As a Fringe Festival, this will be very different from my recent Uno Festival experience, though in no way lesser. At Uno they flew me out, put me up, did all of the PR, scheduled interviews for me, printed my programs, etc…very cool. A Fringe Fest is full on guerrilla theatre – well, almost. They provide me with a venue, a tech, front of house services (ticket takers, ushers, whatnot) and advertise the existence of the festival. I do all the rest – hanging posters, handing out flyers (I have 2000 of them), and generally drumming up interest for my show, which is one of about 90 happening at the 10-day festival.
So, as the days approach, everything is falling into place – my posters and flyers arrived on time from the printer (phew), I feel good about my show, having just done it in Victoria, the Fest arranged for a place for me to stay in Montreal (crashing on someone's couch – cool), and so on.
Except for one thing – a screen.
My show is multi-media, meaning I have a PowerPoint-like slide/video show (actually it's on Keynote, but let's not get bogged down in such Mac geek details) which I project, via my own video projector, onto a screen.
The only thing is, I don't own a screen. I've always been able to borrow or rent one up to this point, so have never needed to buy my own. The days are counting down to Montreal, and I recently found out that the venue has two screens available. This is great news, except that one is too big, as I only have 15 minutes to set my whole show up by myself, and this screen alone would take me 20, and the other is too small – half of my show happens on screen, so it won't work for it to be the size of a postage stamp.
If Goldilocks had wandered into an Audio/Visual rental house instead of the strolling bear's place, well, then I would be her. Or she would be me. I don't want to take that analogy too much farther…
I emailed the Fringe tech director, again, and asked if he could direct me to a local A/V rental place that might offer a Fringe artist discount. This was my third such request, but let's face it, there are 90 other acts emailing them about stuff, so I suspect they are busy.
He replied: "I've got two words for you – Bed Sheet." He then went on to direct me to a place that rents stuff.
My immediate thought was, hey, I've got two words, too: "Fuck You!"
This was a knee-jerk reaction. I used to be an A/V Guy, and I've worked really hard on this slide show, so there's no fucking way I'm going to show it on a bed sheet. What am I, in third grade?
Then, after a very short time, like 30 seconds, I though, "You know…a bed sheet could really work. Hmmm…"
And as the minutes went by I grew to love the idea. I even know how I could make it work – with some dowels and duct tape and the existing "too small" screen. Brilliant. And so very "Fringe." Soon I had fully embraced the idea, and that was that – final piece of the puzzle solved. Now I can relax.
This bed sheet solution happened on a Thursday. On Saturday my wife called me from the local Thrift Shop where she volunteers.
"There's a screen here by the dumpster. Do you want it?"
Sure, why not. Bring it home and I'll take a look.
Well, friends, this was not just a screen, it was a BRAND NEW screen, still in the box. And it was the PERFECT size for traveling with and for the intimate venue I'll be in at Montreal.
Look at this:
I mean, come on! This screen, though obviously a few years old, had, as far as I could tell, never even been set up before! And someone was going to throw it away!
So, this bodes well for my overall experience in Montreal, don't you think? Sheesh…