The first rule of Toronto’s Fringe theatre festival is not to follow any
The notion of there being a “proper” way to “do” Fringe is odd, right? Here’s a festival dedicated to independent and outside-the-box arts: how can you possibly have rules? Doesn’t that completely miss the point?
But the truth is that, yes: Fringe has rules. And not just rules about sex in the beer tent. There are unspoken rules: things we all do, patterns to our behaviour, assumptions we all make.
And some of these unspoken rules are very, very silly.
Rule 1: Stand in line to get a good seat.
If there’s one thing people know about optimal Fringe technique, it’s the importance of standing in line. Do you want to get a bad seat? Of course not: so get there early, and stay put!
This advice is completely, completely wrong.
A typical Fringe venue might seat 30 people. In a venue that small, there aren’t any bad seats. In fact, if you can keep a secret, the best seats for most Fringe shows are right down in the very front row–and people usually avoid them like the plague!
So why are you standing around in the sun? You’re in the Annex! The neighbourhood’s bursting at the seams with book stores, art galleries, coffee shops, neat little parks, discount stores, and pleasant, leafy streets which are just perfect for idle wandering.
You might need to wait in a line to get a ticket. And Fringe never seats latecomers, so you absolutely must be back at the venue a few minutes before the curtain. But once you’ve got your ticket, go explore! Go taste! Go read, go gaze, go walk, go do literally anything but stand around waiting for the doors to open. You’ll thank yourself later.