After a crazy emotional and hard week, I hopped into my car and drove to Edmonton for their fringe festival. Edmonton’s Fringe is the biggest in Western Canada and it begs the questions – why haven’t I been there yet?
The city closes down streets close to Whyte Ave and has food vendors and street performers. It’s nice to see so many people out to support theatre.
So my experience of the Edmonton Fringe festival was not typical as I wanted to see a lot of plays that I had missed in Calgary. So I had already read reviews and knew what I wanted to see.
My friend Adam was gracious enough to not only let me stay on his couch, but also come with me and pick a couple plays himself.
It was a great way to start off the morning, with a personal and engaging story about Sam Mullins and making it as an actor in Vancouver and not having things go the way you want them to.
We then moved quickly to our next show which was a one man Macbeth piece that Adam wanted to see. Making use of stuffed animals and dinosaur toys, this half hour showing of Macbeth was amusing and fun down to his improvised “oh shit!” when Macbeth is about to die.
Since we got out early we had some food and hung out watching the street performances. Our next play wasn’t until 1:30pm and it was 12:30.
Then we looked at our tickets. Yes, this is the Edmonton Fringe festival and you should be at the venue a half hour before it starts, but we were on the grounds so it should be fine, according to me the world’s most casual user of life on the planet. The venue was actually downtown.
Adam turns to me and is like… I don’t think we can make it.
We didn’t drive, as the bus was a lot easier. So we had to cab it downtown with 15 minutes until we show start. But we were seeing 6 Guitars which I had not seen in Calgary and would have been super disappointed to miss. So we hailed a cab, flew to the downtown library and managed to make it with a minute to spare. And this show was absolutely worth it. Chase Padgett was one of the member of The Bro Show, but this show was insanely good. Six characters, six different styles of music, all live with improvisation. It was outstanding and absolutely worth the cab fare to get there and then some.
At this point, I probably should have bought a program. But there are people I can ask questions to. And they have maps. Why those maps are not posted everywhere or handed out for free so that people can maybe know where they are going – is beyond me.
Our next show wasn’t until 7:30pm, so we stopped back home and had dinner then came back out.
We saw Von Mitterbrink’s Second, based mostly on the fact that it has dueling in it. Which was amusing and clever and well acted, but ran a half hour longer than the hour I thought it would be. And the play would have done better without that half hour actually. So we then missed Charlie: A hockey story.
And I guess that it’s my fault and I should have looked at run times.
We then hung out at a trendy place on Whyte Ave that had a romantic feel to it, with vintage couches and decadent desserts. I wish we had a place in Calgary like it.
Our last show at 11pm was The Last Man on Earth which also got some good reviews in Calgary. It took a while to get into, but maybe that was mostly cause of my fatigue.
Sunday I was set to see This is not a play, a dance work by the Good Woman Collective.
Do I plan and scope things out before? No. I figure, I’ll buy my ticket and ask there, because that seems reasonable to me. The dude at the box office actually said: a couple blocks that way, and a couple blocks that way. Oh my god are you retarded? I asked the information booth.
The venue was seven blocks away and I didn’t have a map so I ran into train tracks and am terrible in orienting myself in a city I don’t know. I missed the show by 5 minutes.
I wish the Edmonton Fringe outlined how far venues were from the main fringe site. I wish their maps were better. But on the other hand I don’t prepare or plan and go in hoping that things will work out. I set myself up for these things to happen.
Overall I had a lovely time in Edmonton, but am quite grateful to Adam and his smartphone. Until next year!