A Fringe Fool's Survivor's Guide
Get ready - it's a marathon, not a sprint
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois and Estelle Rosen
We have been to a lot of Fringes, a lot of Fringe shows and seen or lived damn near everything. So let us share. Here are five tips about preparing for and doing the Fringe.
Before you even leave the house
- On the Internet Google Maps and Méteo Média are you best friends. The Maps will tell you what is around each venue: cafés (with washrooms), bars, restos. Well, the weather is something you simply need to be aware of as join queues, leave theatres, dash off to the next show or simply aim at sitting at the Beer Tent imbibing.
- Pace Yourself. The Festival runs hard for ten days so you do not have to see everything in the first three. You can (and some of us do) burn out. The weather can change everything, as can unforeseen circumstances (like traffic changes, road-work, a show dropping out...you name it) - so do it to enjoy it. No one will be impressed if you, yourself, have seen 50 shows. If you told us that, we would be likely to ask you: "Okay, tell us about the nineteenth one you saw."
- Check-list: Comfortable shoes / water / mini-fan / fringe calendar / good book / mp3 player/ spf 30 minimum / mini-pack of tissues (spills, sweat, allergies kicking in) / rain gear / candies/mints (for cooling effect, stomach protection from caffeine - but for fuck's sake do not be one of those candy-wrapper people)
In the House, Before the show starts
- Plan your exit strategy. Look at the length of the piece in the calendar, feel your seat (really feel it), check the exits. If the piece is unendurable can you make a graceful exit (ie: not across the stage)? If you cannot, can you stand the minutes in that seat? If there is any doubt, and no exit, chose a seat near the rear, and prepare that book to read.
After one show, before the next
- Keep a journal. After two or three shows they all start to blend together, unless you separate the good and bad memories by writing down what you think of what you just saw. We counsel all our reviewers, here at CharPo, to jot down one review before heading into the next show so that the instinctual, dominant emotion of the experience can be expressed clearly. This is a good idea for any theatregoer. It also helps if you are the kind of Web William or Willemina who hits the opinion boards on the internet, later that night. You would be surprised how people will respond to your opinions on a show if you can express them clearly (from notes you've taken).