Can I sleep yet?
The answer is no.
This is my second year being a part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Last year though, being but a lowly cast member who had no interest in anything but my role, I was not nearly as involved.
In a personal landmark, this year constitutes my first ever time producing ANYTHING, let alone my own friggin' play. And boy howdy, was this quite a process.
Over these past several months, I've wanted to:
- Jump with joy
- Jump into Santa Monica Boulevard traffic
- Give up
- Give it my all
- Meet awesome people
- Meet absolutely no one ever again
- Sleep for all eternity
- Never sleep again
- ...and many more contradictory desires/emotions/tendencies/behaviors/etc!
- Also drink. I've wanted to drink a lot. Just so much. God, I had a lot of alcohol. Christ.
For me, what really made this experience was the people.
For a guy as antisocial as I can be, that's saying quite a lot.
I met so many freaking amazing people during Hollywood Fringe this year.
I met Keith Blaney, the gregarious soloist of F*ck Fiction (y'all know I have no qualms about the word "fuck," but that's the official title of the show), who wooed me with saltwater taffy.
I met Laura Wiley, badass creator of Sex and the Musical who gratefully endured a truly awful first impression I made.
I met Erik Blair, although it was mostly just me gushing about how much I loved God: The Apologies Tour.
I met James Royce - loveliest man, kindest man, and mime extrordinare.
It seemed like I saw Julia Lisa, actor and co-producer of White People Drinking, at every single show I went to, somehow. She might have a clone. Be on the lookout for that.
I met Jim Vejvoda, writer of Skin Jobs, and a man who I've had many a long, winding chat with over a drink or two (or three).
I met Grady Welch, lead singer of Hellkross, and fell in love with his luscious locks as well as his heavy metal flair.
I met Annie Lesser, lover of coffee, death, and all things immersive.
I met Ian Harvey Stone, one half of The Universe (101), who is just as enigmatic and fascinating as that show would lead you to believe.
I met Matthew Robinson, writer of Blackballed, far later into the Fringe than I would've liked, but he's a real talent and just... so nice. So, so nice.
I met Benjamin Budzak, host of Buzz'd Out Live!, and was entranced by his dazzling array of novelty suits.
Of course I met Katt Balsan. Who didn't meet Katt Balsan? And who didn't have the shit charmed out of them when they met her? Alas, I didn't get to talking with her as much as I could/should have, but that's the way these things go.
I've met... a lot of people. I'm definitely leaving some out by accident and I'm sorry. I'm still in a state of headswimmingness after the closing night party.
There were some people who I met briefly and then our flames flitted away to opposite ends of the Fringe, never to see each other again. A sad state of affairs, but sometimes that's the way it is.
I knew several people involved in shows this year, and it further deepened my love for these amazing people I already knew.
For instance, Payden Ackerman, one third of the AWARD WINNING Laertes Loves Hamlet Loves Ophelia, was a great stabilizing force as I was freaking out about things related to my show. He got me to calm the fuck down. Thank you, Payden. I also met his flabbergastingly talented wife, Katelyn, and their friend, Kelly, all of whom I would love to be when I grow up.
There was Kerry [last name Polish and therefore unpronounceable] who wrote the devastating Wounded. Always a fun time to talk to, but also just such a consistently phenomenal writer that I'm considering raiding his cabinet and to find the secret Elixir of Good Art he's hiding.
Spencer Frankeberger and I kept bumping into each other and always found something to commiserate over. Siqq commiseration, brah.
The folks from School of Night, Chris and Jen, who produced/directed/fight choreographed Hercules Insane, were always there to answer my strangely specific Fringe-related questions. Well let's be real, it was mostly Jen doing that. Love you too, Chris. Love you both. For real - being in your show last year inspired me to mount my show this year.
Long winded section short: I know some very, very gifted people and am just glad to be around y'all.
I saw 24 friggin' shows.
Which is a lot of goddamn shows. Though out of a roster of about 400 this year, that's about 5% of what was out there. Jesus Christ.
I missed a lot of great stuff that people were raving about. I even missed stuff involving people who I'm good friends with/who I clicked with over the Fringe process. I endeavor to do better next year.
There are so many that I loved, but here's a few of the ones that made me swoon: Hercules Insane, God: The Apologies Tour, The People Vs HellKross, The Night of the Root Beer, The Universe (101), Skin Jobs, Wounded, Laertes Loves Hamlet Loves Ophelia, American Conspiracy and now that I'm looking at this list that's about half of the shows I saw.
There was a lot of mind-blowing shit. I was glad to be a small part of that.
I learned hella lessons, yo.
This was my first time producing. Ever. It's really really REALLY not my thing, but something tells me that it's a role I'm going to have to keep playing. Suck it up, Drewski.
I already have plans to do next year. This is my advice to Future Drew, frightfully experienced by Past Drew:
- Don't schedule seven performances of your play. Why did you do that? Nincompoop.
- Go to as many Office Hours as you can.
- Go to the other Fringe events. Schedule work so you can DO THESE THINGS.
- Print fliers earlier.
- When meeting people, stop trying so hard to hawk your wares. Instead, focus on great conversation.
- Do a less technically complex show please with fewer actors please.
- Maybe wear a costume to Office Hours?
- Don't have anything scheduled? Chill at a hub where there's people. Hopefully Fringe Central.
- Drag as much of the cast/production team to the Office Hours too. It's exhausting to go alone.
- You're not going to get a lot of writing done. Stop worrying about getting writing done.
- Talk up more work of other people's. But also, do it genuinely. People have good bullshit detectors and karma is very real at the Hollywood Fringe.
Overall, this was awesome.
Did How to Be Lazy and Not Feel Guilty sell out every night, get extended, and get nominated for awards? No, no, and no, but that stuff doesn't matter.
This is what matters:
Senior year of college, I wrote the first draft of a bonkers, off-the-wall play about anxiety. Two years and multitudinous revisions later, it ran for seven nights at the Complex during the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
It's a risky piece. It's got a lot of moving parts.
And in spite of how absurdo-whacko it is, it's actually a very vulnerable experience to have it performed. Because this piece feels like I have taken my brain and turned it inside out for the audience to see. I'm scared that the audience will see something I didn't know was there. I'm scared the audience will see the inner workings of my mind and declare it utter shit.
We may not have been as well-attended as I would have liked, but everyone who came seemed to get something out of the show. Even if that thing was was being too stressed out/too annoyed by the schizoid nature of the show to enjoy it.
I did a thing. I'm going to keep doing the thing.
See you at the next Hollywood Fringe. Gonna rock your goddamn socks off next year is what I'm going to do.