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The Five Stages of Creating a Fringe Festival Show

Last night I finally sat down to try and work my way through the Hollywood Fringe Festival production videos on YouTube.

Let's look at where I'm at with the show at the moment:

It could either be a one-man show that expands on all the work I've done at open mic


It could be an ensemble jukebox musical based on my songs


I could finally direct a production of "Moose Murders"

I priced out Samuel French for "Moose Murders" and assuming Arthur Bicknell gave the go-ahead it would be around $600 in licensing fees.

In terms of getting cast, crew, etc for a musical I was referred to a production company that I haven't called yet for an estimate.

One-man show of course has the lowest barrier of entry and in my mind the worst stigma attached to it.

I don't like to see one person shows (the pitches usually sound like "It's about a boy who (suffered some kind of abuse)" or "It's about a girl who (got some kind of disease)". There's rarely a plot in the pitch. Having been married to a literary agent and having people pitch ideas in the worst situations with the worst ideas all of the time, I'm a little subjective when I hear these pitches now.

One of my favorite bad ones was "It's a children's book about a bird with no wings". There's never any plot.

Anyway I dove in and began watching the following video about how to write a one-person show:

Within about 20 minutes I found myself crying uncontrollably and cuddling multiple pillows on my couch. I had practically gone fetal.

Everyone speaking on the panel was more than relatable, they all kind of sounded like the people I was in performing arts programs with as a child and teenager. In particular their messages about doing these shows out of desperation because nothing else was working stuck with me. Creatively I'm pleased with all the work I'm doing but it's not connecting with people, it's not working.

Sometimes I come back to this Ira Glass monologue about getting started in a new creative field:

And I start to worry if I'm kidding myself that the work isn't that good. I think subconsciously I've made a lot of work because of this video, but it's still not connecting with anyone past a small circle of friends.

Anyway I was on the couch crying in the same way you see people who are sobering up or coming off drugs when they're in rehab and have to admit to themselves that they are in the place where they have denied that they belong for a long time. I felt way too comfortable in the virtual surroundings of the meeting. I've sort of failed my way down to having no other options, nothing else is working.

As the video goes on they talk about networking, how they all hated the idea of networking, how the networking events surrounding the Fringe were beneficial, and how a majority of your audience will be other Fringe performers (and you theirs). It's an elaborate form of group therapy for those of us who are only truly comfortable in the confines of a performance space. I hate that this is where I'm at, but I need to accept that this is where I'm at for the moment. I need to make the most of it.

I'm committed to not making a show about any of the bad things that have gone on in my life and focusing instead on the audience. That is the consistent theme of my live work, and in this situation it may be like pouring gasoline on a fire. 

I'm going to settle in to the second video shortly and see where this adventure takes me next.


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