The Toronto Fringe Festival promotes the festival, but it was my responsibility to promote my show. The festival features 160 shows and 1,200 artists; 67.5 percent of shows are written, directed or choreographed by female artists. I wrote, produced, directed and performed my international debut, and my husband was my stage manager. I took a huge risk by wearing all the hats, but after having been in several festivals and not receiving the results I wanted, I decided to do it myself. It's hard to find people who will match your investment. Being that I was an international artist, I had a lot of paperwork I had to fill out ahead of time. The Canadian Revenue Agency was very helpful in answering all my lengthy questions about working in another country.
I had 6 months to prepare for my international debut. Each month, the festival had deadlines that I had to complete. I created a work schedule to complete my daily and monthly tasks. In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed, I took one day at a time. I gave myself grace for any future mistakes. To guide me with the marketing and PR, I read this wonderful book, 107 Publicity Boosters That Work by Elaine Liner. I used this book religiously to prepare for targeting the media. I was told early on how difficult it would be to stand out as an international artist. I was performing in a place where nobody knew me or my work. I thought it was important to try my work out in another country. I had more curiosity than fear about my experience. Before I left for Toronto, I had 45 advance tickets sold! I was so happy that 45 people decided to purchase advance tickets to see me perform. I promised not to check ticket sales religiously because you never know how many people are coming until the house lights go up and you see the audience.
I’ve participated in many festivals and I know that even when you put a huge amount of time, money and effort in, the outcome might not be what you expect. It's important for me always to know why I'm doing something, I wrote down my why early on.
My why was pretty simple: "I'm doing my solo show at the Toronto Fringe Festival because I get the opportunity to spend 10 days in a place I have never been while doing what I love. I hope to meet new people and get one good review.”
I arrived in Toronto at about 7:45 am on July 6th. We couldn't check into our Airbnb until 10:30 am. We had breakfast and decided to find a Whole Foods Market for some of my non-diary treats! The Whole Foods we found was very well-organized but they didn't have any of my treats.
We walked over to Queens Park to relax before checking into our Airbnb. It was a pretty hot day in Toronto.
Checking into our Airbnb was pretty smooth! When the front desk was laying down the ground rules before we got the keys, it reminded me of when my mom gave me my first set of house keys. "No partying, no loud music after 12, no guests.” I was suddenly a teenager again. Once I told him that I was performing 8 shows at the Fringe Festival, he seemed a bit more relaxed. We stayed in a stunning condo with a gorgeous view of downtown Toronto! Thank God it looked just like the photos online. Our host was very responsive and attentive during our stay.
My first tech rehearsal was at 2:30pm. I had a small window of downtime before we headed over to the theatre. We walked a total of 9 miles before deciding to take the subway to my tech rehearsal.
My tech rehearsal lasted about 2.5 hours. My technicians were wonderful! I loved the Tarragon Solo Theatre space. It was very intimate and perfect for solo shows. After my tech rehearsal, I headed over to C&D Graphics to pick up my flyers. I had a few hours to relax before opening night. My first day in Toronto was the most stressful because I had so many obligations. Even though I had a lot to do on my first day, I had a few small windows of time that allowed me to meditate and slow down. I'm grateful that I know how to use my time wisely even in the midst of being busy; that was a part of my preparation before leaving. Even though I had some overwhelming feelings on day 1, I remember thinking of all the times my anxiety disorder tricked my into believing that I would never do anything outside of my comfort zone, and here I was in another country doing 8 shows without my anxiety disorder interfering. I'm free!
Quote for the first day: "I don’t leap or jump for the landing. I leap for the experience through the air. Because you cannot predict the landing." ~ Brene Brown
Next blog: Day 2 of my fringe adventure + my first review!