Frustrated with Fringe

By Megan Mooney

I know as well as anyone how hard it is to pull stuff together.  And to pull something together on the scale of the Toronto Fringe Festival, well, I can’t even imagine the amount of work that would take. 

I appreciate that, I do.

*UPDATE and clarification* Apparently what I was saying here was misinterpreted.  My apologies for that.  Fringe folks thought I was implying that they were working on things other than Fringe.  I just want to clarify, that’s not the case at all.  I know they’re all working their asses off, one individual doing the work 10 and so on.  My issue was only with the wording on one page of the website.  I just didn’t like feeling like I was being chastised for looking at their website.

It’s frustrating that there is no schedule yet, but I can understand that.  Wrangling all that information can’t be easy.  I don’t have any intel on this, but my guess is that there are 5 people doing the job of 50 people.  It’s an amazing accomplishment done by amazing people.  I get it, I really do.

My problem is the website.  Not that it’s not done, see the above paragraph.  But rather what is currently there.  Specifically “can t you see we re a little busy over here?” when one has the audacity to click the ‘play listings’ menu item. (the omission of apostrophes is part of the quote)

I do know that it’s meant to be funny.  Glib, clever, tongue-in-cheek and so on, but here’s the truth, it pissed me off.  Because it felt like I was being scolded.  It felt like they were saying I shouldn’t be so impatient by checking the website.  It was distinctly unwelcoming.  Even though I knew how it was meant, it didn’t change my visceral reaction.

Given that the site used to say that listings would be up in May, and it’s now June, I feel like the tone should be apologetic, not belligerent.  I understand delays happen, but this isn’t the way to deal with it.

I suppose the Fringe can get away with it, people are going to go to it no matter what.  It’s a theatre event that lots of ‘non-theatre’ folks go to.  It’s hip.  But I think sometimes it’s this internal sense of entitlement that occasionally pops up in the community makes it pretty discouraging for non-theatre people.  It just perpetuates the idea that theatre is for the elite.   </rant>

On the plus side, the new Fringe site looks really cool. 

0 thoughts on “Frustrated with Fringe”

  1. You’re much kinder than I would be. I’ve been checking the fringe site for a couple of weeks, since mid-May when the program was supposed to be announced, but no program.

    It’s June folks, Fringe starts in less than a month. Am I being unreasonable, disturbing you, interrupting your ‘real’ work by wanting to know what’s playing when and where? Am I? HUH? Oh, sorry, you’re too busy…

    Audience = customer. Basic math.

  2. Sometimes it hurts to be loved so much!

    Apologies to both you and your commentor about the Fringe site and schedule availability. You’ll actually find it up as of Saturday or Sunday. Currently my development coordinator is working hard to press print on the Fringe program, on which he worked until 3am last night, and then we’re right on it.

    I think both of your very strange comments that the Fringe would be busy with ANYTHING else but trying to provide the most affordable, enjoyable, inclusive cultural event we possibly can are downright misguided. As was quite rightly pointed out, the Fringe is a small organization, doing a lot of work on dwindling resources… that said, we’re still on schedule this year. Our marketing campaign and materials run out at the beginning of June, ensuring that we don’t spread our small budget too thinly over too much time of prepromotion.

    And finally, you both should know in a technical word that postings like this get around. Unlike many arts organizations, the Fringe cares what all 60,000 of its patrons and 1200+ artists feel. If you have a concern, drop us a line and we’ll be sure to let you know how things are going. 416-966-1062 – we’ll be here late every night until after the fest.

    Gideon Arthurs
    Executive Director

  3. Hi Gideon,

    Thanks for the response. I think perhaps you missed what I was saying. I wasn’t implying for a second that Fringe staff were busy with anything other than getting Fringe together.

    In fact, for me, the issue wasn’t even that the schedule wasn’t there when it was announced that it would be (although, in future I might suggest either not announcing on the website when it will be, or, saying it will be there a few weeks after you think it will be there. It’s better to put something up earlier than you said you would than later than you said you would.)

    My issue was just with the *wording* on the site. When I clicked on it I felt like I was being chastized for going to the site.

    Had it said “sorry, we’re a bit busy here, but we’re working to get the information up as soon as possible” I wouldn’t have had any qualms. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

    But the words “can t you see we re a little busy over here?” make it sound like I’m being unreasonable for even coming to look at the site to see if something is up yet.

    Like I said, this is not at all a comment on the festival, the festival is great. Nor is it a comment on the staff, the staff are great. Nor is it a comment on the volunteers, the volunteers are great. You get the picture.

    It is merely a comment on my viceral reaction to the specific word that basically read to me as “Sheesh, stop being such a pain, don’t come to the bloody site until we’re bloody well done with it.”

    That’s what I took issue with.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. The line you are referring to refers to the funny graphic of busy looking people next to it. You’ll notice that there’s a picture of bearded man in another section that mentions that folks should try growing a beard in the meanwhile or another that recommends that people should try building a robot dragon… We don’t really mean either of those things. For you clearly the joke didn’t work. Anyway, thanks again for clarifying. See you at the Fringe!

  5. Hi Gideon. I also reacted to the wording. I’ve been going to the site almost daily waiting for the schedule/program so I can plan my fringing.

    I’ll wait til Sunday and check then.

    I do wonder what you meant when you said that in a technical world comments like this get round. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    If you’d like to email me off these comments my email address is aude.france at


  6. Yeah, I knew what the joke was trying to do, I just also wanted to ackowledge what it felt like when I read it.

    I understand that it’s not meant that way. But it felt that way.

    As is oft said in this world “perception is reality” The intent doesn’t matter so much as the result.

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