Well, it’s that time of year again when downtown Winnipeg is filled with the sounds of thespians emoting, comedians joking, dancers pirouetting, and mimes screaming as the 25th annual Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival takes over every performance area, rehearsal hall, and closet in the downtown area, filling them with patrons, performers and folding chairs.
I can’t believe I’m doing this again. Last year at this time, I swore up and down that 2011 would be my last Fringe Festival… and here I am at the first technical meeting for the 2012 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. Sigh…
You see, this curmudgeonly stage hand and veteran fringe technician thought he had enough of the theatrical experience, having hit the ultimate wall of burnout with 25 professional seasons of theatre and 17 Fringe festivals (14 in Winnipeg). So I packed it in and went away for a bit to the peace of India and Nepal to mingle with elephants and monkeys and eat awesome food beside stunning scenery and architecture. I really wish I was there right now…
But like someone pointed out to me, “Aww, you’re here already, might as well work insanely long hours, smell bad, and eat nothing but hot dogs for eighteen days without a break. You’re a young man of fifty seven, you’ll be fine”.
“I’m forty three”.
“Wow… you look like crap, you’d better sit down”.
So, I’m back at Venue Two with my awesome venue partner, and I figure that this year I would document the trials and tribulations, the highs and the lows, the day to day operations backstage at Venue 2 Up The Alley at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival… or V2UTARMTWFTF for short. That’s what this blog is about.
Venue two, which during the rest of the year serves as the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s rehearsal hall, was actually set up two weeks ago over two days which included laying a masonite floor, hanging lighting instruments, installing a sound system, and seating risers. It takes eight people, sixteen hours to set up Venue Two and Venue One, our sister venue downstairs on the John Hirsch mainstage.
This morning at 9:00 am, I’m at the first meeting of all of the technicians for all of the venues as we go over last minute changes and other general notes about this year’s festival. There are a lot of new faces this year, and they are bright eyed and energetic with the prospects of bringing an artful experience to life and enriching the lives of the general public. I remember when I had that look at my first fringe in Edmonton in 1987… I hope they get their wish.
It’s enough to inspire me to have an open mind and try to find the excitement for the performing arts that I once had so many years ago. So, my venue partner and I are going back to our venue to do some final notes, and then participate in the first of ten technical rehearsals. Reading the tech rider, this afternoon’s group has five people with a video projector, a keyboard, drum kit, two guitars, and a singer. It looks like a challenging show about a Rock Star’s fall from grace… could be interesting…
And with that, here I go into another Fringe festival with an open mind and a fresh perspective on the the theatrical arts that have been a part of my life for so long. I hope that we don’t have any screaming mimes in our venue this year.