Friday, September 5, 2014

Anna - My Chicago Fringe Festival experience

Tonight is our final performance of THE MECHANICAL MAN in the Chicago Fringe Festival (at 7pm at the Ketchup-Less Stage aka The Gift Theatre). I (and we) have had a great time performing in and being part of this year’s festival.
Some personal perspective that I’ve experienced by performing in the festival is that it is super organized! My hat goes off to Anne and Vinnie and Mikayla and Adrienne and everyone else involved. Our stage managers and venue managers have been great. We love Sarah and Jessica and MacKenzie and we’d love to hire them at DTC after fringe is over! Also, I’ve noticed an improvement in the venues since the birth of fringe. Walking into a space performing after only one tech can be pretty nerve wracking, and despite the one or two tiny blips (to be expected in ANY performance) we had a really smooth experience.
Another bonus I’ve found as a performer in the festival is that there have been so many opportunites aligned with the festival for getting word out about the show. In really creative ways too! Running DTC with a full production going at the same time, we haven’t had tons of time to dream up schemes on how to get the world to know about THE MECHANICAL MAN, but through the relationship to the festival we’ve been given the opportunity to do a podcast, perform in a mall, have our picture taken in a high traffic location with tourists (though we had to back out of that one last minute because of last minute rehearsals), do a 1 minute preview of our piece, be interviewed bya newspaper, get our pictures and blurbs posted all over local media, meet the local Jefferson Park people (John & Cyd are AWESOME!) and wander around a couple of great Chicago summer festivals in costume. The leg work involved in doing all those things on our own would have been too difficult for our small family company to accomplish.
We at DTC go way back to the festival’s beginning, the conception even- and are proud to have seen it grow into the communal love of art that it is today. I’ve only been able to see 5 of the 47 different shows in this year’s festival: LOVE IN A HEAT DEATH UNIVERSE, 10 & 2, MRS. PRESIDENT: A VISIT WITH MARY TODD LINCOLN, OUT OF TUNE CONFESSIONAL & TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE!  With the only 3 days left this year we have the opportunity to see a few more, though I wish I could have seen them all. You can hear why I love the idea of participating in the fringe festival here in this podcast interview with one of the fringe’s founding fathers, Vinnie.
We went to the Fringe Benefit and won some awesome raffle stuff. It was a great event. Overall I have enjoyed going to Fringe Central to hang out and meet other artists. It’s laid-back and pretty comfortable (even though this past week has been hella hot!). One weird request/suggestion I would have for future is to also put restrooms on the Fringe Map. Spending the day in Jefferson Park with the opportunity for only one pee with no sink & hand sanitizer was a little frightening for me, but I think I have that problem with all of Chicago in general. (I would gladly pay a potty tax, but that’s another blog entry for another day.)
Another crazy Anna hair brained idea would be to introduce local acts to out-of-towners right after the initial lottery. I found that being a local made it easier for us to dive in to all the activities, and my personal observation with the out-of-towners is that they’re a bit shy. Though we couldn’t have hosted out-of-towners at our house, I would have gladly adopted another act long ago and face-timed with them to help them with the local stuff while they couldn’t be here in town. I was already buzzing about our show long ago, I would have been glad to plug another one right along with it if I had met and talked to another act.
THE MECHANICAL MAN is a show that I really love personally. It has all the things that I like in a show. My biggest inspirations are the founders of United Artists: Mary Pickford & Charlie Chaplin. In THE MECHANICAL MAN, the characters are archetypal yet also complex. The plot is easily identifiable but with a twist. I love melodrama and silent film. I love that all our props fit in a box. And I love what the show looks like.