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Fringe Negative

13 Aug

Casting Stones in a Glass Menagerie or My Heart Shrinks Three Sizes This Week
I have spent the last week blissfully not attending Fringe shows, ignoring crowing e-mails about glowing reviews and generally side-stepping the whole 10-day circus of bite-sized productions. I’ll say it, I’ve never particularly enjoyed Fringe and before the 2010 edition pulls up stakes and leaves us trying to drum up attention for our other productions, I thought I would throw my hat into the ring as the Twin Cities Fringe Grinch.

-If you are an actor in the Twin Cities, the most common and annoying question you’ll get from well-meaning friends and relatives is, “So have you done anything at the Guthrie yet?” It’s grating as hell and has us all smiling through gritted teeth. The equivalent question from people slightly versed in the theatre world is, “So what are you doing for Fringe?” If you aren’t already inclined to do a Fringe show, it’s an amplification of the inane questioning, and grinds my teeth down to an even finer powder. Even worse, I find myself asking it to make small talk. Usually I have some other excuse, “I start rehearsals for another show in a week,” (true) but it comes down to an exchange between myself and another actress on the Fourth of July- Me: “You doing anything for Fringe?” “No, I like my summer too much. You?” “No, I like my theatre too much.” “Right.”

-Fringe tickets are now $12 a pop, which means you are paying 20 cents a minute for your theatre-going experience. Granted it’s not a terrible ratio- For the highest ticket price for “Streetcar” at the Guthrie ($60) it breaks down to 33 cents a minute for the 3 hour duration, for the $20 ticket price of Kevin Kling’s “Folk and Heros” show at Open Eye Figure Theatre, you’re paying a similar $0.22 or thereabouts. An average $15 ticket at Bedlam for a 90 minute show breaks down to $0.17 a minute. The Fringe definitely isn’t “Wicked” numbers, but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s a deal either. With so many choices and a wide range of quality, it’s like paying good money for mystery meat.

-Alright, explain this to me again- you want me to buy a button? Some little piece of kitsch that I have to spend extra money on just for the privilege of purchasing a ticket? Don’t be too upset if I tell you to shove it and point out the killing you’re making by charging $4 for a 30 cent throwaway souvenir.

-There are a lot of talented people in the Fringe, locals who I am friends with and people coming in from out of town. I have no intention of disparaging the work they put in to making their shows a reality and the courage it takes to get up on stage, and I support the venues used by Fringe year-round. Trouble is, the Fringe encourages lowest common denominator issues to pull in the biggest ticket sales and win the extra money-making sixth show. That’s why we get so many Shakespeare spoofs, melodramas, musical parodies, sexy capers and it’s a whole big winking farcical mess. Hell, Fringe shows parody Fringe shows. And if I go to one friend’s show, I feel obligated to go a lot of people’s shows and I just don’t know if I can stomach that and keep talking to people after.

-Finally, Fringe is like the Sam’s Club of theatre. It’s big and packaged and you get a discount if you buy in bulk.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Fringe Negative | Cake In 15 -- Topsy.com - August 13, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CakeIn15, Carl Atiya Swanson. Carl Atiya Swanson said: RT @CakeIn15: 5 reasons why @catiyas is keeping a low profile during the @MNfringe (and he's not torn up about it). http://tinyurl.com/29j2m8s […]

  2. Middle Fringe | Cake In 15 - August 8, 2011

    […] or at least, only gotten into it when I need to. This is pretty well documented with the “Fringe Negative” post I put up last year and still, when wide-eyed thespians wish me “Happy […]

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