Goodbye, Fringe! Until Next Year!

It is 3 a.m. on Monday, August 26th. I am still in my party clothes, wide awake from the whirlwind that was the festival. Tonight we said goodbye to the festival with a blow-out closing night party. Champagne was poured, awards were given, teary goodbyes were said and a great night was had by all. As I sat at the FringeTERN table observing the participants congratulate themselves, I couldn’t help but be proud of the work we did to make this festival possible. It is not so often that interns are given as much responsibility as we were but, from making sure the schedule was airtight to ensuring every participant got their last paycheck, I truly do believe our contributions were vital to the success of the festival. It truly feels like without us, the show (quite literally) could not have gone on.

I am saddened that this internship is over. I have learned so much and have met so many interesting and intelligent people with whom I hope to remain in contact. I leave this festival with a better understanding of myself: with the understanding that a career in the theatre is what I want and the confidence that it is possible to pursue one’s passions while still being able to support oneself financially. I also walk away with a much better understanding of the inner-workings of a festival. Every single aspect and every single person involved is a vital and invaluable part of the festival. If one component fails, the entire festival will fail. Theatre is the most collaborative art form, and this festival is theatre at its finest; it is thousands of people coming together to collaborate and realize a common vision. These past few weeks, I’ve seen that vision become a reality and I am floored by the impact and effect it has had.

In my theatre classes, I learn about the problems of commercialized theatre. As many know, Broadway tickets are expensive. Because they are expensive, the majority of people who can afford to see these shows are upper-middle class, middle-aged men and women. And because a particular group of people are the primary ticket holders, the Broadway community continues to produce works that appeal to that audience. Though there is a lot of talent and heart put into commercialized theatre, this focus sometimes leads to a stifling of creativity and diversity in the arts and can cause what Peter Brook (a noted theatre theorist) refers to as ‘deadly theatre.’

Deadly theatre is a theatre of commerce, where the number one driving force of a production is to make money, rather than to create, innovate, educate, or enlighten – as theatre is intended to do. The New York International Fringe Festival is the largest multi-arts festival in North America that allows new artists with new and passionate voices to showcase their work in a non-commercial way. More than walking away with an understanding of myself or my future career, I am walking away with a greater understanding of the importance of private and public support for the arts. I want to continue to learn more about and contribute to the non-profit theatre world, because when money isn’t the driving factor – when passion, creativity and heart are – that is when the greatest art, as well as the greatest change, can be realized. I am grateful to have spent a summer immersed in the non-profit art world observing, first-hand, the importance of enlightening, educational and thought-provoking works of theatre. To see just how important FringeNYC is, watch Mayor Bloomberg give FringeNYC the Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture.

And if I could give one piece of advice to a student interested in pursuing an internship or career in theatre – whether it be the non- or for-profit theatre world – it would be to go for it. In this world, there are a lot of people who will scoff at you, or judge you, or warn you that you won’t be able to support yourself – but I implore you to ignore them. It is true, there is not a lot of money to be had in the theatre world – whether it is commercialized or subsidized – but there is a lot of heart, and passion, and change. My mother has always said that if you follow your heart, everything else will fall into place and I now believe she is right.

As this is my last post, I’d like to thank the WOW community for making this internship possible. I have learned so much not only about myself and my field, but about all the amazing work my fellow WOW recipients have been up to this summer. It was an incredible summer, and here’s to another great year with the Brandeis community!