(Design by Cody Rishell.)
I'm not sure quite what happened with my review of this year's Fringe festival, but I loved writing it and I'm proud of it.
I guess I'd been thinking about some comments I've received about this blog lately; a couple of readers have told me they appreciate how personal it is, one going so far as to suggest I write my reviews for the Weekly in a similar voice. In that spirit, I sat down late at night and free wrote -- the approach I usually take on this site -- and out came sentences like this:
Asking these questions is what seeing the Fringe is really about: probing the dark underbelly of theater, understanding its mysterious digestive processes, and predicting which of its numerous lumps will sprout into plump, pulpy growths.
I decided to see and review nine Fringe shows this year. In previous years I've only gone to one or two, and I thought it was high time the Weekly expanded its coverage of the most democratic indie theater event in town.
If I didn't love all the theater, I consistently loved the theatergoing. The Fringe has at least three time slots per day, with three to four shows to choose from in each, and in between each hour-long show there's a 30-minute break, which gives you time to talk to other audience members, asking them what they'd recommend you see (or stay away from). I'm pathologically shy, so I love being in a situation that encourages strangers to talk to each other, whether through the spirit of the event or because there's so much down time or because you see the same faces over and over again.
I spent so much time in the theater that it began to feel like a ritual, much more intensely than my usual theatergoing does. The small, half-filled black box theaters became very familiar and comfortable. I looked forward to going not because shows were special events to me but because I felt like I belonged inside; it was a relief to be there, doing what I was somehow "supposed" to be doing.
I hope I can cover just as much of the Fringe next year. Who knows, maybe someday I'll try to see every show in the festival! -- if that's even possible? This year there were 42 shows. Seeing all of them wouldn't just be ritualistic; that would be downright religious.
Occupy Fringe Theatre 2012 continues through Sept. 16; info here.