This is the fourth straight year I’ve done a show in the St. Louis Fringe Festival. The first two years were scripts from other writers - bizarre, unique, extremely Fringe-worthy shows. But for the third year, one of several realizations I had was that while these shows were fine, what Fringe is all about is self expression, the presentation of your own thoughts and creativity and take on the world.
So I wrote one then, and have written another for the upcoming Fringe.
And these original pieces illustrate what motivates me to create theatre, the criteria for what type of theatre I do, and the value of the Fringe Festival as a home for this type of work. I love stories. In books, and movies, and plays. I love hearing them and I love telling them. And that’s the FIRST mandatory for anything I undertake.
I want to help tell a story that I have to tell, something that I’m compelled to get across. I want to think, “Man, this is the coolest thing, you have to hear this!”
That's the start. Once I’ve come across that, or imagined it, the race is on.
And once I’ve settled in and began the exploration and began to put together the structure or approach to the story, the SECOND mandatory comes of its own accord: And that’s fear.
I want to feel stark, white-hot, serious doubts about whether or not I can pull this off. Can I portray or direct this story in a manner that will do it justice? If I’m acting, will the audience believe me in this role? If I’m directing, will I have the courage and strength to push it where it needs to be? And can the audience be as interested in this close-to-my-heart story as I am? And this fear provides the tingling nerves that are absolutely necessary to stay on my toes and present any work as it should.
The THIRD mandatory comes right behind all shows I do. Olivier said it (though it was probably also said by Will Shakespeare or by that caveman who stood up first around the fire): “The best thing about theatre is the drink after.""
It's not just the drink, it’s the occasion to reflect on what you’ve been doing - whether after rehearsal or performance, whether laughing with others or stewing by yourself. Though I cherish the camaraderie of a like-minded ensemble, having done so many one-person shows, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the solitude of leaning against a bar by yourself, with just your thoughts on what happened or what you need to do next to make a show better.
This is theatre for me, and whatever it is for others, the Fringe Festival gives many of us the chance to do what we love, to do what we need to do.
The Fringe is a joyous event, a celebration of life and art. And I’m ever happy to be part of it.