After a brief visit to the LA Indie Improv Festival this weekend, I finally let down my guard and went to check out the new Top Shop, a store I first fell in love with in London and just knew would be trouble when it finally opened in LA. While not as dangerous as I had initially imagined, I did end up leaving with some mint jelly sandals with heels - marginally practical, definitely ridiculous, and just the sort of oddball piece to get me excited for summer.
I found myself thinking, "Will I get blisters from these silly plastic shoes, clomping around Hollywood for Fringe?" and another wardrobe constant concern (WCC), "Can I do improv in these?" Yes, and Yes, I decided, but damnit, the next month is gonna be amazing and I just don't care.
The feeling of excitement and anticipation - of experiences, performances, people, and new places found only on foot in Hollywood during the month of June, aka the best month of the year - is a familiar one to me, four years old now. That first year, 2010 I suppose, I hung around iO West for the first time making in Fringe videos, wrote daily reviews for LA Theatre Review, and watched in awe as an incredible group of smart, innovative, and really cool people built an uncensored arts festival that all of LA could be proud of. Having produced at Prague Fringe in 2008, I was elated to have a similarly progressive, spectacular, fun-filled festival right on my doorstep, with challenging, exciting work in it. Everything I loved about the Theatre was there, and it was there by the bucketload.
I returned in 2011 with Girl Band in the Mens Room and as a Theatre Criticism panel moderator with Bitter Lemons and literally had the time of my life. The only way make the Hollywood Fringe even more fun is to attend it as a grungy rock star, I learned. My friends and I were supported by the friendly, resourceful Fringe staff, and the amount of talented artists in LA I admired and came to know grew with every day spent near ArtWorks Theatre. Everything I loved about life itself was there, and looking back, I see it very much as the impetus for so many subsequent projects, including much of my work in music. Nothing like writing a fake grunge song to inspire a love affair with recording, I do believe.
2012 saw me futzing around with FringeTV, LA FPI, Bitter Lemons and my beloved Four Clowns as I clung to any fringe-related task and hoped for any excuse to hang out at the amazing new Fringe Central Station. I experienced Life Changing Clown Show (LCCS) for the second time, which is a different story for another day, and witnessed so many ways Ben, Stacy and everyone on Fringe Staff put their love, intelligence, and time into making Fringe incredible for artists and patrons alike. I have yet to find a community as caring, well-organized, kind and FUN as the HFF community (sorry, LA Improv scene but ya just can't compete yet).
For three years now, my expectations of Fringe have been exceeded, with new technologies, support, and outreach integrated into a festival that makes me so proud to be a part of LA's theatre community. It's not easy to run a festival of this size, to deal with unshowered artists lugging around a prop urinal, or with theatre critics and journalists (or the lack thereof), or to do so many things well and with a smile on your face all while fostering a positive community, or NOT write a run-on sentence when listing all the positive attributes of Hollywood Fringe, but somehow, Hollywood Fringe does it. Seriously, read their press releases.
As much as I wanted to make sure my footwear was prepared for the year's shenanigans (and am grateful I was able to afford new shoes this summer), I wanted to help make sure Hollywood Fringe can keep making LA summers amazing, with all the bells, whistles, and PBRs it needs. That's why I wrote this little reflection/love letter to Fringe, and why I am contributing to the HFF13 Fund before June 12th. It's the least I can do for something that has been a huge part of my life, a guaranteed good time that has helped shape me and my city for the better, and the breeding ground for so many of the relationships I hold dear.
If you agree and want to donate to the Hollywood Fringe, please do so by June 12th by clicking here!
I will be writing about the Hollywood Fringe on Bitter Lemons, a wonderful theatre site which is also doing its part to keep our artistic community together. Check it out if you haven't yet done so, or send me info about your fringe show at firstname.lastname@example.org. June is also the time for LA Improv Festival at iO - Robot will be performing and there are plenty of workshops to check out, so hopefully I will see some good friends around there, too! See you this summer + donate if you can!