Ottawa Gets Fringefluenza (A1A1)

The Ottawa Fringe Festival (June 18th – 28th) is in full swing with an astonishing line-up of quirky, intriguing, experimental and outrageous productions.


Some of us Ottawa bloggers were invited to a wine and cheese last evening by the Fringe people. They wined us and cheesed us and we had some interesting conversations with some of the Fringe performers who were out promoting their shows.  In exchange for all this wining, cheesing and schmoozing, the bloggers were asked (kindly) to write a little something about Fringe.

The first thing I’ll write about is how they happen to choose the bloggers that were invited. I think it was a kind of hit or miss selection process – if they’d somehow stumbled across a blog and could find an email address, you got an invitation. They did ask for our Breakfast Bloggers mailing list, but of course we couldn’t give them that. Zoom offered to send out an invitation on behalf of the Fringe, but they didn’t like that idea. So in the end, they didn’t get a lot of bloggers turn out. Which was okay because that meant more cheese for us!!

I haven’t been to any of the shows yet (because I had to rush off to the airport to pick up the kid’s latest houseguest last night) but I know at least one I’d like to see. I spent quite a bit of time last night chatting to one of the performers/writers of We Never Clothed. During WWII dedicated actors and theatre-goers apparently didn’t let a little thing like bombs going off around them get in the way of their enjoyment of the arts. They held productions in bunkers and basements and the shows did go on. We Never Clothed is a little celebration of that spirit; of control and freedom in an environment of chaos and enforced conformity.

I also had a chance to chat briefly with John Sweet about his one-man dark comedy, Waiting for Andre. John is just back from performing this piece in the Czech Republic to very good reviews. It’s not My Dinner With Andre, nor Waiting for Godot. Though it may or may not have elements of either or both. Very cryptic.

I also had the pleasure of meeting the delightful Ashley Robinson, writer/creator/performer of Antique Bliss, which I may send XUP Jr. and her houseguest to go and see this week.

Anyway, the fun’s happening from early evening until late into the night every day and all day long on weekends. All the venues are centrally located downtown and tickets are all (very reasonably) between $8 and $10. With over 50 different shows there are bound to be a few that will make you crazy with love.


For more Fringe views and reviews, check back here and also check out Zoom, Megan Butcher, Jo Stockton, Milan, the gang from Apt. 613, Jamine and maybe even the Elgin Street Irregulars (although they didn’t show for the wining and cheesing).


UPDATE: The kid and her houseguest enthusiastically went to see No Exit Upstage this afternoon. They chose it because it seemed like something accessible to them and because it was one of the things on this afternoon.  Although they are both seasoned theatre-going veterans they found the play confusing and not at all youth-friendly. They said everyone in the audience was “really old” and that the two of them didn’t get most of the jokes everyone was laughing at. Other than that they found it “okay”.


9 responses to “Ottawa Gets Fringefluenza (A1A1)

  1. With the blogroll of Ottawans you and Zoom (and probably others) have on your blogs those guys were so wrong to not have you all invite other bloggers to this pleading- please-write-about-us-event. Fringe Festivals are so much fun, I love the quirkiness of it all. But you need lots of people because the audience reactions are sometimes better than the events.

  2. Shame they refused to you send out the invite via the Breakfast list. I like cheese, and I love wine.

    We saw some interesting things at Fringe in our PC (pre-child days.) I keep meaning to invest more time in theatre…

  3. I had a great time yesterday meeting you (as you know!) and I was more excited to see the bloggers than the artists – I was already meeting them anyhow!

    I am still laughing after Paul Hutcheson’s On Second Thought and today we saw Inclement Weather, which was really neat. As I write, I’m still a bit sad that we’re in, as House was on our list of things to see and we’re missing it at 8, which is in ten minutes. Remi has a bike trip tomorrow and has been “fringing” all weekend.

    It’s hard to get people to come out to anything, even when all the invites are sent to the right people. I watch yoga class attendance ebb and flow with weather, hockey games, other yoga trends, but I keep on 🙂

  4. Violetxsky – Very true. The audience is at least half the show. I guess the fringe people didn’t want to be overwhelmed with bloggers eating their cheese. I suppose they reckoned the ones that did show up could do an adequate job of hitting the blog community with news and reviews. I don’t imagine they have a huge budget for this sort of thing.

    Nat – Well, Fringe is a pretty inexpensive theatre investment. And most of the shows are only an hour or less, so it’s not even much of a time investment And there are a couple of child friendly shows as well!

    Jamine – You can’t see everything. And you’re right, there is suddenly SO much going on everywhere you can’t possibly do even half the stuff you want to do. I’ve always maintained that we all ought to get July and August off work so we can enjoy those few paltry weeks of summer we get and all the festivals and other fun things going on. Let’s start a Facebook petition!!

  5. What would the ideal methodology be for inviting bloggers to such events? From the perspective of the organizers, they probably care most about getting visibility, so the most logical selection method would be by page views. Of course, not all blogs make that information publicly available.

  6. Pingback: The Ottawa Fringe Festival » Blogging about Fringe: June 22, 2009

  7. I can speak to the methodology for invitations, as I was the one who organized the event. 😉

    While by no means a perfect process (this is the event’s second year, and my first running it), we looked for local blogs that were frequently updated, had a large audience (when the information was available), and who we believed would be interested in the event based on the archives of their blog or their bios (as this was an outreach event, we puposefully did not invite any theatre bloggers; and while a history of writing about arts/theatre was not necessary to getting an invite, if you have a blog dedicated to say, Monster Truck Rallies, we probably looked you over). We also invited everyone who attended last year, and our performer-bloggers (Fringe artists who are blogging on our site during the festival)

    Ease of contact was also a factor in invites, I have to say. Those with email addresses on their blogs were more likely to get an invite than those without, and I filled in some “contact me” forms as well. If the only method of contact was to leave a comment on a post, then I didn’t pass along an invitation for the sole reason that the W&C wasn’t a public event, and I didn’t want the information out there for all to see.

    As for not sending out the invite over the Breakfast list, it was simply a matter of knowing who (and how many) people were invited. While I completely respect the privacy of the list, I hope others can respect our need to know who may possibly be attending.

    A perfect system? Far from it, but we’re slowly growing the W&C, and hope to turn it into an annual event. Any suggestions or comments for future years are more than welcome.

    – p

    PS – and you are correct XUP, the budget was not large at all. We invited 30 total – 25 local bloggers plus our 5 performers.

  8. As the creator/performer of No Exit Upstage, uh, thanks for letting me know! Though I am amused that really old seems to be people in their 30s. :p

  9. Milan – I think if I were doing PR for the festival, I would forgo the wine and cheese and just offer as many Ottawa bloggers as possible comp tickets to maybe half a dozen shows each. That way only the ones who are interested in seeing the shows would involve themselves and most of those would, hopefully do a little write-up on some.

    Patrick – Thanks for the comment. You didn’t need to explain your reasoning – it makes perfect sense. The wine & cheese is a very nice gesture and I hope we can do it justice and get you a good return. As I said to Milan, though, we’d do it for a couple of free tickets, too.

    Nancy – They’re 16. Everyone over 25 is ancient to them. They’re also not the most articulate critics in the world. And “okay” is actually quite a compliment coming from them!