Hamilton Fringe Festival

An 11-day unjuried theatre festival that happens every summer in downtown Hamilton

Tales of a Neophyte Fringer

Posted by on Aug 8, 2018

by Annie Rosenberg

When you’re a neophyte Fringer and a relative Hamilton newbie, you decide that in order to take advantage of all The Hamilton Fringe Festival Has to Offer, you should Get Involved. Getting involved means volunteering to be a techie and would-be puppeteer even though you’ve never done the former before. Getting involved means you must see every single show, so you carefully Plot out a Schedule of all the Shows You Will see, determined that You Will Take Advantage of All that the Hamilton Fringe Festival Has to Offer. Getting involved means you accept the kind invitation to appear in Gore Park in the centre of the city to read a five-minute excerpt of a play that you’ve been slaving over for months.

Getting involved takes preparation, so you go to Google maps and find every single venue and plot out Day One through 11 of said festival. On Day One, you dig out your black t-shirt and your black leggings and your new black gloves plus two flashlights so you can read the cue sheet you’ve carefully taped up backstage. You’re filled with nerves and adrenaline, cognizant that your role as techie and puppeteer is at least semi-vital to the play. You manage to remember every single one of your cues and then you tear off your black shirt and black leggings and black gloves and go home, heady with success.

On Day Two, you manage to find your way to Gore Park in the centre of the city. You sit with your fellow playwrights, battling nerves until they call your name. You smile and pray that the expected thunderstorm doesn’t materialize and that no sirens pass by during your reading. You stand behind the microphone while your fellow playwright kindly holds the script that you blew up to 24 points to make sure you could read it and you somehow manage to squeak out your five-minute excerpt and then you sag into a chair in the Gore Park Club Tent and down a beer, toasting the lack of a thunderstorm and sirens.

On Day Four, you decide that you’re now experienced enough to juggle your tech and puppeteering duties and see Every Single Show, so you pack your black t-shirt and black leggings and new black gloves and your all-important five-dollar Fringe button to support the Fringe Festival and you head to the Staircase Theatre, ready to take in Every Single Show. And then you reach into your pocket for your all-important Fringe button and you realize that it’s pinned to another shirt, but it’s in the laundry and you can’t do any laundry until the festival is over and that’s eight days away, so you hand over your five dollars and buy Fringe button number two. Ten dollars and counting.

You see two shows, fulfill your tech and puppeteering duties and then you head to Gore Park, telling yourself that of course you will not have a glass of wine because after all, you still have to work the next day. You have chores. You have responsibilities. But then you decide to have just one small glass of wine and you get carried away and tell your friends and anyone else who will listen about all the shows you’ve seen and carefully plot out Days Five and Six.

On Day Six, you run into five people you know at every single show. You tell those five people about all the shows you’ve seen. They tell you about all the shows they’ve seen. You dig out your all-important Fringe button and realize you’ve left it on the shirt you wore on Day Five, so you buy yet another all-important Fringe button. You could possibly fund next year’s Fringe Festival with all those Fringe buttons.

On Day Eight, you dig out your black t-shirt and black leggings and new black gloves again, filled with excitement, but no nerves this time, because by now you’re a semi-experienced techie and puppeteer.

On Day Ten, you’re running low on adrenalin and you realize that, sadly, you can’t possibly see every single show, so you decide to go for breakfast at Big Top instead. You down three coffees with your hubby and you vow that next year, you’ll pace yourself.

Happy Fringing.


A writer, playwright and performer, Annie is a graduate of the Humber School for Creative Writing and a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Her work has appeared in Jelly Bucket, Stone Highway Review, Reader’s Digest, Double Reed, the Four-Cornered Universe, Upbeat, the Toronto Star, the National Post, Marketing, Beach-Riverdale News and Outlook. Her one-act play, This Way Out, was produced at the Strawberry One-Act Festival in Manhattan in 2017. She is a member of the Theatre Aquarius and Feminista playwrights units.