It's a pretty big understatement to say that the weather in Toronto hasn't exactly been the greatest. Record rainfall has caused a lot of trouble all over the city and many people are still without power. On Monday and parts of Tuesday, the Toronto Fringe Festival had to cancel a bunch of performances due to a lack of power and even performers who were stranded in the flood.
For a full list of which shows were affected, I recommend checking out Sharilyn Johnson's blog here. And that's not even counting the productions whose attendance numbers were probably also impacted by the weather.
I'm going down to Toronto tonight. A combination of things involving a need for a certain prop for my show, some new merch, and 8 blissfully distraction free hours where I can work on the train, have made heading down to the city a good idea. Now, I wasn't going to tell anyone I was going. I was just going to slide in like a ninja, take my things and go. But this situation with the cancelled shows has changed my mind.
Fringe performers really epitomize what it means to be an entrepreneur. On the Fringe, you don't get to "just" be an actor. You write, you produce, you learn to market, promote, pitch & sell your show. You become a communications professional with skills in media relations, social media and networking. You become an expert at budgets, event planning, logistics & production management. You also quickly learn, if you didn't know about it before, all about design and tech. And you will somehow make all of this fit into one suitcase because you have learned to be as economical and efficient as you possibly can. Oh and you are probably one of the most creative people anyone is ever likely to meet. In any other profession, your skill set would be earning you close to a six-figure salary.
For many, mostly touring performers, but I'm sure there are a lot of locals as well, this is their summer job. It's one thing not make your money back because people don't like what you are selling, but it is another thing altogether to have that opportunity to sell taken away from you. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Fringe, the performers who had their shows cancelled or had really low numbers don't get that show back. It's gone and with it goes their ability to make ends meat.
So, tomorrow, I'm going to do my part and go and catch at least one show, if not two, and buy a beverage at the beer tent (because the Fringe itself also lost revenue). I highly recommend you go out and do the same.