Back in 2003, then executive director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival Leah Cooper, and then Fringe communications and web guru Matthew Foster, approached me and asked, “Hey, would you be interested in getting free tickets to Fringe shows in exchange for writing a blog about the festival?”
I replied, “Sure, sounds like fun. What’s a blog?”
At the time, the Fringe website hosted the blog, mine and a half dozen others. And we were each supposed to come up with a pithy name for our respective blogs. Bereft of any solid naming ideas, I thought, “Single White Fringe Geek” is an amusing twist on that stalker movie “Single White Female.” It’s just a silly joke, I’m sure it won’t follow me around for two decades or anything.
After a couple of years the Fringe off-loaded the blogs to the online newspaper the Twin Cities Daily Planet, who a number of years after that just discontinued the Fringe bloggers as a group altogether, or at least set us free to pursue our own way of blogging without their platform as backup.
Shortly after I started doing this annual Fringe coverage, my Mom just happened to be in town visiting at the same time as part of the Fringe, saw a few shows with me, and she was instantly hooked. For 16 years, she arranged her summer visits to coincide with the first week of the festival, and we crammed in as many shows to see together as possible.
She died quite unexpectedly and suddenly of a brain tumor just a month before the Fringe of 2019.
Then the Fringes of 2020 and 2021 had to migrate to the internet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And now here we are, my 20th year of blogging about the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
July 4th was spent perusing all the show pages on the Fringe website, learning as much as I could about them all.
And I started to feel that old excitement again.
A lot can happen in the month between now and the start of the festival, of course.
But feelings of genuine interest in so many of the shows and the challenge of putting together the puzzle of a schedule of Fringe-going resurfaced, uncomplicated (even if just for a minute or two) by fear or grief.
I feel willing and ready to take the plunge again.
Just in time.
So I’ll be posting here in the ramp-up to the festival - notes on returning favorites, and a Top 20 of new shows and artists I’m most excited to see, and a running commentary on the vagaries of putting together a schedule that’s both interesting to me, and also just logistically possible.
There’s a memorial candle that I light on July 1st, the anniversary of Mom’s death. Three years gone now. I kept it going over the holiday weekend, and kept it nearby as I did my Fringe homework. The flame seemed to be particularly tall and playful during those hours. (I’m anthropomorphizing a wick, wax and fire, I know - but regardless, I do feel closer to her this time of year, and wish I could discuss both the thrilling and the ridiculous of the roster with her again. I shall have to content myself with ideas of what I guess might be her thoughts in these situations.)
I need to sit down and plot out some Fringe strategy, and then I’ll have plenty to type about.
Thanks to the Fringe staff, volunteers and all the artists who are getting the live Fringe experience back on its feet. I know it isn’t without complications, but I’m very much looking forward to it.