For my first ever Thursday Theatre Thoughts, I wanted to reflect on my experiences with the Toronto Fringe Festival this year. Not only because it was my first time attending Toronto Fringe, but also because it was my first time tackling such a huge undertaking as a reviewer. I had an absolute blast and I truly cannot wait for next year!
First, I want to thank the Fringe Festival’s staff and volunteers, you all made the Festival that much more enjoyable for everyone. Thank you for trusting me with writing about the Fringe and these amazing shows, it was a marvellous adventure. I had lovely chats with the volunteers both at the venues and at the Post Script Patio and Lounge; it’s always a delight to chat with like-minded folks. Everyone was kind and knowledgeable, and you could tell how passionate they are about theatre. Your hard work did not go unnoticed and made the whole experience that much better.
Reviewing the Fringe was a daunting task purely in terms of scheduling; with 100 shows at 10 venues all over the city, it’s a lot to work out. My main inhibitor to seeing as much of Fringe as humanly possible is that I have a day job. Working 9-5 (it’s okay if you sing it, I do) plus commute time left me rather short on Fringe time. I made the best of it though, making sure to take in at least one show per night. However, I still only managed to make it to 15 performances, whereas without the day job, I could have made it to many more. Next year, I’m thinking about taking Fringe off as part of my vacation time and making sure it stays totally open so that I can dive deep into Fringe and get to even more performances. Not that I think I’d be able to top someone like Derrick Chua (this year he reported seeing 66 shows!) but I’d love to experience even more than I was able to this year.
What I love about Fringe is the sheer variety of what is being put on. I tried to see something from every category in the Fringe Guide and it’s definitely worth it. With so many different genres on offer and so many plays in each one, Fringe does an amazing job of really making sure there’s something for everyone. I really enjoyed taking in a dance-based production, it wasn’t what I normally review but that made it all the more exciting! We also saw a musical about science, which you certainly don’t hear about every day. My partner picked that one for us to see together and it was a delight! It’s always a joy to watch the different productions and imagine how they might even develop past Fringe. It amazes me how something like Kim’s Convenience started out at the Toronto Fringe Festival, had a massively successful run at Soulpepper and now is a beloved TV show around the world! That’s the power of Fringe!
If you’ve never been to Fringe before and aren’t sure about going, PLEASE DO. It’s an accessible, affordable way to take in a lot of art in a short amount of time. With venues all over the city, there’s likely to be something close to where you are. You can buy tickets online ahead of time so that you can maximize your Fringe intake and tickets this year were only $14 each! The Fringe’s website is set up with everything you need to learn about the shows, so choosing one (or two or more!) to see is a breeze. If you didn’t make it this year, make sure to follow @Toronto_Fringe on social media for updates for next year.
Toronto Fringe Festival 2022 was a wonderful experience for me. Every night I’d come home and I’d be exhausted, but so very happy. Being tired from doing something that you love is still a million times more fulfilling than being tired from something you’re not enjoying. I love what I do, even if I still need a day job. Getting to lend my words and my voice to these amazing artists so that they can promote their shows is a true gift in my life. I really couldn’t ask for anything more! I truly cannot wait to see what’s in store for Fringe 2023; if this year is any indication, I’m in for many years of incredible productions.