Is there life after the Hollywood Fringe Festival?
Yes! Of course! Last season Hollywood Fringe founder Ben Hill spoke to the excitement and changes with each HFF season, including some of the How To’s for international shows participating in the local scene . But a next step for productions who want to go further than a 2-week run once the #fringeproms, Twitter chats and regular Town Halls end, well that takes a bit more than registering your show and a few drinks at Fringe Central. The good news is that there is an immediate path forward without going far. I asked Theatre Asylum producers and Hollywood Fringe veterans, Matt Quinn and Bertha Rodriquez to talk about local possibilities through their own venues.
Let’s start with some success stories. Who’s moved on after an initial run?
Matt: One of my pride and joys is one of our Encore shows, My Sister which came initially from the Hollywood Fringe. Ron Sossi of the Odyssey Theatre saw the show and ended up extending it at the Odyssey in January. That was incredibly exciting because it exampled how a Fringe model of letting shows develop organically, without real money, could interest a major theater. The Odyssey was able to pick up a fully developed production.
Pulp Shakespeare is another example that Theatre Asylum extended for six months through Encore. Michael Shaw Fisher’s Shakespeare’s Last Night Out had a long run at Three Clubs and went on to win an Ovation Award. Punch and Judy won a L.A. Drama Critics Circle award after its Encore and Beyond Encore presentations. Actor/playwright Ben Moroski’s The Wake went on to win multiple accolades including a 2015 Stage Raw Award. And last year when Scare LA contacted us, we hooked them up with Nilbog: The Unauthorized Parody of Troll 2.
At Theatre Asylum we’re trying to work as a contact between the artist and larger venues. Shows with legs get an opportunity to strut their stuff at the Encore and we’re making an even bigger push with many venues to come out and take an interest for productions throughout the year. I think there is something that could be attractive to larger houses who don’t have to pay out the rehearsal time and instead just move to production and pay normal show expenses.
Another interesting model is Jeremy Aluma of Four Clowns who is just a great producer. Jeremy had his show at the Hollywood Fringe and then brought his show to Arizona & Chicago. He toured about four cities. Two of them had Fringes and in one or two of them he just publicized it himself. He got press in all of these cities and then he came back here and ended up doing a run at South Coast Rep. He utilized that tour to build the resume. So, for the right show if you plot a Fringe run, it’s a great way to build that.
What are some of the programs you run?
Matt: The first obvious one is the Encore Awards. The Encore is a venue producer award where it’s venue will pick shows and give an opportunity to get the press or audience members or Fringe staff that didn’t come to see them.
Beyond Encore is another opportunity for shows we’ll bring back or have been touring other cities. We give those a second run.
Over 200 shows make it into the Hollywood Fringe. How are you noticing them?
Matt: What we push all the time, is that you get out what you put in. You need to have a big stake in this: going to the Wednesday night office hours, to the town halls, tweeting things, having a great image, going out to see other shows, and following up with press. The producers need to network and continue pushing, “You’re going to come see my show right? Come see my show.”
I saw roughly about eighty shows last year. That’s a chunk. So the shows we most notice are pushed through their venue managers who find me and say, “Hey Matt how are you, I just want to give you my card.” Then I’ll get an email from them a week later. If I have a moment I will probably go see their show.
Then there are other places to investigate like the WhiteFire Solo Festival, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival and other festivals like San Diego Fringe and even Edinburgh, two other festivals we’ve been developing relationships with. Theatre Unleashed also has run extensions from Encore.
What about a show that doesn’t make it to Encore or wants to tour?
Matt: Touring shows I think have a lot of challenges. I tend to be a fan of using the Fringe network to tour your show.
We sponsor several panel workshops during Fringe. How To Tour Your Show in Edinburgh and How To Tour Your Show in North America and Canada.
Then there’s Pick of the Fringe, a format that is run heavily in Edinburgh along with a company called, Fringe Management who is specifically hired to bring shows to Edinburgh. Although you are not being financed to go to Edinburgh – you are paying them – what they provide is all the How To information, to take you everywhere and procure venues. Just the size of Edinburgh…there are 3000+ shows. And there are certain venues that are golden – Super Venues – that are tough to get into. Because you can’t just call a venue down the road and say “I want to come there.”
One of the things regarding touring that we started, is that with Beyond Encore, we’ve partnered up with the San Diego Fringe. So we send shows from LA to San Diego. They send shows from San Diego to LA. Also shows from San Francisco that we ran as Beyond Encore presentations.
Another interesting thing is the Canadian Fringe where basically you can start on one side Canada and work all the way across the country through Fringe.
Last minute advice?
Matt: Network, network, and
Bertha: Network! And don’t let your house go empty. Get butts in seats even if they are comped. It creates momentum and people start talking. If you’re here for a short period of time, you want to take advantage of as much as possible to get as much exposure as possible.