How Kristen Finlay fringes

Kristen Finlay

Kristen Finlay, AKA the powerhouse behind the blog Finster Finds has long been one of the people I look to in the community to find out what’s on and what I should not miss. I currently serve with Kristen on the board of Walterdale Theatre and have always admired the artistry of the shows she brings to life.

Here’s Kristen’s bio:

I am a playwright, director, and actor.  My plays include Double Double: The Musical, Little Monsters, PiecesFrom SomethingZachary and the Storytelling Stones, Tight Rope, and There’s a Better Way. My script Water Beneath Her Feet was recently presented at Walterdale Theatre as part of the 2018 From Cradle To Stage Festival.  I am formerly Artistic Director of Walterdale Theatre, and selected directing credits include Sense and Sensibility (Asst. Director – The Citadel); Chess, Nine, Proof, and Rabbit Hole (Walterdale Theatre); Shout! (Roundbarn); and The Playmates (U of A New Works). I invite you to check out my Theatre Blog: Finster Finds for my reactions to the shows I see in Edmonton!

Here’s how Kristen fringes:

How long have you been Fringing? What is your favourite Fringe memory?

My first fringe was in 1987. It was in its early days. It was the first summer I did not go home while I was in University and I was living in the Old Strathcona area. The Fringe was literally right outside my door. I started by volunteering and using the Fringe Bucks to see shows. I loved the line culture and remember seeing some absolutely ridiculous shows. Back then I would brave torrential downpours to see shows… I’m not sure that is still the case.

Favourite memory: Seeing Bruce McCullough from Kids in the Hall in The Jazz Stenographer at the Chinook Theatre (the previous name of the Varscona Theatre).

What’s the one item you never forget to bring to the Fringe or other summer festivals?

For Fringe – my Program. I need the program.

How do you choose the shows you’re going to see at Fringe? It’s still early, but do you have your eye on any shows you’re interested in seeing this year?

I do read a lot of the Pre-Fringe articles to decide on what I am going to see. It’s nice that we can get reviews from Winnipeg ahead of time. I also have become familiar with certain artists’ work and that will often guide me. And there are always friend’s shows, but to be honest, I physically would be unable to see all my friend’s shows because I know too many people. I do love chatting in lines for ideas and having chats in the beer tents. Gerald Mason is a terrific resource because he sees so much and a wide variety. A few years ago, I started an ongoing blog post during Fringe called Word of Mouth (on my Finster Finds blog) and those are just suggestions from people I have talked to in line or on the grounds. I’ve caught some wonderful surprises that way!

Has something you’ve seen or experienced at the Fringe had an impact on your life? How did it change you? 

In 2010 I saw Andrea House’s show, Forget Me Not. A friend had recommended it so I thought I would check it out. It was described as being the story of her Grandfather who had met a woman in France during the war and fallen in love, but it actually turned out to be more about her grandmother who he married after he came back. During the previous Fringe, my grandmother, who shared the same name as Andrea’s, had passed away, and this was almost 1 year to the day. About 2/3 of the way through the show I was sobbing as I realized that I wasn’t really done grieving. Andrea House’s beautiful tribute to her grandmother helped me remember mine.

What type of a live performance show have you never seen that you want someone to create (or want to create yourself)?

At the risk of giving away a cool idea… I have this idea for a show called “Four Rooms” – you get a friend who has a house in the Old Strathcona area, and write four 10 minutes plays which each take place in a different room of the house (or one is in the backyard – the neighbours would love that!). The plays are repeated 4 times and the audience is in groups which move from room to room in a different order. The idea is that you don’t get the ‘whole story’ until you hit all four rooms, and it would have to take in sound bleeds – so shouting in the kitchen would affect the scene in the basement… I’ve been thinking about this one for a while…

What “weird”, unusual, or indulgent thing do you only do at summer festivals?

It’s the only time I have green onion cakes and I MUST have them at least once at the Fringe. If I didn’t, I would feel like the Fringe hadn’t happened.


I agree, green onion cakes are a must for Fringe, and I love Kristen’s idea for “Four Rooms” (I’ll stay tuned!). The Winnipeg Fringe is just around the corner (July 18 – 29), so stay tuned to the #wpgfringe hashtag for reviews!

Kristen’s profile is part of my 2018 How to Fringe series highlighting some of the folks I look up to in Edmonton who have generously agreed to share a bit about themselves and how they Fringe. If YOU want to Fringe, tickets for the 37th annual Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival go on sale August 7.

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