FringeNYC 1997


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FringeNYC 1997

August 13 – 24



Why does New York City need a Fringe Festival? This city is a fringe festival 365 days a year. Artists rush to this island like lemmings on lock-target, diving off the cliffs of a college graduation, Mayberry mindnumb and the old Greyhound one-way last-ditch gamble. We tumble and pirouette for months, sometimes years, plummeting through agent’s offices, vanity productions, cattle calls at Equity, under-fives on the daily soaps, crowd scenes in major motion pictures clawing for a handhold, a gig, a moment of respect and honest work.

We few, we scrappy few, that survive the long fall land dazed and dashed on the Lower East Side. Here we write our manifestos and first masterpieces. Here we stage our visions and invent techniques we can’t articulate or explain even after the fourth or fifth round. Here we star in three-hour new verse plays, sweating and shaking on a tiny stage in the back of a bar and the ten or twenty or on a good night forty folks sitting on folding chairs stare amazed that anyone would work so hard under such conditions for so little.

And we love it. It’s our own private theme park: OFF-OFF WORLD, The Land that Grants Forgot. We’re doing our art, we’re sacrificing, we’re living our lives and paying our dues. No money? That’s cool. No press? No problem. No dressing room? No tech? No audience? No forum to meet each other and inspire each other and recognize each other as individual parts of one emerging cultural force? Well, hell, it’s New York, we all have day jobs and if we keep at it we’ll hit it big and get the hell to Hollywood or maybe take that promotion and just get out of this madness all together.

That’s why this town needs a Fringe Festival.

We need a place where the artists who do all the hard work, the early work, can incite and excite each other. We need a time set aside to look at all the exploration, a time for the front-line soldiers in our endless Cultural War to report back from their patrols. This generation of artists needs to unite, the decaying infrastructure of downtown theatre needs to be revitalized, the pipeline between downtown show and midtown business needs to be swept clean and re-caulked so that new audiences have a reason to come to the theater, new artists have a chance of staying in the theater and a new energy and spirit can infuse our theater. We need to lift the level of craft, passion, risk, organization and responsibility we bring to our work. We need to work together as artists and producers to provide strong, consistent work. We need to create an environment where emerging work is fostered, nurtured and allowed to grow. We need to believe in ourselves and in our audiences. The future is here. The world is, in fact, ours. As Judith Malina wrote years ago:

“I talk to everyone and ask what can be done and everyone comes up against the same wall and draws a blank. We need a new form. There are better people than me to find it. But they are not doing the job. And the job must be done. And to those who say it can’t be done I’ll say bullshit and prove otherwise.”

There is no map. The compass slowly spins, pointing to all directions. But if we walk together, eyes open, a step at a time, we’ll find our way.


Elena K. Holy, John Clancy, Aaron Beall, Jonathan Harris


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