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Frenetic Fringing

July 23, 2013

I promise you, this will be my last post about the Winnipeg International Fringe Festival for the week. I know it’s not everyone’s bag, but…. actually, I don’t believe that. I think that everyone can find something for them at Fringe. It just takes a bit of digging, and a lot of word of mouth.

My favourite things about Fringe so far:

  • Being a part of it. Being a part of a Fringe show (see And Other Stories and Jurn.e, both at Venue 8!) is a wonderful experience. You develop into a little family, leaning on each other when times get rough and the sun gets hot. One year, I spent two weeks in a black costume (from head to toe, face covered and everything), handbilling and performing as a “Void” character in Naughty Sailboat’s Kafka in Love. We Voids bonded over the sweltering experience.
  • Discovering this fantastic blog by a technician from Venue 2. Technicians see a lot of interesting things that don’t always reach the eyes of the public. Here, you can read stories from shows gone wrong, conversations overheard at the beer tent, and chatter from the walkies that production folks are privy to.
  • The outdoor stage. Whether it’s music or buskers or theatre, there is always something new to find here.

    This Hisses

    I really enjoyed This Hisses, but no amount of photo editing will make my crummy iPhone picture any better. Sorry, This Hisses.

  • The people. I’ll admit, sometimes crowds stress me out, but not at Fringe. The performing arts spans a wide variety of genres, so here you get an eclectic and welcoming bunch of people. I spoke to a wonderful volunteer who has been at the festival since its beginning 26 years ago, and he said that, the first year, the area was rather “sketchy” (my word, not his). But the area has been transformed over the past three decades, and he considers the Fringe Festival to be a huge contributor to the change. The people who flock here every summer are a huge part of what makes the Exchange District so vibrant.
  • Seeing O(h) TWICE at Venue 8. Twice. I went to the show alone on a rainy Sunday night at 10:45 pm, but discovered the cast of The Collectors there and sat with them. Together, we had a raucous good time. This show is comedy gold for dancers – they break down and over-explain choreography, go “back to the basics” with some two-stepping, and create a silly dance piece to an impromptu song for a big finish. I was so totally impressed with these two fabulous L.A.-based performers… that I ended up back there again not even 20 hours later.
  • The friendly Fringe patrons and volunteers. Waiting for a show to let in is always a pleasure. You can stand in line alone and easily make a new friend. It’s a similar situation to lineups at SXSW, perhaps.

    (The lines at SXSW can be epic in their length)
  • Eating chickpea curry from the India Palace food truck. This is always a highlight of my summer. It is nice to have such a delicious, hot, vegetarian meal so accessible and so fast, and I have enjoyed three bowls so far this year.
  • The vendors. I particularly enjoy finding random books from the used book seller. It’s a lovely way to spend some time between shows.
  • Being able to stumble home late at night after the last venue has closed, inspired and satisfied.