Fringe-For-All 1 and 2—Traffic lights

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by Matthew A. Everett • July 23, 2008 • There are warning lights at Fringe-For-All. The performers see them, and the audience sees them. And the audience holds the performers to them. With thirty acts to get through in a night, ya’ gotta keep things moving briskly along. Everyone get their fair shot. Everyone gets three minutes, and only three minutes – no matter how hard they try. The applause will drown you out. You are politely told you’re done and it’s time to leave – by a room full of people.

Green light – you’re in the safety zone, the first two and a half minutes of time

Yellow light – you’re winding down, or should be – the final 30 seconds

Red light – time’s up

Single White Fringe Geek (and Mom) is the blog of Matthew A. Everett, one of five bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.

I continue to be amazed by what artists can cram into three minutes. It doesn’t sound like a lot of time. But some artists can do some pretty impressive things with three minutes of stage time at Fringe-For-All. They make the most of that preview opportunity.

Some even do it in less. Some get out while the light’s still green (under two and a half minutes). Some get out while the light’s still yellow (in that final 30 second window). Some have it timed to the second and use that red light appearing as the button to the performance. Some just didn’t realize how quickly that three minutes flies.

Overall, according to my scribblings, of the 59 acts in the two nights of Fringe-For-All (last minute dropout kept it from being a perfect 60), 11 got out on the green (nicely done), 29 got out in the yellow (well-played), and 19 got the red light (some just squeaked out in time, some tried desperately to keep on playing, some graciously took the hint and retreated offstage).

(In the interests of full disclosure, the guys in my cast for the “Dog Tag” excerpt from the double bill with “The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” ended up in the red. So it happens to the best of us.)

Thanks to this Minnesota Fringe Festival showcase at breakneck speed, I have a much clearer picture of a lot acts I’d only been wondering about before. My list of potential shows just got longer. The list of painful decisions to be made, even more so. But I love having that problem. I’m a theatrical masochist. Whether that makes the Fringe my dungeon master or dominatrix, who can say? (Hmmm, that visual isn’t pretty. Sorry.)

Entering his sixth year of blogging about the Minnesota Fringe Festival (and bringing Mom along for the ride as a guest reviewer), Matthew A. Everett is also a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at matthewaeverett.com.