I know, it's been forever. The hourglass that was the 2010 Edmonton Fringe Festival spilled itself out, marking the end of summer. I drove home, in a fun way, and immediately jumped into a new and engrossing job.
I'm not going to blog about the job - not that it's anything top secret, nor even second-rung secret - I just feel that it's professional to keep it out of here. I'm teaching, and my students know how to use a computer really really well. Gord knows I didn't when I was their age... which was before they were born. By quite a bit. Um... whoa.
In other, completely unrelated news, my back hurts all the time and I'm increasingly resistant to change.
But I promised to blog this whole summer with you - and in fact I intend to keep this blog going beyond the Fringe summer, for once - but that is going to entail quite a bit of remembering of things that seem like they happened a year ago, even though the front of my station wagon is still covered in fluids that insects would prefer to keep on their inside. I'm likely to have lost all the on-the-spot insights on the drive home, and all I might be left with are the hardened witty quips used in brief recountings of the summer for semi-interested Torontonians. It's a risk we're going to have to take - together. This has happened before: like when I didn't blog in Scotland for about 3 months, and then probably made a bunch of sheep stories up to satisfy my voracious readers back home, and then believed my own stories enough to make a play out of them. And it will happen again. I'll be writing my novel in my 70s, my will on my deathbed, and my memoirs in the Beyond.
Let's start with Edmonton! And let's be honest. Edmonton Fringe wasn't what it could have been - but it was something that was okay. I never sold out my little 90-seater. I discovered that no one remembered The Fugue Code (a semi-hit in 2007), but some people remembered WOOL, but thought it was from one or two summers ago instead of four. No one remembered Barry Smith (at first), who has had two previous hits there, one of which was brought back for the regular season! The Edmonton Fringe-going public, to put it nicely, seems to live in the moment. Which is great in its own way, I suppose. But as I discovered when my unsympathetic Edmonton Journal review came out, they still on the whole treat the Journal star system (i.e. 1 to 5 stars) as a kind of scientific data set. And let's face it, the other reviews have basically no weight, rightly or wrongly. When my Journal review went to print, my sales literally stopped. I know this because (as I mentioned in past entries) you can check the progress of your sales in Edmonton as often as you can refresh the page. It was disappointing - and it's not about the money. People wanted to come because they'd made up their mind. And then they handed their mind over to someone else, and no longer wanted to come. Perhaps they cheated themselves out of seeing something they really would have enjoyed. Perhaps they saw something lame and dumb (they're out there, lots of 'em) instead, and loved it, because they were supposed to. Of course, this isn't everyone - but it's enough people to make me not necessarily be that excited about returning to Edmonton Fringe, while one reviewer can still hold that much power.
So, unfortunately there were quite a few times during Edmonton Fringe where wished I had stayed home to get ahead on work for the fall. Despite my best intentions, I can't get anything done during Fringe tours. Nothing! I've been trying for 5 years. I become so obsessed with getting people to come to the show that that's all I can think about. This summer I thought I turned the corner when I realised that I have a limited tolerance for flyering, but then I would just sit around and silently wish that people would buy tickets, which generally doesn't work. Martin Dockery pulled me aside and basically tried to stage an intervention. It half-worked, in that I stopped feeling personally cheated by my Journal review. Of course, Martin sold out his 175-seat venue for the entire run (and deservedly so), so he didn't have to worry about flyering so much at all.
So when people ask me how my summer was I usually say it was great, annoying, okay, terrible and fantastic. What was fantastic? I met Martin Dockery! And hung (hanged?) with Carly Tarrett! And Jeff Culbert! And Miss Hiccup! And the Turtle Boy, and other real-seeming people with amazing shows. This summer was all about the people - and the prairies. I've been wearing my "I [heart] SK" shirt with pride. My friend, whose initials happen to be S.K., was taken aback.
Also wonderful: the library venue in Edmonton, the two Ginas running lights/sound/love there, and the wonderful David Cheoros organizing it all. I'd perform again there in a heartbeat.
The weirdest thing of the summer happened in Edmonton too, when all the B.C. forest fire smoke descended on the city without warning for the last four days of Fringe. I actually wore a mask during the worst of it, until I decided I looked stupid because no one else was. Like anyone, I'd rather fit in than avoid having to cough all that stuff back up and possibly increase my chances of lung cancer. The Thursday was the worst: the sun was a red disk that you could look at comfortably with the naked eye - though I was smart enough not to stare. The sky itself was Martian. Take a look at this:
Gord Janet! I've got to change the title of this blog post again! This is the second one I've called "Written in Stone", with the intention of actually recounting the rest of my camping trip across the Prairies (including Writing-on-Stone park). I will do this SOON. There are photos to remind me of what might have actually happened, and barring that I'll make some stories up.