On the Fringe(s) Again
PLANK Magazine went live at the end of last May as an initiative supported by the Magnetic North Theatre Festival which was held in Vancouver in 2008. We are now moving (with alarming speed) through our first cycle of Festivals we covered in our first year and to which we are now returning. No single festival had more of an impact on the growth of PLANK than our involvement with the 2008 Vancouver International Fringe Festival. It was a partnership arrangement suggested by Simon Ogden to whom we owe a heartfelt thanks.
Last year, we flooded the Festival with a team of 12 reviewers with the goal of reviewing every show by the end of the first weekend. We fell just slightly short of our target, undone by a couple of remote venues (well, remote by the standards of the Main Street/Commercial Drive axis that most of our team inhabits). Just prior to our Vancouver Fringe adventure a smaller – but still well formed – team of reviewers tackled the Victoria Fringe on our behalf.
Well, guess what? We’re back for more. This year we will be extensively covering the Victoria Fringe with a team of 13 reviewers co-ordinated in partnership with Monday Magazine. We will also be sponsoring the new Buzz of the Fringe Award, which will be given out a special breakfast award ceremony on September 5th in Victoria
We are also sponsoring a similar award in Vancouver, the Talk of the Fringe Award. As with its Victoria counterpart, this award will recognize the show which created the most online and in person buzz during the Festival. The winner of the Vancouver award will receive – in addition to a beautiful trophy – a $500 print credit from Industry Images and a $500 credit from the amazing Michael Sider Video. Getting the word out about your show is vital to success at the Fringe and it’s appropriate that PLANK – an initiative designed to create dialogue – should be the sponsor of these two awards.
Another innovation this year at the Vancouver Fringe is PLANK Club. The rules of PLANK Club are simple: see the shows, debate what you saw, share your opinions. The Club will happen at the St. Ambroise Fringe Bar at Agro Café on September 15 (at 7:00 pm), 17 (at 7:00 pm) and 19 (at 5:00 pm). Come analyze the pearls or potatoes you see and hear what others have to say. Strong opinions will be encouraged. It’s also your chance to meet members of PLANK in person: which may or may not be a reason to drop by. It should be fun.
On a personal level, one of the more intriguing outcomes of our participation last year’s Fringe is that my old adversary, Alex Ferguson, and I will be both producing work at this year’s Vancouver Fringe. Alex’s creation is called Twice the Same River, while mine is Biographies of the Dead and Dying. I can’t speak for Alex, but my involvement in the Festival last year re-energized my belief in the potential of the Fringe to act as a place for experimentation and risk-taking. Our involvement does mean that Alex and I won’t be available to review shows this year – which may be a relief to some of you. On the other hand, we will be exposing ourselves to your opinions, wrath, anger and – hopefully – love.
And that brings me to the final point: you, the readers. Last year’s Fringe experience was a total blast at PLANK. Probably the biggest, single reason was the involvement of our readers who took the comments section by storm. Please feel free to do it again – in both Victoria and Vancouver. Don’t like an opinion of one of our reviewers? Let us know. Have we praised something you thought was rubbish? Have at ‘er.
The tagline for the Vancouver Fringe is Theatre for Everyone. We’d like to poach that concept if we may. PLANK is for everyone. Opinion is free. And so is comment on PLANK. Exercise your god-given right to express yourself and have a great Festival – whether in Vancouver or Victoria.