The following article was published in the Globe & Mail on May 5, 2016.
This year’s festival theme That Was Then, This is Fringe is a tip of the hat to the past 35 years of fringing – an ode to the decades of creative risk and wonder that artists and audiences have shared. From a few performers with five shows across five venues, to 1,200 performers with 216 shows across 45 venues, fringing has become a rite of passage for every artist. And, an essential journey for every Albertan.
Recently, ATB Financial President Dave Mowat, and Fringe Theatre Adventures’ Artistic Director Murray Utas spent a bit of time reminiscing about the good ol’ days. You know, when you stood in line at a bank, fringers moms were passing out homemade brownies during shows, and “Apple Pay” was buying a bag of Gala apples from the grocer.
Q: Flashing back to the 80s, what was your biggest claim to fame that decade?
Dave: My boat, Greaseball. It was the fastest, loudest boat on the lake.
Murray: That’s suitable for printing? Hmm… One night my buddies and I found ourselves in a club with all kinds of energy to have fun, but no dollars to make it happen. Then, an announcement comes over the speakers, “Karaoke contest. Winner receives $150 dollar bar tab.” I quickly channeled my inner cowboy and knocked out a rendition of Garth Brooks’s, The Dance. When I returned to our table, one of my friends looked to me and said, “Where in the hell did that come from, Hollywood?” The nickname stuck right through to the mid-nineties… and we drank on the house that night.
Q: And, were you guys wearing pastels or parachute pants at that time?
Murray: Definitely, pastels.
Q: Fast forwarding a bit, as leaders in your fields how are you working to revolutionize things?
Dave: We want to transform banking, and those changes are happening faster than you think. We are using facial recognition to open accounts, and soon we’ll be able to use biometrics to identify people. You can pay with your phone, and ATB TrackIt allows our online customers to see accounts from all of their banks in one place.
Murray: Fringe is a phenomenon that has caught on worldwide. At its very core it’s a theatre festival. But it’s blossomed into an all-encompassing experience that unites artists and audiences in a way that is unlike any other. We are constantly working to stay fluid so we can ensure we’re able to respond to an ever changing landscape of performance types – like genre and diversity through accessibility. We want to always be able to say YES to art!
Q: What does this ATB/Fringe partnership mean to you and our community?
Dave: ATB supports the arts and events like Fringe because of their ability to touch our lives and enrich our communities. The best part of the Fringe is that it is accessible to all.
Murray: It is truly a partnership that has community at the heart. Building it, fostering it and wrapping it all in fun!
Q: And, perhaps the question on everyone’s hearts and minds, what 80s song best describes you?
Dave: Definitely “Mony, Mony” by Billy Idol.
Murray: I’d say “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman.