2013 MN Fringe Lottery and more

by Mo Perry • Feb. 5

News and notes |

The Minnesota Fringe Festival held their lottery last night to see which lucky shows would get to be a part of the 2013 lineup. This morning, Facebook is all a-buzz with posts like, "I'm in the Fringe! Guess I better write a show..." @MNFringe live-tweeted the results as the balls were chosen from the tumbler last night. (To make any sense of those numbers you'll need the numbered list of applicants). I was sorry to see that casebolt & smith didn't make it in this year and are pretty far down on the wait list. Ditto Joking Envelope. But Transatlantic Love Affair will be back, it seems, as will Comedy Suitcase and The Peanut Butter Factory--three companies that had big hits in last year's festival. For the complete list of shows that made it into the lottery and those on the wait list, go here. (@MNFringe said they're working on the complete list and are aiming to have it up on the site around noon).

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Archeologists have announced that bones found under a municipal parking lot in Leicester, England belonged to Richard III, the subject of Shakespeare’s famous play by the same name. I guess the Duchess of York meant it when she said (in the play): “Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end; / Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.” They paved the royal grave and put up a parking lot.

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Here’s a NY Times article that was making the rounds on social media last week on female directors gaining a little more momentum and visibility in the New York City theater scene. The article attributes this trend to the relationships the directors have forged with up-and-coming playwrights; as the playwrights rise, the directors go with them.

“‘I’ve traditionally preferred female directors because they are less territorial in the rehearsal room and tend to accommodate writers better than male directors do,’ said Bruce Norris, who won the 2011 Pulitzer for ‘Clybourne Park,’ a satire about race in a Chicago neighborhood.”

The takeaway seems to be that, as director Rachel Chavkin puts it, “the No. 1 way a director makes their career is by rising with a playwright.” It makes sense--a play on the page is a story half-told (and playwrights are bound to develop loyalty to those who bring their stories to fully realized life in a way that’s not only consistent with their vision, but pushes it further), and a director without a good story to tell is a fancy flat screen TV with no picture. Playwrights and directors are like the respective mothers and fathers of new little, squirming plays, and the bonds that form in that process of creation are fierce and strong. So burgeoning directors out there, female or otherwise, sounds like you better find yourselves a playwright to attach to like a barnacle. Er, I mean, collaborate with.

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This blog has a neat-o interview with NEA Chief of Staff Jamie Bennett. This section in particular made my mind shoot off little fireworks:

Barry: “What are the two or three major issues you see facing the sector over the next five years, and how might we best address those challenges?”

Jamie: “I think we have to take a hard look at the investments being made to build audiences. In my previous job, I spent a good portion of my days working on citywide cultural events calendars. Never once did I ever use one of those calendars to plan something to do in my personal life. If someone lives in New York City and hasn’t figured out how to get to the theater, I am not sure that an alphabetized list of a thousand events is going to be the silver bullet to get them to attend a first performance.

Instead, I think we have to look at preference discovery engines. There are three basic kinds: Amazon’s, based on patterns of behavior (people who bought X also bought Z); Facebook’s, based on personal relationships (I am friends with X; X likes Y; I might like Y); and Pandora’s, based on inherent qualities (song A has X, Y, and Z characteristics, and so does song B). I think if we could create a cross-disciplinary Pandora, it would revolutionize audience development. Can you imagine an algorithm that takes a person who listens to jazz music and enjoyed reading The Color Purple and suggests that that person might also enjoy seeing Bill T. Jones’s company dance? It would be revolutionary.”

I love the idea of an app or website where I could enter the last three plays I saw, the last three songs I downloaded from iTunes, and the last three books I loved, and it would spit out some suggestions for local events, performances, concerts, readings, or exhibits that I would be likely to enjoy. It’s that whole Steve Jobs thing of giving people what they don’t know they want. It never occurs to me to research upcoming art exhibits or look at concert calendars, but if I had my own little pocket curator nudging me toward things that would have faded into the periphery otherwise, I imagine my cultural life would be even richer than it is now. So someone get on that, okay?

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Well, MN Playlist readers, it's been a gas, but this will be my last News & Notes blog. (The weekly blog will carry on, just with another author). I'm one week into a scary, exciting, demanding rehearsal process, and my time and energy need to be funneled in that direction. Thanks for hanging with me for the past six weeks. You all enjoy the season premier of "Smash" tonight, now, you hear?

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