10th infringement festival is here and OTL is offering 4 shows!

When Montreal artists protested the trademarking of the word “Fringe” in 2004 with a cheeky-sounding “infringement festival”, they never expected their activist gesture would blossom into the international movement of rabble-rousing festivals it has become today.

Rejecting corporate models that co-opt culture to reduce artists to advertising and spectators to consumers, the infringement festival promotes the arts as a tool for creative activism and community-building. Based on the original Edinburgh Fringe of 1947, which was an activist protest against exclusion and elitism, this year infringement festivals are being held in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Hamilton, Montreal, and Ipswich in the U.K.


For its 10th edition, the Montreal infringement festival is very pleased to welcome over 50 local and international acts of various genres. Montreal audiences will be treated to controversial, experimental, and activist events and performances, including shows like 420: The Musical (Francis Bacon Experiment, Buffalo, NY), Mentalist Lucas Simmons (Atlantic City, NJ), Candyass Cabaret, Louis Royer and Le Grand Récital Fractal, Spoken Mirrors Show, Dumpster Dive Art Drive, Infringement Walking Tour, and many other events of all creative types. The festival runs in Montreal from June 13 – 23 at over 10 locations throughout the city. Full details, including the schedule and descriptions of all the acts for 2013, can be found at www.infringemontreal.org

Optative Theatrical Laboratories, the original instigators of the infringement festival, is pleased to announce four outdoor shows for the 2013 Montreal edition! This year, OTL is bringing the theatre into the streets with four distinct performances:

Red Light District Walking Tour (Saturday, June 15, 4 pm)

Infringement Therapy! (Sunday, June 16, 7 pm)

Haunted Mountain (Monday June 17, 8 pm)

The Infringement Walking Tour (Wednesday, June 19, 7 pm)

So, get your agenda out and support the independent arts by slotting in some performances at the infringement festival, from OTL or one of the many other acts gracing our city during these exciting times!

Saturday, June 15, 4 pm

Red Light District Walking Tour. After hailing victory in the battle for Cafe Cleopatre, burlesque queen Velma Candyass and cultural worker Donovan King have been busy trying to put Montreal’s Red Light District firmly back on the map, as developers simultaneously try to erase it!

After much research and preparation, the dramatic duo is pleased to offer a salacious walking tour of Montreal’s storied Red Light District. From the days of New France through the Victorian era to Prohibition and right up the 21st Century, the tour looks at all the unsuccessful attempts by various authorities over the centuries to control, destroy, or re-brand the area. Included is the most recent controversy, the demolition of the Lower Main National Historic Site, and the dramatic funeral that was staged by activists to mark its passing.

Father Anthony and Velma Candyass

photo by S. E. Amasse

As a cultural war unfolds in The Main National Historic Site between artists and developers, King and Candyass are working on behalf of the living culture, history, and heritage of the remarkable neighbourhood! Velma has done some serious burlesque revival with the monthly Candyass Cabaret (June 21st at the infringement festival!), whereas King keeps up the pressure on politicians and developers to ensure the destruction stops and they begin respecting the National Historic Site.

The tour starts at the Midway Bar & Salon, 1219 boulevard Saint-Laurent.

Saturday, June 15, 2013, 4 pm


Sunday, June 16, 7 pm

Infringement Therapy! Individual, couple, and group “clients” are given appointments for infringement therapy: after being diagnosed by a theatrical Doctor, they are prescribed an interactive, dramatic and therapeutic journey.

infringement therapy (2)

The goal of infringement therapy is to purge the “clients” of their deepest, darkest oppressions, and empower them to transform their daily social reality!

Bifteck, 3702 St. Laurent

Sunday, June 16, 7 pm


Recent Media:

Montreal Gazette. Stage and Page Blog: QDF Summer Theatre Launch. Pat Donnelly. June 9, 2013.

“Another unscripted moment occurred when two representatives of the Infringement Festival, Donovan King and Karen Spilak, delivered an interesting historical polemic about the trademarking of the word “fringe” by Canadian fringe festivals. Then they criticized the Montreal Fringe for launching a Kid’s Fringe because the event sponsor is a beer company and held up a sign saying “Boycott St. Ambroise”. All this used up their allotted time so we didn’t learn much about the 50 shows of this year’s Infringement Festival.”

She Does The City. Our Top Jane’s Walk Picks for Toronto,  Montreal and Vancouver. May 2, 2013.

“Local writer Marianne Ackerman describes it as “anglo Montreal’s longest running cultural feud.” When a bunch of artists were kicked out of the Fringe Festival ten years ago, they started the now-international infringement movement. This walk will feature experimental street theatre in bars, alleyways, theatres and parks around the Plateau. Starting point: Bar Bifteck, 3702 St-Laurent Ending Point: Barfly, 3702 St-Laurent .”

Monday June 17, 8 pm

Haunted Mountain is a popular spooky walking tour up the slopes of Mount Royal that is being offered on Monday, June 17, at 8 pm. Hosted by horror-experts Donovan King and Karen Spilak, the tour begins on the Plateau at the rumoured-to-be-haunted Barfly.

Haunted Mountain 2012 Gazette

The mountain ramble will visit several haunted sites and guests will be regaled with ghost stories, mysteries and legends about Mount Royal. From haunted hospitals and abandoned castles to cemeteries teeming with undead spirits and a tobogganing ghost, visitors will hear all about the paranormal activities on the slopes.

Barfly, 4062 St. Laurent Blvd.

Monday, June 17, at 8 pm


Wednesday, June 19, 7 pm

The Infringement Festival Walking Tour delves into what local writer Marianne Ackerman describes as “anglo Montreal’s longest-running cultural feud”. The infringement festival, now in its 10th edition, was born when artists in a show called Car Stories were kicked out of the now-trademarked St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival.

Learn about the birth and philosophy of the now-global infringement movement, experience controversial street theatre, and explore legendary bars, parks, theatres and alleyways in and around The Main.


Delve into the philosophical “Fringe™ vs. infringement” dilemma, and hear about how it exploded on the scene at the first-ever World Fringe Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, last summer.

Hosted by Donovan King and Karen Spilak, the tour also includes special animation by the talented artists of the infringement festival!

The tour starts at Bar Bifteck (3702 Saint. Laurent)

June 19, 7 pm



Click here for information on the other infringement festivals, and please read the latest Summer Theatre recommendations from the New York Times:

BUFFALO INFRINGEMENT FESTIVAL July 25-Aug. 4. Time was when a fringe festival was sufficiently subversive, but today even fringes generate fringe elements. The Buffalo fest, an annual grass-roots project with a range of performance and other types of art, is part of a small but driven international movement with a mandate. It reads, in part, “Celebrating freedom of expression and designed as a real arts democracy, this festival is a critical response to the oppressive neoliberal worldview and all its billboard trucks, televisions, fliers, advertisements, jingles, made-for-TV wars; and the depoliticization of people through this diversionary spectacle.”  (Translation: Fringe festivals have become slaves to corporate interests.) Buffalo is but one of several cities where infringement festivals have been organized in recent years. infringebuffalo.org.

infringement general logo


Leave a Reply