I’m two weeks into The Mystery Tour. So far I’ve performed nine shows, had one TV appearance, found my way into several newspaper articles, and even won an award - “Patrons Pick” at the Orlando Fringe! It’s been an exhausting but rewarding fortnight.
I’ve also met some seriously talented people - writers, creators, performers, dancers, comedians, artists - who have the same drive and desire to perform as I do. All I want in life is to be surrounded by creative people. I guess I may have to permanently live on the fringe circuit.
After my Orlando Fringe experience I think I’m supposed to be doing this. I have a Type-A-don’t-take-no-for-an-answer-unrelenting-persistent-personality that never lets up. It’s perfect for fringe.
When you aren’t performing at the festival you spend the day promoting. If you hate talking to strangers or talking about yourself, then this might not be for you. Just today alone I walked four or five miles to hang up posters, lay out postcards, and tell people about my show.
The conversation always goes like this:
“I have a mind reading show in the festival! Please come if you can.”
“Shouldn’t you know if I’m coming or not?” the person replies, thinking that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that joke.
“I was just being polite. You’ll be at my second show. It’s Saturday at 8.”
They laugh awkwardly as I stare back, then cautiously take the postcard I’m offering them.
Imagine having that conversation a hundred times or more every day. That’s what fringe is like.
Fringe teaches you how to succeed anywhere. You’re thrust into a space with a thrust stage or boxed into a black box. Sometimes there’s no air conditioning and other times it’s freezing. You learn to do your show anywhere and make it look effortless.
Fringe teaches you to coexist with people from all genres. In a world where lines are constantly being drawn, a fringe festival blurs them so anyone from musicians to mind readers to storytellers to sketch comedians can share the stage without fear of judgment.
Luckily for me, I’ve already been doing this in the college and corporate market. I’ve been sharing a wide range of stages with a wide range of performers for years. I’ve been a shameless self-promoter since kindergarten.
That's not to say fringing doesn't come with its share of challenges.
I've slept less than four hours every night for two weeks. Last week I flew back to Chicago for a show then right back to Orlando to finish the fringe. I got sick from the trip but was able to recover within 48 hours thanks to some drugs and a whole lot of water.
I'm living out of a suitcase, eating sporadically, and learning from the mistakes I made just 5 minutes ago. But this is the life I've always wanted and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Like I said, I’m supposed to be doing this.