Fringe Day 0: Let the games begin

Fringe Day 0: Let the games begin
Image courtesy Minnesota Fringe Festival

A year of planning, plus months (or weeks) of full-speed writing and rehearsing have all come down to this: 11 days, 16 venues, and 176 productions spread throughout Minneapolis.

The 20th Minnesota Fringe Festival is upon us, bringing a fresh crop of experimental shows, crowd-pleasing comedies, newcomers who want to give this whole "theater" thing a try, and bits and pieces that defy any kind of category.

Related stories:
Fringe Festival 2013: Critics' Pics

I'll be blogging here throughout the festival, relaying my thoughts, opinions, observations, and whatnot as I join the throngs of folks making plans, tossing those plans aside when we hear about an exciting fresh show, and generally overdosing on theater for the next week and a half.

Though it is good to be flexible and ready to take in something because it just looks cool, it is also important to be like a Boy Scout at the Fringe. Preparation ranges from making reservations for sure-to-be-hot tickets ahead of time so you aren't left on the outside looking in, say at perennial favorite Joseph Scrimshaw's entry this year -- which will be presented in the tiny University of Minnesota Rarig Center's Xperimental Theater.

Knowing your geography is also important. There are four rough clusters of theaters in the festival: along Lyndale Avenue near Uptown, in the Loring Park area, downtown on Hennepin Avenue, and the West Bank area -- which stretches from the Southern and Theatre in the Round at Seven Corners all the way to the Playwrights' Center on 23rd and East Franklin.

There is half an hour between each Fringe performance and there is no late seating, so making a go between two theaters on opposite sides of town can be a problem. Often, it's not a bad idea to select an area and camp out there for the afternoon or evening. The number of stages in any of the clusters provides a real variety of things to see.

Waiting in lines is a part of the Fringe. There is a line to buy tickets (or redeem multi-passes) and then a line to get into the theater. For popular shows at the bigger venues, this means the line often snakes out of the lobby and onto the street. Again, be like a Boy Scout and prepare for the weather.

And what can you do in line? Well, you are surrounded by a bevy of folks who share your interests. It's a perfect time to swap stories and recommendations for favorite shows. Often times, it is the conversations in these lines that spark a Fringe hit.

If you are feeling antisocial, you can plan the rest of your Fringe day, or consult the Fringe web site for upcoming shows or reviews, or gawk at the critics and bloggers putting the finishing touches on the review for the last show they saw in the few minutes in line waiting for the next one to start.

It's all in a day at the Fringe.

20th Minnesota Fringe Festival
Various locations around Minneapolis
Thursday-Aug. 11
$12 for a single ticket; various multi-passes available. $4 festival button also required.
For information, visit online.

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