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Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2006
Presented by Manitoba Theatre Centre (MTC)

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Reviewed: 2006-08-03 19:50:21
By: John Chase (Director@winnipegonstage.com)

That's right -- this is a review for the entire Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2006, also referred to this year as the Western Fringe by some!

As I write this, I suffer from P.F.D. (that's Post-Fringe Depression(tm), for those who don't know): a condition that affects many artists each year when the festival draws to its close. I find that the first symptoms usually set in on the final Sunday evening as the vendors pack up, only to become full-blown for the entire following week. Luckily, that is usually when it gives way to excitement and anticipation over the next year's Fringe already being on its way. Or maybe I'm just insane. But back to 2006!

If you're talking numbers, this year's festival did better than ever. The following URL on WinnipegFringe.com -- http://www.winnipegfringe.com/fringe06/ -- mentions that paid attendance totalled 69,320, surpassing the 12-day record of 68,470 set in 2004.

Other facts include:
      - Attendance easily topped last year's mark with a total of 97,974, which includes 29,298 at Kids Fringe.
      - A total of $430,903 in box office revenue was returned to the performers.
      - The festival happened in large part due to its 830 volunteers, who devoted countless hours and endless enthusiasm.

I myself was an indoor performer in this year's Kids Fringe, alongside a half-dozen or more other indoor children's shows. That, and the fact that the Kids Fringe accounted for almost 30% of this year's attendance, I find very encouraging... Having performed children's theatre in the Winnipeg Fringe with Fantasy Theatre for Children for almost a decade before the term "Kids Fringe" was coined, all I can say looking at the above numbers now is "wow"! Hats off to MTC for recognising in recent years what a big part of the local arts scene children's theatre really is.

Another thing that I found encouraging this year is the fact that I didn't write a single review with a rating of less than three stars. It may just be that I got lucky with my picks, but almost all the shows I saw were a pleasure to attend, even though I didn't have time to see as many as usual -- nor review all that I saw.

Speaking of reviews is what finally brings me to WinnipegOnstage.com... My hope for this site has always been to build something that others would find useful, and I am immensely pleased that we broke every one of last year's records. Over 30 Fringe reviews were posted (only six are mine), and we received many new signups as visitors to the site surged to an all-time high. Whereas last year's reviews were primarily written by a small group of us that know each other, this year's contributions brought with them several new and welcome names from the greater community.

Just as the Winnipeg Fringe Festival thrives on its volunteer help, this site thrives on what its users contribute, and I herein thank the following individuals for submitting Fringe 2006 reviews: Lorraine James (11), Leila Marston (6), Justin J. Danyluk (3), David J. Shaver (2), Robin Chase (1) and Gwen H. Repeta (1).

The Fringe Festival is nothing if not a gift to Winnipeg in the way that its un-juried, un-censored philosophy allows any and all art to thrive for better or worse, with an incredible sense of community that puts the final call on what's hot and what's not in the hands of the patrons rather than the papers. Here's to 2007! ... At least after this P.F.D. wears off.

John Chase
August 3, 2006

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