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Every fringe-goer gets his or her shorts in a twist over some aspect of the experience.

Here's a list of five beefs we'd like to see addressed in the next quarter-century:

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1. "Best of the Fest" is a misleading label for shows at the official venues that each get an extra performance because they've sold the most tickets. Too many companies subsequently use this designation to promote themselves, as if they've received a quality-based Winnipeg award. It's not about quality. It's about sales. The label should be Top Seller, Venue Best Seller or something else transparent.

2. The beer tent has lost its convivial, theatre-loving spirit since fringe management dropped the requirement that you had to show a program or ticket stub (or be in a show) to drink there. A program only costs $5, so it was never an onerous rule. But since it was ditched, the beer tent is overrun with heavy-drinking yahoos who don't go near indoor shows. Bring back the rule.

3. Too many shows are stretching to 75, 90 or 105 minutes. Hear this, showfolk: there's a reason "leave 'em wanting more" is an adage. One hour is the classic fringe-show length. We'll even take 45 strong minutes and have time for a bathroom break. Remember, your audience may have been to three or four other plays by the time they get to yours. Show some mercy.

4. If acts on the outdoor Cube stage are so amplified that they intrude on shows inside venues like the Rachel Browne Theatre, they're too loud. Ditto when conversation is nearly impossible in the beer tent. There's no good reason they have to be cranked up so high -- especially when, in past years, they have not necessarily represented the pinnacle of entertainment options.

Bands on the Cube stage, above, can be too loud.

Enlarge Image

Bands on the Cube stage, above, can be too loud. (PHOTOS BY LEIF NORMAN)

5. There's a trend among street performers to aggressively "suggest" that onlookers put "folding money" -- like, $20 bills -- in their hats. They come from out of town and complain that Winnipeggers don't understand how they earn a living. What the buskers don't understand is that Winnipeggers are offended by crass pressure tactics. Busking by definition means you try to please the crowd.

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

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