Evan Webber's Fringe Wrap-up

So I posed myself this question, ‘What do people like?’ And gave myself the duration of the Fringe festival to answer it. After seeing a lot of Fringe shows there’s a pretty quick and easy list to throw together: hockey fans, beer drinking, waving prairie grasses, (all Canadiana must be lovingly held up and then skewered ironically); Torontonian up-tightness; other Fringe plays; otherness, generally; love stories; marriage stories; bartenders. So why am I optimistic?
Yes, these tropes can seem a little worn down, but like the very same bartender they are also only one part of a more elemental (and after seeing so many plays, necessary) transaction. So what leaves me feeling optimistic about the Fringe, and maybe even about theatre, has not so much to do with the kind of stories that I heard told or represented or shouted or sung. It has to do with the way that those stories were told, that is, in a profusion of forms.

From this angle, what people like (and what I like too) are performances in which the ambition to communicate is desperate and huge, shows that ask a lot. Shows that, even when skillfully executed, are precarious under the burden of huge imaginations. I think this is true because many of the best shows I saw were just celebrations of the signs of the need to communicate, big wrangles like Lupe: Undone or Die Roten Punkte – SUPER MUSIKANT (which was good in the theatre, but even better when the performers tried to sell their merch outside).

My Fringe-related optimism stems from the generosity of imagination that audiences demanded, which reflects an unmistakable desire to communicate – to learn something, but also to say something back. It might go a little like this: imagine big, performers, and ask much of us watchers and listeners, because the imagination that we demand of each other is what will make communication possible.

1 comment:

Ian Mackenzie said...

". . . what people like (and what I like too) are performances in which the ambition to communicate is desperate and huge, shows that ask a lot."

Brilliant!