Posters! Plays! Pints! The madness begins July 2.
Between us we have over 40 years of full-time Fringing, so we know how to get the most out of Toronto's biggest theatre festival. Here are some tips we've learned over the years. And remember to bookmark nowtoronto.com/fringe for up-to-the-minute reviews and stories.
New this year, all tickets can be bought in advance, unlike in past years, when half the tickets were held at the door. That means it's best to plan and buy early, especially for those small venues and limited-seating site-specific shows that will likely sell out quickly. (The program guide lists the number of seats in each venue.)
Fringe Club buzz
And how do you find out what shows are gonna sell out? By checking our reviews and previews, of course (see Pay Attention NOW, below), and also by hanging out at the festival's hub, where you can share notes, pick up a flyer or three and listen to spiels by artists. And if you're an aspiring Fringe artist yourself, be sure to catch a Tent Talk to get behind-the-scenes info on everything from fundraising to skills trading.
The fest's official Twitter handle is @Toronto_Fringe and the hashtag is #FringeTO. Be sure to also follow our review team, which includes @glennsumi, @jordanbimm and @somanydreams. New from the fest this year is the Toronto Fringe App, which you can download here. Let's hope that means scheduling will be a breeze.
Location, location, location
Be prepared to travel around town to see what you want unless your idea of doing the Fringe is to settle in one venue or area for the day. Keep in mind that the Factory Theatre isn't a main venue this year, so you can't do the Factory/Passe Muraille trade-off this time (although there are several site-specific shows happening along Queen West). If you're seeing several shows in a day, take the TTC (maybe invest in a day or week pass), cycle or use Bike Share. Or leave enough time to walk between venues.
On a related note, be sure to check out the running times of the shows you want to see (listed in the Fringe program, and usually accurate, though often the time's given before a show is set). There's nothing more frustrating than finding you're in a 90-minute show at the Tarragon instead of the hour you thought you'd booked, and having to get to Passe Muraille Backspace (where lining up early is always advisable) in 15 minutes.
Keep your cool
Keep hydrated if the day is hot, and - silly as it sounds - take a coat for some venues. St. Vladimir's Theatre, for example, can be downright arctic (they often hand out blankets), and some seats in the Passe Muraille Backspace are right up against the air conditioner.
Pay attention NOW
Check out our Fringe pullout in next week's paper, with previews of shows and suggestions of some of the festival's potential hot tix. And we'll be reviewing productions online as of July 3, along with providing daily updates and reports, so check back at nowtoronto.com/fringe on a regular basis to see what's worth catching and what's not.
The Fringe opens Wednesday (July 2) and runs to July 13 at various locations. 416-966-1062, fringetoronto.com.