Until Next Year: The Village of the Fringed

The 31st annual Edmonton International Fringe Festival came to a close on Sunday, and it smashed records all the way through. After years of stalled ticket sales, something seems to have changed in the market for ticketed shows: 104,142 tickets were sold in 2011 and 112, 006 in 2012. Great weather is only one factor, so I’d be interested to know how the organizers come to understand these breakthroughs. But whatever the explanation, congrats to the Fringe for this amazing feat!

Fringe

Fringe alley

We headed back to the grounds on the weekend, and thankfully, the food was better on this occasion. The green onion cakes aren’t an annual tradition for us like they are for some other regulars, but we enjoyed them as a quick snack while waiting in line.

Green Onion Cakes

Green onion cakes

We also had a chance to dine at the Little Village Food Truck, tucked behind the beer garden by the tracks. Hopefully, if the Fringe reconfigures the food vendors next year, the trucks can be a little more prominent along the main strip!

Little Village Food Truck

Little Village Food Truck

Anyway, I really enjoyed the roasted lamb over potatoes – tasty, and remarkably easy to eat, and Mack liked his drunken pork sandwich.

Little Village Food Truck

Roasted lamb over potatoes

Little Village Food Truck

Drunken pork sandwich

This was the first year in quite some time that Mack and I missed out on getting a Frequent Fringer pass, but it probably worked out for the better because of time constraints. We did end up making it out to eight shows, however. Three stood out for us the most:

  • Medicine: TJ Dawe’s most personal play I have ever seen focused on his inner demons, and the journey he undertook to understand and exorcise them. As usual, Dawe wowed the crowd with his wit, rhythmic storytelling and the depth of his revelation. I was glad to see that it was held over!
  • The Popular Principles of Hypnosis: written and performed by two recent MacEwan Theatre grads, it may not have been the most polished show or even all that plausible, but it was one of the most earnestly performed, and utterly charming. I look forward to seeing Mathew Bittroff and Jayce Mckenzie at future Fringes!
  • Harold of Galactus: I wasn’t certain that the long and narrow BYOV at the Varscona would work, but the energy of Mark Meer and Chris Craddock carried through the room. It was amazing to see the improv masters build a complete superhero origin story inspired by an audience’s suggestion.

Of the eight shows we took in, we only received programs for three of the shows. Did others find that their productions were paperless as well? Perhaps that was a trend this year, or just a coincidence for us?

Also on the rise this year was the #yegfringe hash tag. It’ll be interesting to see if the Fringe embraces this in the future – I’d love to see a Twitter fall at the Arts Barns! I know the festival shies away from “sanctioning” reviews, but there is precedence – I remember the pre-renovated Arts Barns housing internet cafes (before smart phones became ubiquitous) encouraging patrons to post their reviews on online forums.

Fringe

Arts Barns

In all, it was a great Fringe! See you all next year!

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