Mack and I spent our Sunday at the Fringe. It was another scorcher, which meant many roving artists lucky enough to score an air-conditioned venue made sure to mention it in their elevator pitches.
Mack does his best village child impression
We took in three shows (the best of the bunch was Seven Ways to Die: A Love Story), but had plenty of time in between to explore the site to uncover what was new for this festival this year.
A packed McIntyre Park
Fringe Daily Discount Booth
I really like the idea of a discounted ticket booth – where tickets to a number of performances, posted daily, are offered at a discounted rate. Over the past few years, the Fringe has been targeting those who have never before attended a ticketed play. Between the “First time Fringer” sessions and now, the opportunity to pick up tickets for half price (given that cost might be a deterrent for some), I think the organizers are doing a wonderful job. I’ll be curious to see what the uptake on this booth is.
Daily Discount Booth (located near the train tracks)
New ETS policy
Something I am not a fan of, however, is the change to the ETS policy with regards to the festival. In the past, flashing one’s Fringe program was enough to grant two people a ride home after 6pm. Similarly, those with a “Fringe benefits” sticker (obtained with a donation at the gates) were granted the same privilege. We’re assuming that perhaps this service was abused, because the festival has now drastically changed the system. This year, in lieu of the program or sticker, after 4pm, patrons are required to exchange a printed voucher from the program at one of three on-site Information Services booths for one ticket.
For Mack and I (and I would imagine the majority of those who share programs between them), it means one of us still has to pay for transit fare. Shouldn’t we be encouraging alternative forms of transportation, not deterring their use? In a way, this also disadvantages BYOVs (which continue to flourish outside of the Old Strathcona neighbourhood), as patrons attending “off-site” shows are not able to exchange their voucher. The City may be promoting cycling to the Fringe this year, with sparkly new bike racks that take up parking real estate, but it does seem to be one step forward, two steps back.
New bicycle racks right on Whyte
Food trucks really are taking over the city, given they are now infringing on our long-standing festivals! Little Village Food Truck is on-site for those looking to satisfy their mobile cuisine craving, as well as Bo Thai, who participated in our Truck Stop last year.
That said, I was disappointed with a pad thai ($7) I ordered on Sunday. After a long wait and curt service, I found the dish sorely lacking in tofu and egg.
Pad Thai from Bo Thai
Mack fared better with his non-food truck fare from Zaika, back again this year. He ordered a butter chicken combo ($10), and though slightly pricier than my pick, it was well worth it, given the generous amount of tender chicken and the crispy samosa.
Butter chicken from Zaika
As a whole, the food offerings seem to be down in number when compared with last year, but maybe that’s just our perception. Of course, there’s always the option of a meal at a neighbouring eatery, as we indulged in after our last Fringe show that evening.
Poutine from The Next Act (it was nice to be in the restaurant for a change, instead of in front of the truck!)
We’ll be back at the main grounds on Friday (I’m looking forward to seeing TJ Dawe’s Medicine, while Mack has his sights set on Magnetmonton), but we did get another hit of Fringe tonight at #YEGprov (playing at BYOV 13). It was a first: Mack’s first on-stage appearance at a Fringe performance!
Mack’s cameo in the “Actor’s Nightmare” game