Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guest Review: Orlando Fringe

Guest Review: Orlando Fringe Festival
By Guest Reviewer:
The dudes from The Cody Rivers Show

Guest Festival Ranking:
4 out of 5 bow ties

Mr. Fringy's Description: The San Fran fringe of the east coast (with a side of flipper soufflé)

The Sunny-side: (Give 3 reasons this fringe is the bomb)

1) Very high overall quality of venues. Really nice spaces.

2) Venue convenience is extraordinary. All of the festival venues are
in two buildings that are on either side of a small park-like space that
is converted into the festival epicenter. Extremely convenient for
flyering, seeing shows, logistics, etc.

3) Festival organization and administration is excellent. They have
their act together on every front, and they have made the Fringe into a
much-anticipated special event that the community not only knows about,
but cares about.

The Flip Side: (Give 3 reasons this fringe sucks or what makes it difficult)

1) Orlando is one of the most sprawled out cities I have ever been to,
and it has an abysmal public transportation system. Out of necessity,
most of the billets are outside of convenient walking distance, so
figuring out transportation can be a little bit of a puzzle (we bought
old bikes off of Craig's List, some other out-of-towners rented and
shared a car, etc.) Getting around to get things done can be a huge
project. It feels like all of the businesses in Orlando are located in
huge strip malls that are all far apart, and are set-back from the road
by half-a-mile, which is to say that it can be hard to get around
effectively no matter what mode of transportation you are using. People
are generous with offering rides, however, and often you can work
something out. It is an issue though..

2) It can be a little challenging for touring acts to get attention.
Can be. Local companies invest a lot of time and energy and money in
Fringe productions (which is good), and sometimes it can feel like
most of the patrons there to see whatever group(s) they already know,
rather than to check out new folks from out of town. The media reviews
just about everything, but save for a few small exceptions, the
overwhelming majority of preview coverage was dedicated to local companies.
All that said, more than a few touring act have really triumphed in
Orlando, so I think the reality is that the crowds there are ultimately
checking out that which is worth checking out. It may just feel like
more of a local in-crowd scene than it actually is.

3) There was something off about the system for performers letting
other performers in to their shows this year. It was kind of a hassle,
and inconsistent and didn't work very well. This might have been just a
flukey thing because I think they switched over to a new ticketing
service or system for this year's festival.

Your Money Sock:

How big of a money sock do you need here, based on food prices, and other
expenses? (Choose one: A tiny sock, a men's tube sock, a full blown stocking) How much money did you spend on this one when all was said and done?
Tough to consumption patterns are a little different than most
people's. I don't think the city is unusually expensive, but how one
deals with the transportation situation might affect this number. I'll
go with men's tube sock.

How to Fill Your Seats:

What's the best way to fill your seats here marketing-wise?

Nothing fancy. It is a really easy place to flier, because the venues
are so centralized, so that is a pretty easy recommendation.
There aren't very many places to poster. The festival administration
does a great job of getting word out to the city at large, so the most
important effort is to get people who are already at the festival to
choose your show.

The out-of-towner's preview was really ineffective in 2008. Basically
just performers watching each other, and a handful of other folks. So,
whereas that can be a critical thing to participate in at other
festivals, it did not prove to be so in Orlando. That may change though,
so I wouldn't write it off completely.

As mentioned above, the media does not seem aggressively interested in
previewing out-of-town shows, but they do tend to review everything. And
if you came to them with a strong story angle they might be interested.

Is there a fringe central?

Yes. It is in between the two buildings that house the venues, in a
park-like setting. Very pleasant. It's a make-shift market bazaar with a
live stage and food, etc.

Ticket Prices:
Do you get 100% of door? If not, how much.
Yes, you get 100%.

What's the ticket range price? I forget the ticket price range, but I think it was
something like $6-10.

Do performers see other shows for free?

The comp situation was set up so that each show could offer a maximum
of 10% of its house as comps. Performers get no special treatment, and
as mentioned above the
ticketing system was new this year, and a bit
out-of-wack as far as comping other performers. The usual system of
distributing passwords that any performer could use whenever to secure a
comp was problematic, and it took most of the festival to sort of sort
it out.

Do you get paid each night? If not how? Were you paid on time if the money was sent to you?
There were two payouts for the festival: One roughly half way through,
the second on the day after the last performance day.

Is there a showcase for out of town performers?
Yes. See answer to question #5. In 2008 I think it was mostly not
beneficial. Not many general public folks there.

Venue Location:
Can you walk to all the venues? If not how did you get around?
Getting to the festival site can be an issue, depending on where one is
staying in the city (it is very sprawled), but once you're there, you're
there. All the venues are in one tightly concentrated spot. Easy walking.

What city do you fly into and how did you get to you
We actually took the train in, but all modes of transportation lead to

Did you use fringe fest lodging? If so, how was the lodging? If not, who did you stay with?
Yes, we stayed with a billet arranged by the festival. It was great,
and I didn't hear any horror stories about anyone's situation. The
festival seems to find good people as hosts.

Fringe Specs:
Age in Fringe Years: A 17 year old, with a bit of a 16 year old's premature ejaculation problem (re-read Judy Bloom for specifics)
Festival Dates: May 14 - 25, 2009
In 2008 there were 77 artists doing 500 shows.
Application Deadline: November
Festival Cost: $258- $600

About Mr. Fringey's Guest Reviewers: The dudes from the Cody Rivers Show - (hands down the funniest and most unique comedy act on the fringe circuit)

Check them out at:

What categories does your show fall under? (IE, comedy, women, religious, etc).
'The Cody Rivers Show': Physical comedy theatre.
'Boom': Solo show. Fiction.

How long have you been fringing?
3 Years.

How many fringes do you do each year?

What has been your favorite fringe?
Tough call. Montreal and Minnesota are definitely in the upper echelons.

What has been your biggest money making fringe?
Edmonton and Vancouver.

What fringe did you make your most important contact?
That is a very difficult question to answer. We have made extremely
valuable contacts (personally and professionally) at more-or-less every
fringe we have been to.

In one word, why do you fringe?

What's the name of the show (s) you are fringing this year?
'The Cody Rivers Show presents: Stick to Glue'

Do you use your own tech person at your shows? If so, how much do you pay them?
No. We always use the festival technician(s). They always do a great
job, and unless you have a extremely tech-heavy show, or work with
someone who really knows your show, I think it is a waste to hire
someone in.

Any fringes to avoid?
I'm too shy to answer that in a straightforward way, but I'll just say
that we met Jimmy Hogg at the festival he refers to in his answer to
this question, and the man is not lying. If anything, he is being generous.


cats-n-crying said...

As a solo performer who did his first tour show at this very Orlando Fringe Festival, I can attest:

1.) The Cody Rivers Guys have nailed their assessment here all-around.

and 2.) The Cody Rivers Show is indeed absolutely goddamn brilliant. A must-see. Cannot wait to see them again.

--John Hefner

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding John, glad to hear the TCRS nailed it!

Blogging Fringe said...

Some notes:

The ticketing system is 3 years old. The artist comps and Fringe Bucks and stuff are always like that.

The out of town acts and preview are always ignored, and then the cream rises to the top at the last possible second. BOOM and Cody Rivers were poorly attended their first few shows, and then people couldn't get enough of them by the end.

As much as this may be the media's fault, the people also want to go support their friends and bask in the glow of local celebs and big shots who throw lots of money at the festival.

From what I've heard, our festival is pretty cool.

Mr. Fingey said...

Hey blogging fringe,
There's no doubt that Orlando is one of the best for performers, mainly because performance locations are so central.
Thanks for your comments,

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