Recently I attended the Fringe 100 information session. I knew what I signed up for and the truth is it's much better then expectations. Two phrases that are a key part of what it means to be a member of the 100 : a theatre entrepreneur bootcamp for people between the ages of 17 and 24 held at the Toronto fringe festival are "street theatre" and "Guerrilla Marketing". For the first time ever I will have the biggest role in the Toronto Fringe I have ever had doing stuff I've always dreamed of doing in a festival I care about and am extremely passionate about.
Hearing about those two things I will be a part of (street theatre and guerrilla marketing as noted above) made me enthusiastic so as soon as I could I went online to find out everything I could about street theatre and guerrilla marketing: two things that up until recently I knew nothing about but will learn all about as a member of the program while actively marketing the Fringe, drawing in audiences, and performing street theatre as a member of a pre-planned team. Guerrilla marketing is something I should of considered all along as an artist type with much less of a mainstream approach and much more of an indie approach to it all. What I learned is that guerrilla marketing is all about time and creativity and money plays a minimal role in it because it involves materials that are often free or inexpensive. Guerrilla marketing is something I should of found out a long time ago: an alternative to regular marketing. Guerrilla marketing is a much more creative approach to marketing and the examples I've found online include: post it notes placed on buildings as promotion, bumper stickers, and flash mobs stunts used to grab the attention of others and draw them into whatever you're trying to bring them to, and a long list of other examples. I've got a head full of ideas and when I'm passionate about something and think it's worth my time I'll find time for it no matter how busy I am so it's refreshing to already be a well qualified guerrilla marketer.
The other initiative we were introduced to is the popular phenomena known as "viral videos". Anyone that's been on youtube and seen any wacky videos about cats, people doing silly things, and small children who become overnight sensations knows what a viral video is or thinks they don't know but do know. I spent along time searching for instructional tips on how to make a viral video go viral but was frustrated by how few of them were people not assuming that you have to use sex appeal, silly stunts, or cute animals or children to make the video successful. The purpose of this investigation was because the videos will be used for promotional purposes and to grab people's attention who may not necessarily be aware of the Fringe and to spread the word. With my group I'm hoping to propose a creative alternative: a way to create videos that do not include any of the above in order to promote the festival and go viral without making fools of ourselves and to create a video that we're actually proud of without the assistance of stupid stunts, sex appeal, or cute baby animals/children. No guarantees or anything because a key part of group brainstorming sessions is compromise and one of the roles I've become good at in group brainstorming sessions is being the one that makes compromise not competition a part of creative brainstorming sessions and that's the role I normally take on for my own survival: stressing the importance of everyone's voices being heard and listening while bringing in my own ideas to get those who are too busy trying to sell their own ideas and overpower others to come up with something that will have a little bit of everyone's suggestions.
As someone educated in theatre finally getting the chance to be part of street theatre is truly wonderful. In drama classes what eventually comes up is the outdoor entertainment that is where a lot of western theatrical traditions come from. When the word street theatre comes to mind so do some traditions that are several centuries old: commedia del arte (an Italian type of theatre using stock character types and improv), and the mystery and cycle plays of the middle ages depicting religious and moral tales. Getting the chance to go through what they went through with the thrill of the outdoor tradition in terms of unpredictability.All of this will be pre-planned and early next week my group will be decided but we're continuing this amazing tradition.
I feel extremely fortunate to get this training because the classes and couching is great and all and hugely beneficial but this is taking it to the next level. This is all about networking with professional artists and learning and practicing the essential skills to thrive in this industry. What I've learned about the arts is that more than any other industry you're never quite done learning and every new project , every rejection, every single twist and turn is a sign that you're not quite done pushing forward no matter how much recognition you receive and how much talent you have. all those things I just mentioned above just sort of happen and that's why one of the best way to treat them is to treat everyday like a learning experience (the title of this blog entry) because it's not just a career it's a way of life. The fringe is a month away but all the ideas and plans are beginning as soon as this coming week so early promotion and discussion is totally realistic.
-Side note: Toronto Fringe festival: July 4-15th. Come see the shows and check out the tweets and blog posts by me and my fellow 100 peoples (sorry no links all that's TBA) but the hashtag is #thefringe100. It's a huge variety of shows of all genres so well...no matter what your interest you can probably find something. -How to find members of the 100: Walk through the artist alley (located close to the fringe tent) and attend the tent talks (discussions in the fringe tent about theatre) and you'll find members of the Toronto fringe's 100 program working super hard and performing their hearts out and perhaps surprising you with creative and unexpected ways of drawing you into the festival. These are some of the most creative, dedicated, and brightest people I've ever met so while checking out the shows make sure to also check out what the members of the 100 are up to. No, I don't mean this from a self-indulgent point of view but more from a point of view of pride. Remember we're there and a brand new part of the fringe.