As the festival goes on, there are a metric ton of stories being told. Not just in productions, but around the entire Fringe. Unconventional use of condiments in one show, a prop failure in another, possums running amok in the cube; there are more tales of triumph and woe in the 12 days of the festival than can be counted.
Some of these tales end up becoming folklore and are retold every year: the storm of 2005, the year of the Eatons venues, the nerf gun fight at the OK corral are some examples of conversations that are retold every year.
Most of these tales can be heard in the beer tent. Every night you can hear snippets like “And then the actor pulled my mother up to the stage! I almost died!” or “I sat on the chair and it collapsed under me! I almost died!” or “That bus came close to hitting me! I almost died!”
Here are a few of my favourites from the years.
Quite a few years ago, I think during the Western Fringe, I had a young company of men in one show and a very pretty Stage Manager in another show. It seems that one of the young men became smitten with the young lady. They watched a band, late at night, on the pre-cube outdoor stage and hung out and talked. They snuck away to the fairly empty parking lot beside the Crocus building. They thought that they were fairly stealthy, having snuck away for romantic interlude. Unfortunately, there was an outdoor display for a show that had automated lights and it lit up the couple, casting a 70 foot shadow down the side of the Crocus building that was in full view of the beer tent, the square, and the patio at the Kings Head.
When they emerged, the young man had a smile from ear to ear, lipstick all over his neck, and his fly was undone. They received a standing ovation from the beer tent… and being performers, they just took it in stride and bowed.
Around that same time, the Fringe was almost thrown into a lock down due to an unfortunate exchange over the festival walkie talkies. Years ago, the festival technicians played a Nerf gun game after hours where techs were given assignments and had to seek out their target to shoot them with a Nerf dart.
It seems that there was quite the melee outside the Pantages with a lot of targets being hit with sponge projectiles. The site technician had been waiting for one technician to radio in, signalling that his venue had been closed down. The reply over the radio was “There’s a massacre at Venue 3!”
There was an uncomfortable silence as alarm bells went off at Fringe Central, the local detachment of the RCMP, and all the CSIS agents that were surely listening in….
There’s one story that is apparently famous and made the Jenny Revue the year it happened, and I just heard about it today. There is a husband and wife team (who shall remain nameless) that are Fringe Festival fixtures and come out every year to the festival to support the artists. Many who work and volunteer know them on sight and ask their opinions on shows etc. They have quite the celebrity.
One day, they were getting their Fringe on and spent the entire day seeing shows and enjoying all the festivities… just like they had the day before, and the day before that. At the end of the night, they went to the corner of Princess and McDermot to retrieve their vehicle and go home…. but the car wasn’t there. It had been stolen.
Everybody was in an uproar! “Who would steal their car! What kind of people would do that? Call the police.” Statements were given, and calls were made. The police report was in the system and everyone was on the look out.
Then they remembered that the corner of Princess and McDermot was where thay had parked the day before. This night they had parked in the Crocus building parking lot… where their car was, waiting for them.
Mortified, they immediately made their way to the police station, kiddie corner to the festival grounds, to report their error… but not before buying a truckload of mini-donuts from the vendor to offer as an apology to the officers.
So the next time you are in the tent, keep your ears open, because I’m sure there are some stories being developed this year, like so much creamy mayonnaise.