So a couple of years back I was having a casual conversation with David Jordan, Executive Director of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. I remember I said something along the lines of “you know what would really help out my Fringing David? A critical Fringe guide. Something to help the punters like me separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.” David responded with something like “oh, yeah? Then why don’t you put up or shut up?” (As anyone who has ever met the ever-genteel DJ will profess, that’s a mighty big stretch in paraphrasing.) Fine, says I, I will then. And off I went to have a panic attack over how in the hell I was going to find 12 people who were willing and able to write about the indiest of indie theatre.
Fortuitously, in a random occurrence of synchronicity, Plank Magazine manifested itself among the internets, with a crew in place already amped about amping up the volume of theatrical discourse in Vancouver. And at last year’s Fringe we did just that, and I’m pleased to say we turned in exactly what I had envisioned in that first chat with David. We reviewed with candor all of the shows in the festival, most of them by the end of the first weekend. And Plank also opened up a section of their site to audience reviews, and that particular section took no time to heat up. And boy oh man, did it ever get hot. Heated debate about art. Now that holds promise.
And so here we are, one year later, and ricocheting off of the success of last year Plank’s been asked back again, and they in turn have asked me for some help. How could I say no? This is where I eat. The Fringe is about dialogue. It’s about risk. And it’s the one time of the year that Independent Stage gets a spotlight that the rest of the city can see us by. And now that the festival’s funding is in peril because our government hates us, we need to be loud about it.
We’ve got a great team this year, energized and theatre lovin’ and stoked for some great theatre. It’s not all going to be great theatre of course, that’s the wonder of the Fringe, but we’ll be taking into account what the intent of each company is with respect to their pieces, and how much balls they bring to the table. And we wish all the artists the most broken of legs.
Check out our critical Fringe guide here, and add your own reviews throughout the coming weeks.
Have a great Fringe everyone!
In my humble opinion Plank’s involvement with last year’s Fringe made a huge difference for many shows. I found myself eagerly running to my computer after seeing a show to put in my mini-capsule review – and I found myself consistantly checking other reviews… there was so much back and forth on particular performances that I had to go check it out for myself…
Hopefully it grows this year. We actually put a “Review Our Shows and Others at PlankMagazine.com” plug in our program. Can’t wait to start the debate!
I am sure we’ll be able to piss some actors off by midnight tonight. Let the games begin…