Last week I sat down with Robin C. Gillette, Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and Ann Erickson, Press/Marketing Liaison to discuss the process of getting a show to Fringe and what it takes to mount a festival of this size.
Preparations for this year’s Fringe, the 20th Anniversary, began in mid-November 2012 when hopefuls from around the country submitted applications in hopes to be selected for this year’s Fringe. When applicants submit their application they don’t need to have a completed show, work in progress or even the slightest idea of what their show will look like. Just the contact information for the producer.
Crunch time for the productions begin in February when they learn if they won one of the 176 spots through the lotto selection process. This is when the scripts, casting, props, costumes, and rehearsals start to solidify themselves. Of course there is always a few cases of applicants being selected and then realizing they don’t have any material to produce. When this happens, the Fringe staff starts working the waitlist to find a production that can take the available spot. In some cases they are working to fill holes in the schedule up until the start of the festival.
In addition to filing any holes in the schedule as productions decide to not perform, the Fringe staff also conducts Producer Trainings in the Spring to equip the producers of every show with the essential tools needed to market a successful show from how to write a press release to using social media to spread the word of their show.
Throughout the month of July as productions put the finishing touches on their shows they have the opportunity to present three minutes of their work in front of audiences at Fringe For Alls. These showcases allow the productions to see how audiences react to their work and make any last minute tweaks they see necessary before officially opening at Fringe. This also gives the audience the chance to figure out which shows they want to see at the festival.
The selection process for shows is done through a lotto system, as opposed to a juried selection process, which makes for a great mix of comedy, drama, dance, musical theatre, family shows and adult shows. With a 176 shows to choose from there is literally something for everyone. For some, the amount of shows to choose from can be overwhelming. Fear not…a great feature on the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival website is called My Fringe 5. In this feature registered users of the site can compile their list of five shows on their must see list. The intent of the My Fringe 5 is to gauge what shows are hot in the Fringe community.
Reflecting on where how far the Fringe has come in the last twenty years, Execute Director Robin C. Gillette says “A lot has changed over twenty years…we’ve grown into one of the premier Fringe Festivals in the country, but we’ve always managed to stay true to our main mission and for that I know we are proud.”
Throughout the month of July and during the Minnesota Fringe, BroadwayWorld will be featuring interviews with the producers and casts of various productions playing at this year’s Fringe.
The 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival runs August 1-11 at various venues around Minneapolis. For information on shows, tickets, venues and more events surrounding the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival be sure to check out the official website at www.fringefestival.org/2013.