Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Extreme Fringers

You’ve seen them frantically dashing from show to show. Here’s what makes them tick

  • Print

STAND back! Those crazy people you see literally running through Old Market Square are "extreme Fringers" — people who see up to 50 plays at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 12 days or less.

Some are armed with four or five Frequent Fringer (10 shows for $79) packets or buddy passes (14 shows between two people for $109). Others are just crazy folk who love the rush of competing for tickets at the door and hanging out in the ticket line for show gossip.

"Once we hit 30 shows, we will be drooling, snaky, twitching!" says CKUW radio show host Ron Robinson, who’d just gotten off the air and was meeting his wife, Carol McKibbon, for a series of shows. The festival runs noon to midnight until July 29.

Robinson compares extreme Fringing to a drug addiction.

"The first year we dabbled, but by the next year, Carol and I were hooked." Now the couple starts at Christmas, buying Fringe passes as gifts. "Carol gave me a buddy pass this Christmas. You can just feel the summer in it," he says, rubbing his fingers together. "It vibrates in your hand." Carol rolls her eyes

What’s the big appeal? "It’s a critical mass — plays, food, chat, shop, stroll. It’s magic," says Robinson. While he savours the excitement, McKibbon has a method for getting the most out of the Fringe Festival.

"First, I mark off the times I’m not available. Then I mark the real possibilities." Only then does she read the little blurbs about ones she can see. The couple collects all the newspaper pullouts from the previous year to check out reviews of returning shows.

Trucker Darryl Harkness, who never went to plays before he got dragged to the Fringe in 1995, will see 40 to 50 in the 12 days of this festival. "I didn’t know what to expect at the first one 13 years ago, but when I walked out I was just awed."

He says his tastes have changed over the years. "Now I like some of the serious shows. I don’t care for the improvs anymore because I’ve seen so many, but I find the musicals are always good."

The Fringe experience turned Harkness on to theatre of all kinds in Winnipeg, opening up his world. Now he can be found at theatre venues such as the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Prairie Theatre Exchange and Celebrations all year.

And he has advice for people who might be curious, but don’t have anyone to accompany them. "Just go by yourself.

Everyone has different tastes."

Aldo Furlan, 47, a nursery school teacher and a Fringe enthusiast of 12 years standing, often flies solo by choice. "You meet people in the lineups and start talking and you see the same people year after year. He suggests newbies see guaranteed comedy successes. "I tell them to start by seeing Crumbs, Improvision and Hot Thespian Action."

Furlan loves the Fringe because "you see a lot of concentrated talent from around the world." And he doesn’t care if a show looks like a risk. "A lot of it is a gamble, but at eight to 10 bucks a show, it’s worth it." Furlan says he’s tried to take friends with him, "but then you have to deal with, ‘Oh I don’t feel like seeing this one or that one.’ " For the last seven years, he’s been a volunteer, so he has had to cut back from seeing more than 40 shows per year.

"This year I’ll get to about 20, I hope."

His best advice for people who’ve never been to the Fringe? "Go on your own. You’ll meet buddies there."

You never know what will happen out there in Fringe World.

"It’s like that first cigarette on the playground," laughs Robinson, drifting off to yet another strange and unique Fringe Fest show. "By the next year you’re hooked and going to everything. Then it’s all a haze, just a haze."

 

Maureen can be found jammed up against the ice-cold air conditioning at multiple Fringe Fest shows this week.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Your cheapskate questions

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Ads by Google