Dear Don Downer

This blog post is in response to Don Shirley’s recent LA Stage Blog post, The Fringe, the Ring, and Supernova.

Dear Don Downer,

We know that LA has an “excess of low-budget productions in small venues.” We know that the larger local arts institutions didn’t get involved in the Fringe. We also are well aware that many independent products, such as those in an uncurated festival, are not necessarily very good.

But hey, not all broadway shows are great either. I was able to see CATS at the Pantages a few months back and I must admit that it was the one of the worst — though most polished — pieces of turd I’d ever seen upon a stage. But I digress. Rants about Andrew Lloyd Webber will have to wait.

There have been several comments on your blog and other articles written in response. Many of them very eloquently stating the fact that LA artists were represented in great numbers – just not ones you knew of.

You mention that “A fringe festival needs a more established counterweight to seem like a true alternative.” I would venture to say that the established counterweight is already in place. It exists in the larger theaters you frequent, in the established companies in every part of town, the arts festivals in other parts of town, even the Hollywood Film Festival whose dates coincide with the Fringe. These are the skyscrapers that stand looming before the humble independent carpenters. The Fringe creates a free market of art.

You also say, “If youโ€™re going to mount a theater festival in Hollywood, shouldnโ€™t you make sure to include the best theater that Hollywood has to offer?” Remember too that this is not a theatre festival, it is an arts festival. The fringe is a tool to help us celebrate the arts. All of them. Together.

The word is bold for a reason. The Fringe festival brought us together. We celebrated our art together, we shared ideas together, we spent our time together. We cried, laughed, and drank together. We learned together. Relationships were created, nurtured, and strengthened.

So many artists, groups, and organizations produce all sorts of art without knowing what’s in their own backyard. Small artistic islands float in the Angelino Sea with no apparent desire to navigate the short distance between them. Then came the Fringe and built bridges, gave people boats, showed them that there is life outside and they are not alone.

You can give us facts and figures and others will respond with other facts and figures to rebut your argument, but this isn’t a numbers game. Art isn’t an intellectual exercise. It’s not about the head, this is about the heart.

To answer your previous question, yes, we hope that some of the best Hollywood has to offer is included. Is that the point? No. The Festival is here to promote community among artists, to build bridges between our islands, to promote and support emerging artists. So we can celebrate, share, hang out, cry, laugh, drink, and learn. Together.


Gedaly Guberek
A proud LA Theatre artist and Hollywood Fringe Festival participant