Fringe Wind-up: Lessons Learned - Part 1

The 2010 Capital Fringe is completed. It was a very successful launching pad for Pushing Boundaries. As I wind up the fringe paper work I am thinking about how the "lessons learned" at this Fringe will support my efforts to take Pushing Boundaries further into the world.

For this post I have summarized the lessons.
I plan to write more on a few individual topics in the next week. Hopefully these lessons will open a discussion and you will share some of your experiences.

1. Five performances gave me a chance to really hone and play with the story as I went along - and to catch the nuances of the responses from shifting audiences. At the start I had a cluster of three performances within 5 days - the other two were spread out - a week apart. Clustering keeps the performing energy high - which is a plus. For the last two - while there was time to rest - I had to pump-up the energy for each performance. In future - I will try to work out a clustering - for the entire run of the show.

2. A Fringe is a fantastic chance to see a wide variety of forms and media, to meet new people, and to re-connect with old friends and colleagues through our marketing work. (Here's another way Social Media came into play.) A Fringe is a wonderful opportunity to see, experience and learn from the work of others - next time I will extend myself more to see a wider variety of performances. I know it will be worth the effort.

3. Goethe Institut - Mainstage is a sweet venue. It is comfortable, upscale, has a wonderful sound system and acoustics with excellent and helpful sound techs.And, it is Air-conditioned. Big lesson here. Consider the climate during the run of a Fringe. Washington in July can be miserably hot and humid and it WAS. I know that in future, even if I have to pay more, I will give attention to getting an air-conditioned venue in a possibly HOT spot.

4. Keta Newborn, the Stage Manager for Fringe performers for the Goethe Main-stage, was terrific. She was totally professional, kept me on cue, helped me re-vamp some of the staging, taught me tricks with my head-set and saw that everything ran smoothly - even to evacuating the building when a fire alarm went off just as the first performance was ending. You are on new turf so get to know and value the folks assigned to work with your venue. Their experience will be invaluable.

5. Check out your venue ahead of your performance. If possible see someone else's show there in case their set-up or staging will help you improve or change your plans. There is no substitute for sitting in the audience to see what happens in the space. It can help you avoid problems. By doing that - I noticed a few glitches that caused me to adjust my entry, add recorded entrance music, and make alternate sound arrangements. The Stage Manager helped me solve these problems - and all went smoothly for my performance.

6. Marketing Tools: Old style paper marketing tools - cards and posters - are part of the plan. Tack up posters where you can, hand out cards, and mail cards if you have local lists Make a program. It is also part of your paper-marketing. This is your chance to tell people something about the show, about the performers, give appreciations to those who helped, and advertise upcoming events. If you are local, perhaps you could sell ad space.

7. A guest book for people to sign with email addresses is a valuable take-away. A friend sold CDs for me at the entrance desk and kept the guest book. Many thanks to my friend storyteller Cricket Parmelee who was homeric - she was " crew" for three of the five performances. Being in your home-city is an advantage so far as enlisting help but when out-of-town perhaps you can hire a student or local storyteller to assist. Don't wait until the last minute to Twitter about it, or check with local organizations.

Now that I have mentioned Twitter - that opens the discussion of Social Media.
Will cover that in Part 2.


White Line

I made this piece in a printmaking atelier in Venice. It was a wonderful few days. Printing and then collaging the materials to make a new piece.

There was a plaque on the brick wall near the entrance identifying the building as "once the home of writer George Sand. Working in this very old building you felt surrounded by history and the feeling of connecting with years of other who had worked in this seasoned place.

My friend Pat was working there at the same time. We did not talk much those days - each in our own worlds - working on our art work. But there is a strong communication between artists when they share creative space. We often talked about that time later. And when she told me afterwards of work she was doing in the atelier on later trips I was glad to know and visualize the place she talked about.


A Bit of Book Talk

1. Just finished reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - by Helen Simonson. Really enjoyed it and felt a pang when I closed the book for the last time. Wonderful interactions between carefully drawn characters who live across class lines in a small UK village. Simonson's subtle observations and descriptions bring the people, the environment even the terrain to life. Beautifully nuanced language. A FB storyteller friend recommended this book and it was a gift.

2. This month is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock. I remember reading it in the 1970s and thinking "he must be kidding." He prophetically warned that change was speeding up and that the pace would become dizzying -- in some cases overwhelming. He predicted information over-load.

In an NPR spot about Future Shock the commenter talked about this over-load and how some people swear off the Internet to create a healthy distance from their compulsion "to know."
He added that in his opinion "the value of the book was that it taught people that the best way to deal with the future was to think about it - - don't be taken by surprise."

3. Jim and I stopped at Politics and Prose (DC) - our favorite bookstore - to browse the tables and shelves of temptations. Yes, a new Donna Leon mystery, as always, it is set in Venice. I satisfied myself with a picture - so I would not forget it - - at the library.

We have to walk through the Coffee Shop to get to the parking lot. As I walked past a table where two middle-aged women were chatting over coffee -
" I said I would never sleep with that man - but when it came up --- didn't say no."

Reminded me of film-maker John Waters talking about the value of "accidental dialogue."

Jim was already out the door or I would have taken the near-by seat to accidentally over-hear how this story worked out.


Let There Be Light

After four days without electric power I was feeling pretty un-done.
and just generally out - of - sorts.

When - lo and behold

Click Click - the lights came back at 6PM

Soon the dishwasher was sloshing
Disposal whirring
and - - -
CNN blaring too.

Welcome Back!!!!

After four days with out electric power I learned something to pass along

When you are trying to read in fading natural light.
Sit with your back to a large plate glass window - so that the light falls over your shoulder onto the page.


Still dark

We went out for four hours
Returned hopeful there would be lights in the windows
and air conditioning.

Hopes high
Riding down our street
Where lights glowed in the windows

Then - darkness

Lights still out in a three block area around our house.

Lights surround us.
You know the air-conditioning is running
Food is not rotting in their refrigerator
Our neighors.


Power Still Off

Another hot day

Storm Sunday
Fierce winds, sheets off rain pelting down
Power went off - 6 hours
Reading in the dark
Power came back

Then Yesterday - off again.

Cooked supper on the deck.
I baked foil wrapped potatoes on the grill
Jim crisped a small steak

Read more in the dark
To bed early - why not.

This morning - POWER STILL OFF
Everything in the the refrigerator will go in the trash.
A chance to start a new diet.

Hoping the guys get it fixed early today
Laundry is piling up
Water is cold
Don't talk about dishes

Times like this
we realize how much we "Live Better Electrically."

Thank heavens for batteries.


Pat Segan - Remembering a Friend.

Pat Segnan - a singular artist and friend, died Saturday, July 24. All who knew her will miss her - her wit, her smile, her caring and her wisdom.

Pat was an artist. She leaves a treasure - her presence in her art works. Beautiful paintings, prints, collages and wall sculptures - which show her hands and creative imagination at work. They speak for her and her passion for making art.


The Temporary Office

The Subway Sandwich Shop on K Street NW
becomes a temporary office when you have a
Broadband card for your Mac.


Two Signs = A Laugh

Could not resist the juxtaposition of these two signs on the front of 2141 K Street NW (DC)


Week Three at the Capital Fringe - Round-up

This is the last week of the Capital Fringe. My final performance is Saturday.
Its been great.
Many highpoints.

For the second performance, on a Saturday morning, my grand-daughter
Alison drove up from William and Mary College in Williamsburg, VA. The Fringe has a policy - no late-comer entrance allowed. Alison was 3 minutes late and the door was locked. But, hearing her story, the Stage Manager took her to the sound booth so she could see the program. Afterwards she was a lovely surprise for me.

Betsy and I have known each other since the fourth grade when we in the same Girl Scout Troop at Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. She drove down from PA, in the driving rain, to hear the story. After the program we adjourned to a near-by Fuddrucker's and talked and talked and talked. It was a wonderful gift.

Although Tim Ereneta and I have know each other on the internet for more than five years we hardly ever see each other face to face. So it was fun to see his program Chart Toppers of 1349 - a program of folktales from the 14th C - and then to interview him for my TV show - Stories in Focus. I will be posting that on the blog in a few weeks so that you can enjoy his story and conversation too.

Slash Coleman and I first met last year when we were both appearing on the Exchange Place Stage at the National Storytelling Festival. It was great to share the same Fringe venue, the Goethe Venue. We will be telling stories together here again in September with Adam Booth and Diane Macklin.
Slash introduced Chai Identity at the Fringe - and its an important story - of finding his identity. Its going to be an important story for him.

Telling Pushing Boundaries at the Fringe has been challenging and fun.
On top of that, like a graduate walking away with their diploma, I have the four reviews.


More bits

Deluge with thunder and lightning last night.
Mother Nature is really out-of-sorts.

I have been involved in some storytelling research.
You know, investigating plot structures.

Watching the MI-5 BBC spy series on Net Flix
Interesting good-guy characters playing spy games against terrorism.
A different take on plot and action than the same genre made for US TV.
Years 1 - 4 available on Net Flix Instant Play.
I had to order the discs for years 5 and 6.
Getting involved in long-time series is good escape TV watching.
And - it doesn't hurt that Rupert Penry-Jones is starring in MI-5.

People I know are "into" the Avatar - The Last Air Bender TV series on Net Flix Instant Play
I carefully dipped into it yesterday -
Carefully because I am susceptible to being pulled into series like this
And Avatar- the Air Bender is dangerous
A fairytale-folktale premise and interesting cartoon images.
Careful! Careful!
This could be habit-forming.
This is an old series
I am wondering how I missed it when it was active on TV.


A Few Bits

I felt the vibrations. Turned over.
"Jim, did you feel that?"
My first thought was an earthquake - but this is Maryland. Maybe they were doing some early morning underground blasting at a deep water pipe site near us.

As long as I am awake I will check for email.
A weather alert.
No, I did not imagine it.

Mother Nature is unsettled.



Yesterday was my birthday - and it was filled with good things:
  • Heard from folks I love: Jimmy from Germany, Robin in CA, Monica and Juliana in MD, Alison in VA, my sisters in NC and GA and Schoettlers in CA. A wide spread of hugs.
  • Jim and I stopped at the Phillips Collection to see two special exhibits: Pousette-Dart white paintings and Robert Ryman's wonderful small abstract works. Stepping into the Phillips never disappoints.
  • Walking past the Studio Gallery on R Street I noticed that sculptor Nancy Frankel's work was the first floor feature show. I could not resist. Nancy's work - - her fine craftsmanship and her play with varied media to create her elegant geometric pieces - - is always a pleasure. I have known Nancy since the 1970s at the Washington Women's Arts Center. Once I too was a member of Studio Gallery along with Nancy. Have always admired her work. Loved this new show.
  • Storyteller Geraldine Buckley joined Jim and me for a ride downtown for Slash Coleman's Chai Identity performance. We gave ourselves enough time to eat at Fuddrucker's which is a block from the Goethe Institut. Nothing better than conversation and lots of laughs before good storytelling.
  • Lovely orchid from Karen waiting at home. I do love having orchids about the house - especially when there are buds to open. Its a plant that keeps giving.
  • My friend Betsy
    sent me a birthday card - in her message she gave me - rainbows, a silver moonbeam and a field of fireflies. Who could wish for more?

  • Well - I guess I do have to mention that I am very, very happy with four positive reviews for Pushing Boundaries - my fringe show. If you want to check them out - HERE.


Another Review

How lucky can I get?
Another favorable review!!
Read it here.

My cup runneth over.


Catch Up - Fringe Excitement

Well I was pretty together by Opening Night and wearing the white shirt my sister Lynda gave me.
Lynda's shirt was the perfect connection to the symbolic white the women fighting for the vote wore more than 75 years ago. July 9 was the 32nd anniversary of the 1978 ERA March on Washington. 100,000 women wearing white marched down Constitution Avenue in support of the ERA. I was there and I wanted to link with that history.

Pushing Boundaries opened at the Capital Fringe on Friday Night July 9. I loved every minute of it -
and its recorded in this wonderful review.

What Kate Mattingly doesn't mention is that I
have Helen Reddy's I AM WOMAN playing as people wait for the program to start. Now if that doesn't set the stage for this show what will.

Big thrill for me was having former ERAmerica staff Kathleen Currie and Betsy Crone in the audience - long-time-no-see. And we swapped more stories and laughs at the sidewalk Q and A.
(Sorry its so dark - but its a good memory for me.)

I felt so fortunate to be telling the story at the Goethe Institut. There is wonderful sound in that room, comfortable plush seats and delicious air-conditioning - plus a very helpful sound tech to make sure all is well. Fringe added the magic touch - Keta Newborn, the perfect Stage Manager.
Not to mention having the able back-up of storyteller Geraldine Buckley and Jim.

Even considering that FIRE really scares me - it was a GREAT evening.


Getting it Together

Love my new iPhone - it does everything.
Camera, phone, internet etc, etc, etc.

Started today at Bethesda Metro Haircuts - to get my hair spruced for the Fringe shows. A holdover from childhood - I love to have someone wash and brush my hair -- soooo relaxing.

The day before a show- relaxing is good.

My sister Lynda called. "Are you together for tomorrow?"
"About as together as I will get - - - -


Canny Art

Reduce, reuse and recycle.
Could not resist this pyramid of used paint cans.

A sticker made them into ART!


An Anniversary

On July 9, 1978 100,000 women - all wearing white - marched on Washington, DC to support the Equal Rights Amendment.

I was one of them - marching with a group under the banner of the Coalition of Women's Arts Organizations.
It was as hot that day as it is today in Washington - humid and blistering hot - but that did not dampen anyone's spirits.

As a marcher you were part of a sea of white - women of all ages, sizes and colors - even some in wheelchairs and others with their children.
Asking Congress to grant an extension for the campaign. Give us a little more time to persuade three more states to vote for the Amendment.

Do you remember that. We needed 38 states; thirty-five had ratified -
Women asked for 6 years - they knew the remaining 10 unratified states were the toughest, the most conservative. It would be an uphill battle to ratify three states from that line-up.

In their unfathomable wisdom, Congress granted 3 years - - the campaign was extended until June 30, 1982.

On a personal note: if I could have forseen my future I would have thanked all those women that day - thanked them for marching so that I could get a job.

July 9 - in three days - - I will be at the Capital Fringe - not too far from the Mall in Washington, DC, telling my story of that time.

Telling of a time when I was an eyewitness to history.

If you are in or near the DC area I hope you will come to hear the story.


Still Celebrating the 4th

Wow. It is hot in the DC area - reaching up to 100 degrees - and mix that with our special humidity - - - it is HOT.


Summer Days

Thinking about summer days.
  • Sitting by the Andrews Air Force Base swimming pool while my kids practiced their laps for swim team
  • eating watermelon. Mama would not buy a watermelon before July 4 - saying they weren't ripe
  • wearing strappy sandals
  • going barefoot - feeling the heat of the sidewalk, trying to avoid burrs, the feel of warm sand between your toes
  • running in the hose on hot days - especially liked it when we had the rotating sprinkler on
  • going to the beach
  • home grown tomato sandwiches - thick juicy slices tomato slathered with Dukes mayonaise between slices of white bread.
  • the sweet smell of honeysuckle on the vines covering fences.
  • sitting on the front porch in the evenings
  • the sound of metal floor stand occilatting fan stirring up a breeze in the living room.
  • tall glasses of iced tea with a layer of white sugar granules on the bottom of the glass.
Maybe I will recall more as the day goes on.


This and That

Woke up this morning thinking -
its here
its next Friday.

Not ready.
Still have a list
Check sound
finish program, etc, etc, etc.
And along the way rehearse the story.

I have been in this territory before
It WILL work out

My good friend Betsy is coming from PA next Saturday!
I will tell the story
then we will go to lunch
to talk
and talk
and talk.
Of important things
cabbages and kings and sealing wax
before she and her husband
take off
to the land of King Arthur
on a sabbatical
surrounded by craggy rocks and ancient books.

Jim and I will fly
in the opposite direction
in August
California here we come
to visit with grandsons, family and friends
some young and looking to the future
others old and living in the past.

We all have our own journeys
so its wonderful
to throw up bridges
along the way.

A familiar dish:
Fixed comfort food for supper last night
Tuna casserole made the 1950s way
Tuna, macaroni, and cream of mushroom soup
Layered in a deep dish.
Still good -
especially with thick slices of fresh picked tomatoes.


Lost in Other Worlds

Well this is the truth.
Yesterday did not go as I planned.
The quiet in the house settled around me and I wrapped myself in it.

After I checked my email I decided to open Net Flix and see it they have MI-5 - the BBC spy series are called "spooks" - on Instant Play. They do - - five seasons.

After two episodes I was completely hooked - and the day evaporated as I entered the world of actor-spys in great Britain.

This is the truth
I escaped all the pressure
Let the dishes mold in the sink
Left the laundry in the dryer

Finally whipped up supper
from left-overs
Finished the evening with the concluding episodes of Season 2.

The last episode of Season 2
ends with the shocking death of the main character
Never saw it coming
Knocked me for a loop

Season 3 not on Instant Play
Started season 4
to find out what happened afterwards
no no
Did not close the circle
So unsatifying
Story not completed.

Now the search for Season 3.
To get the answers
good storytelling
because I care.

The story made me care about these phantoms.