A Librarian’s Approach to the 2013 Indy Fringe Theatre Festival

(Update 8/26/13 – I saw twenty-seven IndyFringe shows this year at $10 each.  I got into Stewart Huff’s sold-out show because someone didn’t pick up their pre-paid ticket.  The volunteer at the box office told me as he took my ten dollar bill that he wasn’t allowed to sell over the established ticket limit so he would put my $10 for that show into the Fringe’s building fund and give me a donator’s button instead of a ticket.  No offense to the Fringe, but I would rather that $10 had gone to Stewart.  However, I didn’t see a way to argue effectively about it and the show was about to start and I wanted in, so I said okay.  I bought Stewart’s $10 CD after the show, but that was also just because I wanted it.  I saw one of the shows a second time – $10 more dollars.  I also bought two backer buttons at $5 each.  Oh!  And I also gave $5 to a busker (artist performing on the street.)  All in all, not counting refreshments, gasoline for 10 round trips between my home in Carmel and the Fringe neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis, and the occasional parking meter fee, I spent $305 on Fringe-ing this year.

It was worth every dollar.

Below I have added my thoughts on the twenty-seven shows I saw.  There were at least fifteen other shows I wanted very much to see.  Such is life.

To everyone that made Fringe13 such a pleasure this year:  Thank you!)

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2013 is the ninth year of the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival here in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I have been attending and writing about IndyFringe shows since 2007, so this will be my seventh year of Fringe-ing.  I have seen over 150 IndyFringe shows so far, some of them twice.

There are many right ways to Fringe.

One way is to do what my friend Robby Slaughter (@RobbySlaughter) does and just find a place to park, look around for a theatre, and see whatever show is running next at that theatre.   He’s seen a few duds over the years, but he’s seen more treasures.  And a lot of them were shows he probably wouldn’t have chosen if he had read about them ahead of time.

Another way is to do what my friend, Twitter buddy (and a Twitter critic of Indy Fringe shows and other events) Heather Sokol (@JustHeather), does: Invite a friend to go with you to the Fringe and then make them pick what show you’ll see.  She calls it the “Let Your Date Pick Method.”

Another way is to do what my friend, actor Adam Crowe does: See one show where you know someone in it, and one show where you don’t.

I earn my living as a readers’ advisory librarian so my instincts are to:

First make one big list of the shows in some kind of order so that individual shows are easy to find again.  Fortunately, the Indy Fringe Festival staff  have already created a “Fringe13 A to Z” directory on their website.

Then put the shows into groups based on their appeal factors, if I know them, or at least by type of show.  Librarians are always creating lists to help patrons find books that will be a good fit for them.  “If you liked The Hunger Games, try these other books…” and so on.  We talk about quality in the reviews we write, and sometimes we form committees to identify the “best” books of the year, but in our day-to-day work with patrons (customers), we try not to judge books or people.  We’re human, and we do have opinions of our own, but when we’re on the job,  “best” means “best for YOU in this moment.”

Recreational reading, like theatre-going, is a very personal thing.

Below are some groupings (in alphabetical order, of course) that occurred to me as I went through the whole “Fringe13 A to Z” list.

As your self-appointed “theatre advisory librarian,” I hope this is helpful to you.

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