Wednesday marked the opening of the 21st annual San Francisco Fringe Festival, but more importantly (to me), my 10th year as a staff member of the SF Fringe.
The Fringe is a festival of over forty plays, most an hour or less, staged between 5-6 venues, with rotating performances of multiple shows in each space each night until the Festival is over.
Contrary to my mild-mannered librarian exterior (note to people who don’t know me: I am not mild-mannered), I was once upon a time a theater tech — I majored in theatrical design, worked a couple seasons for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and designed sets and lights for various shows. I wore steeltoe boots and too much black. Back in college, my current wife was my-then girlfriend, and she was a lighting designer (she’s an accountant now), and we worked on shows together.
The last vestige of my theatrical past is my work with the Fringe Festival. I’m a staff tech — I work for the festival, and I’m assigned to a show and help them design their lights and run the show for each performance.
When I was younger and had no kids and fewer professional responsibilities, I’d work for 3-4 different productions, and see over 30 of the Festival’s shows each year. Now I only work for 1 production, and only get to see a handful of the plays. But it’s still one of my favorite times of the year. The tech staff are some of the most glorious humans on earth, and for these two weeks we’re as thick as thieves working on shows, seeing shows, and swapping rumors and reviews.
As for the shows themselves? Some are brilliant. Some are maudlin. Some are avante-garde. Some are vanilla. The beauty of the Fringe is anyone can produce a play — slots are awarded by lottery, not by reputation. If you don’t like a show, another one will start in less than an hour, and tickets are always affordable.
I’ll be at the Fringe tomorrow; I’ll house manage the Exit Theater in the afternoon and run lights for my assigned show Saturday night. I’m pumped. If you live in or near San Francisco, check out their website, and come out and see a show.
(Source: Flickr / sffringe)