by Kimball Allen
– The Capitol Hill Times –
The global phenomenon and success of the Fringe Theatre Festival movement dates back 65 years to its bohemianesque roots in Scotland. The first Fringe was essentially a theatrical counter-culture rebellion in response to the exclusion of the Edinburgh International Festival. Over the years, many emerging artists have found success in producing and testing the boundaries of their unconventional works.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Seattle Fringe Festival’s artist applicant kick-off event at Garage on Broadway. The passionate, all-volunteer committee was there in full force to answer questions, and energize a group of dedicated Capitol Hill theatre enthusiasts, artists, volunteers and professionals. Between each gutter ball and strike, the committee played a game of interview round-robin with me.
Pamela Mijatov, excitedly told the kickoff party crowd how “the 2013 season has grown to accommodate an eclectic mix of 22 artists; 6 non-local and 16 local,” who will all have the opportunity to perform four times. The festival is expecting over 100 applicants, so if there is a desire to apply and showcase your creativity, the time is now. The May 8 artist application due date is quickly approaching, and Grant Knutson informed me that all fringe artists will be selected by a random lottery process that will be held at a community-wide party on May 11.
Nathaniel Porter also took the opportunity to highlight how important the Seattle Fringe Festival is for Capitol Hill and the greater Seattle theatre community.
The brilliance of Fringe is that “there are few restrictions for the shows,” Sean Ryan explained. “The biggest restriction is the challenge that an artist has in creating a minimal show in under 60 minutes.” Besides the nominal entrance fee to cover festival production costs, the “financial risks are quite low” for performers since, “100 percent of revenue from each ticket sold goes back to the artist.” Not to mention, the festival provides tech support and venue space. Priceless, really.
Beth Raas-Bergquist informed me, “Fringe performances are strategically showcased back-to-back in various venues that are in close proximity to each other.” This allows the 1,600 plus Seattle Fringe audience members to see a wide range of performances during the festival that will take place September 18 to 22 this year. Many well-known Capitol Hill theatres will be hosting Fringe shows: the Northwest Film Forum (I and II), Eclectic Theatre (formerly known as the Odd Duck Studio), Annex Theatre, and Richard Hugo House.
There was a resounding call of action for Capitol Hillites to step up and support local, live and original theatre, not only by attending the festival, but by volunteering in such capacities as: house managers, theatre techs, ushers, ticket salespersons, or providing housing for out-of-town performers. The Fringe committee is also looking for an individual to sit on the committee as the Festival’s Marketing and Public Relations guru.
For more festival information, artist applications, volunteer opportunities, or tickets sales, visit www.SeattleFringeFestival.org