There is a postscript at the end of this concerning the impact of the pandemic on my project.

My life has descended into madness. I am normally a slow methodical guy. One thing at a time, do the best I can, then another thing. Or maybe nothing at all should I feel lazy. My life has shifted into a higher gear.

This is my previous post on the Fringe.

I haven’t been hiking like I want to. I haven’t been blogging like I want to.

I’m still watching anime, mostly late at night after its too late to do anything else. You can watch a lot of shows if you pick off a couple of episodes while you are doing something else that requires little attention. It typically takes 4 hours to do an anime review, so that isn’t going to happen very often. I do make replies to other blogs, though. That’s not as much fun as doing an original blog and it doesn’t do much for most of one’s readers.

Sharing another person’s work is easier. There’s a LOT of good stuff out there. Much better than I could write myself.

Studio stage

So, the show is keeping me busy. I have to look at venues and pick the right one for me. I’ve narrowed it down to a few. I want a thrust stage but that may not be in the works. (The idea is to maximize my appearance of vulnerability and openness.) Theater in the round is probably impossible on my budget.

I’ve got a kind of minimal budget worked out. There are fixed costs, Fringe Registration and Fringe related stuff. You have to pay for insurance. Venue rental is effectively a fixed cost if you are not flexible in the number of shows. If you do encores (Yay!) then it becomes variable.

Other costs include the stage manager. Rental doesn’t include the guy in the booth running the lighting and sound. Theater managers are averse to letting you use a volunteer on their equipment.

Gray Fullbuster
My costume

My props are minimal. Costumes? Heh…heh…heh.

A director would be nice. Especially on a solo show, it’s really tough to direct yourself. You can’t see yourself. You can’t really hear yourself. You’re limited by your own opinion and you are not representative of the audience. The director gives an alternative, experienced POV. I need to find a director.

Rehearsal time… Sure, you could try just reciting your lines around the house, in the back yard, in the restroom at work. That is nothing like standing on a stage and doubly nothing like standing in front of an audience. I can improvise by taking acting lessons

Lounge Theater
The Lounge Theater

and using the class as an audience. Since the classes are in a small theater, I can use that to set up my blocking. The instructor is my temporary substitute for a director.

One month of lessons equals the rental of a theater for a one hour show. That hour is expensive.

You need to pay for a stage manager to run the lights and sound for your show. There is usually a designated time to go through setting up the sound and lights prior to the dress rehearsal. The theaters usually also allow you a dress rehearsal time on stage when it is not in use. (No audience, though.) Everything is run by computers these days and it is vital to get everything coordinated before the dress rehearsal. (Or undressed rehearsals, in my case.)

Advertising… Fringe offers some minimal marketing assistance. Your show will be in their listings and promotional email blasts. Your venue will also have it in their blasts. Other than that, you are on your own. Use the internet to make contact with people and organizations that are part of your target audience. But you still have to pay for posters, flyers and such. Media purchases are way beyond me.

The most important potential audience is Fringe critics. You need to contact media critics and convince them to show up at your show on opening performance. Assuming your show is good, the best advertising for future shows is word-of-mouth. The very best word-of-mouth comes from critics. The Fringe is 3+ weeks long in June and there are 400 shows. People depend on others to determine which shows that want to see.

Many folks attempt to see as many shows as possible. 60 or 70 is not unheard of.

Having a producer would be great to contact media and handle media inquiries. I’m hoping I can find one. Not holding my breath.

On the other side of the equation, we have sponsors. Sponsors will often defray part of your costs in exchange for a bit of advertising during the show. Maybe you hang a banner and give them a shoutout. Organizational sponsors are the best. They will recommend your show to their members and that will fill your seats. There are nudist related organizations in the area I think I can get. Asperger’s groups might be a tougher sell. Aging groups, tougher still.

Your sponsors will have some impact on the content of the show.

And then there are ticket sales. I get to keep the box office take. Yay!!!!

Box office

The average ticket price for Fringe is $12. If I could fill a 48 seat theater, that would be $576 per show. I may not get a theater that large. Some of the venues have as few as 20 seats but they have the advantage of being cheaper. That relates to how much money I’m willing to front for this vs how great my expectations of success are.

The box office is reduced by discount and complimentary tickets. Discounts are often offered to advance ticket purchases, fellow Fringers, and targeted organizations. Comp tickets go to media, critics, volunteers, immediate family and maybe a few friends. You can still lose a grand, even with modest success. I may not fill the house. I may crash so badly that I cancel shows.

OTOH, I may do so well there are encore performances. Or even get picked up to go on tour. LOL! I’m not holding my breath for it.

I need someone to man the box office. There will be street traffic and advanced ticket holders will need to be checked in. Some places provide the box office person (another expense) and others allow volunteers. A stage manager would be a big help too. Alas, I am not a person with lots of friends who’d love to help.

My issues. The things that feed my anxiety demon and tell me to back out before I’ve dropped any more money. The things that cause my heart to pound and my stomach to churn. To make my skin go pale and cold.

I have to write and rewrite the script.

Fringe 7I have written many things over the years. I need to combine them into a script with enough humor and pathos to make people enjoy it. And then I have to deliver it. Can I do both the aging and the Aspie and the nudie sides of me justice in one show?

The material has all been written, scattered through this blog and through my other blog. Can I pull it together into a single cohesive script? Can I keep an audience engaged by myself for more than a few minutes? I don’t know. It isn’t just about words. It is timing and inflection and motion.

Does anyone really give a shit about what I want to say? I’m older, not an excited – and exciting – up and coming Millenial or Gen Z. Age is considered a downer. Who wants to hear anything from me? I’m neither pretty nor handsome nor lithe. It has been decades since I could have been considered sexy. Who’d want to see me on stage now?

Does anyone really want to hear about my Asperger’s? How do I make it amusing/interesting while keeping it real? To my knowledge, there have been two other shows about Asperger’s in the 11-year history of the Fringe. They were both by professional comedians. I fear the comparisons that may be made.

Is my brain still capable of memorizing a script?

Fringe disrobed
Turned out to be a very popular “immersive” play.

The nudity isn’t an issue for the all-nude performances. To my knowledge, there’s only been one Fringe show that was targeted specifically to nudists. It won awards and is still doing an encore performance once a month.

I think I can fill seats a couple of times with nudists but that won’t make the show a success. That will come from the touristy theater aficionados looking for something interesting at the Festival.

Opening night has to be a clothed audience. The critics and media won’t show otherwise. It is the clothed audiences that scare the shit out of me. A group of nudists provides me with a common interest, a bond.  But if I make the other all nude mandatory I’ll lose a lot of potential audience – including my wife, so I have to have a mix.

Being Aspie, I never developed a collection of friends and well-wishers – a support system. Family members mostly too busy or disinterested or disapproving. The social events for the Fringe so far have all been dark, crowded, noisy affairs that set me on edge and tweak my coping mechanisms. Somehow I have to tolerate them. I’m on my own.

This is nothing new. Describes my life. And part of the show.

Why am I even doing it? Because one of the best acting coaches in the business said I could. He said it was bold and nobody else out here was doing anything similar. I don’t think he was aiming to make money off me. But what the fuck do I know? He might be saying that and really thinking the opposite, that I suck. Right there I’ve gotten to the core of an Aspie’s fear, the source of their anxiety. You really don’t know. You spend a lifetime as an alien, not understanding, always doubting you’re understanding of these crazy people.

Ultimately I want to sail beyond the sunset into the unknown. To challenge myself with something difficult. To make friends with my anxiety demon and thereby control it. I’ve put off so many difficult things over my life only to discover you can’t do them later when you have both time and money. To do something I can look back on and finally say (cue Frank Sinatra): “I did that! And I did it my way.”

Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars

Post Script:

This was posted before the COVID-19 got super real. Fringe has been postponed. I tried setting it up with a non-Fringe venue but except for virtual shows, all local theaters are closed indefinitely – as well as the acting class where I was workshopping it. So I’ll spend the next couple of months just rewriting and engaging in wishful thinking.

When it finally happens I’l give complimentary tickets to any blog reader who wants them. It will definitely still happen as long as I don’t land in the hospital.

There’s a place for us, a time and place for us
Hold my hand and we’re half-way there, hold my hand and I’ll take you there
Somehow, someday, somewhere