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Ten ways to show Edmonton who's boss

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C’MON, Winnipeg.

Where’s your competitive spirit?

Isn't it time we took away Edmonton's smug bragging rights as North America's largest fringe? Though we beat them once, in 2004, we've ranked second ever since. Last year, Edmonton's ticketed attendance at indoor shows was 104,142. Ours was 87,851.

With this being the 25th Winnipeg fringe, it's time to kick Alberta butt. Here are 10 ways we can boost ticket sales to a level Edmonton can't hope to top when its 2012 fest rolls out in August:

1. If you're a fringe veteran, initiate a fringe virgin -- perhaps an out-of-town visitor or a sedate suburbanite. Take 'em by the hand, lead 'em down to the site, pick a show with a good pedigree and ease 'em into the experience. Finish with a trip to the beer tent.

2. If you're a first-timer on your own, for God's sake don't wander down to Old Market Square without a printed program. Invest $5 in this essential bible and read everything you need to know about how ticket sales and venue admissions work. We need you buying tickets, not standing around looking perplexed.

3. If you're already a hardcore fringer, squeeze in one or two more shows than usual. How about calling in sick and catching daytime shows? Isn't it worth it to humiliate Edmonton? More than 70 performances are yellow-highlighted in the printed program as two-tickets-for-$10 deals. More will be announced on the Fringe website.

4. Take advantage of goofy bargains listed with the ticket info for some shows, and you'll be able to afford an extra show with the savings. For instance, wearing a CFL jersey to RiderGirl will get you a $2 discount. People named Ernest save on admission to The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine. Wear a toga and save $2 at Almost an Evening. Dialysis patients get $2 off Social Dialysis. "Angry mothers-in-law" save $2 on Cupid and Psyche.

5. Treat your retired parents to a show. Many people don't realize seniors make up a large segment of the fringe crowd. Kenneth Brown's Minding Dad, Randy Rutherford's The Water is Wide, Vern Thiessen's Back to Berlin or The Courier and a wartime show called More Power to Your Knitting, Nell! should be good choices for mature fringers. Knitters are encouraged to bring their needles and knit along at the latter show.

6. Have you avoided the fringe because you hate parking in the Exchange? Well, you can avoid the Exchange altogether by choosing shows at The Forks (MTYP's Shaw Performing Arts Centre), the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the University of Winnipeg's Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, Prairie Theatre Exchange (mainstage or Colin Jackson Studio) or the Gas Station Theatre.

7. If you belong to a club -- such as a book or bridge club -- why not organize your group to see a show together? If those Red Hat Society ladies love it, so will your gang. Book clubs might want to try the show Bookworm or language-loving performance poet Jem Rolls.

8. If you've got young children, round up a group of parents and kids to attend a kids' show (all kids' tickets are $5). There are seven productions to choose from at the kids' venue. Make an afternoon of it by also visiting the craft, discovery and storytelling tents and watching family-friendly entertainment on the Cube stage.

9. Teenagers love the nightly D 'n' D Improv show even if they've never played Dungeons 'n' Dragons (advance tickets are recommended, as the show is wildly popular). There's also Jumpman Bros. Enter 8 bit Underland, billed as "a must-see for classic gamers." Fresher, the Musical, about the lives of first-year university students, looks like a great choice to share with your teen or college-age offspring.

10. Teachers, we’re issuing a special challenge to you. You get the summer off, so you can’t use work as an excuse to be a fringe weenie. Get together with your teacher buddies and take in Teacher in the House by Susan Jeremy, Kuwaiti Moonshine (about teaching in Kuwait) or Teaching Hamlet by fringe veteran Keir Cutler.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2012 E10

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