To date, I have seen 22 shows with 4 more schedule on my viewing agenda for the night. I have already beaten my record from last year of 21 (all while being a performer, mind you). My goal for this year's festival is a whopping 40. I have a good coach and a VIP pass, so I think I can make it. Marathon Fringing is not for everyone because it is a very difficult and physically demanding sport. However, for those of you think you have the stamina and are up to the challenge, here are some helpful tips to set you on your way:
1. Know your program schedule - Otherwise known as the Marathon Fringer's Bible, it is your guide to making sense of this very intense time in your life. I know some people go extreme hard-core and use spreadsheets and other such technical marvels. For myself, I'm a bit old fashion - different coloured pens and some highlighters. Review the schedule daily and keep it with you at all times. (The bonus of using a spreadsheet is that you have it on your computer. I am currently on my third Fringe program and had to redo my schedule a few times - ROOKIE MISTAKE!) That said, stay flexible. You never know when I show might run over or under.
2. Pack a bag - The weather in Ottawa has been crazy in the last little while. It can be blisteringly hot during the day and frigidly cold at night. I have now gotten into the habit of packing tights, a scarf and a sweater for those cold evenings in the Beer Tent. You should also consider bringing an umbrella and sunscreen. In addition, don't forget a bottle of water (the aforementioned tent does not have bottled water on the menu) and perhaps a few snacks (the food in the tent is absolutely delicious but pricey!) Other items to take into consideration: a camera (for all Fringe photo contests and flickr group), a watch (or other time piece), your program, Fringe pin, any passes you may have, some pens and note paper, perhaps a book to read in between shows (or when no one is around at the tent because you are insane and showed up incredibly early), and cash. Oh, my bag also includes show flyers and a big roll of tape... and then people wonder why my bag is so heavy.
3. Wear sensible shoes - You will be doing a lot of running around. It's no time to showcase your fancy footwear. Heels will just get demolished in the grassy knoll of the Beer Tent. BONUS: All this running around is great exercise, especially when you are also carrying around a 15 pound sack (see above). 4. Go easy on the beer (or learn to chug) - Guess which one I prefer? You can take the girl out of New Brunswick... Seriously though, you will probably have a very limited time between each shows - time that should not be wasted on such things as "eating" and "drinking". However, if you absolutely insist on being "fed" and "hydrated" learn to chug it back and eat as you run. 5. Know your limits - On Sunday, after performing in one show and then attending 5 more, I was just too tired to attend an 11 pm performance. Watching so many shows in a day gets to be exhausting and, frankly, if I want to make it to 40, I still have to pace myself. I am actually quite thrilled when I find out a show is only 30 to 45 minutes because it gives me a greater rest period in between. It also permits me to forgive a few flaws in presentation because I don't feel like my time was wasted. [SIDE NOTE: In what I have seen so far, cool little short plays include The Squatter Heart, Inclement Weather, The Tribulations of a Failed Vigilante, The Beer Tent (the play not the location), and, of course, No Exit Upstage]
6. Have Fun! - If you are not enjoying yourself and are simply doing it out of some misplaced pride in wanting to "see the most shows" (which granted can be a great motivator for starters) then you're just not going to make it. The Ottawa Fringe Festival is an event that I absolutely look forward to every year because of the incredible people I get to meet (like summer camp!) and the fantastic theatrical presentations I get to witness. It is pure joy for me to be involved. I don't want to be anywhere else right now.
7. Don't try to beat me - Seriously, don't. You'll just hurt yourself. Listen kids, I'm a professional. I've been training all year for this on a steady diet of 4 shows a week for almost a year. You don't have a prayer.
****************************** No Exit Upstage - ONLY TWO PERFORMANCES LEFT! Directed by Ken Godmere Featuring Nancy Kenny & Natasha Jetté
The Ottawa Fringe Festival runs from June 18 to 28, 2009.
All No Exit Upstage performances take place in Venue #3 – Studio Leonard Beaulne
Thursday June 18 – 9:30 PM (2 for 1 performance)
Saturday June 20 – 11:00 PM
Sunday June 21 – 2:00 PM
Wednesday June 24 – 6:30 PM
Saturday June 27 – 8:00 PM
Sunday June 28 – 3:30 PM
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. You also need the $2 Fringe Pin to get in to all performances. Advanced tickets and discounted multi-show Fringe passes are also available.