It’s that time again… the London Fringe Festival is opening next week! I can’t wait to see what this year’s Fringe has to offer. Every year, theatre artists from around the world come to London, Ontario, to share their unique stories and art with our community. It’s such a fun event, and I love participating in the Festival.
I’ve been a Fringe artist many times (Long Time Passing in the 2010 Fringe, The Rocky Horror Show and ASSASSINS in 2011, [THEY FIGHT!] in 2013, Ladies Room in 2014), as well as a performer in Nuit Blanche twice and The NO Show more times than I can count, and I’ve been a Trouper (Fringe volunteer) for many, many shows since 2008. You might say that I’m a London Fringe junkie. I feel that I can consider myself a “Fringe Pro.” As such, I feel that it is time to share my Fringe Pro knowledge with the world (or at least, with my blog readers).
So read on, for my tips on how to “Fringe” like a pro! (It’s totally a verb, you know.)
First and foremost, know the rules.
There aren’t many rules, but they are important!
The first and most important rule is BE ON TIME. The Fringe runs like clockwork, and even if you have driven for over an hour just to see THIS SHOW, if you are even 3 seconds late, you are not getting in.
The second most important rule is to HAVE YOUR FRINGE BUTTON at all times. You must have a Fringe button to see a Fringe show — no button, no show. The Fringe button supports the actual Fringe Festival, as the artists get to keep 100% of the ticket sales.
Other than that, the general rules of being a decent person apply — be nice to artists, volunteers, staff and patrons; be a good audience member; don’t be a diva (that goes double for Fringe performers, but that’s a whole different blog post!).
Get out there and get involved!
Once you’ve got the rules down, it’s time to get out and have some fun. There is SO MUCH to do at the London Fringe; grab a Fringe brochure and see what’s there! I recommend buying a show pass to save some cash. If there’s a show you desperately want to see, you should pick up an advance ticket, but remember that these are limited in quantity and will cost a little more (think of it as a “reservation fee”). Do remember that even if you have a pass or an advance ticket, if you’re late, you still won’t get in!
Getting out there and getting involved goes double for Fringe performers! Don’t assume anyone knows about your show — get out there and work those lines!
There are tons of fun events on top of the shows too! What’s great is that they’re all FREE!
- Performer Showcase
- VisualFringe exhibit (visual art)
- The NO Show (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BY ME!)
- Old East Village Street Festival and Dundas Street Festival
- Nuit Blanche
- Fringe Fried Party & Awards (and The NO Show Circus of the Stars!)
Your problem won’t be boredom; rather, it will be trying to fit everything in!
Take a chance on what to see.
There are so many different artists and productions that get mounted at the Fringe each year, including comedies, tragedies, dance, magic shows, sketch comedy, one-person shows, huge-cast shows, sex shows (yes, I’m serious), shows for kids, shows for old people, shows with kid actors, shows with old people actors, local shows, national shows, international shows… the list goes on and on.
So read your brochure cover to cover and figure out what show works best for you… or just wander into a random venue and buy a ticket. Read reviews and see what the masses are saying… or ignore them completely. Try playing “Fringe Roulette” — open your brochure to the schedule page, close your eyes, point at the brochure and go see whatever show your finger lands on. You never know… you might find your next theatre obsession.
Want to get even more involved? Volunteer at the Fringe as a Trouper. The Fringe needs tons of volunteers to assist with front of house duties, VisualFringe, Nuit Blanche, and all sorts of other duties. It is SO MUCH FUN — you get to meet tons of people, see some great theatre, and you get a free shirt to boot.
In between Fringe shows, be sure to support local businesses — restaurants and bars, gift stores and shops, charity shops, the library, and of course, the artists of VisualFringe.
Check out social media and follow the artists and companies. You never know… sometimes they’ll post a deal or password to get into their show for free! Be sure to share and like their work and help them out. And be sure to TELL YOUR FRIENDS when you see an amazing show — word of mouth is truly the best way to advertise!