The first in a series of in-depth interviews with Fringe fans and faves, we chat with long time Fringe Innie and local artist Jeff Page about finding your Fringe, having your mind blown, and the importance of being a forgiving audience member. Read up on Jeff’s fav Fringe moment in our program guide.
Are you an Innie or an Outie?
I’m an Innie….
Are you referring to your belly button?
What about the Fringe?
Oh, indoor, totally! I’m an innie on both counts. It would be interesting to see if that correlates in any way…
Do you have a funny Fringe ‘Moment’ that stands out?
One year, I saw a show called Mine. It was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen at the Fringe. Later, I was walking through the site and Edmonton Sun reviewer Colin Maclean asked me, “Hey Jeff, do you have any shows you’d recommend?” and I said, “Yes, Mine!” Of course he responded, “Well, yeah Jeff, we assume that.” I said, “No, not mine, I mean, Mine! Mine, not mine!”
What does the Fringe mean to you?
When I was 26 or 27, the Barenaked Ladies played opening night in Gazebo Park. There was this big crowd of fun-loving, young, happy, people. Everywhere I looked, there were theatre posters. I had a moment of feeling like, “Wow, this is where I belong.”
Edmonton’s Fringe helps foster theatrical careers. It helped me create mine, and now I feel I can back off a bit and let others get a start.
What is one thing you most look forward to, going to the Fringe?
There are artists I’ve grown really attached to over the years that I may only ever get to see at the Fringe. I look forward to that. But, the best thing is watching somebody who I might have had a preconceived notion about blow my mind – that’s what I look forward to, having my mind blown by something I didn’t expect.
How do you select the shows you see?
I glance through the guide to see if there’s a particular artist or subject material I’m interested in. I also rely a lot on word of mouth.
What is your best Fringe tip?
From the artist perspective, I would say be prepared. Don’t treat it as a rehearsal or workshop. Your audience has a lot to choose from. You have to make them choose you. Put time into the rehearsal process, marketing, and planning your tech rehearsal, so when you walk in there you’re riding the horse. Because that Fringe horse can ride you real quickly.
How about Best Advice for a patron?
My advice to patrons is be willing to be forgiving. Especially regarding the technical aspects of a show. All of these shows have had about three hours to pull all their elements together, with a crew miraculously working on six shows a day. I congratulate those Fringe audiences who are really forgiving of the mishaps, those little glitches that come from the festival nature of the performance. They’re very, very forgiving. My advice is to keep that up.
Jeff Page is an actor, writer, director, and instructor based in Edmonton, Alberta. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1988. In 1992, he moved to Canada, following a tour of the Canadian Fringe circuit with Seattle’s One World Theatre and Russia’s Moscow Theatre Igroky. Since then, Jeff has worked as a theatre professional in Canada, specializing in Canadian plays and new works. In 2009, he received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Alberta.