Guess I’ve got sound instincts. While in L.A., I saw six shows out of the hundreds available at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Of those, two (Girl Band in the Men’s Room and Lost Moon Radio) received “Freaks” awards, the main audience-choice honors for this fringe.
On the other hand, a Hollywood Fringe production of Cowboy Mouth which roused only indignation on Engine28 from both myself and fellow NEA/Annenberg fellow Kathryn Osenlund earned an extended run as one of the 25 shows deemed “Best of Fringe” by Theatre Asylum Venue Manager Matt Quinn.
I notice that most of the Freaks victors were reviewed by me or by my esteemed Engine28 colleagues. It’s possible that the attention given some of these shows from reviews at Engine28 and elsewhere may have helped attract audiences which in turn fomented the Freaks honors. To that, I say “Cool!” Fringe festivals need and deserve as much coverage as they can get. The L.A. Theatre Review, which both blogged and distributed a daily print review broadsheet, was especially exhaustive and industrious, but a number of L.A. media outlets weighed in on the fest. The shows were certainly eager to be reviewed, and it was nice to be a part of the groundswell. I was still getting offers to come review shows for days after I’d returned home to Connecticut.
Standards of the shows I did catch were generally very high—most had professional lighting and sound, complex set designs, original projections (from slides to full-blown rock videos) and appropriate props.
To someone coming from out of town, however, the biggest impression of the Hollywood Fringe might have been how many solid small-theater spaces there are along Santa Monica Blvd. We’re not talking vacant storefronts here but real workable black-boxes with high ceilings and comfortable seats. The oft-asked question while we were investigating L.A. was “Is this a theater town?” I think that stretch of Santa Monica, and the hundreds of Hollywood Fringe events, screamed “Yes!” in a way that can’t be countered sanely.
Full list of Fringe winners here.