As Fringe winds to a close and I start watching shows that weren’t on my early watch list, I start ending up in theaters based, in large part, on where I need to be for my own performances. Fringe roulette can yield some very good experiences and some…not as good ones.
Yesterday’s fringing involved picking a few shows that weren’t on my list. Such choices are exciting because I really don’t know what to expect.
That’s really what the Fringe is all about anyway. You don’t know what to expect. Sure, there are always some artists who have reliably produced quality work. Even so, they are all doing something new and until you sit down in the theater, you don’t know what they have in store for you.
I have one more day to experiment.
I love Fringe Central because it means I get to hang out with some of my best friends for a couple hours every night. I can tell performers who really blew me away that they blew me away. I can laugh and plan new theater and eat cheese curds and be social.
Fringe is a theatrical Brigadoon. I realize that is silly given that Brigadoon is a play and, therefore, already theatrical but never mind.
Fringe springs up for a fortnight every year. Hundreds of artists come together to make theater and then we all go off to create things on our own for the rest of the year. Maybe we run into each other at a bar once in a while. Maybe a few of us do a show together.
But for a few glorious days every year, we are together. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to be a part of it all.
Trump count remains at 10. Pokemon Go count is considerably higher.
I like to play Fringe venue bingo. Basically, I’m trying to watch a show in every Fringe venue (not including any site specific shows). I very rarely manage to pull this off but I enjoy the challenge.
This year’s biggest obstacle (if you can call it that) has been the high concentration of shows on the West bank. With eight venues within walking distance of each other, it is very easy to park yourself on the West Bank for a night. I’ve done it several times already.
Getting to the Uptown and Northeast Minneapolis clusters have required actual effort. I only have one venue left so I think I’m going to fill my bingo card. I feel like there should be a button or something.
Another note on venue – there are two differing philosophies on shows in your own venue. Mine is to see as many as possible in order to support other artists. I’ve heard others believe they should avoid seeing shows in their own venue or they increase someone else’s chances of getting the encore.
Honestly, I don’t even understand why that second philosophy is a thing. If you lose out on the encore because a couple of members of your cast went to someone else’s show, congratulations! Your show was super popular too! Besides, how do you know those folks didn’t go see your show?
Support your venue buddies. It’s just nicer.
Trump count is still stuck at 10. I must have gone to all the shows with Trump jokes in the first few days.
One of the things that continues to surprise me, though I don’t know why, is the graciousness of other Fringe artists. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them with talent that, quite literally, intimidates me (I’ll take imposter syndrome for $200).
When you talk to them, though, you are reminded that they are, for the most part, regular people.
I’m still completely stunned by their talent. But in many cases, they actually seem to appreciate mine. Having other artists appreciate your work is really pretty amazing because while they are responding to the finished product, they are also responding to the process of creating that product.
They know what it took.
It doesn’t make their appreciation better than that of any other audience member. It is a different connection that can, frequently, lead to new work and new ideas. Which is super cool.
If you want to know why I hang out with these amazing people for the better part of two weeks, that’s one of the many reasons why.
Trump Count remains at 10. Not a single Trump joke last night. Weird.
I had two performances on both Monday and Tuesday so I’m combining the four shows I saw on my own time into a single post! Efficiency!
As a writer, I’m frequently focused on the intent of the material and how the artist chooses to get that material across to the audience. That intent is extremely important.
If you are going to a show that is, at it’s core, nothing more than a trifling comedy, then all you really need ask yourself is whether or not you were amused for an hour. If it is aiming for something deeper, then it needs to be evaluated on that level.
The fringe is filled with shows representing a variety of intents. That’s what makes it so enjoyable. You are constantly shifting your perceptions based on the intent of the artist. Sometimes even within the same show.
Trump Count: 10
I’ve been doing Fringe shows for a while now and the result is I have a lot of friends with shows. It is my stated goal to see every one of them but, of course, such a goal is stupid and impossible. After a few years, you come to the realization that you are going to let someone down and miss their show.
The secret, though, is that you aren’t actually letting them down. You see, they get it. They are in the same boat as you. They want to see your show and it just might not work out for them either.
What we all eventually learn to do is tell each other it is completely OK if we miss each other’s shows. It has nothing to do with our respect for each other and everything to do with complex schedule management.
So here’s the thing – audience or artist alike – go see what you want to see. You don’t need to apologize for missing someone’s show. We all understand that you have to make a series of very hard decisions. Thanks so much for even considering our work.
So here is what I saw on Sunday!
Trump Count: 9
I had a big weekend what with all three of my shows opening on the same day.
Now I know what you’re thinking – three shows? What the hell Tim, are you some kind of attention whore?
Um…yeah. I mean I’m a writer and a performer. I can’t get around the fact that I like to put things in front of an audience. Sometimes those things include myself. I like it when people pay attention to that stuff. And while I didn’t set out to be involved in three shows, when the opportunity presented itself, there was no way I could say no.
Every artist at the Fringe is, to some degree, looking for attention. They have talent and they want you to notice. They have ideas and they want you to listen. I love them for that. Because I love to notice talented people and I love to listen to interesting ideas. I love watching people trying new things. I love watching them succeed. I love watching them fail.
I’m totally OK with the fact these people want my attention. Because they deserve it.
Trump Count: 7