Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Fringe 2018 - Here We Go Again...

We’re only about a week away from the start of the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival, so I better get this blog fired up and ready to go. 

You can only see about a third of the shows in the festival, and that’s if you stick to the main Fringe schedule of a new show every 90 minutes.  (And there’s the added wrinkle this year of the Family Fringe hub, which is on its own schedule, mostly falling in the middle of timeslots on the regular Fringe schedule.) 

So decisions need to be made. 

Every year I clear the decks and try to find 20 new sets of artists to highlight. 

And the Fringe has a rich history of artists that return again and again with new shows (and sometimes remounts of old shows), so I also try and spotlight a lot of my returning favorites who’ve been on the Top 10 and Top 11-20 lists from years past. 

I’ll be throwing out a lot of information in the coming week, so consider the source.

There are exceptions to all of the following but here’s the things that tend to catch my eye:

I’m a playwright, so I tend to gravitate toward new plays first, rather than companies producing scripts with an established track record. 
(Honestly, it’s been harder to find that this year because there wasn’t a tag for new plays or world premiere as a search tag for the Fringe website.  Even though I’ve spent a lot of time digging through all the show pages, I’ve very likely missed something.  I realize the world premiere label could apply to nearly all the content of the Fringe, but if there’s four(?!) tags for dance and one for original music, would new play have been so hard to add?)

I’m a gay man, so I tend to seek out the shows with queer content
(there IS an LGBTQ+ content search tag, thank goodness). 
I can see straight theater the other eleven and a half months of the year.  Fringe is my chance to find myself (and my fellow queers) reflected onstage.

I like to be a good host, so I tend to seek out the performers who are visiting from out of town.
(That, also, was harder to figure out this year.  No tag for that either.  And not everybody puts information on their Fringe page or has their own website, etc.  I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of those people.  I do get some additional press information that narrows that down a little, but I’m sure other non-press Fringe-goers would like a shot at knowing this.  Not all the out of towners are able to preview their show the night before the festival opens, and not all Fringegoers see the visiting artist showcase.  It would be nice if the website helped.)

Like any Fringegoer, if I know somebody involved in a project, even if it meets none of the other criteria above, I’m bound to give it some consideration. 
Having been in this town a while doing theater of my own, and having seen quite a few Fringe festivals besides, there are a lot of friends, acquaintances, collaborators, and other people I recognize.  So that doesn’t always help me narrow things down.  If I know you and I don’t see your show, it doesn’t mean I don’t care, it’s just the conflicts of scheduling, time and place. 

Mom also has her favorites from over the years, too, so since she sees the first week of performances with me, that will also factor into our decisions.  And neither of us move as fast as we used to.  So we’ll likely stay in a hub of venues for part or all of a day sometimes, to conserve energy and maximize the number of shows we can see.  Mom likes to cram in 30 in seven days.

So, all that said, on with the list…

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