Fuck you, Victoria Fringe organizers. Actually, you are generally nice people, and kudos on organizing such a great Fringe. But you’ve hit this performer where it hurts: his house, and he’s upset.
For my other readers, let me give you some context:
So here I am, doing my show, and other than a disappointing opening night, am actually getting better houses than I did in Edmonton.
Two days before my fifth show, the Fringe announces that they’ll be running a fundraiser in order to help manage some of the financial problems caused by last-minute pulled funding. Totally cool. I’m down with that. Performer and Fringe superstar Chris Gibbs generously offers to do a benefit performance of his show, Gibberish, at $20 a head with proceeds going to the Fringe. Super! Great idea! Pats on the back all around.
Except that they slot this show in on Saturday at 8:00pm. There are other Fringe shows on during that time, including mine, which is 60 minutes long and starts at 7:15. I don’t think I need to say that this is considered a ‘prime time’ slot, and as such should be one of my better-attended shows.
Oh, did I mention that for two days, every single house manager was plugging the show to every single Fringe audience? My house manager even plugged it to my Saturday audience, even though there was no way for them to make it at that point! It was just salt in the wound.
Wound? What wound?
I went from audiences of around 30 people (even at my late shows) to an audience of 9 on that Saturday night. Other performers reported audiences being halved for their shows between 7:00 and 9:30 that evening.
I gave a pretty good performance, but an audience of 9 doesn’t have the critical mass needed to feed the fire, and the house was absolutely silent. After working so hard flyering and schmoozing to build the audiences even to a modest 30, it was a huge, deflating, letdown.
Look, we know when we join the Fringe that we are competing against the other shows and performers. But even my performance that was up against Martin Dockery’s juggernaut Wanderlust had 30-something people in the house. The point is that the fundraiser had an important advantage that the other shows didn’t have: they had the house managers pushing it, and pushing it hard!
I think it’s obvious that I have no problem with the Fringe running fundraisers, but we performers paid money to be in this festival, and we had no idea that the Fringe itself would counterprogram us. I think what they did was incredibly unfair and was essentially raising money for the Fringe at the expense of a number of Fringe performers.
I heard some grumbling from some of the other Fringe Artists, but I’m not sure if anyone complained officially. I will certainly be complaining when I get back to Japan: this was a douchy thing to do. If any other Vic Fringe artists are reading this, please let me know, either via comments or a direct message/email, if you will also be complaining. I think a relatively large number of us were affected, and a complaint endorsed by all of us (maybe even copied to the CAFF) would be more effective than a lone curmudgeon complaining on his own.