I spent the first five days of the Fringe north of Bloor - geographic division of the festival is the only way to see as many shows as possible, without spending a lot of time running north, south, east and west around town.
If you've done any Fringing, you know about the Tip The Fringe spiel that house managers give before each show to raise money for the fest; of course, all box office proceeds go to the individual companies.
Probably the most enterprising fund-raising efforts at the north-of-Bloor venues is at the Royal St. George's Auditorium, where house managers Cheryl Izen and Debbie Read, like other house managers, hold out the plastic watering can for a donation; $5 gets you a Fringe button, so you won't be bugged by house managers at other performances, and $10 gets you a button and tax receipt. But Izen and Read also offer things for sale - used book, CDs, DVDs, lanyards of all sorts (collected, I imagine, during their various tenures as house managers at film and theatre festivals around the world), jewellery and other items.
And they love to entertain, too. On the first day of the fest, they had a boom box blaring show tunes from the 50s and 60s. A nice way to prepare for the theatre, even if your next show isn't a musical.
Smell The Flowers
I found myself making the 10-minute walk between the Tarragon and the Royal St. George a lot during the early part of the festival. If I needed a break from show after show after show - and, quite honestly, that kind of regular theatre-going isn't a problem for me as long as it's not too late at night - I certainly got it by looking at a lot of natural scenery instead of stage scenery (not that Fringe shows have a lot, but often something).
The flowers are great this time of year.
In those few short blocks, I saw day lilies (the most plentiful of the blooms), roses, hostas, pansies, impatiens, daisies, begonias, sweet peas, poppies, honeysuckle, clematis, hydrangea, hibiscus (an import, this, stuck into an urn), geraniums, a few late-blooming peonies (because they're still in the shade) and several dozen other flowers I can't name.
Horticultural heaven. Enjoy the flowers while you can.
And while I haven't yet been down in that area, I recall that the several houses next to the Glen Morris Theatre are also full of blossoms.
Don't miss Chris Craddock's Moving Along, an amazing solo show in which Craddock's character reveals a lot about his inner and outer life, not always intentionally. But Craddock doesn't only perform, he also runs the lights from the chair in which he sits, playing with several switches on either arm-rest to turn on, off or dim the lights on either side of and behind the chair.
At last Saturday's performance, I noticed about 20 minutes into the show that the light to his right hadn't been used for a while. A minute later he announced - without breaking the flow of his performance - that it had burned out and he was going ahead using the other lights.
Not only did he do that, he also adjusted the show - improvised, as it were - so that the other lights took the place of the missing fixture.
Incredible. Not only did the lines come out like machine-gun bullets, but the switch of lights couldn't have been smoother.
That's a real performance on several levels. But I'm sure that it's one Craddock hopes will never be repeated.