My Love Affair with Fringe & Nuit Blanche

There are really two arts festivals that I really look forward to.  And when I say “look forward”, I mean arts festivals that I actually get excited thinking about.  Festivals that, in the weeks leading up to them, I think to myself “I wish it was here already”.

The first is the Toronto Fringe Festival, which I have loved for a long time.  During this festival, the attention of the media is focused on small theatre like at no other time of the year.  Certainly there are several news papers that do a wonderful job of covering smaller companies during the rest of the year; papers like Now and blogs like Mooney on Theatre and Amanda Campbell’s The Way I See It do a great job of covering small to mid theatre companies.  But during Fringe, there’s more attention focused than at any time of the year.  The media covers theatre more, and some large producers go looking for the next possible hit that they can transplant to one of their theatres.  Combine the attention with the lottery selection system for Fringe, and you have something almost…dangerous, because the theatre goer never really knows what they are getting until they sit down to watch the show.  The fact that productions for Fringe are chosen at random, means that anyone can get into the festival, regardless of their experience or pedigree or even the quality of the show.  This means you might see something mediocre, or you might see something that’s really bad, or you might see something really amazing.  And that’s pretty damned exciting.

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is the other arts festival that I really look forward to. Described as an “all night contemporary art event”, Nuit Blanche is not a stuffy art museum exhibit filled with paintings or sculptures, its art on a large scale.  Installations in spaces around the city, indoors and outdoors.  It shuts down some main streets in Toronto, allowing the many thousands of people who attend to move freely, unheeded by cars.  People fill the streets, wander through the art installations, and generally have a great time. You are guaranteed to see something cool.  This year, there are installations in Lower Bay subway station, a “Nuit Market” in an alley, a van that’s turned into a light box, and those are just three of installations I want to see.  Some exhibits are more performance based, making Nuit Blanche more of a celebration of the arts in general rather than a capital “A” Art event.  It goes all night, and I’ll be honest…its been ages since I could stay up all night, even for something as cool as this, but I’ll certainly be out until quite late.  I’ve you’ve never gone, I highly recommend that you check it out.  It will be like nothing you’ve seen before.

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