Friday, August 27, 2010

In Defense of Fringe

Once again people are questioning the existence of The New York International Fringe Festival. Our question is: When was the last time you saw a people lined up down the block or around the corner to get into the Lucile Lortel or the Players Theater? The Fringe succeeds in making people excited about theater. And on that score alone Ludlow Lad give it a big thumbs up.

But let’s address some of the complaints in the recent NY Times article . Since year one, FringeNYC was criticized for adjudicating participants, yet these are usually the same people that complain about the random quality. You can’t have it both ways; does anything think the quality would be better if FringeNYC participants were admitted on a first-come-first-served or lottery basis?

Ludlow Lad is not even sure what part of FringeNYC is “poorly orginized” according to Jason Zinoman. Every show starts pretty much on time and there is no late seating - rules Ludlow Lad thinks should become law in NYC. The fact that 197 shows happen at 18 venues without incident is pretty amazing actually. We rarely see box office incidents or house management issues at all. One line for Will Call and one line for Ticket Buyers - it’s pretty efficient.

As we’ve said before, it would be wonderful if Fringe NYC could happen in a geographically concentrated area - but did you see East 4th Street this year? There were six venues between Bowery and 2nd Avenue. What other block has more venues than that? The only thing that could have made it better (besides getting New York Theater Workshop as a venue) would be having Fringe Central on that block, too.

And of course it difficult finding the gems among 197 shows. Maybe the Fringe website needs to allow for slightly longer descriptions - but that could become even harder to navigate. Maybe space could be allotted to previous credits of the participants of each show - but even that is no grantee of success. As a former FringeNYC participant, Ludlow Lad would argue for longer tech time in the assigned venues - this could allow for better production values (or at least smoother first performances). But as someone who is NOT looking for the the next Broadway hit and just looking for some interesting shows, Ludlow Lad thinks Elena Holy and the whole FringeNYC teal to an outstanding job and we’d hate to see the The York International Fringe Festival go anywhere!

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