We rely on more than 1,200 volunteers to help coordinate North America’s largest Fringe Festival. And, those volunteers need a liaison who can support them.
Our office gnome, Heraldo, took Abi to tea for a short Q & A so we could get to know the newest member of the Fringe family.
First off, to address the obvious, you have an accent. What’s that about — you getting into character for an audition?
No, no. I moved to Edmonton from the United Kingdom just 6 weeks ago! I am an artist though. I’ve performed, directed, and managed numerous shows at the Edinburgh Fringe for the last 7 years.
Oh, I see. Wise move — coming to Edmonton to learn how to REALLY fringe!
Well, that and I desperately wanted to try poutine.
And, the verdict?
And it was more delicious than I thought possible. Next I’ve got my sights on trying beavertails and green onion cakes.
So, you’re an artist?
Yeah, mainly I’ve done a lot with sketch comedy groups, like the Cambridge Footlights and Minor Delays. I also had a claim to fame when I was briefly in a children’s TV show in the UK. I played an aardvark — really crucial role, haha.
What have been a few highlights of Edmonton so far?
Definitely the constant sunshine. Having lived in the UK all my life, being able to not wake up to miserable grey drizzle every day is a thrill. And, the people. Everyone I’ve met so far has been incredibly welcoming and friendly. People even talk to you in Starbucks here, I love it!
Well, good news, as the Volunteer Services Coordinator you’ll working with some of Edmonton’s best! You’ve gone from acting to volunteer work, how’s that?
Well, I’ve been working in arts administration and with volunteers for a bit now. My most recent job was as Head of Operations at the London School of Economics’ Students Union and the University of the Arts London Students Union. I managed their events departments, central services, and supported more than 1,000 volunteers.
But, I’ve always been excited by what people can achieve when they put their mind to it — not motivated by money or power, but a community of people creating something incredible for its own sake. Particularly now in the world we live in — that over a thousand people can come together; give their time and energy and enthusiasm, totally selflessly, to support and celebrate art and theatre and their communities is pretty special.
Since you’ve been working with volunteers awhile now, is there something that excites you about this specific role?
Being part of the Fringe Team feels a bit like joining an enormous army, and that’s incredibly exciting. In the week I’ve been here the passion from everyone is so palpable. There’s this genuine eagerness to create something amazing.
And, perhaps the question most vital to your success. Do you know Edmonton’s sacred chant?
Umm, I’m gonna go with, “Go Oilers”?