Now that I’ve returned from the summer Fringe circuit, there’s time to reflect on the summer. Â I saw a lot of plays at the various Fringe Festivals, and I learned a lot. Â I’ll talk about the shows I saw in a later post. Â First I’d like to talk about two lessons learned from the Fringe tour.
If your play is over 60 minutes, you had better have earned it. You had better have something to say that is worth the extra time. Some of the worst plays I saw this summer, were 75 to 90 minutes in length. Mostly, they were bad because the play felt drawn out in order to fill the time. In every case, the play could have been cut down to 60 minutes without losing anything.
If you get a bad review, deal with it. Don’t complain about how unfair the reviewer was, that they came on a bad night, or that they shouldn’t come to the opening because the show needs time to find its feet. If you are charging money for the show, then its fair game for reviewers. If you get a bad review, that means that you are going to have to work that much harder to get your audience out. Its not the end of the world, but you do have to put in the work. Even more important, if you get a bad reviewÂ do not post aÂ rebuttal. Don’t try to be clever and suggest that the reviewer must have been confused. Don’t try and take down their review point by point. You’ll look like an asshole. Just accept the bad review and move on. Its the only way to come out of the situation with any grace at all. Oh, and if you are getting audience feedback that is bad, just ignore it.Â Do not post it on your poster with a comment calling the commenter an assholeÂ (I actually saw this done by one show). Â Honestly, there’s only one asshole in that scenario, and its not the audience member.
In a Fringe Festival as large as Edmonton’s (there were 215 shows!), it’s nice to get noticed. We were happy when all but one of our shows was sold out. We were even happier when we were asked to be held over and do two additional shows. To be one of 7 shows held over is quite an honour, especially on our first ever fringe tour.
But now it’s done. Tonight, we performed for the last time this tour. Tomorrow, we head for home.
It’s been an exciting seven weeks. I’ll take some time to summarize more later. But for now, I will leave you with a picture of the cast getting ready for the last show.
Last night would have been our last show, both of the Edmonton Fringe, and the summer tour. We would be on the road tomorrow morning, heading back home to Toronto. Except that it wasn’t, and we won’t be… At least not yet.
We were selected to be held over for two additional performances at the big mainstage, so we will be staying in Edmonton a little while longer.
Edmonton Fringe has been quite a ride. It can be overwhelming. There are massive numbers of people, many out for the buskers and the food (and the beer tents). The first few days, I needed to take some time away from the crowds and try to find a quiet corner, which was not an easy feat. Our first show sold out, as did most of our other performances, and the reviews have been amazing.
The holdover allows us to put off the end of the tour, which will be bittersweet. The tour has been so successful, and the cast so close, that the end is more than a little sad. But we are also tired, and ready to go home.
Today, we will move our set to the big theatre, and tonight we will go to the Fringe closing. And then… A day off.
This photo was taken immediately before what was to be our last show:
Here is a taste of the kind of reviews we have been getting so far. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
CBC Manitoba gave The Last Man on Earth five stars, and named it their Outstanding Physical Comedy of Winnipeg Fringe, while the Winnipeg Free Press gave the show four stars. The Calgary Herald gave The Last Man on Earth four and a half stars and called it “pure speechless delight” while FFWD Weekly called the play “a solidly entertaining hour of theatre, possibly unlike any youâ€™ve seen before”.
Our first few days in Calgary were a little shocking after the wildness of Winnipeg. Calgary Fringe is much smaller than Winnipeg, and our first few audiences were quite small. We are slowly building though, and I think that by the end we will be doing very well. We just have to work the promotion of the show. So, today, we are going out to flyer a bunch of lineups before our 9pm show tonight. After the show, a group of us are off to Edmonton to go to the media launch there, in the hopes of gaining some advance press in Edmonton tomorrow. Then we come back for another 9pm show tomorrow. It will be tiring, but we have the opportunity for it to be really great for us.
Although things have been really busy, I am missing a lot of people at home. But it won’t be too much longer before I see them again.