Friday, January 2, 2009

Guest Review: Minnesota Fringe Fest

Guest Review: Minnesota Fringe Fest
By Guest Reviewer: Courtney McLean

Guest Festival Ranking: 4.75 bow ties (knock off .25 for % of earnings and massiveness of the festival)

Mr. Fringey’s Description: The Harvard-bound-home-schooler who grew up learning about the birds and the bees from Swiss, polyamorous, mathematic ex-patriots.

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

1. Extremely well-organized: venue techs, nice venues (actual theatres!), lots of staff to help you.

2. Extremely well-promoted: huge audiences & practically a built-in theatre community that loves the Fringe.

3. Minnesota Fringe audiences really embrace out-of-towners

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

1. Due to all the amenities MN Fringe provides, the artist payback is less than most Fringes it seems - 65% of ticket sales. I think it's worth it, but it can be a turn-off

2. There are sooooo many shows to compete with (150+) and by the second week, there's the top 20 shows that seem to be getting the most press and if you're not in that group, it's hard to get butts in the seats.

3. They're working on this, but there are some venues that are far away from the central area that makes it quite difficult without a car to go from show-to-show (there's only 30 minutes between shows here). Although MPLS has a lot of bike lanes, so that would be a good way to go.

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)

You could do this Fringe with a tiny sock, easily. It's a $400 app fee and then the rest is cake. Billeting is FREE here (there's a form with your application), so your housing is covered. If you bring a bike or buy one for the week off Craig's List ($50 maybe?), your transportation is covered. MPLS is an easily bike-able city and it's gorgeous here around Fringe time. Artists all get unlimited rush passes to see other shows for free. The only thing you need money for is booze and food. Buy some groceries to stash in your hosts' fridge and take advantage of the drink specials and take advantage of other Fringers who will buy you drinks.

How to Fill Your Seats: What's the best way to fill your seats here marketing-wise?

GO SEE OTHER SHOWS and pass out your cards/flyers!! And come out to hang out with everyone, every night at Fringe Central (see below) and meet people - most of us are pretty into meeting the out-of-towners. Don't be a dick and have fun. Also, MN Fringe gives you a press list with your producer handbook. Don't rely on press, but definitely make the effort to reach out to them. This town loves Fringe and the press supports it, particularly the Onion, the City Pages, and radio stations like KFAI and the Current. Don't be shy!

Is there a fringe central?

I believe they have brought Fringe Central back for good! This past year it was Bedlam theatre and it was great! In 2006 and 2007 (my first and second years), they had different locales for each night, but the Fringe Central is so much more convenient and easy to know where everyone is going to be.

Ticket Prices:

Do you get 100% of door? If not, how much.

Artists only receive 65% of the door. A lot of people see this as a downside, but for the numbers of audience you can potentially turn out and the amenities you receive like PROFESSIONAL light and sound techs, house managers, ushers, beautiful venues that are actually theatres and not art galleries with sunlight and horrible acoustics.

Do performers see other shows for free?

Yes, but they get rush passes, so they aren't admitted till 10 minutes before a performance. If your show is sold out, an artist doesn't get in, but the good news is that you're making the most money you can.


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

You get paid in one check 2 weeks after the Fringe closes. I have been paid on time each year I've participated.


Is there a showcase for out of town performers?

YES! In fact, sometimes there's more than one. The main one happens the night before the Fringe opens.

Venue Location:

Can you walk to all the venues? If not how did you get around?

You can walk to most of the venues, but it's much easier with a bike or car. Buses are frequent, but with only 30 minutes between each show, it's advantageous to have a bike or car or friend with car to help you travel. There are some venues that are too far to bike or bus to in time, so having a car is best.


What city do you fly into and how did you get to your destination?

MSP airport (Minneapolis/St. Paul) and the Light Rail will take you right into downtown for pick-up or bus accessibility. Super easy to get to your destination.


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

I have never used the Fest Lodging (FREE!), but all the experiences I've heard about have been positive. My boyfriend lived here, so I stayed with him the second year and a friend of a friend the first year.

Fringe Specs:

Age in Fringe Years: Oh, to be 16 years old again with the knowledge and clear skin I now possess.

Festival Dates: July 30 – Aug. 9, 2009

Application Deadline: Jan. 30, 2009 (that’s not a postmark deadline—be careful!).

And: Located in the Minneapolis neighborhoods of Uptown, West Bank, Northeast and North Loop

Applying: – Snail Mail.

Festival Cost: $400 + $25 application fee

Ticket Prices: Tickets are $12, students/seniors/MPR members are $10.

About Mr. Fringy's Guest Reviewer: Courtney McLean

Mr. Fringey’s tag: The secret agent off-spring of James Bond’s library and Austin Powers hairdresser, but raised by Pee Wee Herman’s bicycle.

Check her out at: and

What categories does your show fall under? (IE, comedy, women, religious, etc).comedic, feminist, science fiction, satire

How long have you been fringing?

Three years

How many fringes do you do each year?

Varies - 2-5+

What has been your favorite fringe?


What has been your biggest money making fringe?

Capital Fringe 2007

What fringe did you make your most important contact?

I cannot possibly narrow that down! It's between Minnesota and Capital (DC) Fringe

In one word, why do you fringe?


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

Standing On An Amputee

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

I have before and I pay them, depending on their role, $50-$150 for the run of the show. It's not much, but as a self-produced solo performer, I hope that anything is good. If I were to reap unexpected profits, I would pay it forward as I could.

Any fringes to avoid?

We had a racist jerk for our tech in Kansas City, MO. He was subsequently fired once we made our difficulties with him known, but Kansas City has a ways to go in other areas: venue quality and proximity, offering artist billeting, and getting the performers together at Fringe Central. We didn't meet too many people and those we did meet were pretty clique-y.

Photos by: Craig VanDerSchaegen and Mark Rosenberg

1 comment:

Brash Lion said...

Hey Fringers - I just want to make an addendum to this... it's a $25 app fee for the MN Fringe (that's new this year) and the FESTIVAL fee is $400, which you pay of course only after you get in. That is all. You still only need a tiny sock. BYE!