At the end of the day on Sunday, the last day of Fringe, after all of the performances are done and the last audience members have applauded, there is a huge celebration with an awards ceremony, flowing alcohol, and good times. Performers say their final farewells, Fringe romances kiss their final tearful smooches, and the mimes yell their final screams.
The last bash on the final Sunday at the Kings Head is legendary in the Fringe circuit. There are more Facebook updates from that party than any other event during the Fringe. Everybody who is anybody is there.
The staff and the technicians are not there. We’re not at the party because we need to strike (or tear down) the outdoor site and some of the venues. Everything from the beer tent to the vendors has to go.
This year, we ended up starting that tear down a little early, when a crazy thunderstorm decided to rip apart downtown Winnipeg. All of the outdoor fencing was blown down, and the beer tent was flooded. Instead of trying to restore the outdoor site and resume sales for the last two hours, it was decided to close everything early and start the strike. I imagine the King’s Head filled up very early this year.
Venue 2, along with venue 1, are two of the few venues that don’t need to be struck right away. Our full strike happens on Monday. So on Sunday night all we have to do is remove our chairs, and some minor cleanup.
It’s always easier to destroy than it is to create, which is why the venue that took three days to set up, takes eight hours to come down… and the last two hours of that eight is waiting for a truck that collects portions of the venue for storage.
I pull down posters from the wall, recycle a box of unused programs, and find a costume that was accidentally left behind. It’s all very anticlimactic as the little theatre that was Venue two is returned to the cold stark rehearsal hall for the Royal Manitoba Theatre centre, that will be used to rehearse Gone With The Wind in a few months.
The next few days will be used to catch up on all of those things that were put aside while working the Fringe. Laundry, groceries, yard-work, that sixteen part miniseries that I was writing, all need attention, now that the eighteen days of nonstop theatre are finished.
The city will take this week to breathe, but only a week, because Folklorama is just around the corner, which will bring the festival season to a close, and I for one can’t wait for a samosa at the Punjab Pavilion, a fantastic dance performance from the Tamil Pavilion, and a demonstration on how to sculpt your own statue of David out of pasta dough at the Italian pavilion.
So as we put the last folding chair on the truck, and sweep up the discarded handbills from the alley, I think about the future. I hope our children that watched the puppets in the Kid’s venue, laughed at the squirrel who took up residence there, and tasted Fringe food for the first time, grow up to be the patrons, performers, and screaming mimes of future fringes.
Thanks for reading…
Photo by Arlo Bates… The other Venue Two technician.