As an artist at the Minnesota Fringe, I know a whole lot of people involved in the festival. It makes it difficult for me to write reviews and because I don’t want to torpedo anyone’s shows, I don’t write reviews on the official Fringe web site. Instead, I blog my thoughts here. If you are an artist and you read my review of your show, here are a few things I want you to know.
First: You made a show happen. I can’t hate you for that because I know how hard it is to make a show happen. Even if I didn’t like your show, I like that you gave it a shot. I like you for being creative and for being excited and for doing something with an idea besides thinking “wouldn’t it be great if…”
Second: Not liking a show is not the same as not liking a person. I know that’s hard. I struggle with it myself every time I read a bad review. I can have fifteen great reviews and one bad review will wreck me. I’m sorry I didn’t like your show. I really am. I want to like every show. I still like you, though. And I want you to try again.
Third: If I didn’t like a show, I’m going to try to explain why because saying “I hated this show” is useless. Saying “I think this would have made the show better” is helpful. Artists may not agree with me and that’s cool. But I know that they would rather hear someone say “I think this would have improved your show,” than “I just didn’t like it.”
Also, this year I am keeping a “Trump Count.” This refers to the number of shows I watch that make a joke about Donald Trump. I am not complaining about these jokes, mind you. I feel that Donald Trump jokes are vital in a world that needs to make it clear that Donald Trump is a joke.
I’ve seen eight shows so far. Trump count: 5
Fringe is a delightfully random experience at times. Over the weekend, I found myself going to shows simply because they were close to the venue I’d be performing in next. The result was a few gems and a lot of things that were…OK.
Here’s the reality of the Fringe. Most of the shows are neither great nor awful. Most of them are somewhere in the middle.
As a fellow artist, I have great respect for anyone who produces a show at the Fringe. They are all aiming to produce something of merit and with very few exceptions, there is merit in everything that appears on stage. Reviewing a show, for me, should be an act of encouraging them to get better rather than tearing down their efforts.
Trying and failing is something we’ve all done. The best producers at the Fringe have failed. At something. I hope. Otherwise they suck.
So I saw a lot of stuff that didn’t really impress the heck out of me this weekend. And that’s OK. If any of the producers read my reviews, I’m sure that you are happy with your show. If you find something in my review that will help you with your next show, great. If not, keep writing shows (if you want to) and remember that the best reviewers out there aren’t trying to tear you down – they are trying to make you better.
…which implies I think I’m one of the best reviewers and I don’t think that but anyway on to the reviews…