Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Guest Review: Winnipeg Fringe

By Guest Reviewer: Noel Williams
Guest Festival Ranking:
3 out of 5 bow ties

Mr. Fringy's Description:
The gazillion- dollar-locals-only-do-not-try-
this-at-home fringe!
Since all the venues are close together, and within walking distance to
each other, it makes flyering lines pretty easy. Another great thing about
this fringe is that youcan be assured that
a reviewer or two will show
up at your show - and generally right away.

Flip Side:
The fringe has become quite huge, and it is easy to get lost in the
festival program,which is practically as long as a Charles Dickens novel.
If you don't make the first half of the program, some folks won't even
know you’re there.
Don't be a premiere or a byov!
This festival seems to be for the veterans of fringe. If you don't have your
stars you'dbetter have a name on your poster of someone who does or has
in the past. Audiences here seem to be drawn to who they know!

Also, Winnipeg
audiences have really moved to a particular style and
sensibility. The abstractor alternate forms of theatre are not as popular.
The types of shows that went over wellwere one man shows with a simple
story doing a lot of characters, and the stand-up poetry genre.

Your Money Sock:
If you are a veteran with a five star show - you can wear
flip flops no
with socks andyou and a family of 100 ninja turtles can live off your

ticket sales! Otherwise bring an adult sizedonesie with footies, and be
prepared to fork out about $3000 or more once you get there.
(Mr. Fringey says," Holy Coowie!")
How to Fill Your Seats: 
Be a local five star show or get yourself connected to one. There are
too many shows for audiences to choose from. They look at the top of
the star list and go from there. You can flyer all you want, but you
need a pretty convincing routine to work the line, and get the line to
actually come to your show. The beer tent is a great place to talk to the
crowds, but it can be hit or miss. When it's a miss, it’s full of drunks
who may say things like,
"What show? Where am I? Where is my green dragon?”

Fringe Specs:

Age in Fringe Years: 21 with an attitude going on 73.

Festival Dates: July 16-27.

Application Deadline: December 11, 2007.

Applying: On-line application form at

Festival Cost: $610

Ticket Prices: 0-$9. (Keep in mind there is General
Service Tax(GST) of 7% but outof country performers can
get a waiver)Performers can see other shows for free only
if they get your password, and there is a limit to the number
of password tickets that
can be handed out.

Payment: 100% of door. Rather than getting paid each night, you get 2
checks while you
are there and a third is mailed to you.

Showcase: It’s outdoors with a small crowd of folks who would rather
just be drinking their beer and not be bothered.

Venue Location: All venues are walkable from one another.
Fringe Central houses the beer tent and King's Head Pub-
which are right next to each other.
Travel-in: You can fly into Winnipeg, but be aware
if you are from out of country that you might be better
off driving in. It is a risk to have your set or posters
or postcards go via air as they may be confiscated.
There are laws regarding flying in with goods and materials
for display or use in a public performance.
Billeting: I stayed with a great family, but they were
located almost30 minutes from the festival, which made for
a lot of money in parkingand gas.

(Mr. Fringey says, "Sound familiar?")

About Mr. Fringy's Guest Reviewer:
Noel Williams - Performer & Clown
Check her out at:

How long have you been fringing?

This is my first solo fringe, but I went to Winnipeg with another
show several years ago, and had a completely different experience. I
have to say I was shocked by how much it had changed.
How many fringes do you do each year?
I did 4 fringes in 2007.

What has been your favorite fringe?
San Francisco
was really great. They made me feel like a celebrity, and
I got to stay with my dearest friend, so it felt like more of a

What has been your biggest money making fringe?
! Who knew! It was the in-betweener of Minneapolis and San
Francisco, and it was awesome. The Stand-up Monkey Poet, who is a
British out-of-towner sold out opening night! The audiences were really
just excited to see something new and different! I made the most money
at this fringe. It's small and well supported.
What fringe did you make your most important contact?
Ok Mr. Fringey, are you fishing for this one? Of course I made some of the
greatest artistic friends in Minneapolis at the Minnesota Fringe- you,
Barnaby King, Courtney McLean, Emily Morwen. But in San Francisco, in
addition to getting connected to the Clown Conservatory via an audience
member, I also met the Fresno folks of the Rogue Festival in
flyering a line. They came to see my show and totally saved
me by taping it after my
video camera had been stolen. I am now doing
their fringe this year, and was accepted to the DCA Studio Season in
from the tape of that show!

In one word, why do you fringe?
It is a great place to work on your material with different audiences.
I really went to develop myself as a performer and shape the show. I
really learned a lot as a producer though. The number one thing I
learned was a stage manager is nice, but a local marketing person is
Do you use your own tech person at your shows?
Yes, except for Indianapolis- and I made more money there.

If so, how much do you pay them?
I paid them $25 per show, counting tech as a show.
Any fringes to avoid?
Not that I know of. I'd like to think there is a fringe for every
artist to be successful. It is just important to know why and where you
are going. If you want to make money know how to market your show well,
and where it will work best. Different fringe audiences like different
things. Do your homework in the summer for the fall application- see
what types of shows go over well at which fringes, and that might be a
good way to determine which fringe has the best audience for your show.
Get a local person, preferably in marketing to show you the ins and 
out of the city and how to connect to your audience on a marketing


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Joyce said...

I just want to note two things:
1. Mr. Fringy embellished this review a bit.
2. My experience with this fringe is based on being a World Premiere at a BYOV.

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Anonymous said...

I don't think this fringe is as huge, competitive or easy to get lost in as the reviewer thinks it is. I actually think audiences in Winnipeg are FANTASTICALLY loyal and supportive, and I've never seen a show in Winnipeg that didn't have at least 10 butts in seats -- and believe me, there are Fringes where you cannot get that. I think it's actually really easy to do WELL in Winnipeg, even in a BYOV. It's so, so user-friendly, and so supported. JUST my opinion.