Some folks have been visiting the Dublin Fringe Festival for years. Tickets in hand, veterans flit seamlessly from show to show like cultural ninjas. To help you do the same, we’ve put together some tips for survival at this year’s festival, which kicked off on 5 September
1. Keep your ear to the ground...
Word spreads quickly. The plethora of first-time writers, directors and performers will be under scrutiny from day one, but the Fringe audience is nothing if not forgiving of a couple of mis-cues and forgotten lines if the overall show looks like a winner. Reviews are always handy but don’t be afraid to talk to folks outside venues for one-to-one feedback, or follow #dubfringe reactions on Twitter to figure out what the must-sees are before they book out.
2. ...but don’t always choose based on reviews
Critics have their work cut out, running from venue to venue, scribbling out reviews with a sandwich in one hand and a double-shot espresso in the other, so it’s understandable that judgements might be harsh. The best rule to go by is this: don’t go to a show if it sounds like something you’ll hate, no matter how many stars it earns. But don’t write off a show that sounds interesting just because of a bad review. As a general rule Irish Times, Irish Theatre Magazine, Totally Dublin and Entertainment.ie are good go-to titles when you’re trying to pick what to choose.
3. It’s not all about temple bar
Temple Bar is Fringe HQ, and while the mix of venues here are diverse, don’t get too cosy. Try some of the more far-flung spots, like the Fumbally Café, the Axis in Ballymun, Mill Street’s Old Distillery or even Sandymount Beach. You get the double whammy of a performance and a new aspect of the city. Hop on a bus or a LUAS (Dublin’s sleek tram system) and see the city sights as you go.
4. Be Adventurous
Just because you’ve never been to a dance show doesn’t mean you won’t like one. Trust us, they can be some of the most intense Fringe moments out there.
5. Look out for last year’s winners
Check out the list of previous award-winners to see if they’re staging something new. The Spirit of the Fringe award commissions its winner to put on another show (with a little bit of extra pocket money) in the Project Arts Centre: this year it’s Paperdolls BUNK.
6. Leave your comfort zone at home
There’s an emphasis on people power in at 2013’s Fringe, as part of the festival’s celebration of activism. Shows like ANU Productions’ Thirteen ask for public participation in an altogether more immersive approach. Pretty fitting for a study of the 100th anniversary of the historic 1913 Lockout, Ireland’s own socialist revolution.
7. Get wheelin’ and dealin’
Saving a few bob and feasting on the funky Fringe? We like that. We like that a lot. Hit up the Fringe website’s News & Deals page for a deal or two. Warning: try not to look too smug when you’re enjoying the fruits of your thrifty labours.
8. Book a Table beforehand
To avoid your tummy growling for attention halfway through a show, try this: scope out the best restaurants nearby before you head to your venue, and book yourself a table for straight afterwards – it might even still be warm enough to sit outdoors. For some recommendations, check this little lot out.
9. Find out what the future holds for dublin
With an alumni counting Beckett, Wilde and Joyce among them, plus a deserved UNESCO City of Literature title, it’s no great shock that Dublin is a city bursting with new, creative ideas. A lot of those plans are already in action. Want to hear all about it? Join the city’s brightest minds holding forth at the Trailblazery or TED Talks with a distinctly Irish spin.
Tickets tend to go quick so don’t wait around: check the full program and get your Dublin Fringe Festival tickets at www.fringefest.com.