I have a Fringe question. I’ve just spent the weekend rolling around Granville Island – the epicentre of our Fringe – and I’m struck by the distinct absence of any kind of carnival atmosphere down there, of any indication of ‘fest’ from this festival. Yes, there’s a few performers doing the traditional line-up flyer-and-pitch, some costumed volunteers selling lil’ chocolates to raise money for, well, themselves (do not get me wrong, I think this is a great idea. I put in enough cash to get me 4 lil’ chocolates), and there’s the neatly organized designated poster areas, but I can’t help thinking that if I happened to be on the Island unawares of the occasion that there’s really nothing for me to get swept up in, as it were. No fanfare or weirdness or, heaven forbid, anyone acting out.
I realize that the Fringe organization itself is hamstrung by the rules of good behaviour imposed by its Granville Island hosts, and that they can’t organize or sanction any illicit craziness outside of the specific venues. What I’m curious about is the lack of perfomative presence from the performers themselves. What’s stopping them from turning their two-week performing arts neighbourhood into a big ol’ marketing bazarre? What about making a scene? I mean literally, like, thrusting their wares onto the laps of the unsuspecting and uninitiated public. Are we as an art form really that polite? Are we too into our own thing to come together as a loud, proud community? Is the Fringe really just an opportunity to rent some cheap theatre space and show up six times for an hour and a half?
Do other Canadian Fringes feel more celebratory as you walk around them, outside of the shows themselves? Have you experienced any incidents here in Vancouver of creative marketing ambushes? We’d love to hear any stories you may have of being assaulted by theatre when you weren’t expecting it. The Fringe is the one time out of the year that we get some pretty high profile advertising, how can we make the most of it?