Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Surviving the Fringe


Today is the kick off of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. 12 days of plays, musicals, 1 person shows, comedies, and a whole lot more.  Now I know that a lot of the people who read this blog are not from Winnipeg, but that doesn’t mean the information I’m about to share won’t be of help to you.  You can find Fringe Festivals all around the world. So maybe this post will encourage you to try and make it out to one in your own area.  If you’ve never taken the time to go you really should.  At the same time if you happen to be a local or near enough to Winnipeg to make the drive then I’d say get your ass to the Winnipeg Fringe.

So here are your top ten tips to make it through the any Fringe Festival alive and have a great time.

10. Buy a Program Book and mark the shit up out of that book – Don’t borrow one from a friend, read over someone’s shoulder or anything like that.  Just spend the money and buy a Program Book.  The money you spend goes directly to supporting and organizing costs of the festival itself and without that you wouldn’t have a Fringe to go to.  One you have it make notes in it, highlight it do whatever makes it easier for you to track what plays you have been too, what you are going to and what was worth seeing.

9. Plan, plan, plan – The more in advance you can plan out your shows and your Fringing (yes, that is a word) The more you can get out of the festival.  But be sure to leave some space blank in your schedule as well.  If you follow these survival tips you will learn about some gems that you might have missed in your initial planning.

8. See the shows you think will be hot early – There are always some shows that you just know will be hot and sell out fast.  Try and get to them early so that you don’t miss out.

7. Hang out in the general areas – Most Fringes will have some type of general use area.  It might be a beer tent, a local pub, maybe a free stage area or maybe all of the above.  These places are all a great way to hear about plays that you might not have considered.  Maybe get to talk to a performer or two, and most importantly share your thoughts on the plays that you have enjoyed.

6. Share your opinions – Fringe shows are made and destroyed on word of mouth alone in a lot of cases.  If you like shows then tell people about them. Sing the show’s praises from the highest rooftop. On the other hand if you don’t like a show tell people that too.  However if you don’t like a show be sure to tell people why you didn’t like it and remind them that it is your opinion and that as always opinions differ.  There are some shows that I have loved and my friends have hated. It all comes down to opinion and what one person enjoys the next might not. 

5. Remember opinions are like assholes – Everyone’s got one.   When you walk around the Fringe you will be bombarded by opinions.  You will hear them in lines, at the beer tent, on the radio, in the newspapers, over twitter, you name a source and it will have an opinion.  Listen to them but at the same time try and make up your own mind too. 

I know that point 6 and point 5 kind of contradict one another but I felt that they were both true and deserved to be said.

4. Take care of yourself – This is a simple one but one that is often forgotten.  As fun as the Fringe is we still need to remember to take care of ourselves.  Drink plenty of fluids (Beer doesn’t count) It regularly as you run from venue to venue.  If you can maybe even take a few minutes out of your busy fringe schedule and sit down to eat.   Make sure you pack for whole day, bring sunscreen, Bug repellent, a water bottle, the kitchen sink.  Just pack it all that way you don’t need for anything.

3. Visit the Free Stage – The free stage is a great place to relax, grab a bite to eat. It is also a place to see some amazing shows.  These performers live by passing the hat at the end of the show, so you pay what can, and thank them for the show.  They also have a lot of really fun things for kids to see and do.  So bring the whole family introduce them to the Fringe early and make it as fun as possible for them

2. Social Media – The fringe was once limited only free stage and other venues.  Now it has moved into cyber space and the exciting world of Social Media. The fringe itself is actively twitter under the hash tag #wpgfringe in addition to that performers are out there twittering, posting to Facebook.  Be a part of this new community that is forming take the time to twitter, post pictures, talk about the fringe on Facebook and even blog about it.

1. Bring Friends – The Fringe is a lot of fun but friends make everything better.  If you can bring a friend then you should.  It gives you someone to talk with in line, and to talk about the play with afterwards. They might have picked up on something you missed in the play.  So don’t fringe alone if you can help it.

Special Bonus Survival Tip – Volunteer – Fringe festivals run on the backs of many volunteers without their help there wouldn’t be a fringe.  So if you have the time to volunteer then you should step up and do so.  There are normally a number of nice perks available for volunteers, if that is the type of things to encourage you.  If you can’t take the time to volunteer then take the time to say thank you to a volunteer.

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