Last night I returned to the Hollywood Fringe Festival and had a great time. First, I met Festival Founder and Director Ben Hill, see interview below. I also met the Communications Director Stacy Jones Hill, who was kind enough to grant me a press pass for the festival. Then I hung around and ate dinner at the Fringe Central Station after taking in a show (the wonderful The Booby Prize, reviewed below).
The Hollywood Fringe is an amazing, yearly event that allows performers and actors to self-produce a project in a supportive, open atmosphere. They encourage all kinds of productions, and you can find out more on their website here: hollywoodfringe.org. It is also very reasonable, where else in Hollywood can you get dinner, a show and parking for under $25.00?
The performance I saw last night was The Booby Prize, which was hysterically funny and bravely honest. Lizzie Czerner, writer and performer (photo below), did a great job dealing very openly and in a side-splittingly funny way, talking and joking about how being well-endowed isn't always easy. I would highly recommend this show, the next performance is on June 28th and tickets are likely still available.
For more information and tickets on this or any other Fringe event, visit hollywoodfringe.org and search for the particular show in which you are interested.
INTERVIEW WITH BEN HILL 6/14/13
© 2013 Joy Bennett
Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down for a few minutes with the remarkable Ben Hill, who, along with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, founded and directs the Hollywood Fringe Festival. This is the fourth year of the festival, which he started to give performing artists in LA a place to create and present events in a welcoming, open and supportive environment.
And telling from the kindness and warmth of the participants, audience, and staff, they have succeeded beautifully. Here is the interview, slightly edited for continuity.
Ben's background is in theatre and high tech, and he started another festival in the Washington DC area before moving to LA in 2007 to start to work on The Fringe here. Although he has a strong performing background, he does not have the time to perform a project himself in the festival. He also stressed the importance of non-favoritism. As a board member, he cannot recommend one performance over the other, they are all equally presented, even to the tiniest detail like the same size type font in the catalog. However, the audience is encouraged to review and share their reactions to the various events, and there is a section on the Fringe website to do so. They also have community-voted Fringe Awards for the best of the Fringe, which can lead to bigger success for he most deserving of the events. The awards are presented on the Awards and Closing Night Party on June 30th at Fringe Central Station, and anyone can go to find out who wins.
I asked him about funding, and he said they do receive a small grant from the City and County of Los Angeles, and they do have some corporate sponsors, but all these are not huge amounts.
I inquired about audience size, and he said that although it grows every year, the estimate of unique patrons is arround 20,000. I wondered aloud about what was his biggest challenge and he immediately piped up, "publicity, getting people to know about us." However, he said each passing year the festival gets bigger and bigger. I certainly hope and trust it will be around for many years to come!
Later on I mentioned to Ben that I would like to support the festival any way I can, and he promised to grant me a press pass every year. Much continued success, Ben, it was a pleasure to meet you and your fellow Fringers!
Below is the first episode of 2013 Fringe TV, a great introduction to all things Fringe! You can watch more Fringe TV, buy tickets and read reviews on hollywoodfringe.org.