Local play pushes production, citing fallout from Fringe cancellation 'crisis'
A local play is postponing production until the fall, calling the after effects of its cancellation at the Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival a "hurdle we dared not leap."
Who Goes There?— produced by 3 in 1 Productions and commissioned by the Holy Trinity Anglican Church—was pulled from the festival lineup on Aug. 9 after public outcry over the involvement of playwright David Belke.
Belke, also a substitute teacher, had been ordered to register as a sex offender in 2017 and was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography that year.
A statement issued by Reed McColm said the group was at first encouraged by community feedback to continue performing as scheduled.
"However, we came to realize that the sixteen other Fringe shows being produced on one of Holy Trinity’s three stages had been involuntarily inconvenienced by our crisis, and in fact might also be threatened themselves with protest or blame," the statement reads.
"This proved a hurdle we dared not leap."
The statement went on to say Fringe's cancellation of the play—and citing of a "safe spaces" policy violation—went against an Aug. 1 agreement between Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the festival regarding Belke's involvement.
"It is the contention of all connected with Who Goes There? that Fringe management failed utterly to support that agreement, and have acted in bad faith. Their insistence they have done so in order to maintain 'safety' is nonsensical. Indeed, their decision has, ironically, resulted in a more threatening and more threatened Festival."
A statement on Fringe's behalf reiterated the festival stood by its decision to withdraw support from Who Goes There?
"We used best efforts to mitigate harm in consultation with Holy Trinity. However, after receiving numerous reports of concern via our formal Safer Spaces reporting channels, we understand that initial effort was not enough."
Who Goes There? hopes to instead debut in November to coincide with Remembrance Day. The play is about the meeting of a recovering soldier and stranger.