They're off and running - the 140 shows in this year's Fringe festival, that is. And while not all of them start tonight, which marks the official opening of the fest, most will be in performance by the weekend.
If you're an inveterate Fringer like me, you'll also be bustling around, catching as many shows as you can during the 12-day festival, which runs through Sunday, July 15.
During the festival, we at NOW are offering as much advice as we can, both online and in print, about which shows to see, with online reviews, some word-of-mouth buzz about others that we've not yet caught and general festival gossip. Check in regularly for updates.
And here's one: the production of Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full Of Cotton, which was to play at the Tarragon Extra Space, has been cancelled. No word yet on whether the Fringe will offer the company's slots (too late for tonight's opening show) to other troupes in the venue.
The Fringe is one of the most affordable of theatre experiences, with no ticket costing more than $10. But if you're feeling especially strapped - like no money at all - you still have some Fringe possibilities.
Late Nite at the Fringe with Monkey Toast runs every night except Sunday, with guest interviews of Fringe performers by David Shore and nightly improv comedy from such talented folks as Lisa Merchant, Jack Mosshammer, Jen Goodhue, Herbie Barnes, Jan Caruana, Bruce Hunter, Ginette Mohr and Naomi Snieckus. 10 pm at the Fringe Club (aka the Tranzac, 292 Brunswick).
You might get inspired to see other shows in the Fringe after Shore's chats with different companies, and if you don't have the cash, here's a suggestion. The Fringe is always looking for volunteers, and for every four-hour shift you work, you get a pass for a Fringe show. For more info, check out fringetoronto.com or call 416-966-1062.
And if you're free at 7 pm tonight (Wednesday), you can get in on the ground floor of the creative process by attending the weird and wonderful 24-Hour Playwriting Contest, also held in the Fringe Club. Some 60 applicants (already chosen) will be given a list of items they have to include in a new play; the fun part is that they have only 24 hours to script it and get the play back to the Fringe. Once a winner's been chosen, a creative team of director and performers goes into triple-time to rehearse the piece. That show gets a free staging - see? it's not hard to do part of the Fringe on a reduced budget - the last night of the festival (July 15), 9:30 pm.