Today the Winnipeg Fringe Festival staff and crews have been working hard in the Winnipeg summer heat to get the outdoor site ready for opening day on Wednesday. The stage is taking shape, and the beer tent is up, ready to serve frosty refreshments starting at noon on Wednesday. The new smartphone app isn’t quite ready but will be soon. There have been some errors detected in the first version and the schedule monkey is working hard to fix it all. It’s a big job, but we’re feeding it lots of bananas so hopefully the new app will be working soon.
Here at Venue 2, we have technical rehearsals for three different shows today, and we do the same tomorrow. Groups are streamlining their shows, figuring out what their lights look like, how loud their sound effects should be, and which side to lay their papier-mâché llamas on.
For myself and my venue partner, this is all old hat. Between the two of us, we have 42 years of Fringe Festival experience, so we know what needs to be done, what problems to look out for, and how to hacksaw a Dutch llama that looks like a horse. It’s not our first rodeo.
But for many, the twenty eighth annual Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is their first Fringe experience, and I swear they get younger every year…
There are quite a number of venue techs and staff that are younger than the Fringe itself, and even more that are younger than a lot of the lighting gear in this festival.
Some are even younger than Crumbs…
But there are still a few Veterans left, and I am nowhere near the longest standing Winnipeg Fringe Venue Tech, but I can count on one hand those of us who have more than 15 Fringes to our names.
Some of us are older than RMTC…
I find this year, more so than most, that there is a wave of the young staff taking over the reigns and making their presence felt in the festival, and they’re very independent and don’t need much hand holding. We’re not needed as much as we were in the past because the youth of this festival has things well in hand. Instead of being mentors or pillars of wisdom, we who have the sash of longevity are thought of as quaint.
It’s bound to happen, and I probably did it when I started in this industry back when fire was invented and Zeppelin was still touring.
It makes lunch at the King’s Head interesting sometimes.
Young Tech 1: “Oh man! I just teched this group that had this AMAZING concept!”
Young Tech 2: “Ya? What was it about?”
Young Tech 1: “There’s these students that have detention, and they all have to write an essay about why they’re there, only one is a nerd, one is a jock, one is a hipster, another is goth, and one is white privileged, and they all tell stories about how they get there and then…”
Me: “Oh, that’s The Breakfast Club.”
Young Tech 1: “Ya! Did you have it in your venue before?”
Me: “No, no, it’s a movie starring Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson”
Young Tech 2: “Who?”
Me: “Judd Nelson, he was….. oh nevermind.”
Young Tech 3: “Hey, don’t you have that Dutch group with the llama and the Rambo puppets? How’s their show?”
Me: “It’s pretty bitching.”
Young Tech 1: “Ha Ha Ha Ha… it’s cute when you try to be cool.”
Young Tech 3: “Ya JBJ, you shouldn’t do that, you’re not very good at it.”
I seem to remember having a similar conversation in the 80’s about some show that I thought was awesome only to learn that it was based on a film from the 50’s called Tammy and the Bachelor starring Debbie Reynolds and Walter Brennan. So this isn’t a new thing.
I guess it’s just the circle of Fringe….