Ken Leighton 11 a.m., May 20
SD Fringe Festival logistics
The world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival showcases acts from around the world: dance, theater, music, circus acts, even work outside the avant garde box. The festival lasts 25 days.
In 2012, it boasted 2695 shows from 47 countries in 279 venues, along with ongoing street performances — "buskers" — on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
That's right: two thousand, six hundred, ninety-five shows, in the final three weeks of August.
I've been to the Fringe and it's amazing. Bottle that energy and the world would never need another drop of oil. Tourists clog the streets — wide- and/or bleary-eyed (the latter also known as the "fringe coma," the result of seeing six or 10 acts a day).
Performers advertise their work with matchbooks, flyers, or balloons. I saw shows in tents, garages, a pool hall (they called it "snooker"), even a hole in the ground. Word had it that living rooms, a taxi, and a public toilet were also temporary stages.
Somehow, thanks to inconceivable logistics, every act had a space and times to perform, including building and taking down the set. And performances ran, it seemed, around the clock.
You received a booklet, a good inch thick, listing every act but in print so fine it was almost unreadable. The question became, since there could be as many as 20 or more shows each hour, which to choose?
From the beginning, the founders wanted the festival to be "un-juried." That is: no pre-selection committee. Organizers would provide a venue, scheduling, ticket services, marketing, and general publicity.
But each entrant was/is on its own.
To this day all the king's newspapers and arts writers can't cover the entire festival. Performers pray for a four-star notice in The Scotsman, the city's leading daily. But many of its stringers, hired just for the event, would rather show off than review: display their wit, or sidetrack you with trivia. Few describe what people need to know: what the piece is about and if it's worth seeing.
San Diego's first ever Fringe Festival begins next week. It runs from July 1 to July 7 and offers a potpourri of the arts: Buskers (street acts) at Seaport Village: dance, drama, music, and hybrid genres. Most acts will run only three days, from Friday the 5th through Sunday the 7th, from 11:00 a.m. to midnight. Performances last about an hour.
In effect, that's four or five shows, at four or five locales, during each time slot, which makes complete media coverage impossible (the weeklies will also be writing about three openings at the Old Globe and one at the La Jolla Playhouse, along with other theatrical productions).
Here's where you come in.
If you see something you want to recommend, especially on Friday the 5th (since that will alert people for Saturday and Sunday), do it at once! Tweet, Facebook, text, cell (or even rotary) phone, bull-horn, Vulcan mind-meld — whatever.
The key for prospective patrons is word of mouth — rapid word of mouth — since the festival will come and go in a heartbeat.
For a complete list of shows: sdfringe.org (click on tickets). Or the Reader's theater guide.