Posted 2015/08/14 by jeremy in On The Street

Supercala-FRINGE-a-size your Fringe adventure

It was a trick of the light. Christina and Wajdi were hanging out in the Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival beer gardens Thursday, August 13, as the twilight petered into night. The couple, from Grande Prairie and Paris, respectively, had met in Edmonton and were taking in the festival together.

Then along came Caws and Effect (by Mind of a Snail Theatre), with their miniature shadow lantern theatre casting a pallid white globe of light into the darkness. Dancing across the light were crows, ill-fated couples and dramatic thought bubbles, enticing the couple to come see the performance.



Christina had been perusing her Fringe festival program, circling, underlining and annotating – trying to maximize the number of plays they could see and ensure she chose the best. And then they happened upon me. I happened to be giving out the first of five mini-fringer passes we have to give away over the course of the weekend, and there was no couple more deserving.


But it also got me reflecting on how to get the most out of the Fringe. And, having the fortune to peruse behind the scenes now for a few years, I have a few suggestions – not for the cheapskates, mind you, but the folks who just really want to spend their time well, and see as much as they can.

So as you strike out for the Fringe over the next 10 days, here are a few ideas for supersizing your experience.

1. First-Time Fringer program: Saturday, August 15, from 10 – 11:30 am at the Strathcona Chapters, Fringe mentors will give new Fringers insights into how to navigate the Fringe. Plus, there’s some great swag. Aimed at those who have never attended the program before, are new to the Fringe and haven’t been to an indoor show.

2. Daily Discount Booth: Each day there are discounted tickets listed at the booth, over by the streetcar tracks. This one will help the frugal stretch their dollars.

3. Free For Alls: like the Performers’ Parade but with a little more grist, the Free For Alls are free, live theatrical performances that function like trailers for various shows. Set in the north beer gardens from 3 – 4 pm this Saturday and Sunday, the events are moderated and each performer has a time limit. Short, sweet, free, and kids are welcome until 6 pm.

4. Late night shows: Drawing working audiences to midnight shows can be a tough sell, especially mid-week. Closer to performances you may occasionally find performers giving away tickets to entice a bigger audience. Makes for a better show, and remember this golden rule of Fringing: never say no to a free ticket.

5. Community Patio: possibly the best way to get to know people – events here throughout the week offer an opportunity for audiences, artists, volunteers and everyone else to meet, socialize and celebrate all things Fringe and beyond.

L – R: Megan Dart, Liam Coady and Lady Winter enjoying the Forum.

L – R: Megan Dart, Liam Coady and Lady Winter enjoying the Forum.

6. Beer Gardens: Dead obvious, yes. So we’ll just mention a couple things. Kids are welcome until 6 pm. You need ID. There is a north and south beer gardens, so if your buddy isn’t where you thought he said he’d be, perhaps you got your compass directions wrong. And drink responsibly.

7. Buskers: interact with buskers. They are practiced in the social arts, and usually pretty entertaining. They want your money, of course, but don’t they deserve just a little bit?

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8. Outdoor Stage: A bigger busking venue with more comfortable seating, this is a great venue for watching live shows. Passing the hat is a time-honoured way to crowdfund performances that would otherwise cost more at a venue.

Scenic Route to Alaska.

Scenic Route to Alaska.

9. Fringe Fan Appreciation: Regular Fringers – and Fringers of all stripes – unite! Without you the Fringe wouldn’t be what it is. Sunday Aug 23, at 4 pm, the Fringe celebrates you at the ATB Outdoor Stage.

10. Say Hello: Fringe folk are good to know, even if you only leave with a handshake. It’s part of how we create and maintain such a great local theatre community. And you never know who you might meet – maybe me, and I’m giving away mini-fringer passes all weekend.

After all, in the immortal words of Mary Poppins, well begun is half done. Spit Spot.

Chim chiminy, chim chiminy, chim chim, cheroo.