Has it been a whole year since I last slipped into my warm, cozy fringe coma? It seems like two. But no, it’s been TWO years since my FIRST Fringe, which still parks me as somewhat of a newbie in these matters. God dammit.
But wait, I’ve got SOME cred! After all, in that first Fringe Festival of mine in June of ‘08 I managed to sandwich in a good 21 shows (including such life-altering gems as BOAT LOAD and CRUDE LOVE, among other grand spectacle). The following year, I upped the ante and took in a butt-numbing 38 pieces (with such delights to the senses as DUEL, PITCH BLOND, THIS IS A RECORDING, etc.). And I’m calling a technical 39, as I successfully stalked COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS to Toronto later that same year. Eventually caught both that and INCLEMENT WEATHER again at the Oiving Greenboig theatre. Any more viewings and I will feel officially qualified to write MiCasa Theatre Fanfiction (don’t think I won’t).
So there’s that. And I’ve been busying myself with some other playactings over the last year, here in the nation’s crusty capital…the GCTC had some dandies, and if you missed THE SYRINGA TREE or BLOOD CLAAT, you done missed out big time. To say nothing of Pierre Brault’s PORTRAIT OF AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN, SEXY LAUNDRY, OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD, SHINING CITY, BASH’D, ARABIAN NIGHT, and I’m just name dropping now and this is getting us nowhere.
Now my third Fringe Fest is upon me, and cred or no, I’m taking it upon myself to be a wholly unofficial and entirely aimless Fringe reporter/reviewer/gawker/blogger/general curmodgeon (or ‘Stalker’, for short). My intent is to work my usual 9-4 shift in the kitchen of my restaurant, then bike to the Fringe, see 4 or 5 shows, have a couple of drinks in the beer tent and gather my thoughts, bike the 45 minutes home, stay up an hour or so drinking MORE and writing my review of the day’s action, post it, then get about 5 hours sleep if I’m lucky and start the whole thing over again. For about a week and a half.
I MAY die. But a small price to pay for art, yes? And besides, who else is going to do it?? I mean, besides these guys…oh, and these people…okay, well, if you have time left over after reading THEIR stuff…
All this is provided I have enough fortitude, excitement, and whiskey to power my tired-ass ramblings (I’ll stock up), and assuming of course no one important tells me to stop. I accept most cease and desist letters, provided they are notarized. Otherwise, I’ll be there filling the cheap seats for eleven days straight, then lurking in the courtyard, not talking to anyone because I’m just too cool for school. That, or I’m too shit-scared to talk to people.
I’m hoping to top my show total from last year, and already I’ve got a head start. I caught WILD ABANDON at last year’s fest (it’s back again, and who am I to question why), and saw a preview performance of Kurt Fitzpatrick’s LAST STRAIGHT MAN IN THEATRE last year before he took it on the road to Winnipeg (assuming I don’t see them again, ‘cause they’re both worth a repeat). Plus there’s a six out of seven chance I’ve already seen whichever Youth Infringement play gets picked for a spot. I’m curious who wins, there were some gooders in the bunch. I’ve a slight hope for SACRED SITES IN SUBURBIA, cause it jawdropped me, and I like that. But everything I saw, I liked.
True, I have a few frets going into this year’s festivalities…we bid an adieu to Alumni Auditorium as a show venue, even though it was the one building with a convenience store attached (good for Red Bull pitstops in between shows). I have some fond memories of the place where I got to hear Randy Rutherford and Die Roten Punkte croon, where I was charmed by Alan Shain and got flashed by a man in a kilt. *sigh* Farewell, awkwardly-oversized theatre space, we hardly knew ye. There’s an increased number of ‘Bring-Your-Own-Venues’ at this year’s Fringe too, which is a bit of a double-edged sword to my thinking. Yeah, more shows, but the space between venues is starting to grow to potentially unwieldy proportions. The thought of racing from a show at the Metcalfe public library to one at the Ottawa Little Theatre makes me think I should invest in some rollerblades for the festival (…but not really).
And I’m gonna have to miss a couple of nifty shows too, thanks to Fringe overlap. I’d been really hoping to see AVENUE Q, but its NAC run falls entirely inside Fringefest territory, and that’s my priority. Plus there’s an awesome sounding silent film with live musical accompaniment at the Mayfair Theatre (and I love me some silent movies, don’t get me started) that I’ll also have to give a pass to.
Concerning the Fringe schedule itself, I’d been vainly hoping that shows like Jayson MacDonald’s FALL FAIR, Alex Eddington’s TIRED CLICHES or even SPIRAL DIVE PART 2 might make it in, but no such luck… and several other of my fav’rit Fringe mainstays are disturbingly absent as well. No Jem Rolls? No Amy Salloway?? Salloway, I say! A fringe without Salloway is like a puppy without love!
Still, bright sides aplenty, namely a full roster of playacting for me! What shows am I looking forward to personally? Well, if Natalie Joy Quesnel does not flinch at that question, nor shall I. Jonno Katz and Barry Smith are both back, which equals awesomeness in the form of CACTUS: THE SEDUCTION and EVERY JOB I EVER HAD, respectively…though those aren’t the ones I’m most looking forward to.. There’s also THE LAST GODDAMNED PERFORMANCE PIECE, a Jayson Mac bit performed by Black Sheep, which is the winning TRASHCAN DUET formula from two years back (I’m totally a Stella/Billy shipper). But that’s not the one I’m looking forward to most either. Nor are the intriguing sounding DUCK WIFE, BILLY STUTTER, PIG OF HAPPINESS, PHONE WHORE, or ARCHY AND MEHITABEL.
No, the show I’m MOST looking forward to is the one I don’t know about yet. The one I haven’t seen coming, and don’t even suspect. The one whose writeup didn’t interest me, and I only end up seeing because I have a timeslot to fill, and it comes out of nowhere and blows my mind. You know the one I mean. That bolt from the blue that rocks your socks off, sorts’em, folds’em, and mails’em to your Momma. It was SHADOWS IN BLOOM. It was CATGUT STRUNG VIOLIN. And shit, but I can’t wait to find out what it’ll be this year. I really can’t.
But I’ll know it when I see it. So will you. See you there,