My first experience at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2009 was... not great. I did learn a whole bunch from it, but it took me much longer than a year to come back. In fact, after that particular Fringe experience, though I left things on a positive note, I was burnt and stopped writing for well over a year. It wasn't until late 2010 when I picked up what would eventually become Roller Derby Saved My Soul. So it was with some trepidation that I found myself back in Winnipeg. Yes, RDSMS had been doing very well all over the place, but once bitten, twice shy. Though I had gotten a great 4 star review from CBC Manitoba upon my arrival (they had reviewed the show in Toronto), the 3.5 stars from the Winnipeg Free Press (they reviewed the show in Montreal) did not inspire confidence. And so, I hit the ground running or flyering as the case may be. Actually, the interesting thing about going through my old blog posts in Winnipeg meant that I came across this one that includes some valuable tips about flyering a line-up. Tips that I realize I still use today.
My first show? Sold out in minutes.
I was shocked. 1:45 p.m. on a Friday? Really?
Still. I kept flyering. Connecting. Letting people know, one on one, about my show.
And then, about midway through the week, I found out that I had won "Patron's Pick" for my venue, which meant I would get an extra performance on the last day of the festival. I celebrated with more flyering. In fact, I was still flyering well into the last weekend of the Fringe, when other performers had long since stopped and told me there was no need to do so since my run was "selling out".
The thing is, unless I know for a fact that all my tickets are sold out, I will not stop. And since most festivals keep a certain percentage of tickets available at the door and my advance tickets were never sold out, I saw no reason to stop. Obsessive? Yes. But deep down, I was still that girl from 5 years ago...
Looking back on it all now, I am grateful for both of my experiences. Not that I wish a similar experience on anyone, but I don't think I would appreciate my success in Winnipeg as much if I hadn't bombed so hard the first time around.
So thank you, Winnipeg Fringe. Let's do this again sometime.