Following Fringe’s First Weekend, I Recommend Everything
BY MILES FORRESTER
As I was leaving the Factory Theatre after seeing Between Root and Bloom, someone behind me said how refreshing it was. It was two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, and the sun was beating straight down on a shadowless Adelaide. The music was beautiful, but also there was air conditioning.
Going off of something that I noted in Between Root and Bloom: the contract between the performers and the audience. The beginning of a performance sets the terms for how we move through this sequestered moment in the world. In the case of this journal, that “first performance” is the thing I wrote six entries ago. That's the deal I made between me — as the reviewer I wanted to be for this — and the reader, being you. Fringe is behind me, and I can't say that I saw what I anticipated I'd see, which is as definitive as I’ll get about it now.
Fringe is nowhere near done. There's time to see way more than I have. What are you waiting for? Toronto in ruins? Toronto doesn't have time for ruins; it keeps building new, sometimes ugly things. Do you know where I am right now? Belleville, Ontario: a small city where I was born, where my parents live and need me to help out sometimes. Do you know what Belleville, Ontario, doesn't have? A Fringe Festival!
What can I say I saw at Fringe, aside from beautiful contemporary dance pieces I'd been waiting three years to see again live? I saw dedicated staff who answered complicated emails faster than I ever could. I saw volunteers: wonderful people sitting in this horrible heat I'd been swimming through, giving tickets to strangers, and asking for tips from people who got complimentary tickets, like me. And these aren't tips for them. They're tips for us. Those tips are so that there will be a budget for this for the next year — those tips are for children. All the actual ticket sales go to the artists, memorising lines and throwing themselves on the stage, over and over again, for us.
And I saw an outlier. The Garden of Alla wasn't a dance piece; it was a play I selected because I guessed it would be more about the Salomé who danced the "dance of the seven veils'' than what it was, which was wonderful. I was wrong, and the play was all the better for it, even if it foiled what would have been an easier thesis for me to write from. If I have a suggestion for anyone who can see something for this last week of Fringe, it's to go afield from the thing you came to see. Either roam, truly roam, or stay in place and see the next thing that takes the stage.