Get Summer Schooled at FringeU
BY MARTIN DENTON (indietheaternow.com) | Twelve years and a few months ago, I said — in public, without thinking much about it — “Nytheatre.com will review every show in the New York International Fringe Festival this year.”
I said it because it seemed like a cool idea — one of those Mount Everest-ish sort of milestones worth trying to accomplish — and, much more importantly, because every show that participates in FringeNYC deserves to get at least one review (and too many of them weren’t getting that).
Well, we figured out how to review every show in the 2002 FringeNYC. Since then, nytheatre.com published a review of every show, every year. We did it in the blackout year, and we did it in the year when a hurricane forced the festival to close early. This year, the same comprehensive coverage moves to our new online home, nytheaternow.com (the successor to nytheatre.com).
Our approach is to have dozens of theater artists write the reviews. Many of them are FringeNYC veterans, while others are relative newcomers to the NYC theater scene, looking to immerse themselves in their community.
Educational arm of FringeNYC has creative reach
So please bookmark nytheaternow.com/Category/FringeNYC/2014, for reviews of all 200 shows in the festival, plus a host of preview features — from interviews with playwrights, to podcasts, to a series of articles that I’ve written based on many hours of research and surveys (honest!) of this year’s participating artists.
One of the most potent aspects of FringeNYC is that it brings well over 100 new American plays and musicals to NYC theatergoers for its two-week stay in the Lower East Side, East Village and West Village. Think about it: commercial and mainstream nonprofit NYC theaters support perhaps a few dozen new American plays per season, while FringeNYC provides the opportunity to see more than a hundred in just two weeks — most of them from emerging, undiscovered, and/or underrepresented voices. It’s not only exhilarating, it’s essential and vital.
Understanding this is what made me decide to launch Indie Theater Now (indietheaternow.com) in 2011 with a collection of scripts from FringeNYC’s beginnings in 1997 through the present. Indie Theater Now is a place where you can discover great new American dramas in script form. We’ve published collections of excellent, innovative new scripts from each FringeNYC since then, and we’ll be searching for plays for our 2014 collection this month as well. As I say, it’s all about discovery! We want folks to find the work that will speak to them, in performance and in person, and later on the (virtual) page, to read, study, and perhaps perform on their own.
PANELS FringeU | Part of FringeNYC
Runtime: 75 min.
At 1 p.m.
Mon., Tues. & Wed.
Aug. 11-13 & 18-20
114 Norfolk ST.
(btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.)
After conversation at FringeCENTRAL & on nytheaternow.com
Also visit fringenyc.org
We’ll be engaging with the FringeNYC audience and artists in one other important way this year, via FringeU. Indie Theater Now is co-producing FringeU — the festival’s educational arm.
FringeU offers another way to immerse yourself in indie theater, at a time when there are no shows going on. Each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon during the festival, FringeU offers programming at FringeCENTRAL, where FringeNYC artists and FringeNYC fans will discuss how theater is made and how it is brought to audiences.
There are six FringeU events in all. I will lead an open discussion about how to write about theater in the post-newspaper-theater-critic/Web 3.0 world. I’ll also moderate a discussion with Jeffrey Sweet about the roots and practice of improv (Jeff wrote the seminal book “Something Wonderful Right Away”). FringeNYC’s Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy will be part of a very exciting panel focused on global perspectives in creating and presenting fringe/indie theater.
We’ve got three other panels filled with current and former FringeNYC artists, plus a host of folks from the indie theater and academic world, covering the craft of adaptations, bringing theater to the classroom, and devising theater techniques at colleges and universities.
I hope we’ll see lots of you at FringeU or elsewhere at the festival. Let us know what you think of our “gavel-to-gavel” coverage on nytheaternow.com. And mainly: happy Fringe-ing!