The Playgoer: Fringe Pro & Con

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Fringe Pro & Con

Two more meaty Fringe previews. Here's Mark Blankenship in the Times. But check out Alexis Soloski's Voice piece casting a much overdue critical eye on the true value of the Fringe to nyc theatre, with the help of some commentary from other (albeit rival) downtown impressarios.

The key question I agree with is: what role does quality play in the selection of Fringe shows? It's news to me that Edinburgh doesn't apply any quality standard to their fringe--but then again, they also feature as a counterweight a series of A-list international productions in their larger venues.

I have no problem in theory with a free-for-all fringe, awarding not much more than the gumption and moxie to get there. But that needs to be clearly indicated in press materials and publicity. I fear too many patrons go to Fringe NYC expecting "New York Theatre" (or at least downtown theatre) quality and come away disappointed.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The future-royalties demands made by the NY Fringe producers always struck me as an outrageous scam -- I think "extortion" isn't too harsh a description. On the grounds of fairness if nothing else, that clause should be done away with, regardless of what other changes may or may not happen.

Kerry Reid

sean said...

Two quick things...

1) Having worked at the Fringe for the last four years as an actor and a writer, I gotta say, the future-royalties thing is perfectly fine. We have a show going up this year at 45 Bleeker, and we simply couldn't ever afford to produce a play there if not for The Fringe. What they are asking for is a long, long, long shot, and a pittance compared to what they are giving us.

2) I don't mind people questioning the quality of the productions, but I do think it's wrong to believe that the offerings at the top aren't as good as the best of off-off Broadway, and the offerings at the bottom are worse. Last year, one of the most powerful pieces in The Fringe was a solo mime show, something I would normally avoid like a plague. The best shows in the festival are not gonna be Broadway polish, despite Urinetown's roots. It's an off-off festival, and as such, it's beating the odds enormously.

Joshua James said...

Completely disagree about the royalties gig . . . in order to qualify for that, one must invest in a play, not simply promote it . . .

It's simply wrong . . .

Adam said...

One of the reasons why most people who tour the Fringe festival circuit don't do the NY Fringe is because of that clause. I know it's given me pause (and I've done a fair amount of Fringes) If you've got an established great show, it doesn't make sense to give NY Fringe a cut of your profits. If you are putting up a show just for the Fringe, without the idea of touring it all over creation, perhaps it makes sense.

The other thing that the NY Fringe is lacking is a sense of centrality. Fringe Central is not a place to meet artists and hang out with other artists. At most other fringes, you end up meeting the other artists and hanging out with them late at night. Last year, I was in a fringe show, and I don't think I met anyone else not in my show (that was in a different show) And I was hanging around Fringe Central, and saw 4 or 5 shows. (Although at most fringes I've performed in, I've seen 12-15 shows)

Adam

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