Posts tagged ‘Fringe’

July 10, 2011

Sunday Roundup – July 10

Let’s face it this week has been about Fringe for me – a lot of time seeing shows, comparing notes, promoting shows and hanging around the tent. It’s fantastic this year – there’s a great vibe to it and people seem to be spending a heck of a lot of time there.

What went on this week?

Fringe Plays I Apparently Should Not Have Bothered Seeing – bit of a response to an article in a daily indicating that things like venue and dramaturgy (having it) are what makes a show a dud. I disagree.

Packing Up My Tickets In My Old Fringe Bag  – since better folk that I write great articles on how to Fringe, I choose to  let you know what I keep in my bag of tricks that keeps me Fringing happily.

Fringe Day Two – a good time is being had by all. Highlights for me include Awake (yes, I know I’m working on it, but I do like it outside of that) and Remember Maggy.

Fringe Day Three and the Idea of a Survey – I will check the poll tally tomorrow, and proceed from there.

Quick PSA for the Artist’s Health Centre Foundation Don’t Forget to Register with AWHIP Many of you have asked about affordable health insurance options for those not covered by an employer or union insurance plan.  One month remains for you to register with the new Arts Workers Health Insurance Plan (AWHIP). As 200 participants are required in order for this plan to become a reality, carefully review the information, available on our website and contact the insurance provider directly with any questions.

Tweets i Enjoyed This Week
beyondwallsTPM Kisses and theatre? It’s #nationalkissingday and the first day of #FringeTO . Coincidence? We think not.
At the official opening of the 2011 #fringeTO. What are you going to see?
Shelley Carroll
At last! A use for the alleyway @ Honest Ed’s! #FringeFest #tocouncil

A couple more photos – click for an article. And as promised  – video of the Poster Sprint courtesy Ms. Hyunju Park – thank you! And a direct link to the NOW reviews – they’re coming in!

July 8, 2011

Fringe Day Three and the Idea of a Survey

Here we are bright and early on the dawn of Fringe Day Three, when my Fringe-ing begins in earnest.  Am off to see Cancer Can’t Dance Like This, Remember Maggy, and Pitch Blond all at Tarragon, heading down to Factory later on to see Saved.

Item: Some of the shows don’t have websites so I’ve just linked everyone back to the Fringe site listings  – you might need to scroll a bit).

Check out the Wrecking Ball site – the list of companies across the country having simultaneous fundraisers is growing.

And yesterday marked the anniversary of this website and blog. I had a great conversation with a good friend and amazing artist Shay Hahn about it. Via Facebook of course. I’ve known Shay for years, I love his work and he is one of the artists I know who is really good at marketing himself and his work. We talked about tone and content, the purpose of the blog in relation to the site – all the things that I love talking about and making my clients do and think about and have not really had time to crystalize in my own head for this site/blog. Of course, being a marketer, I do like surveys. So i was thinking of asking you – the people who come here the most, what exactly you are doing here. I’m not talking quality, I’ve got stats and pingbacks and trackbacks galore, I’m looking for the qualitative answers. So first step – gauge interest in participating. An informal poll to see what the numbers would be like for people willing to take a survey/give me their thoughts and opinions on the site and blog. So….

Gotta go  – today is laid out like clockwork. Happy Friday!

*Fireflies  by A. Shay Hahn, 10x12inches, acrylic on canvas, framed for the Royal Families
July 7, 2011

Fringe Day Two

Yesterday was an extremely busy day on many fronts, so there was no blog post. I’m going to have to figure this one out as the next two weeks will continue to be insane.

The Fringe officially opened yesterday at 4 pm – ED Gideon Arthurs, Board Prez Randy Sabourin, and the Davids Miller and Mirvish all spoke about the importance of what we do, the power of art – it’s a great feeling at that tent – everyone is there for the sake of art. Mr. Miller spoke a bit about the craziness of the costumes, the inventiveness of them, and recalled fondly when his photo was taken last year with a young woman whose costume was “ahem – a private part – of the – female anatomy…” Despite his being polite enough not to actually SAY what it was, I’m pretty sure he meant this young lady…


Last night was the opening for Awake, the piece I’ve been working on with Expect Theatre. It is a deeply moving show.  Enormous shout out to the entire cast and crew and design team and a shout out to the very full house. I highly recommend you go and see it. Get your tickets now – it’s been mentioned as a contender in a ridiculous amount of press – off you go.

In other news, companies across Canada are holding a staged reading of Catherine Frid’s Homegrown  – it is a fundraiser with all proceeds going towards Summerworks. For the official press release and a complete list of companies (which is growing every day), visit

Finally, it is my personal tradition to document the Fringe by taking not great pictures with my crappy cell phone camera. I say that in advance as I know there are better pictures out there. I’m still happy to share them – today’s theme is costumes.


July 5, 2011

Packing up my tickets in my old Fringe bag…

It’s that time of year when the articles start coming out about Fringe with picks and how to go about your Fringe experience. I like reading them all.  Here’s only a couple:

The Way I See It

Toronto Sun – contains the awesome line “for in the end, the magic of theatre flows from the people involved.”

And since there are so many, I don’t need to write one – instead, I’m prepping my Fringe bag.

My Fringe bag has been with me through four Fringes now, and has gotten me through many things. It’s a big black shoulder bag, and here’s what’s usually in it that optimizes my Fringing experiences. What’s in it started with the basics from the Fringe website

  • Two Fringe programs – one is mine, one to give away to someone who needs one.
  • Water  – get a decent sized water bottle and keep it full. Fill ‘er up at drinking fountains, restaurants etc. any chance you get. Dehydration is for chumps.
  • Umbrella. Just in case. It makes a nice sun shade. ETA:  A hat. Waiting in line in the sun hatless is no fun. Tip from Megan Benjafeld.
  • Wallet – contains a fiver to get my Tip The Fringe button (do this right off the bat. In fact, help the staff by being a good example and showing the rest of the line how it’s done). Also contains a selection of toonies as I will tip and re-tip the Fringe. Also contains cash for the fringe tent as there is no onsite ATM. Why, you ask? Security reasons. You need a certain level to keep a big box of money onsite like that. The more you know.
  • Blackberry. I just –  there it is. Nothing better than getting a tweet or text about an AMAZING show you HAVE to see, or being the tweeter or texter.
  • Sunscreen – I forgot this last year. I will not forget it this year. Red is my colour, but not on my skin.
  • Sunglasses and chapstick. ALWAYS. Squinty eyes and chapped lips are not a good look.
  • Two hair elastics.
  • Medication – don’t forget your inhalers or insulin or whatever else you require and remember to take them when you are supposed to. You do not want your Fringe experience ruined due to illness.
  • 2 pens and a small notebook – jot things down, make little drawings etc.
  • Business cards – I always have a stack.
  • Flyers for the show you are working on.
  • Gum or mints or lifesavers. Quick sugar hit.
  • A healthy snack. Bring a piece of fruit, or some cut up veggies. Wash down with your water. You cannot live on bar snacks and candy and beer for two weeks. You can try, but it won’t end well. ETA :veggies and fruit are all fine and good, but you also need some nuts in that bag. Or granola bars. Tip from Megan Benjafeld. Item – I did not forget to put nuts, I’m allergic to them. If you are not, then by all means, go nuts.
  • TICKETS! I am a plan ahead Fringer. All my shows are booked and there are many I will catch on the fly as well. However, only that day’s tickets are in there. The rest are safely at home. Whatever your Fringe style, your tickets are the truly important part
  • YOUR WATCH. You must be on time. This is how Fringe works. There are no latecomers. I am sorry you drove in from Ajax/couldn’t find the theatre/got caught in traffic/it was raining etc. I am truly sorry. It’s disappointing, But those are the rules. Do not yell at, swear at, or push the staff. Do not storm by, do not try to shove by. I know it’s on time by your Mickey Mouse watch, but the show is not being called on your Mickey Mouse watch. I am sorry. And quite frankly, other patrons will back up the staff before they back up you. it’s Fringe – it says everywhere there are no latecomers and is one of the few places in our Starbucks society where a rule won’t be bent.
    The most graceful acceptance I ever saw of “you’re late” was the woman who dropped her head in disappointment, laid down the flowers she’d brought for a cast member and went to sit and wait in the sunshine.
    The least graceful acceptance I ever heard of was the woman who screamed and swore at the FOH staff and shoved one out of the way and stormed into the theatre.I supposed I should say something like, “be sure to pack an open mind and a sense of humour“. Yes, do that too.

    Am sure I’m forgetting something. What’s in YOUR Fringe bag?

July 4, 2011

Fringe Plays I Apparently Should Not Have Bothered Seeing

Bizarre article in the Star/ on how to avoid seeing bad plays at the Fringe. Apparently there are ten things to avoid so you can only see good shows. I posted this note on Facebook last night, and got some good comments back, comments that made me think.

” Isn’t the entire point of the Fringe that you can’t apply rules to theatre? That’s called “formulaic” and is generally considered bad.”

“He misses the essential point(s) of the fringe and what we grapple with post-fringe in order to make our work. I think (my) company has broken all the rules and played to sold out houses and high praise even from his newspaper.”

“Is the author involved aware of the rules involved in staging a show at the Fringe? Is the author aware that it would be a tad difficult to store the set for Miss Saigon in a 3’x6′ space backstage at Tarragon Backspace? I saw Ian McKellen do “Acting Shakespeare” but I guess it was a dud, because it violated Rules# 3 and 6…Ditto Julia Sweeney in “Letting Go of God” and Tracey Erin Smith-Alter in “The Burning Bush” but I guess only that last one counts because it was a Fringe show…”

and from another post on said article from the amazing Sharron Matthews“It is like the writer is encouraging patrons and audience members to NOT come to the theatre…to not be adventurous or have independent thought when choosing a play or musical to see at the festival…to only go to pieces that are endorsed by critics…to not take a chance on something different…to basically go against the whole spirit of what the festival is.”

Maybe it was tongue in cheek. But what about the readers who believe it, who are hitting print and tucking it into their Fringe programs? The more I thought about it the article, the more I realized that some of the shows I’ve seen over the years clearly WERE duds according to the 10 reasons listed in the article. I didn’t know I was seeing duds at the time – I know better now. Some highlights/duds I saw are listed below – I hope you weren’t fooled as well. If you were and I’ve missed one, please let me know. We only have each other to rely on.

The NOAM CHOMSKY LECTURES breaks rule 7. (A variation of No. 6). Two names everywhere.  I don’t care if those names are Daniel Brooks and Guillermo Verdecchia it’s only two names and there needs to be more.

THIS IS A PLAY violates #6, and #4. “A play about a play about a play about itself. Deconstructivist hilarity.” Too ambitious based on the tag line and Daniel MacIvor all over it.

THIS HOTEL # 2. Really?  The Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse? How am I supposed to find a theatre when there’s a bloody TENT in front of it, and these people dressed in shirts that say Fringe Volunteer are selling tickets and yelling “tip the fringe!!” all over the place?

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE Don’t get me started. #1, #4, #6, #7 everywhere. Did this show even go anywhere after the Fringe?

DA KINK IN MY HAIR – same as above. And same question – no idea if this piece had any shelf life.

ROMEO AND JULIET REMIXED – #4 with a bullet – the description says toss in glitter, glow sticks and throbbing house music. Add a club kid named Romeo, and a raver named Juliet. Mix in a DJ, a dance floor, and you’ve got Toronto’s most innovative environmental production ever! YOU WILL DANCE! content, language, gunshots, strobe lights, audience members may get wet! Too much! Too, too much!

OSCAR REMEMBERED  – I saw this, I don`t quite remember,  but I bet it broke Rule 1.Avoid dramaturgy. And that`s coupled with 2. Crappy Venue. If you didn’t, I apologize for my accusation. Still – crappy venue.Thank God Bruce liked it.
(Recommended)Factory Studio Theatre, 125 Bathurst St.
   Working from the excellent script by Montreal playwright Maxim Mazumdar, Denis Couillard ably performs this one-man show tracing the tragic downfall of Oscar Wilde from the perspective of the man who brought him down, Lord Alfred Douglas. Historically speaking, it was young Lord Douglas, nicknamed Bosie, who goaded Wilde into suing his own father for calling the flamboyant playwright and famous wit a “sodomite.” The subsequent trials led to Wilde’s imprisonment, disgrace and an ignominious and impoverished exile. But instead of exposing Bosie as the true villain he is, Couillard’s fey and affected portrayal, while unsympathetic, doesn’t generate the outrage in the audience that it should. – Bruce DeMara

PHONEY-   # 2 and “one woman mixed media” clearly violates #4. Again – thank God Bruce liked it.
(Recommended) Factory Studio Theatre, 125 Bathurst St.  A late bloomer to the comedy scene, Shelley Marshall presents herself in a one-woman mixed-media show filled with pathos and humour that doesn’t fully satisfy. At 30 minutes, it’s just long enough to give us a sense of Marshall’s comic talents, mostly seen on the screen behind her, which replays slices of her tragicomic earlier life. In fact, too much of the funniest stuff is on the screen, in the form of her acid-tongued old nanny, a man-hungry mother and Marshall as a young child with a mannish hairstyle and oversized glasses that cause everyone to mistake her for a boy. Starting out in frumpy pyjamas and fuzzy slippers, she eventually emerges from her chrysalis as a strong and happy adult through one of the most side-splitting onstage costume changes ever to grace the stage. Then all too soon, it’s over. A little longer and stronger and Marshall could become a real comic gem. –  Bruce DeMara

My point being besides poking fun at the article is  – go. See what you like. See what looks promising to you. Take a risk. It’s at the most an hour and a half and ten bucks. Stretch yourself. Use your imagination. Fringe.

July 3, 2011

Sunday Roundup – July 3

I really hope everyone’s been having a great long weekend, great Canada Day weekend, a great Pride weekend. Perhaps you`ve been barbequing or royal watching  – whatever your choice was I hope it`s been great. Despite some odd political choices my fellow Canadians have recently made, we still have a pretty good country.

Busy week again – it always is with a short week, a couple of meetings and a stack of admin work and it’s already the end, and so a quick round-up, plus some other stuff that went on that I hadn`t mentioned yet.

It`s Dora Day! – Monday the 27th marked the annual Dora Mavour Moore Awards – I had a great time with fantastic people, this year felt especially community, and had a real family vibe to it. Congrats again to the TAPA team on a grand event.

Dora Roundup – looking for the winners, and various thoughts on the evening? Here’s a bunch.

Right Hand Meet Left Hand – still my lack of understanding on what’s not to get about the arts being a multi-billion dollar industry who are subjected regularly to punishing cuts, and constantly on alert to have to defend our industry and our very existence.

Coming up this week – it’s Fringe! I have made my list so far, approximately 30+ shows and so many I am looking forward to. Excellent article here from the TWISI blog on how to get the most out of your Fringe experience. Couple good articles here (on site specifics) and here (on folks to watch).  Expect the next couple of weeks to have alerts as to what I’ve seen and loved, and more things Fringe.

On that note I’ll shill for a couple of things – I’m really proud to be working on Awake with Expect Theatre it’s been getting some great advance buzz and I can’t wait to see it.

Eat Locally, Fringe Nationally! The annual Fringe Festival fundraiser is taking place July 15 at 6:00 – creole family style dinner at Southern Accent, followed by The Soaps featuring International Theatre of the World and then more fun at the hottest watering hole in July – the Fringe Club! Tickets are $100 and available by calling Adam at the festival (416.966.1062)

It’s a beautiful day out – not a cloud in the sky – Happy Pride to all, and especially to some of my best beloveds!

June 21, 2011

Why This e- flyer/poster is Awesome

we got the poster and postcard design for Expect Theatre’s AWAKE today – it’s designed by Randal Boutilier of 12thirteen design.  The posters will be 12 X 18 and the postcards will be postcard sized. Before I begin, you should know that the Fringe is a very poster-y event – everyone has posters, I’d venture to say it’s one type of festival where you MUST have them, and they MUST stand out from the crowd.So this isn’t a “to poster or not to poster?” blog post. We’re postering and this is what we’re working with.

Here’s the online version – the ones that’s emailed to all your friends and family.

There are many reasons I think this piece is awesome.

  • Fantastic image.  Absolutely gorgeous and completely relevant to the production.
  • Fantastic logo – which I’ve been using to make a lot of connected marketing collateral – the “other stuff”. I’ll show those to you at a later date. Also completely relevant to the production when you take a closer look at the individual cutout images in the wing.
  • The play description is compelling – it tells you exactly what you are in for without giving it away, so to speak. Excellent tagline as well – “This Is Real” is straightforward and compelling. And true – it lives with the play description.
  • For a poster with this much information, it’s still clean. The pertinent information is readily visible. The funders are credited without the dreaded “logo soup” effect. Even if it’s sent to you as ‘small’ – the big stuff is clear; Title, Image, Dates, Fringe. It pulls you in for a closer look. This will translate easily to other collateral including ads, web banners, colour changes, black and white, spot colour, you name it. It’s a marketer’s dream. Why?
  • Because you could crop up this poster for virtually anything, and even though that means some information will go missing, the main stuff is still there – you’d still know how to get a ticket to the show. It’s a beautifully put together puzzle of information, and each piece gives you a bit more knowledge about the production. Each section stands alone, yet is part of the bigger picture.And finally:
  • Everyone who has worked on this show is on here. Many posters/flyers credit  the performers, and sometimes the designers, and many don’t credit anyone at all. This piece shows the average person just how many people it takes to make theatre ‘go’. It’s not for ego, it’s the fact that very talented people who are very good at what they do worked on this. It recognizes the truly collaborative nature of the work that we do. It instills a sense of ownership and pride in the work – your name is literally on it. It’s also nice as a bigger picture look at our industry for those reasons.

Congrats to 12thirteen and Expect. Gorgeous stuff.

May 24, 2011

More Than Just a Festival

Something I haven’t mentioned on my blog is my involvement in the Toronto Fringe as a member of their Board of Directors. I am very pleased and proud to be part of this organization, so thought I’d give them a little love.

To start, the Toronto Fringe has a great new logo. Now, some organizations confuse logo with brand, which drives me crazy. Not the Toronto Fringe. They’ve managed to come up with a new logo that encompasses everything they do, and still maintain yet expand their brand. Nicely done, folks.

In the past few years, the Toronto Fringehas expanded far beyond ten days in July. Although the Summer Festival remains the flagship of the organization, it’s expanded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, A few years ago, then-Producer Bridget Macintosh created the Next Stage Theatre Festival – which for all intents and purposes should not have succeeded – a theatre festival in January, just after Christmas when everyone is broke, and who wants to sit in a beer tent in the winter? Plenty of folks, apparently, as the Festival was a hit from the get-go, with the 2011 Fest selling over 6,000 tickets and returning $45,000 to the participants. and incidentally it’s time to apply for the 2012 Next Stage Festival.

So now there are two festivals. What else?

Well, the 10 X 10 X10 outreach initiative for starters. 10x10x10 engages youth throughout the GTA at three levels, helping to develop a new generation of Fringe supporters and artist-contributors, while also engaging them more broadly with the arts in our city. Click up there to find out more.

Most recently, and I think possibly most exciting is the announcement of the new Fringe Creation Lab. Located at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex, it features over 3,000 square feet of creation space and a quickly growing list of resources that will accommodate rehearsals, workshops, readings, seminars and intimate special events for Toronto’s theatre & dance community. The Fringe Creation Lab stems from the Fringe Festival’s founding values of access to creative opportunity.

I could go on and tell you about the Play Contests, the Evolution Fund, the Research Chair, the OTICs (Ticketing), the Creators’ Reserve, the FringeKids! Poster Contest and the Space List , but since it’s all available on their website I’ll let you look. Just so you know, registration for the 24 hour playwriting contest is now open.

The Toronto Fringe is one of my favourite things about Toronto – year round, not just two weeks in July. I strongly recommend you get involved, whether it’s volunteering, writing plays, designing a poster or seeing shows. It’s something that makes our city great. You can find them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Beautiful day! Get out there!

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