If you’ve spent any time at Old Market Square during Fringe, you’ve seen the pirates up on stage. They emcee the outdoor acts and keep you up to date on any changes or additions to the programming. Frequent Fringers will remember them from previous years.
“I grew up with the Fringe. I took my first steps here,” says Xyla Webster, who has been a co-host for four years.
No wonder. Her dad, “Captain Braggadocio” (a.k.a. Tim Webster), is the other pirate.
“I was approached by the Fringe back in 2000 to work with Kids Fringe and I felt it needed a host, so I used Captain Braggadocio, a character I’d already developed,” says Webster. As you may have guessed, he’s an actor.
Before hosting Kids Fringe, he was also face painting and making balloon animals during Fringe, so it was an easy progression.
When asked what changes he’d noticed during his 17 years with the festival, the Captain mentioned differences in Winnipeg’s geography. Some memorable venues, like the Cauldron Bar, no longer exist; others, like the Cube main stage built in 2012, have quickly become a huge part of the Fringe. He also remarked positively on the changes to Kids Fringe, which has moved to different venues over the years to accommodate its exponential growth.
The Captain had no difficulty remembering his favourite performance.
“I saw Ronnie Burkett doing a Commedia d’ell Arte marionette performance at The Cauldron in 1986. It was so hot in there and he was sweating profusely over the audience because he was moving so fast, but no one cared. It was that good.”
I think the only thing that would improve this swashbuckling father/daughter duo of buccaneers would be the addition of a parrot. Too bad Billie is already taken. You may have seen her – a blue-front Amazon – out enjoying the Fringe atmosphere with Doug Kretchmer, who’s reviewing shows for Community News Commons. If you see her, say “Hi!” She may squawk “Hello!” back.