Five things about the Fringe Festival

This article was originally published in CBC Hamilton, Jul. 27, 2012

You have only a couple of more days to catch any of the 28 Fringe Hamilton shows playing Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Here are five things that will make your Fringe experience more meaningful.

‘Bucket speeches’ to fund the Fringe

Before every show the audience gets the “bucket speech.” It’s a call for donations that help fund the Fringe each year. Last year’s bucket speeches hauled in $1,000. By comparison, Hamilton Fringe’s operating budget, including fees paid to artists, is $115,000.

The Fringe button

The 5.5 centimetre Fringe button is not just an entry pass to every Fringe show, it is a good collectable. The 2012 Plan 9 from Outer Space button was designed by Brian Morton and Sammi Jenelle, graduates of Mohawk College’s graphic design program. Last year, 2,000 buttons were sold.

It is affordable

The Fringe is an affordable way to see cutting-edge, innovative theatre. One ticket to a Fringe show costs $9. A  balcony seat at “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Stratford Festival is $49. The $9 spent on the Fringe lets you experience community theatre produced by budding directors, artists, and playwrights.

A step to commercial success

Fringe productions have been remounted in professional theatres in Canada and beyond. Debuting at Toronto Fringe 1999, the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” opened on Broadway in 2006 and went on to receive a Tony award for Best Original Score during the same year.

“Da Kink in My Hair” was first featured in Toronto Fringe 2001 then advanced to Theatre Passe Muraille and the Princess of Wales. It was then adapted into a TV series and was aired on Global TV in 2007/2008.

With its debut performance at Vancouver Fringe 2008, A Wide Eyed Production with No Bells and Whistles’ production of “Gutenberg! The Musical!” was selected to open the 2010/2011 Presentation House Theatre at North Vancouver.

Jill of all trades

Advertising and marketing of a show falls to the production team itself. Cross Cultural Productions’ “The Girl in the Window” and  Savory Entertainment’s “Dairy-Free Love” sold 86 and 74 tickets respectively for the first four shows.

Hamilton Fringe accepts plays for its annual playwright competition category as early as December for the summer 2013 festival. Visit later in the year for more details.