I tend to blather on about how the Fringe used to be. How we used to make due with a single faulty light on a pole and a cassette player, and everything worked out fine. How a performer would do a recreation of an episode of The Brady Bunch using a Casio keyboard that she got at the Woolco and sing bright and loud without the need of a microphone because the venue was a utility closet in an abandoned building and wireless microphone technology was ridiculously expensive, and we were doing this fringe thing for fun, and maybe some money for beer.
But advances in technology, and the accessibility to that technology has changed fringe festivals (and theatre) forever.
We now have moving lights that allow us to focus a light where ever we want, colour scrollers that can change to a variety of different projected colours, computerized lighting and sound boards that enable us to operate large scale cues with just the press of a button… not sure WHICH button, but apparently we can do it.
Back in the day, we had to take the tickets, deal with a float, deal with the patrons, sell the beer, drink the beer, and run the light and cassette player. Now there is a sophisticated army of staff and volunteers that take care of a myriad of duties so the festival can run smoothly… and I only have to run the 284 light and sound cues in the show by myself, and then end up in the beverage pavilion crying in the beer.
Many performers aren’t satisfied with a grassroots approach to their shows anymore. Now they NEED to have 45 wireless microphones, 14 projectors, a specialized set of bagpipe-sousaphone microphones, and weaponised salmon.
But I’ve come to realise, as I walk around the outdoor site, that the venues and the acts aren’t the only things fringy that have been so hugely affected by advances in technology.
So has the food!
Back in the day, when I had to walk forty miles in eight feet of snow to Fringe, and we got paid 14¢ and a Pabst Blue Ribbon a day, the food options on site were pretty limited.
There were hotdogs, potato chips, and soda….. and that was pretty much it. In fact I can’t remember whether the hot dog carts were actually part of the Fringe, or whether they were just curious about what these weirdos were doing, dancing in a parking lot screaming “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”…
“…they seem to have drawn a crowd…. screw it, let’s sell them some street meat!”
I do remember, one time, that one of the hot dog carts started adding burgers to their menu. The call went out over the walkie talkies “BOB’S LONG DOGS HAS BURGERS!!!!!!” and there was a line-up around the block and they sold out in twenty minutes.
The next day, all the hot dog carts had burgers… but one added a special type of mustard to their condiment rack… “JIMMY’S DOG GONE DOGS HAS TWO TYPES OF MUSTARD!!” and there would be another line up.
That’s how these things start.
Today, the Fringe grounds has more choice for food than ever before. And there are some amazing choices. There’s dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, tofu burgers, fries, wings, pulled pork, ribs, tacos, doughnuts, pitas, salads, pizza, sandwiches, curry, samosas, ice cream, deep fried pickles, and thirty pound weaponised salmon.
It’s amazing! Have you seen some of these food trucks these days! The oven at the pizza place has a guy who just stokes the fire! There’s like four hundred different flavours of chicken wings, and the condiment rack at the hot dog cart I was just at had eleven types of mustard, four ketchups, a couple of salsas, three relishes, and hollandaise. Frickin hollandaise!!! Damn it was good on my llama burger.
So after you marvel at the choreography in Rambo Kicks The Crap Out Of Some Terrorist Dudes – The Musical, walk on over to the outdoor site in the Exchange district and have a plate of deep fried pickles with hollandaise while you watch the screaming mimes on the outdoor stage. Don’t forget to tip the screaming mime either. He needs that money for lozenges.
A major shout out goes out to whoever snuck into the venue 2 booth and put a My Little Pony sticker on the Venue Two audio board. A thing of genius!!!!!