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Fringe Festival 2017 Wrap-up and Day 11 Reviews

I’m starting to get caught up on sleep after eleven days in which I averaged about five hours a night.  It’s a good thing only one of my two shows required me to have a lot of lines.

In the end, the out of town acts moved on to their next Fringe or headed back to wherever they call home.  The locals all started thinking about their next show and about what they will do at the Fringe next year.  I’m working on my next script and a couple of directing gigs after that.

Theatrical Brigadoon has disappeared for another year.  Rather, it has fractured.  We all move apart for almost twelve months only to be pulled back into each other’s orbit by the gravitational pull of the Fringe.  I have a lot of friends I see only during this eleven day Festival.  Even more I see only infrequently during the rest of the year.

Fringe is the place you take chances because you probably won’t lost money when you do.  It is the place you are inspired by the creativity of others.  It is the place where you make connections to artists who might just be a collaborative partner next week or next month or next year.

In the end, I watched 32 shows and participated in 11.  That means there were only 13 of 56 time slots in which I did nothing.  Just over one per day.  I saw at least one show in every Fringe venue that was not a bring your own.  I watched every show that featured work by members of Fearless Comedy Productions.  I saw only three shows I really didn’t like.  I saw two shows I thought were truly extraordinary and several others I liked an awful lot.

Here, then, are my reviews for the last few shows I saw.  Because I’m a completist.  Thanks to everyone involved in this festival. It is one of my favorite things.

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Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 10

As the Fringe winds to a close, reviews are less important.  I keep posting them anyway because hell, they might help someone down the road.

Last night, Fringe central was completely overrun by Coldplay fans.  The proximity of Grumpy’s to US Bank Stadium provided many fans of the band with the opportunity to pre-game the concert.  It also meant that most Fringe Festival participants were hanging out on the patio and trying to avoid the music fans who, most likely, had no idea the Fringe Festival even existed.

We made fun of these people a little.  Not really because there is anything wrong with being a Coldplay fan but because they were invading “our” space.

Which is silly.  I mean, ten days ago, this wasn’t “ours.”  And tomorrow there will be no more performers with pink lanyards standing around trying to get a basket of tots.

But last night, our space and our city was crawling with Coldplay fans.  They filled a stadium.  And most of them were unaware of the amazing things happening all around them.

I guess that’s why we made fun of them a little.  We all knew what they were missing.

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Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 9

What does getting the encore mean?  In terms of audience, not a lot.  Attendance at the final slot has, for the most part, been traditionally low.  Certainly there are exceptions but most shows play for a small house in that 8:30 Sunday slot.

It’s more about bragging rights.  Every time you do a show at the Fringe, you get to say you had an encore.  Even if you never have one again.

Getting the encore is difficult.  You need to put together a good show.  You need to generate good buzz.  And you need to sell more tickets than three or four other shows in your venue that are at least as good as yours.

Tonight, encore performances will be announced.  One of them might be mine.  But I doubt it because it is one of three shows that have been doing well in our venue. It’s the only thing at the festival that smacks of competition but it is a friendly one since I’d be genuinely pleased to see any of us in that final slot.

So I guess what I’m saying is this: If you are Fringing, go see an encore performance on Sunday night.  Whoever got that final slot worked hard to earn it.

As the Festival reaches the final weekend, I have spent more time playing Fringe Roulette and simply checking out what is nearby.  Sometimes, that has paid off beautifully.  Other times, not so much.  My Friday night, however, was almost all positive.

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Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 8

We have reached the point in our Fringe experience where everyone is talking about show ideas for next year.  Plans are being hatched and somewhere around ten percent of them will actually be entered into the Fringe lottery this fall.  A smaller percentage than that will actually be picked and/or produced.

Right now, I’m being recruited to write no less than five Fringe shows next year.  And I have ideas for three of my own.  I don’t imagine my experience is much different from dozens of other artists.

Creativity breeds more creativity.  The Fringe generates it’s own content as artists meet and mingle and come up with ideas they may never have conceived if left to their own devices.

I love the creative engine that is the Fringe.  I have become a better artist because of the ways it has pushed me over the years.  I never thought I would do a storytelling show.  Or a dance show.  Or a musical.

All of these things became possible because the Fringe allows artists to take chances on the cheap.  You can succeed or fail big and either way, you come away with ideas for next time so you can succeed or fail all over again!

I saw three shows last night and while I wasn’t completely satisfied with any of them, they all gave me ideas.

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Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 7

I’ve often said I love being involved in theater because none of us are really in competition with each other.  I mean sure, we’d all love to have one of our shows called the best someone has ever seen but that isn’t going to happen to most of us.

The truth is, there is enough audience to go around and the only people any of us compete with is ourselves.  Josh Carson writes amazing comedy.  Nobody compares his work to the Guthrie.  They compare his work to the rest of his work.  Attendance at his shows has never been driven by how much better or worse his show is than mine (his shows are always better and no that is not false modesty).

Yes, actors are frequently in competition to get parts.  It’s probably one of the reasons I don’t act all that much.

The shows in which we all perform, however, stand or fall on their own merit.  We can all enjoy our own success together.

I mean hell, that’s what Fringe is all about.

I performed in two of my own shows on Wednesday and because of that, I ended up at shows that were in close proximity to my own.  Sometimes, you discover something wonderful when you do that.  Sometimes you don’t.

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Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 5 & 6

I’ve had a show in the Fringe for eight straight years now.  The result is I’m getting to know a lot of other producers and I want to see and support all of their work.

And it isn’t possible.  I’m going to miss some shows.  Nobody can see every show at the Fringe.  It is literally impossible.  Add to that the fact I’m in two shows and I lose ten possible time slots.  Also, I can’t go to a show in every time slot.  It just gets out of hand.

I could fill my Fringe with shows featuring friends and acquaintances of mine.  If I did that, I would miss out on great shows featuring work by people I don’t know.

So we all pick and choose.  And sometimes we don’t go to a show by someone we really admire because we just couldn’t make it happen.

And because we are all human, we feel bad about it.

I see more theater during Fringe than I do the rest of the year.  And I still miss things I wanted to see.

So I try to avoid spending too much time feeling guilty for missing work by artists I admire.  I typically fail.

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Fringe Reviews 2017 – Day 4

As a producer I hate/love Fringe audience reviews.  You need them to help your show do well.  Sometimes.  You want to read constructive criticism about the show.  Sometimes.

I imagine most artists are like me.  Every time you get a great review, you are super pumped.  Every time someone takes the time to tell you they enjoyed your show, you get this great feeling.  For some stupid reason, all of that goes away the next time someone writes a review that is the least bit critical of your effort.

It isn’t that you feel like a failure so much as you wonder if every other positive thing anyone said was at all true.  You assume it wasn’t and that all those people were just being nice to you.

Somehow, you have to power past those feelings of self-doubt and take from the critiques what is useful.  You have to remind yourself that you can’t make everyone happy.  You have to remind yourself that sometimes what someone perceives as shortcomings of the show were intentional choices and they aren’t critiquing you.  They are critiquing your choices.

It takes a tough skin sometimes.  But Fringe is one of the few theatrical endeavors where your feedback is immediate and sometimes harsh.  You have to be ready for it.

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