2022 Theatre Festival

Play the Fool festival - Sept 22-25, 2022

After a 2-year online-only odyssey, we’re thrilled to plan to be live & in-person for 2022 at the Backstage Theatre. Please note that all Play the Fool staff, artists, volunteers and patrons are subject to these COVID mitigation policies.

Masking is required at all in-person events.

If booking group tickets, or if ticket price is a barrier to access, please contact us.


Pochsy IV (work in progress)

Karen Hines Pochsy IV Image Ryan Bartlett

“Ingenious, acidic comedy ... a hallucinatory ultra-feminine living corpse.”

The Globe & Mail

“Imagine Greek Tragedy by Betty Boop.”

Montreal Gazette
Thu Sep 22 8:00pm
Sat Sep 24 7:00pm
70 mins | 16+ $15-$35

A workshop production. Dark comedy. Not for children.

Written and Performed by Karen Hines

Directed by Michael Kennard

Set and Lighting Design by Sandi Somers 

Music and Sound Design by Chantal Vitalis  

Additional Sounds by Richard Feren |  Costume Design by Justin Miller a.k.a. Pearle Harbour | Clown Coach – John Turner | Production Dramaturg – Blake Brooker | Production Management – Kate Pallesen | Graphic Art – Ryan Bartlett | Photography – Gary Mulcahey | Film Stills – Peter Moller

In 1992, Pochsy made her Fringe debut. ‘Pochsy’s Lips’ featured a wilting industrial factory worker who spun sugarplum fantasies from the bruised fruits of the North American Dream. Poisoned and poisonous, utterly narcissistic and fatally lonely, Pochsy knelt at the altar of all that is held holy in the name of consumerism gone mad. Pochsy’s lush satires have since travelled the globe: her prize-winning plays and short films have been presented at theatres and film festivals internationally. 

Fifteen ago, Pochsy quietly slipped behind the veil. Now she’s back, and would like a few words with you… 

CONTENT WARNINGS: Language and adult subject matter.

Made with support from the Play the Fool Festival and One Yellow Rabbit Theatre’s High Performance Rodeo, where Pochsy IV officially premieres in 2023. Keep Frozen acknowledges the support of the Canada Council and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

What the critics say since 1992:

“Hines is an astonishing artist, both as a writer and as a performer.” – Liz Nicholls.

“Ingenious, acidic comedy … a hallucinatory ultra-feminine living corpse.” (The Globe & Mail)


Read more about the Pochsy IV artists…


Something in the Water

Something in the Water 3 - S.E. Grummett - Photographer_ Kenton Doupe

“If you like your theatre madcap, thoughtful and combined with what's-coming-next intrigue, don't miss out.”

The Advertiser
Fri Sep 23 9:15pm
Sun Sep 25 3:30pm
60 min | 18A and ages 10+ performances $10-$25



Friday Sept 23nd @ 9:15 pm: Ages 18A performance

Sunday Sept 25th @ 3:30 pm: Ages 10+ general audience performance


Written & performed by S.E. Grummett

Directed by Deanna Fleysher & Mind of a Snail Puppet Co.

Stage Managed by Sam Kruger

A comedic deep dive into identity, gender and what it means to be normal. When Grumms transforms into a sea monster with squid genitals (think Creature from the Black Lagoon meets The Muppets), they must hide their identity and try to pass as a “normal, human woman”.

You’ll be spellbound by stunning video projections, slapstick and satire; all stirred up together with Grummett’s glowing and playful performance. A perfect balance of absurdist physical comedy and vulnerable self-exploration, the show weaves a touching story of acceptance that anyone can relate to. Inspired by performer/creator, S.E. Grummett’s experience coming out as transgender, Something in the Water is a celebration of the “not normal”.


WINNER: Best Theatre, Adelaide Fringe 2021.

SOLD OUT SEASON: Adelaide Fringe 2021.

OFFICIAL SELECTION: Spotlight Canada, Edinburgh Fringe, 2021

‘If you like your theatre madcap, thoughtful and combined with what’s-coming-next intrigue, don’t miss out’ (The Advertiser).


Read more about the artists…


The Play the Fool Festival Patio Outdoor Entertainment

Jordan Sabo

NEW THIS YEAR The Play the Fool Festival Patio

The Festival Patio is located right outside the Backstage Theatre. It’s the COVID-concious place to relax between the indoor shows.

Grab a drink and a snack from the bar, catch up with friends, and enjoy our outdoor roving entertainment from The Copper Cowboy Living Statue (Daniel Anderson), Jay Flair, Aytahn Ross, and Jordan Sabo.

Read about the outdoor patio artists…

Festival Welcome & Opening

Thu Sep 22 7:00pm
45 mins | All Ages FREE

Join us on the Play the Fool Festival outdoor patio at the Backstage Theatre at Fringe Theatre’s Arts Barns for a toast to our return to the theatre!

Triple Bill #1

Fri Sep 23 7:30pm
Sat Sep 24 4:15pm
60 min | All-ages/G $10-$25

Mario’s Got Talent


18 mins | All-ages


Performed by Hugues Sarra-Bournet

Created by Hugues Sarra-Bournet & Yves Dagenais

Directed by Yves Dagenais

Magic consultant  Dr. Joseph Culpepper

Mario “Superstar” Mario wants to go on the TV show America’s Got Talent, but doesn’t quite understand what a good performance is. The spectators rate the acts Mario has prepared for his audition. Hat manipulation, limbo, singing, and magic! mariosuperstarmario.com

Scamp and Shorty’s Horror Stories


18 mins | All-ages

Red-nose clown

Created & performed by Erin Hutchison and Emily Smith

Directed by Jan Henderson

Through their horrifying experiences with haunted houses, seances, and exorcisms, singing duo Scamp and Shorty explore fear and the most terrifying emotion of all- boredom.

Croomb Goes Fishing


18 mins | All-ages

Red-nose clown 

Created and performed by Chad Bryant

Directed by Chris Gamble

The cantankerous Croomb has decided it is time for some rest and relaxation. What better way than to go fishing!

Read more about the Triple Bill #1 artists…


Triple Bill #2

Sat Sep 24 2:30pm
Sun Sep 25 5:15pm
60 min | Ages 14A $10-$25

Rat Academy



18 mins | All-ages

Red-nose clown

Created & performed by Dayna Lea Hoffmann and Katie Yoner

Collaborator Joseph McManus

Fingers is the last rat in Edmonton. Or so he thinks, until one day he finds a curious and innocent baby rat named Shrimp. Eager to preserve his Edmonton rat legacy and finally have a friend, Fingers creates the Rat Academy to teach Shrimp how to survive as a cold, hard, street rat.

The Character Cabaret


18 mins | 14+

Created & performed by Christel Bartelse

Directed by Andy Massingham

From the Creator of Fringe hits “ONEymoon” “Chaotica” and “All Kidding Aside”, actor/performer/clown- Christel Bartelse brings you a theatrical showcase of characters, some human, some not. A hilarious & quirky solo show adventure!

​“Rare originality and theatrical zest” – Edmonton Journal | Bartelse is a bit Julie Andrews gone wild” – Montreal Gazette

The Olympics Piece


14 mins | All-ages

Physical comedy/dance

Created & choreographed by Anastasia Maywood

Performed by Janita Frantsi, Maren Vickers, and Zoette Dixon-Dyrvik

Every current summer and winter Olympic sport in 14 minutes.

Read more about the Triple Bill #2 artists…



The Rookie Cabaret

Edmonton / Amiskwaciwâskahikan
Sun Sep 25 8:00pm
70 min | Ages 18A $10-$25

A raucous and hilarious way to wrap-up your weekend.

This festival favourite has returned after a two year hiatus! Play the Fool’s Rookie Mentorship Program showcase features emerging clowns, physical comedy artists, and experienced performers experimenting in a new style. It’s a performer-creation program, artists work with festival director Christine Lesiak to take their idea from concept to stage. 

Help us keep this program going ADOPT-A-ROOKIE today!


  • Vinnie & Alphonse in Blood Ties by Yassine El Fassi El Fihri & Patrick Lynn
  • Pearl in Cleaning Up by T Gill
  • Hysteria Winthrop aka Sophie Healey 
  • Grubbie’s Market Spree by Kijo Gatama 
  • Tchotchke the Gig in Sweet Milk by Terry Knickle 
  • OnPoint by Lauren Brady 
  • Big Business by Leeboyes

Content warnings: Smoking, realistic firearms, cartoonish violence, suicide ideation, disordered eating, body dysmorphia.

Read more about the Rookie artists…


The Festival Spectacular Cabaret

Sat Sep 24 9:30pm
90 mins + intermission | Ages 18A $10-$25

Comedy madness where anything can (and does) happen!

You never know what chaos will prevail when over a dozen of our favourite fools take the stage to entertain and amaze. Laugh yourself silly at our late-night shenanigans.

Hosted by Lee Boyes, featuring:

  • Jesus & Pastor Greg (Rebecca Merkley & Adam Keefe)
  • Mark Vetsch & Neil Kuefler
  • Melucine (Jacqueline Russell)
  • June Fukumura
  • Charlie Peters
  • Erin Pettifor
  • Christel Bartelse
  • Hugues Sarra-Bournet
  • Creepy Boys (S.E. Grummet & Sam Kruger)


Artist Panel Discussion

Coolage of panelist headshots
Sun Sep 25 1:00pm
90 mins Free online

Gender Blending: Examining, Exploring, and Subverting Gender through Clown

Watch here, or on YouTube

An online panel discussion with S.E. Grummett, Candice Roberts, Zachary Parsons-Lozinski (Lilith Fair), Charlie Peters, and Adam Lazarus, moderated by Jake Tkaczyk, about gender in physical theatre, character, and clown. These artists will discuss how they use gender in their work to subvert deeply ingrained beliefs, roles, and power structures, and how clown can be a tool to investigate multiple aspects of identity, and disrupt the status quo.

Don’t want to watch it alone at home? Join us for our public viewing party on the Play the Fool Festival patio, at the Backstage Theatre, no ticket required.

Live Captioning by Tanzi Reule

Moderated by Jake Tkaczyk

No tickets needed – watch it right here for free. Or on YouTube

READ about the panellists…