Friday, January 9, 2009

Guest Review: Edmonton Fringe Fest

Guest Review: Edmonton Fringe Fest

By Guest Reviewer: Alix Sobler

Guest Festival Ranking: 4 and 1/2 (although it has been 3 years since I have been there).
Mr. Fringey’s Description: The Fat Marlon Brando Fat Elvis Fringe – eatin’ good, eatin’ big and livin’ the Big Kahuna life.

The Sunny-side: (Give 3 reasons this fringe is the bomb):
The fringe is in a very centralized in location. All venues are walking distance from the box office and from each other. There is a huge outdoor contingent, which unlike other fringes, contributes to the indoor shows by attracting crowds and giving them something to watch while they are waiting between shows.
2. Great audience turn-out.
Edmonton really turns out for the fringe, and they are willing to take a chance on out-of-towners and riskier shows.
3. Staff and Volunteers. This is one of the best run fringes in the world, with very experienced and committed volunteers and a great year round staff. It definitely makes the process a lot easier to know that people are nice and know what they are doing.

The Flip Side: (Give 3 reasons this fringe sucks or what makes it difficult):
1. Billeting can be a challenge.
Edmonton gets a huge out-of-town and international turn-out and finding housing for everyone can be a challenge. Housing can often be far from the fringe site (one year we had to drive about 25 minutes each way...I would hate to think about what that would amount to in gas these days!) Some people bring bikes with them or buy them when they are there.
2. Because it’s so packed, this fringe can be competitive, especially when you are from out of town. While people are willing to take a chance, you do have to do some marketing, and you are very dependent on reviews being good.
Edmonton has recently changed their ticketing policy to having no front of house, and only selling tickets at the main box office or at a handful of established box offices. This eliminates last minute walk -up traffic. No more hanging out at the beer tent and saying, "Hey, this show starts in ten minutes, lets go!" (At least that would be much rarer.) In the end this process cuts down on the number of volunteers needed and might have a lot of benefits, but from what I have heard it has been a somewhat bumpy transition.

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?
Hard to know for this, as it depends greatly on the location of your billet. I would say prepare a medium sock to account for food and possibly hotel if your billet is too far. (If you are far and have a car you might want to be prepared for gas prices too.) You can save money by eating festival food which is cheap, but GREASY.

How to Fill Your Seats: What's the best way to fill your seats here marketing-wise?
Reviews are key. Some people do Saskatoon Fringe just to get the
Edmonton review in early as the Edmonton press will sometimes send reviewers up to Saskatoon.

Is there a fringe central?
MAJOR fringe central. One of the biggest outdoor fringes as well. Lots of outdoor performers, vendors, beer tents, etc.

Do you get 100% of door? If not, how much.
Pretty much. If people buy in advance there is a service fee.

Do performers see other shows for free?
Only if you get comps through the performer.

Do you get paid each night? If not how? Were you paid on time if the money was sent to you?

There are specific payout times. If you need to leave before the last one (usually the day after the festival is over) they will forward the cheque. They are very prompt with payment.

Is there a showcase for out of town performers?
Yes, a showcase for all performers. And a parade.

Venue Location:
Can you walk to all the venues? If not how did you get around?
Yes, it’s all walking distance.


What city do you fly into and how did you get to you destination?
We drove, but you can fly into
Edmonton and take a cab.

Did you use fringe fest lodging? If so, how was the lodging? If not, who did
you stay with?

They set us up with housing (3 times) and once we stayed in the Strathcona on the main drag (Whyte Ave). The billets were nice but very far away so we had to drive in every night. There are some affordable hotels in the area if you plan ahead.

Fringe Specs:
Age in Fringe Years: Hot and 27 and built like a brick house.
Festival Dates: Aug 14 – 21

Applying: - snail mail.

Application Deadline: Nov 21, 2009
And: In 2008, North America’s largest and oldest Fringe festival hosted over 1200 shows & performances from 207 companies in 27 venues.

With 77,204 tickets sold for indoor shows (218 Sold-Out Shows!) and an approximate outdoor attendance of 503,638 – the Edmonton Fringe is truly “The Big Kahuna” of fringe festivals!

Festival Cost: $636
Ticket Prices: $10-$12 (with service charge) You can set your prices, but I recommend choosing the highest amount, unless you show is less that 40 minutes.

About Mr. Fringy's Guest Reviewer: Alix Sobler

Mr. Fringey’s tag: Fringe thesis meets Prime Time meets the cable access channel.

Check her out at: and on Facebook under InTrouble Productions - Alix Sobler

What categories does your show fall under? (IE, comedy, women, religious, etc).
Solo performance.

How long have you been fringing?

6 years

How many fringes do you do each year?

I used to do 6-8. Now usually 1-2

What has been your favorite fringe? Winnipeg

What has been your biggest money making fringe?


What fringe did you make your most important contact?

Saskatoon. I met my husband!

In one word, why do you fringe?


What's the name of the show (s) you are fringing this year?

Untitled, as of yet.

Do you use your own tech person at your shows? If so, how much do you pay

I use my partner. But if not I try to avoid a tech person. Otherwise 25-40 bucks a show

No comments: