aftermath of a school shooting, the families of the victims and the shooter and the only friend the shooter didn’t even know he had.

 

Wanderlust

A captivating story of a man’s travels through West Africa.

 

Death: LIVE!

Death recalls his top 10 most successful deaths of all-time.

 

2011

6 Guitars

A brilliant solo performance spanning characters, decades and musical genres.

UPDATE: 6 Guitars is back again for the 2012 festival with the “full version” coming in at 90 minutes instead of the 60 minutes of last year’s perfomance. It is showing daily at the Stanley A. Milner Library in downtown Edmonton. Click here to see all the available showtimes.

 

Zack Adams: Love Songs for Future Girl

Dumped by his girlfriend, Zack Adams looks back on his past relationships to see what went wrong and to determine whether or not he’s missed out on his soulmate. Charming and hilarious. This is the only video I could find.

 

Men Telling Stories

Two guys telling us what it’s like to be average men in this world. They say they’re going to be your best friends for 45 minutes and I honestly walked out wishing they really were.

 

I’m not sure if your city has a Fringe Theatre Festival. If they do, I urge you to support the arts and attend a couple shows. These performers put everything they have into entertaining you. Whether it’s funny, sad, heartwarming or haunting, I guarantee that whatever you see will get you thinking, generate conversation and maybe even make a lifetime Fringer out of you. If you don’t have a local Fringe or Theatre Festival, but you love the arts, think about making a trip to the one nearest you in the next year or two or three. And, barring any of that, just visit your local theatre and see what’s being offered. Live theatre is often more creative and original than any movie you would spend your $10-$15 on. It can take you places you’ve never dreamed of and more than likely you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Have you been to a Fringe Festival this year or in the past? What shows have stuck with you? As always, I’d love to hear from you, so please share in the comments below. Shows travel, so you never know. Maybe I’ll have a chance to see what you’ve suggested.

Photo source: CKUA.com

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Lighten Your Load: Learning to Travel Compactly Through the Seasons

Heys 21″ Peacock Hardcase Luggage

I’ve once again gotten the travel bug. I used to fly away for leisure a few times annually, but in the last few years I’ve been lucky to have the time to take one trip per year. 2012 seems almost an anomaly having been to both Las Vegas and Toronto. Now, I’m anticipating my next holiday, whenever and wherever that may be. What strikes me everytime I’ve traveled with friends or whenever I visit anyone is that they always seem surprised to see how little I pack. I likewise am surprised when I look at their giant suitcases. Why carry such a large piece of luggage when all the things that are necessary can fit into carry-on sized baggage?

The explanations I’ve been given for packing heavy are 1) sometimes you don’t feel like wearing something you’ve packed and options are good, 2) you can never have enough shoes, and 3) you can never be too prepared. My reply is that if you pack properly and think about how you will pair pieces together, 1) it simplifies your days while you’re away from home, 2) you know you’ll look good if you stick to what you brought, and 3) you can pack a small suitcase for a week and still have room to bring a few things home.

In actuality, my obsession with packing compactly started five years ago after I returned home from a six week European bus tour. Being gone for that amount of time I undoubtly took a large suitcase with me. That was proabably a mistake. There is a reason why people go backpacking. Aside from it being a lot less expensive, it guarantees a lighter load. I learned then and there that I never wanted to drag around something so large again. Therefore, no matter where my trips have taken me, my suitcase is now always 21″ or less in size.

It’s come down to a bit of a science. Only the basics for makeup come with me and all other toiletries are travel size. For the days I’ll be on the plane, I wear leggings and a top or a dress with flat sandals or shoes. I avoid wearing metal entirely to help get me through security faster. I usually have a jacket or a sweater in my bag in case it gets cold on the plane or the weather is a bit chilly when I land.

I have a general plan for my outfits before I pack. The pieces I bring can usually be mixed and matched, so I don’t feel like I’m without any choices. Items that are interchangeable, layerable and able to be accessorized are absolutely necessary. Pick clothing that resists wrinkling and is comfortable. Comfort does not mean dressing like you’re heading to the gym though.

The key is to bring a pair of walking shoes – optimally cute ballet flats or strappy sandals that you know won’t hurt your feet – to wear while you tour around during the day and a second pair of dressier heels for nights out on the town. Both should be in a metallic or neutral shade to make it easy to match all of your looks. The second thing is to pick a neutrally colored jacket or coat. Thirdly, choose clothes that can be dressed up or down depending on how you put things together. A great pair of jeans can be worn out to dinner, dancing, a concert or a show when matched with a sequin top. By the same token, a dress that might typically be meant for more formal occassions can be dressed down by wearing a pair of casual flats and a leather jacket. The fourth thing is to color coordinate everything. Your shoes and clothes should be able to be intermixed as if you were at home with your full closet. Bring seven different outfits to give you at minimum seven days worth of clothes. If you are traveling for longer, those pieces should be able to be switched around to create alternate looks.

You can be comfortable without sacrificing style on holiday. Afterall, every city is a new place to show off your personal fashion sense.

With the help of Polyvore I’ve compiled packing blueprints to help you prepare for your next trip. I’ve created each set of suitcase essentials based on the seasons, so that you have a general idea of what to bring depending on the time of year and where you’ll be going. There’s also a special beach/hot weather blueprint for those who are heading to Las Vegas, Hawaii or any other all-inclusive destinations.

Update: My friend has made it known to me that I did not think (I did, but decided to ignore it initially) about the fact that some people have to bring their hair dryers, diffusers, curling irons and hair products with them when they travel. My first thought is that if you’re staying with a friend or at a hotel, check to see if they have those items and if they’ll let you borrow them while you’re there. Those items take up room and increase the weight of your luggage. If it’s not entirely necessary just think twice about it first. If you absolutely must bring those items along, make sure you take a medium sized overnight bag with you as carry-on. I usually stuff my purse into it and pack slippers and a change of clothes and my jacket or sweater, so that I only have to carry the one piece. By putting those items into an extra bag, that frees up space in your main luggage (check-in or not) for more of your hair and product essentials.

Spring

Summer

Fall

Winter

Beach

Do you have any packing tips? I’d love to hear your ideas. Please share in the comments section below.