Let the Festivities Begin!

Things are really picking up here at FringeNYC; the festival has begun! About a month ago, we packed up FringeNYC’s year round midtown office and made the move down to FringeCENTRAL on the Lower East Side. We unpacked, cleaned, organized, cleaned and reshaped an old, dirty, unused Japanese karaoke bar (did I mention cleaned?) into the new FringeCENTRAL. Since we opened to the public, participants, volunteers and prospective audience members have been flocking to our 2nd Avenue location to see what’s on and where they can help.

A short while ago, each FringeTERN was delegated a project or task for once we got down to FringeCENTRAL. Some are working with the FringeJR shows (shows that are geared toward younger audiences), some are organizing FringeTEASERS (little teasers of fringe shows hosted at FringeCENTRAL to provide prospective audience members with a taste of some of the shows) and I, as well as one other FringeTERN, have been assigned to coordinate the volunteers. On any given year, FringeNYC gets about 2,000 volunteers that come in once the festival starts. One of the main tasks of volunteers is distributing will-call tickets, but volunteers can be doing anything from directing audience traffic to helping out at FringeCENTRAL. FringeNYC’s volunteer policy is “Work a Shift, See a Show at FringeNYC” (for free.) Since we’ve opened to the public, I have mostly been working as a concierge/volunteer coordinator to help audience members find shows they would like to see or to train prospective volunteers, input their information in our system and schedule their shifts.

When I started my internship with FringeNYC, I had no idea what the summer had in store. All I knew was that there is nothing in this world about which I am more passionate than theatre and I wanted to have an immersive experience in the theatre world. Theatre is one of the most collaborative art forms. You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it takes the city of New York to mount a Broadway show. In the theatre, artists, creators, visionaries and benefactors come together to realize a production. And because there are so many great minds working together to realize a common vision, I have always found it difficult to find my place within the world of theatre. Did I want to be an actress? A director? A producer? A playwright? A stage manager? A designer? All of the above? None of the above? When I applied for an internship with FringeNYC, it was my hope and my goal that working with so many different theatre artists would help me find a singular pathway within the theatre to follow; that it would help me find a career path.

However, having spent so much time working for the festival and encountering inspiring people who have made a career out of a life in the theatre, I now understand that there is no “right” track or trajectory. The people I’ve met here at the fringe come from all different walks of life. In the fringe this year we have investment bankers, basketball players, and everything in between. All have made their way to the fringe because they have a story to share. They are storytellers and – because of that – they are theatremakers. I am so in awe of and inspired by the people I’ve met here. They truly are pieces of a whole and make this collaborative and expansive art form what it is.

You ask me to address the concrete skills I have built as a result of this internship and to address how they will be transferable to my future career. However, I have found that even though I may have gotten better at creating an Excel spreadsheet or using Volgistics (the volunteer coordinating website), what I have gained from this internship is a lot less tangible. I have gained a better sense of self – a better sense of my strengths and weaknesses, of my likes and dislikes – as well as a better appreciation for this ever-growing, ever-evolving art that is theatre. I haven’t necessarily progressed in my goals; I haven’t found a singular career path or focus in the theatre. I haven’t decided what I want to be when I ‘grow up’, but furthermore, I have come to the realization that I don’t have to. It is those who walk blindly into the woods that emerge with the greatest stories to tell.

– Sophie Greenspan ’15