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School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

Theatre students are living the dream at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Twenty students bring three hilarious shows to the biggest arts festival in the world

Twenty York Theatre students are living the dream — presenting shows they write, direct, perform and design themselves at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 4 to 28. From the challenges of being a millennial woman, to backstage love drama and the history of getting wasted, they bring three shows with many laughs and over the top energy to the largest arts festival in the world.

Guiding this creative collaboration is Edinburgh Fringe veteran and theatre Professor Ian Garrett. 2017 is the fourth year he has lead York students on a pilgrimage to the fabled fest. The ventures have been so successful that York’s Department of Theatre founded a resident company, the YUFFA Fringe, which supports the development of the pieces with the help of York International.

Jenneration Y Photo collage

A comedic cabaret, Jennaration Y rollicks around with the issues surrounding being a millennial woman, using sketches, musical parodies, stand-up and improv. Playwright and performer, Jenna MacNeil will carry you — and her parents’ disappointment–  with hilarity through her life of dating struggles, school anxieties, collapsing industries and future aspirations.

Rehearsing Jenneration Y at home

For dramaturg Michelle Paunov the experience of developing the show has been a game-changer, saying it pushed her to grow her skills as a theatre artist, getting hands on experience with every aspect of what it takes to create a show. She worked closely with MacNeil to help her develop her script, which started as a play for York U’s Devised Theatre Festival.

“Edinburgh is beyond expectations,” Paunov said. “It is such a beautiful city with beautiful people, and during the Festival season, there is such a warm and wonderful community! The Jennaration Y team is incredibly excited to open the show on August 12.”

SMGTDA Rehearsal and performance photo collage

“Playwright and director Scarlett Larry’s script defies easy description or framing. Her characters are vivid and evocative, her laugh lines are slap-your-knee hilarious, and she pulls no punches with her politics.” – Mooney on Theatre (Toronto)

Is your megalomaniac director driving you insane? Is your assistant sleeping with him? Are you? The Stage Manager’s Guide to Dating Assholes has all the answers to your problems and more! What She Said Theatre’s ruthless satire premiered at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival and was Mooney on Theatre’s 4th most buzzed about production.

“Chuck your beer because it’s going to be a bumpy ride navigating your inebriated ass through history’s hot sweaty 100,000-year fornication fest with substance abuse.” – Still Drunk Collective.

Inebriated is an hour celebrating the brave, drunken, high and sex-crazed pioneers that built civilization one bad choice at a time. The Still Drunk Collective invites the audience on a journey through time as they try to understand their own addictions by looking through history and witnessing civilization make the same mistakes since the beginning of time.

With a calm and supportive energy, Garrett is a vital sounding board and mentor for the students throughout the shows’ development, rehearsal and now launching them at the festival.

“The shows have come a long way through the process. The students are passionate and dedicated and should be really proud of their work. Audiences will be in for some fringe-tastic surprises,” Garrett said.

“Word is really getting out on campus about the Edinburgh trip. More students and alumni participate every year. There is something special about travelling to a fringe festival. In addition to performing, many of us are seeing a show or two everyday while we are here, completely immersing ourselves in the experience.”

Transmission poster image

This year Garrett also brings his own production to Edinburgh. Titled Transmission, and featuring site specific performance, augmented and mixed reality, a smartphone app and a podcast, it is truly immersive and interactive production presented by Garret’s Canadian-based theatre company, Toasterlab.

Transmission tells the story of two brilliant science-loving sisters: Leila and Zada Karam, first-generation Canadian-Syrians. Earth has received or intercepted broadcasts from an alien civilization 4.22 light years away on PROXIMA B. The sisters are selected to join a delegation to this potentially habitable exoplanet. One sister decides to go and one decides to stay.

Equirecetangular photo of St.Stephens in Edinburgh

Transmission is a creative examination of displacement and the decision to leave what you love and know behind,” Garrett said.  “Audiences get to consider the profound questions about the human drive for exploration, juxtaposed against the need for community, belonging, family, and place to really call home when we are the ones who are different.”

Transmission is staged in the Assembly George Square Studios from August 5-26. Tickets and schedule can be found at

The student shows are being performed at Venue 13, on Lochend Close, just off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s Old Town. For tickets and schedule info, visit