Ms Blackmore as Lady Gaga
(photo by Cindy Lopez)
Here we Go!
The Fringe starts well before The Fringe
by Amy Blackmore (photos by Tristan Brand)
[Ed: With this article The Charlebois Post - Montreal is launching its Fringe 2012 coverage. Please note there is now a special aggregator at the top of each page, under the site title, for all of our articles on this edition of the Fringe.]
From my windowless office, something has always felt a little strange about prepping for a summer festival when there is still two feet of snow on the ground. All the talk of tiki lounges, beer tents and sangria never seems right. Nevertheless, as of the date of publication of this feature, a little less than three months until the start of the 22nd edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival.
|Fringe staff at Fringe Prom 2011|
(photo by Tristan Brand)
Then again FRINGE is a strange thing. Artists pay an application fee based on the length of their show, they are selected by lottery, they have several months to create and rehearse their show, and once the festival begins they present six to seven performances, shamelessly promote their show and receive 100% of their box office when all is said and done. The festival rents a dozen venues, equips and sets them up with a technician, promotes the programming as a whole and guides the artists along the way. Audiences pay cheap ticket prices, are empowered to write reviews called the “FRINGE Buzz” and are given the opportunity to participate as a critic, a volunteer or an artist. With a mandate that includes no artistic direction or censorship, the FRINGE is a festival where word of mouth is king and where anyone can do anything. You can even become festival director after 10 years of hanging around!
Spring is my favourite time in the FRINGE calendar. The grant writing hump is temporarily over and we say goodbye to the planning phases of the festival. This upcoming week, the MainLine Theatre offices are about to get very busy as our seasonal staff begin their contracts and we go into three months of non-stop production mode.
|Elgin-Skye McLaren at 2011 Fringe-For-All|
(photo by Tristan Brand)
What is still the case, however, is that we still don’t really know much about the 100-plus companies in our FRINGE A-Z programming. After all, we don’t require our companies to have the title of their show when they apply. Our first real glimpse into their world will take place on March 23, the programme information deadline, when our artist liaison’s inbox will fill up with 50-word descriptions and photographs. Even then, it will still be too early to predict the hits or the misses.
For me, the element of mystery is one of the simple beauties of the FRINGE. There are still three months until it begins to unravel. I’ll be the first to admit that I fantasize more and more every day about listening to my walkie-talkie on June 15 at 6 pm. It will be the midpoint of the festival, the moment where the first of over 600 performances at 12 venues will officially open: “Doors are now open for….” It will also be the moment where, if I’ve done my job correctly, you’ll find me at the beer tent with a drink and a highlighter picking shows to see in the master schedule. Where will you be?
The 22nd edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival runs from the June 4-24 in the Plateau/Mile End neighbourhoods. Festival programming will be announced May 7, with tickets going on sale online at www.montrealfringe.ca as of May 8.