Posted from Katie Ball's Facebook Note, Choosing Fringe shows, it's a science (no really).
Some basic decision-making tips that have delivered a pretty decent rate of success for me. Doubtless you have your own methods and I'd be interested in hearing your ideas!
(In no particular order)
- Past experience – you rocked last year you'll probably rock this year.
- Canadian - Unlike South Park I do not blame Canada and usually love every production that heads this way.
- The Sally Field Experience, “I like you, I really really like you." Last year Paul Hutcheson's brochure blurb described him as 'blah blah like Jim Carrey,' and it totally turned me off. Saw Paul around for days and days and days, found him to be charming and clever- so on the last day of the festival I went to support him, in part out of shame and partly because of pity. The show was so damned funny it was stupid.
- Word of mouth. Fringe patrons are super vocal about what they like and dislike, and even unprompted they (we) will spew forth our findings ad nauseam. LISTEN. TELL. But note: Even if you're best buds it does not mean you'll like the same shows. If in doubt ask what else they've seen and see if your tastes align. Though if they convince you to go and it sucks it makes for some great discourse afterward.
- Cool or clever flyers, posters, busking, etc. Yes promotional materials can be spendy but I've seen some ridiculously clever and cheap ways past shows have gotten the word out and it ended up putting butts in seats. I've also seen some years where few artists got out there to press the flesh, so to speak. Note to artists: Being a Fringe presence on and off stage does make a difference, especially when we get down to the wire financially or time-wise. Make the effort and so will we.
- Fringe program write-ups can seriously help or hurt a production. (See # 3 Sally Field Experience). Today I marked down a number of good prospects simply based on the quality of copy. Though “Ironhead's” write-up kind of misses the mark I will still see it because I have every faith that it will be a righteously good time (See reasons 1 and 7). To its credit “Ironhead's” meh brochure copy is thankfully mitigated by the show's full title: “Ironhead: Quest for the Ring of the Dark Evil Lord of Evil Darkness.” Well, wouldn't you?
- Always, whenever possible, support your friends and colleagues. And if you can't make it you can still help spread the word.
- Another reason to go? Wanzie loves it...
- ...David Lee touched it or even looked at it.
- Mature/Gay themes/Adult themes/Nudity. Fringe is uncensored folks, enjoy it while you've got access to it.
- Choose at least one show that makes you step out of your comfort zone. For me it's clowns, for you it might be hot boys in towels.
- Then finally - when down to the wire, choose the artists that had to travel the farthest to be here (and a surprising number of local artists will suggest the same). It isn't an “International” festival if artists from Barcelona can't afford to attend.
Katie Ball is a local public radio personality, and author of Any Cool Music?
Public Radio Producer
www.radiokuralt.com - www.wmfe.org/storycorps - www.prx.org/user/radiokuralt - www.stateofthereunion.com
Published locally in the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly. Clients include Crealde School of Art, The City of Orlando, Orange County Government.
Published Nationally in Atomic Ranch Magazine. - Band photography featured on 5 cds.