THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGE FESTIVAL BLOG
May 20, 2013 by Ben Hill
Who are you and what do you do?
Hello, I am Ben your friendly cruise director for HFF13. I started planning the Fringe with my friends in 2007 right after we moved to LA. After unpacking our shirts, we realized that LA didn’t have a Fringe. Then we reserved a domain name. The rest is history.
As Festival Director and Board Chair, my job is to make sure the HFF happens every year. I work on promotion, development, production, participant support, ticketing, special events, partner relationships and strategic planning. It’s a 365-days-a-year, 17-hour-a-day job.
I also spend a lot of time developing the Fringe website and mobile apps. Both of those projects have been active since 2007. I write the code, develop the spec and sing the songs.
What inspired you to start a Fringe here?
The place itself inspires Fringey thought patterns. As we aren’t shackled by a dominating commercial theatre scene, we have a lot of opportunity to define LA as a hotbed for emerging theatre. It really helps that this also happens to be the truth.
I’ve also seen firsthand the effect of Fringes in other cities. Edinburgh (the grandmother of all Fringes) is an inspiring creation; one of the wonders of the world. If you love HFF and want more, buy your plane tickets to Scotland today. Every fringe lover needs to take that pilgrimage.
Why a Fringe in LA? Isn’t LA a 365 day Fringe?
Good question. Fringe Festivals serve a specific purpose. They act as an incubator for new talent, an event with international recognition and a banner celebration for the theatre community. Of course there’s fringe-like action occurring all year round; that’s one of the many aspects that makes LA such a dynamic artistic city. For these few weeks, that dynamism has a time, a place and a big spotlight. That makes it special.
Any suggestions for first time Fringers?
Take risks. This goes for both your on-stage creativity and your personal scheduling. Don’t just see shows that seem to fit your normal patron profile, push yourself. Leave that safety zone behind. One of the big benefits of HFF is that shows are generally short and mostly inexpensive allowing you to enjoy a high volume and disparate assortment of works.
Build community. Most involved in the Fringe are looking to expand their horizons: To see shows, make friends and influence people. See someone else with a Fringe Button? Talk to them, ask them what they’ve seen, make a friend. New friends turn into great future partners if the spark is right.
Don’t be a jerk. We laugh about that line but it’s serious. This isn’t the place to be self-involved, petty, dismissive or rude. Those types tend to sit alone in the corner. The fringe is a place to be generous, kind, helpful and filled with mirth. Embrace those moments of fringe miracles and pay it forward, you’ll be happy you did.
Would you rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses or a horse-sized duck?
I am thinking I could take a horse if it came down to him or me; and a duck is a pretty goofy and lovable bird. I think I could talk my way out of it. I have no interest in fighting a hundred anything.
May 14, 2013 by Ben Hill
fringers gear up for the last town hall of the season
Thanks to everyone who attended the final Fringe Town Hall last night! We had a full house at the Open Fist Theater, home of the 2013 Fringe Mainstage and Box Office.
For those of you who missed it, we recorded the proceedings.
Still have questions? Email us at [email protected].
May 07, 2013 by Ben Hill
Who are you, and what are you doing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival?
I’m Elizabeth Karb, and I’m the Audience Director for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
What is an Audience Director?
That’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it. I am the voice of the audience within the Fringe organization. It’s my job to make sure that our audience, the patrons of the arts, without whom the Fringe would be a sad and lonely affair, are well taken care of.
What’s your average Fringe day like?
I spend most of my time in the Fringe Box Office. I’m there to help with the managing of the box office, selling tickets, checking people in for shows, answering questions, etc. And if, as sometimes happens with a festival of this size, a ticketing concern arises, I’m there to fix it.
How did you get started with the Hollywood Fringe?
Well, two years ago, my friend Meghan McCauley (the Fringe Outreach Director) mentioned that the Hollywood Fringe needed volunteers, so I signed up. The next year, they asked me to come back as Box Office Manager, and now, I’m the Audience Director. I would encourage everyone who’s thought of volunteering to do it. I’ve met so many great people through Fringe, just because I decided to lend a helping hand.
What do you like best about Hollywood Fringe?
That’s a tough question, because there’s so much I love about the Fringe. I love the independent productions that it helps to showcase. I love the spirit of creativity and innovation. But most of all, I love the people that it brings together. It’s really hard work for the staff and the artists, but it’s so rewarding to see this community spring to life every June. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s totally worth it.
Do you think Daenerys Targaryan will succeed in reclaiming the Iron Throne?
Well, time will tell. She definitely has the whole dragon thing going for her. But, I’m sure Tyrion [Lannister] will figure out something to neutralize that threat. At any rate, I don’t think Joffrey will be king in the end. He’s pretty lame.
May 05, 2013 by Ben Hill
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the April Twitter Chat. We had a great turnout and an enlightening conversation.
This month the chat will be held on Monday, May 20th, from 8 to 9 PM PDT. All you have to do to join the discussion is use the hashtag #HFF13. The chat will be moderated by the @HollywoodFringe account.
These are great opportunities to build your follow list and establish a supportive community before the festival begins
Thanks and see you online!
April 30, 2013 by Ben Hill
First things first: My name is Elizabeth Steele, but you should just call me ‘Liz’, because no one will know who you’re talking about if you ask for ‘Elizabeth’!
How did you first get involved in the Fringe?
This is my fourth year with the festival— and it should come as no shock to learn that I started as a volunteer at Fringe 2010. I was a recent transplant to LA and desperately missed the sense of family I felt in my college theatre department, where any position in any production felt like the center of the world because we were all so close. The moment I felt closest to recreating that feeling was volunteering during one of the first nights of Fringe, while a high school cast was waiting to enter from the lobby. Their excitement was contagious! They all happily shared their story with me and even though I wasn’t performing or part of their group, I felt that wonderful, familiar thrill so keenly.
What do you do as Volunteer Director and how did you get the job?
After the inaugural year, I approached Ben Hill (Festival Director) about volunteer coordination. There were plenty of helping hands that first year, but as anyone in management knows, it’s almost as difficult to distribute tasks as it is to complete them on your own, so it was a challenge at times to keep the volunteers organized. I wanted to be the staff’s mouthpiece, the go-between for doling out tasks to volunteers helping around Fringe Central. I wanted to make sure the floor was vacuumed, that shows always had someone to run their box office, that someone was sent to pick up confetti, and so on and so on. All the rest of the Fringe staff had their hands full as it was.
Throughout the year, it’s my responsibility to attract and retain volunteers. While most of our energies are focused toward June, we have fundraisers and promotional videos to shoot during the off-season, as well as outreach programs and community events to attract participants, patrons and other volunteers as we approach the festival. It’s my job to secure the extra help we need to get the job done.
What’s the best part of your job? The most challenging?
If you ever need to find me in June, look no further than the Fringe Central Box Office. If I’m not there, I’m probably asleep. It’s a great place to meet participants, train volunteers, and help patrons make the most of their Fringe experience. I love being there— being in the thick of it is my favorite part of my job.
It’s also a great place to work with my fellow staff members, especially Elizabeth Karb, our Audience Director, on volunteer scheduling— which is definitely the most challenging aspect of my job. Our volunteers are extremely generous with their time (a generosity we take every precaution not to abuse), so when something comes up unexpectedly, it can be difficult to secure a fresh volunteer. Thank goodness for email and Twitter (we’re @hffvolunteer— please follow us for volunteer news)— shifts always get covered, despite my initial heart attacks.
They say Fringe is one big party— any truth to that?
Well, as my head will attest, there’ve been some pretty raucous impromptu fetes in the past. But the Fringe is definitely growing up. Bar hours are becoming more reasonable and we staff members don’t party the way we used to, but one thing’s for certain— the Fringe feeling, the magic that makes Fringe what it is— isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I’d say the Opening Night Party gets better with age, continuing to break its own records every year. That’s my favorite day of the festival… and not just because the Fringe Box Office is closed.
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Mix together Hamlet, King Lear, throw in a little MacBeth and just a touch of Julius Caesar you get Shakespeare's "King Phycus." Full of wit and knock-knock jokes, six humble players portray thousands of characters.
A True Story of one man's Hilarious battle to defend himself against the IRS using receipts, Art, ice cream, loads of diet soda (and creativity?). What would you risk to defeat the most powerful agency in the US?
A finalist for the 2012 Goldberg Prize, BEFORE A FALL is about the patriarch of a church suspected of molesting his granddaughter, the teacher who tries to intercede, and the community that turns a blind eye. Sundays June 9, 16, 23, @ 3 and 7.
Digital Theatre Technologies is offering big discounts to all participants of the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival. In additional to our reduced rates, we are going to donate a portion of every rental back to the festival!