Some people find the Fringe festival to be an intimidating environment. Sure there’s a ton of great art and stuff going on, but how can one truly connect with the people behind the art and form meaningful bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime? In short, the answer is ponies.
We set out for a day at the festival, with open hearts and a cheap My Little Pony board game we found at 5 Below. The box of this game said that it was one of friendship and cooperation, and those being the things we sought at the festival, we had high hopes for the day. Upon our arrival to the city, we set up shop in the Logan Fringe Art Space. With eager eyes and a sign that read “Come Play With Us” we were ready to have fun with the people of Fringe.
Now, in addition to being a fun time of cooperation and friendship, the My Little Pony Rainbow Magic Game is also a deceptively complex dance of reason, skill, and luck. This multiplayer experience challenges its four participants, each assigned a pony surrogate, to spin the dial and move about the board, attempting to land on spaces that will help build a rainbow bridge before the sun goes away. While this may seem like an easy $5 board game for simple children, we were shocked to discover that it’s actually ridiculously difficult to win and we suck at it. But that wouldn’t ruin this friendship adventure! For we had now boarded the Friendship Express, and were headed straight to Friendshiptown!
All aboard the Friendship Express! Woo-Woo!
At first, the two of us sat alone, not knowing if this game would lead to the new friendships we were promised, but then we met the cast and crew of “The Laramie Project.”
Sidenote: They were all really kind people and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them in the short time we had. We also had the pleasure of seeing one of their performances, and we couldn’t recommend it enough. There is not a weak link in this show, and so many brilliant creative minds went into its construction. Please go out and support The Wandering Theatre Company while there is still time, you’ll be glad you did. Be sure to vote for them in their respective categories as well, because oh my god this was incredible.
Anywho, the game got under way and we were all having a great time. There were certainly points where we worried that the rainbow bridge would not see the light of day, and too many of us would wind up in Pony Jail, but together we persevered and built that bridge! With only one cloud in the sky, we found our way to victory, but the real victory was the friendship we forged with Craig, Liam, Heather, and Daphne! Here is what friendship looks like.
But alas, even the sunniest of days can contain some clouds, and one of our new friends would soon reveal himself to not be a pony of cooperation and friendship, but rather a pony of chaos.
While the majority of our new Laramie friends were working together with us in the spirit of cooperation and friendship, as is the expressed intention of the game, The Chaos Pony expressed resentment toward our victory. Our following two games were corrupted by his nihilistic vigor, each resulting in the mass incarceration of our pony clan in Pony Jail, with no friends on the outside spinning to get us out. Nary was a rainbow completed in these dark days.
That being said, The Chaos Pony did provide a much needed sense of excitement and risk to this terribly simplistic game, so here’s to you Chaos Pony! Friendship comes in many forms, and I suppose this is one of them.
Needless to say, we had played the game many times at this point, but unfortunately that initial victory, would be the only in-game win we’d have that day. It was still a mighty fine time though. We then sat and talked with our new friends about their show and travels from New York City to here in D.C. The My Little Pony Rainbow Magic Game had proved to be the perfect ice-breaking activity. Later that evening we came upon a magician named Doug, who we also enlisted in a quest for cooperation and friendship.
His magic show My Lack of Social Life is also playing at Fringe by the way, and sounds pretty cool. Yay new friend!
The three of us talked over our pony game, sharing stories of travel and good shows and bad shows and just general impressions our times in the theater have left on us. It was an interesting balance between the more jovial playtime experience we had with our Laramie Ponies and the more real talk times with had with our new Magic Pony friend. Needless to say, we lost. Terribly. We all three landed ourselves in Pony Jail on both of our journeys. That being said, it was still a lovely time, with a mighty friendship formed. I will legit always remember something he said casually during our discussions:
“When it comes to being a comic, you have to have had enough crappy experiences that you’re cynical, but also enough happy experiences that you still have hope.”
Here’s to you Doug the Magic Pony! That’s insightful AF.
Friendship is Magic.
After that we went to a performance of “J-Swizzle’s (and D-Man’s) Epic Awesome Swaggy Broventure for Sweet Rhymes” where the spirit of friendship revitalized us to have one more go at our pony game. Seriously though, those guys put on a great, heartwarming show for all ages and you should see it. We didn’t have the chance to play our pony game with them, but if that’s something they’d be into, we totally invite anyone involved to reach out to us so we can be friends.
We’re the I’m Margaret Thatcher, I Is! people, and we’re pretty cool. (Plug plug plug plug).
Our return to the game was greeted however, with yet another member of The Wandering Theatre Company (“The Laramie Project”). Her name was Amelia, and although we all got along swimmingly, we were yet again unable to mount that rainbow bridge. We sure did our best though, and managed to engage in pleasant conversation with our new friend about this lovely festival that brought us all together.
Cheers to Amelia, the kindest of heart, and a true pony friend!
While this game certainly delivered on the friendship aspect, as promised, it did not deliver in the justice department. You see, the rules to this game were pretty darn broken, leading to many heart-crushing defeats, after we all had worked so hard cooperating together. Multiple times our band of merry travelers assembled eight out of the nine rainbow bridge pieces needed to win the game, but then lost the whole thing by landing on fluke rolls to Pony Jail. Between that and the impending doom of blocking out the sun, the odds are truly stacked against you in this deceiving game of mind-bending trickery. While we weren’t quick to lose hope in this pursuit, we’d imagine most children would be. Not to mention the less ponies in play, the more likely you are to lose. Our biggest piece of criticism though, would have to be the fact that beloved pony character Rainbow Dash is distinctly featured on the box artwork, yet does not appear anywhere in the game itself. Instead, she was replaced with a very underwhelming Fluttershy, which is some goddamn nonsense.
Setting aside our anger at the Hasbro Company’s design, the My Little Pony Rainbow Magic Game certainly did its job at creating friendships, and served to bridge that difficult gap between Fringe artists. We certainly learned a lot about friendship and cooperation, and would enthusiastically recommend this tactic to anyone else looking to make connections amidst the chaos of the festival.
Here’s to you, new friends! Happy Fringing!
Zack Walsh is a multi-hyphenate art guy from around DC. He works for AnyStage Theater, writes for punchdrunkcritics.com, and suffers existential crises in his darkened bedroom.
David Koenigsberg just found a chunk of blue plastic in his chicken nugget. He remained unphased. He is also AnyStage Theater’s Head of Creative Concepts.