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 by the play said it 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.”

The play’s organizers said they were dismayed and appalled by the turn of events, but thanked those who have been supportive.

The group hopes to instead debut the show in November to coincide with Remembrance Day. Who Goes There? is about the meeting of a recovering soldier and stranger.