It’s inevitable when you get a large group of people sharing a small space with each other, and that group needs to share with another different group of people, who in turn have to share with yet another large group of people, who have to share with a guy, a girl, another guy, a different girl, two acrobats from Sweden, a screaming mime from Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, and a pair of Normans who have a bull mastiff and a duck… there is bound to be some problems.
Most of the time it’s small things, like a shortage of coat hangers, or a build up of body odour in the dressing room, or mistaking another group’s set piece for a chair to sit on in the wings. Small problems are annoying, but they are corrected and forgotten, nearly as quickly as they arise.
Sometimes, larger problems occur that have the potential to influence a different group’s performance later in the day. Accidents on stage, like broken glass, spilling a large box of ten thousand thumb tacks, breaking a flat, kicking a ball into a lighting instrument, or going over your allotted time and taking away time from the next group. These are more annoying, and some can cause injury, but they are usually fixed with the groups and Fringe staff working together to solve the problem, and are mostly unintentional.
Sometimes tempers can flare in these situations, but the anger passes and everyone gets on with the task at hand whether it be juggling a large dog and a water fowl, screaming while in an imaginary box, or employing condiments in a way they were never intended.
On very, very rare occasions, close proximity over a long period of time results in a greater calamity and conflict can arise. Theft, sabotage, malicious acts of destruction, fights resulting in bodily harm, and defamation are much greater problems and are not tolerated at all… but sometimes they still happen.
Nothing extremely heinous has happened yet this Fringe (at least not to my knowledge anyway), but we are entering that time where people are getting tired and worn out. Performers have been handbilling and advertising their shows relentlessly, staff have been working tirelessly to keep the festival running, and patrons will never look at a turkey with mayo on rye the same way ever again.
And the Fairness Monkey has its hands full as it fields complaints….
“I was only thirty seconds late, why can’t I get into this show? Why are the doors locked, that’s not fair!”
“How come Venue 1 gets a porta-potty and we don’t?”
“Why do we have a smelly porta-potty and Venue 2 doesn’t?”
“Why did the Free Press send that reviewer to my show and not the other one? I should have gotten five stars!”
“How come that group with two stars got a Patron’s Pick slot and we, who got a five star review from the Bolivian Community Newsletter, didn’t?
“Why is it so cold and rainy? Winnipeg sucks!”
“Those guys ripped down our posters and put their posters up instead!”
“This hotdog cart is out of mustard!”
All of these things are totally unfair, but there isn’t much that can be done… if there was, believe me when I say that the Fringe Festival Fairness Monkey would fix it!
I guess all I’m trying to say is, be nice to each other.
It’s a long festival, and we’re all over stimulated and under rested. There’s still six days to go, which is a lot of fringing Fringing, and if it ever gets warm again, you may get hot under the collar. Take a breath and don’t take it out on another group, a patron, or a technician (for the love of God, don’t take it out on your technician!) and hopefully they will do the same. It will make for a much more pleasant final days.
At the very least, offer the Fairness Monkey a banana, because that thing is going to explode soon, and you don’t want to be around when it lashes out!