Cowan Palace: Ashley The Actress Gets Knocked Up

This week Ashley talks about acting, pregnancy, apples, and oranges.

Maybe you’ve heard the news, gang. This gal has a bun in the oven (or a “pun in the oven” if you’ve seen our announcement video). And it’s awesome! It’s wonderful! But truth be told, it’s also hard. And complicated.

Before I say much more, it should be stated that being a mom has always been something I wanted to become. Since I learned to talk, I told anyone who would listen that I planned to grow up and be an actress and a mother. In fact, since I was always on the taller side, I spent a lot of my time in middle school, high school, and college getting cast as “the mother role”. Though, playing Mother in Roger Williams University’s production of Blood Wedding was still one of my proudest parts to date and landed me the nickname of “Mama” to all my college classmates.

Here I am at 19, crying about my kid in Blood Wedding! Look at that old age makeup!

Here I am at 19, crying about my kid in Blood Wedding! Look at that old age makeup!

That said though, I always imagined my journey into motherhood would be calculated and planned. To say the news of this pregnancy caught us off guard is the understatement of the year. (Then again, my family moved when my 5th grade class was taking Sex Ed so clearly, I don’t understand how babies are made.)

After spending eight months of planning our wedding and trading in rehearsals for workouts, Will and I were so thrilled by the idea of returning back to our life and just relaxing into our new relationship as a married couple. We were going to do more writing, push each other to audition for plays, and slowly save money for an eventual move. After a long talk, we also agreed that Will’s job wasn’t an ideal match and he decided to give his two weeks notice. A day later, we discovered we were pregnant and the world turned upside down.

As I bawled my eyes out into Will’s chest in the doctor’s office, a group of nurses kept whispering, “are they happy right now?” And yes, I was very happy but also totally terrified. We didn’t exactly feel “ready”. We had only been married a month! We live with roommates! Will just quit his job! But here was a new life inside of me! It was both amazing and overwhelming. Everything at once.

And no one mentioned how physically demanding it would be! Throughout my first trimester, I was too tired to do anything but go to work and stumble home. I was also so nauseated all the time that my good ole friend, food, became an enemy. Which has honestly been one of the most difficult elements for me.

We also couldn’t talk openly about it. Very few people knew. But one of the things we realized early on was that I wouldn’t be able to act in the late October show I had been cast in as by that time, I’d be about five months pregnant. Thankfully, my very understanding director, Colin, let me weep on the phone while promising to keep the secret. I had never dropped an acting role before and I started to realize that me and my acting love are going to have to take a bit of a break for awhile.

Earlier this week, that understanding hit me like a ton of bricks. While watching the Olympians Audition, I sat in the audience trying to curb my never ending nausea with snacks and small talk. I asked about how Terrorama (the show I had to drop) had been doing and I was greeted with enthusiastic replies. They were doing great! Which is fantastic! But I couldn’t help but feel a little sad knowing I was originally supposed to be included in this horror themed party and now couldn’t be a part of the terrifying fun. Once the actual auditions began, the weight sank in a bit more as I thought about how my body was getting bigger and I was watching an array of beautiful, young, slender actresses parade across the stage and impress everyone. It started to feel like I was being asked to leave a party I so desperately wanted to attend; that the exit was getting closer and everything was changing.

As you could have guessed, the feelings once again brought me to a tearful goodbye as I escaped the Exit Theater with two streams of water rolling down my face. Guys, I’m an emotional gal battling her way through some new hormones, you get it, right?

I worry you’re reading this and thinking I’m an ungrateful, selfish bitch. There are families out there trying to have a baby and here I am complaining and crying all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly grateful But no one tells you how grueling and taxing the process can be. Most of what I know about it all has been through movies and 90’s sitcoms. They all said it would be wondrous and they promised I’d glow! They don’t tell you that it’s also sometimes the worst. Also, I worry more about my unborn child seeing this one day and thinking for a moment that they were unwanted for even a second. Because I assure you, that’s truly not it.

It’s just me processing life. And trying to be honest in the process. I have a lot of emotions. I feel all the feelings. I’m still an actress after all and it’s just something I do.

This is what I look like as a kind of trashy pregnant gal. I’ve been practicing this role for years.

This is what I look like as a kind of trashy pregnant gal. I’ve been practicing this role for years.

This week the baby is the size of a navel orange. Or an apple, if you read other sources. And as I contemplated the well known idiom and my feelings on my sabbatical from acting, I thought about trying to compare things that can’t really be compared. Life isn’t easy. And being an adult has proven to be harder than I imagined. You have to make grown up choices sometimes that you don’t feel ready to make. Some days, you need the apple and some days you need the orange; you don’t always get both. But when you’re ready to strike a delicious balance, maybe life will grant you a fruit salad. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway.

Comparing acting to my new motherhood is impossible and pointless. I’m delighted to take on my new real life mother role and I’ll also be excited to return to the stage sometime (hopefully soon) to continue to follow my passion. Goodness knows, I’ll be in the company of other amazing parents who are navigating a similar course. So until then, I thank you all for letting me be open and truthful about the adventure so far… and for following me on yet another journey of harmonizing theater with life.

Working Title: Retreading New Paths

This week Will Leschber vows never to be hungry again…

This past weekend I did two things that I haven’t in a very long time. I went to a for-real-résumé-headshot-requested audition in front of a large group of directors and also I took in Gone With The Wind on the big screen. Both can be daunting tasks. How many hours did you say that film was?! You want me to try WHAT accent?! Depending upon who you ask either could be a new miserable experience or an insightful pleasurable one. What I find curious about revisiting old ground is the new things it shows you about yourself. You may feel differently about Scarlett O’Hara the fifth time you watch her bellow, “I’LL NEVER BE HUNGRY AGAIN!” Also, you might realize that your relationship to your craft is different than it was when you auditioned in your early 20’s. Sometimes moving forward requires a start-step back. Here are a few things this old ground made new for me.

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Gone With The Wind never ceases to offer complexity to its characters. It’s so easy to see the rampant flaws in both Scarlett and Rhett, yet we accept them and adore them anyway. By the end of my 4th big screen viewing, I know I was thinking Thank god, someone knew enough to “frankly not give a damn” and leave her misery-sowing ass! And at the same time, Oh I hope she goes after him and they make it work! They are really a swell couple… a swell couple of tyrants. The film is a pillar of cinema because it never ceases to impress with it’s scope and technical grandeur and at the same time the intricate characterization continues to reveal different shades upon repeat viewings. I am not the same as when I watched the film for the film time when I was 16 years old. I am twice that age now, married with a kid on the way and the emotional keys of the film play so much more richly for me now. Give it a revisit. You’ll see.

As for auditioning, I am terrified and elated to audition. If you are part of the theatre world, I’m sure this juxtaposition is well known to you. The line between success and fall-on-your-face-failure is thin. If you put yourself out there, you most assuredly will experience both. It’s scary. It’s positively electrifying. It’s as if theatre people should be provided bi-polar medication upon entering drama club. We are asking for the best and worst of things at the same time. The positive side I came away from this round of the acting routine is this: Auditioning, standing up and being judged, like few other things, really allows you to assess yourself. You know if you are prepared. You know where you stand in relation to your craft. You know where your priorities lay. Sometimes the things you see are not what you wish to be. Sometimes you are positively surprised. Either way, you must recon with your exposed self. Living a creative life through theatre or film is a crap-shoot. You are asking for failure and rejection and overwhelming adversity. But you are also asking for community and kindness and intimate connection. Plus more often than not the strangers, who are there to judge you, are rooting you to succeed.

Go watch an old movie. Go out there tomorrow and expose yourself…to self assessment. ;) Don’t let either thing overwhelm you. The step back may sweep you ahead.

Theater Around The Bay: Yes To Crowdfunding!

Bay Area actress/director/performer Lisa Drostova recently posted this on her Facebook page. I thought it created some interesting conversation and I liked that it contributed in a positive fashion to the “where’s the money going to come from/is the age of crowdfunding over?” discussion/panic that hit in July (aka “Potato Salad Month”) and seems to have already blown over. Thanks for letting us share this, Lisa, and if you have any thoughts of your own, be sure to leave them in the comments!

I’ve been linking to a lot of crowdfunding campaigns lately, much more now that I’m a blooded Indiegogo warrior myself, and it strikes me that there are different ways of looking at them. For a long time, it just seemed overwhelming and distressing that every artist and arts organization I knew had to go hat in hand. Yes, there’s a lot wrong with a culture where billions will get spent on military equipment that doesn’t even function while people making beautiful, important work that changes lives have to hit up all their friends to pay for their projects. And as several friends have so aptly noted, artists are all just passing what funds we have around to each other.

But the other way to look at the next campaign that shows on your newsfeed–and the one after that, and the one after that–is with defiance of the system as it stands. And as an opportunity to help with something with which you might not otherwise get to be part. Because even the tiny donations actually do make a difference. You get to help build something, even if you don’t have carpentry or singing or animation skills, or time to volunteer.

No, you’re not going to get a room at MoMA named after you, or a massive million-dollar gala thrown in your honor. But I assure you that your contribution will be just as appreciated by the artist(s) bitting their nails behind the campaign, and possibly more. They are throwing you a gala in their heart. When we were fundraising the last $50K for The Flight Deck, as an admin on the campaign I could see all those unspecified donations, and who chose to be anonymous, and every single donation meant the world to me, because it was another person believing in our project. Five thousand bucks is great, of course, don’t hesitate to give that if you have it, but five is also going to make a difference–especially the way the online campaigns and their freaky algorithms and “Gogo Factor” and the rest of it work. Each contribution nudges Indiegogo, or Kickstarter, or Hatch, or GoFundMe, to push the campaign.

Which is the other thing you can do, even when you absolutely can’t donate money. Cross-post the campaigns you believe in. You might not have the moolah, but someone in your network might just be entranced by what your friends are trying to accomplish. I have donated to campaigns for people who I didn’t know from Adam’s housecat because we had a mutual friend who shared the link. And I know how very hard it is for people to ask for that help.

Which is the long answer for, yes, I am going to keep posting other people’s campaigns, whether I can donate myself at the moment or not, because I choose to see the potential for excitement versus exhaustion, and I beg your patience with me for it. I know people who are doing amazing things, and until we live in a world where artists don’t have to struggle to stay afloat, this is one small way I can support them.

It’s A Suggestion, Not A Review: The Penultimate Chapter

So, at the end of our last installment, I was about to propound some deep thoughts on directorial interpretation.

I went on and on about Joanne Akalaitis’s version of “Endgame,” which deviated enough from Mr. Beckett’s intentions that he sought to stop it in the courts. Failing there, he had a note included in the program:

Any production of Endgame which ignores my stage directions is completely unacceptable to me. My play requires an empty room and two small windows. The American Repertory Theater production which dismisses my directions is a complete parody of the play as conceived by me. Anybody who cares for the work couldn’t fail to be disgusted by this.

That would seem to have put an end to it. The production got what I take to have been mixed reviews, and even if Mr. Beckett wasn’t satisfied, everyone did make a case for their position.

Samuel Beckett at 70, but don't think he couldn't have taken you.

Samuel Beckett at 70, but don’t think he couldn’t have taken you.

Mr. Beckett died in 1989, but his estate has closely guarded productions of his work ever since – even ill-considered ones (some of which shall go unnamed, given my potential readership; discretion indeed being the better part of valor …). So it was a surprise to me to find that, in 2009, ART had once again attempted a production of “Endgame” – though by this time, neither Ms. Akalaitis nor Mr. Brustein were on the premises, and ART was committed to doing the play in exactly the way Mr. Beckett had intended. Director Marcus Stern explained, “We had to sign a contract with the estate that we’d stick absolutely to the letter of the script. We are literally coloring inside clearly drawn lines by Beckett.” Leaving that “literally” aside, this is a point I’ll return to in a minute.

According to the Boston Globe:

It’s not easy to pull off, says Stern, who at first thought the directions would be limiting. But instead he says he finds it deeply challenging and exhilarating.

“It’s very labor intensive and really exhausting,” he says. “The task is really hyper-focused, but it’s also very interesting getting the mechanics down. Normally it would be frustrating, but there is a great faith he’s such a great writer that it will pay off to strictly adhere to his description.”

 Stern and his actors, "literally" coloring inside the lines.

Stern and his actors, “literally” coloring inside the lines.

I remember some actor – I think it was George C. Scott, so I’ll give him the credit – talking about how ridiculous it was to give awards in the arts. Not only is it impossible to compare performances in varied plays and movies (I mean, who gave a better performance? Kathy Bates in “’Night, Mother,” Groucho Marx in “A Night at the Opera,” or Robert Preston in “The Music Man?”) He felt the only real way to judge actors was to have everyone play Hamlet and then decide who was best. And even then, it would be purely subjective; there’s no empirical way to say that a performance is good, bad, or indifferent; it’s all up to the observer. We’ve all seen performances that others raved about and left us shrugging and saying “What the hell was that?”

Try to tell me this isn't the equivalent of Gielgud in "Hamlet" and you'll get an earful.

Try to tell me this isn’t the equivalent of Gielgud in “Hamlet” and you’ll get an earful.

So, to get back to Mr. Stern’s comment, we have to color inside the creator’s lines. Not only is it what’s required legally, it’s also the only basis by which we can determine how closely a production comes to the writer’s intentions. Yeah, you might think “South Pacific” would make more sense if it were set on Mars, or that “The Farnsworth Invention” (remember that one? From all those days ago?) would be better with a different ending, but it’s not your decision to make. It’d be like walking into someone’s house and saying “those walls would look better if they were bright green” and painting them on your own volition. You might be right, but it’s not up to you. You might think my new shirt would look better if the sleeves were cut off, but if you try to do it, I’m probably gonna get pissed off and punch you.

So what’s the solution? Well, three come immediately to mind, but we’ll discuss those next time. (I know, I know …)

Everything Is Already Something Week 42: Things I’d Tell My Younger Director Self

Allison Page, better late than never.

Forgive me for the lateness of this post, I’m swamped. See, I accepted this sudden gig directing a gigantic play for a catholic prep school. Get the laughing out of the way now.

Okay, let’s move on. I’m also directing another show at the same time. So I go to the school for rehearsal 2-5 and have a rehearsal across town for another show from 7-9:30. A year ago I probably wouldn’t believe that was happening because when I moved to the Bay Area, I swore off directing.

Back in Minnesota I directed because that was how I could make a show happen. I was the producer, director, everything-er, and actor because otherwise there was no show. And it was REALLY stressful. It really made me act like a giant monster.

CRAZY?! DO I LOOK CRAZY TO YOU?! JUST DO WHAT I SAY!

CRAZY?! DO I LOOK CRAZY TO YOU?! JUST DO WHAT I SAY!

20 year old Allison had yet to grasp onto how to get people to listen without being…well, like I said, a monster. I swear I was headed for a heart attack by age 22. So when I moved here at 23, I dropped it entirely. Now that I’ve gone back to it, I find I’m a completely different director than I was before. Here are some things I’d like to tell my younger director self:

1) TAKE IT EASY, GIRL
That probably sounds pretty basic, and it is, but I was really high strung and serious about stuff from 15-23. At the time I felt like it would make people take me more seriously if I was acting like a serious person. Turns out that’s sort of stupid. People take your authority seriously if you’re comfortable with it. If you’re uncomfortable with it and have to emphasize it by acting like a grumpy weirdo, they’re just going to talk trash about how crazy you are behind your back. And thought that’ll foster a great group mentality amongst the cast – it won’t bode so well for you.

2) TRUST THE ACTORS, GIRL
Okay, I maybe couldn’t always trust them back home because they were just my friends, but it’s important to trust the people you have carefully chosen, otherwise why did you so carefully choose them? It’s not your job to reinvent the wheel and teach basic acting to actors if they consider themselves actors in the first place. That’s not to say there isn’t stuff to learn – there’s ALWAYS stuff to learn, but ushering them through every minute detail about how to form a character shouldn’t be a go-to strategy when you’re working with actors you’re paying to be there. Trust the people you’ve brought in, because you brought them in for a reason.

3) GIRRRRL, BE OKAY WITH NOT ALWAYS KNOWING THE ANSWER
It’s so nice to live in the knowledge that you don’t always have to be right. Man, that is great. Being right all the time is a pain in the ass. It’s so much pressure to put on yourself. And it can keep you from making positive changes because you end up married to your first idea, terrified that the cast will think you’re a freakin’ moron if you say “Actually, that looks bad, stand over here instead.” and what does that mean? It means it’s gonna look bad because you’re scared to change it. Everyone loses when you’re afraid to have been wrong.

No, this isn't Allison, this is Elaine May, and she's making a movie not directing a play, but let's just let that slide.

No, this isn’t Allison, this is Elaine May, and she’s making a movie not directing a play, but let’s just let that slide.

4) HEY GIRL, HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
Actually, these may not just apply to directing. These are pretty good life choices. Honesty is valuable. And not just for the director, for the actors too. It’s okay to ask them how they feel about what they’re doing, and it should be okay for them to respond honestly. Doesn’t that sound nice? But again, I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t something that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes directors rule with an iron fist and don’t care what the meat puppets think. But hey, they’re your meat puppets, maybe ask them what they think about this thing you’re all doing together.

I’m really enjoying Director Allison 2.0, she’s way better than the yell-y one, mostly because she’s a nicer person. Huh. How ‘bout that?

Allison Page is a writer/actor/director in the Bay Area. You can follow her on Twitter @allisonlynnpage

The Five- SF Fringe Edition

Anthony R. Miller checks in reflecting on his experience at the 2014 Fringe Festival.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days at The Exit Theater and experience the 2014 San Francisco Fringe festival, it was an absolute blast. I saw tons of shows and had a million awesome conversations. Here are five takeaways.

Fringe-Binge

If you see just one or two shows at Fringe, you’re selling yourself short. There are 35 different productions to see and when else are you going to have them all in one building? In one day I got to see 4 shows in a row (But you could feasibly do up to 7.) Now before you say “Four shows? That’s like four hours of seeing plays!”, think to yourself; is it any different than watching four hours of Breaking bad on Netflix? (Authors note: While writing this, I am on my 3rd hour of Breaking Bad’s final season). You can bingewatch TV anytime, but it’s only once a year you can mainline Theatre. I did it, and you know what? It was freaking fun. I saw shows I loved, shows I hated and shows that were OK. But every show was different from the last, I walked away exhausted sure, but also inspired. Make a day of it, buy a multi-show pass, pick a show, any show, you’ll see something you like I promise. And if this is a little out of your price range…

Volunteer!

There is no better way to support your scene. The SF Fringe is a beast, three theaters all with a different show running simultaneously several times a day. It takes not just meticulous planning, but a crew of bad-asses to execute it. Make no mistake, these guys rock. Shows start on time, there is always someone to help you pick a show, and these are the people who make this event happen. Not everybody can afford to see a bunch of different plays, but as a volunteer, you can get into everything for free. Not to mention, by volunteering, you can be part of something awesome. For two weeks, everything awesome about the SF Indie Theatre scene is under one roof. Carve out a few days and help out, be part of it, it’s worth it.

The Hospitality Room

In between shows, hanging out in the Hospitality room was super fun. Stuart Bousel and his amazing staff of friendly volunteers are there to suggest shows, make you feel welcome and give you a seemingly endless supply of cucumber infused water. (Which may be my new favorite thing.) If you need something a little more sustainable than popcorn and water, check out the cafe for booze and all awesome snacks. The best part is that in either room, you can sit down and be surrounded a diverse mix of local and traveling actors, writers and performers. In one day, I spoke to Artistic directors of local Indie Theatre groups, a writer from New York, clowns, actors, every kind of theatrical artist you can think of. It is a show within itself. And seriously, the cucumber water.

All By Myself

This year, 22 out of 35 of the shows at the Fringe are Solo Shows. After doing a little asking around, I found out this was an all-time record. Every year the number grows, so who knows what the ratio will be next year. The main reason seems to be economic. Fortunately, these shows are all wildly different. From subjects like dating, to interpretations of the Jack the Ripper story, to battles with IRS, there is no shortage of fascinating, engaging and diverse stories to be told. That said, in order to make sure the fringe doesn’t become the San Francisco Solo-Show Festival, make sure you balance things out by seeing some of the amazing acting troupes performing here.

What kinds of people go there?

All kinds! The Fringe isn’t for just one type of Theatre-goer. It’s not even just for Theatre goers. I saw all sorts of folks milling about. This is bigger than a festival, it’s a cultural event. There’s not only Bay Area artists involved, acts from all over America are performing. For the cost of one ticket to the latest price gouging SHN touring musical, you can have an incredible experience, see something new and different and support art and artists. So next year, do yourself a favor; pause Netflix and spend a day at the EXIT. You’ll be part of something fun and different. Walter White will be waiting when you get home.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Director, Producer and that jerk who won’t let you buy a glass of wine at concessions after showing up ten minutes late and demanding to be seated. His show, TERROR-RAMA opens October 17th at the Exit Theatre

Theater Around the Bay: First Time A-Fringin’

Charles Lewis III returns to talk about his first time working behind the scenes at the SF Fringe Festival.

Fringe-official

Fringe-official

“Clowns are the pegs on which a circus is hung.”
– PT Barnum

We’re always told that first impressions count for a lot; that you can’t make them twice; that they will forever define you in the eyes of the other person, whether they admit it to you or not. So naturally I wanted to make the best impression as a new house manager at SF Fringe. I’ve always been one of those folks who believes that I don’t just represent myself, but also the company whose logo adorns my shirt/name tag/pay stub. I mean, they don’t just give this bright yellow shirt and laminated badge to just anyone, do they?

So as I stood in front of an anxious, impatient audience, I can only imagine what they thought of the stammering schmuck in front of them. I’m an actor, I thought. Talking in front of audiences is what I do. I should thank them for coming, right? Now what? Something about “the State of California” and fire exits? Oh, oh – phones! I’ll take out my phone… and I dropped it. It broke apart. “But as you can all clearly see: it’s off.” Oh God, I’m dyin’ here. What next? Why am I holding this bucket again? Oh yeah, we want them to donate! Tell them I’ll be out there when they’re done. Or someone will be out there. Someone with a yellow shirt and a laminated badge. One would hope. Damn, I’m cutting into performance time, aren’t I? Just say “Thanks for coming” and chase your dignity out the door.

I raced out the door now fully aware that the “acting” part of the brain is separate from the “curtain speech” part. I felt like slapping my forehead so hard that it would be heard three states away. Instead I shuffled into the greenroom/hospitality suite and shoved a handful of microwave popcorn into my face. The pictures of Clyde the Cyclops on the wall helped. Thus began my tenure at the 2014 SF Fringe Fest.

But then, Clyde makes all things better

But then, Clyde makes all things better

It’s kinda odd that when I eventually wound up at SF Fringe, it was in this capacity. I was actually supposed to be in a show in (I think) 2007. It meant a lot to me I’d just gotten back into acting two years earlier with film work and this was to be my first theatre experience since school. I didn’t see eye-to-eye with the director and wound up quitting over the phone, something I haven’t done before or since. Even though one of my would-be fellow actors was an actress I’ve gone on to admire, I didn’t bother to see the actual show or anything at the festival that year. I actually haven’t even been to the festival since as I’m always knee-deep into a show at the time. It seems like everyone I know has encouraged me to see certain shows and skip others; some have even offered to cast me. Alas it took about seven years for me to finally get my Fringe on.

And hoo-boy, was I thrown into the deep end on my first day. In fact, I’d say I was blindfolded, handcuffed, and kicked off the plank into shark-infested waters after receiving fresh cuts on my arms and legs. But then, I’m fond of analogies. Nevertheless, as someone who has done front-of-house work at countless theatres, cinemas, and concert venues, not even I was prepared for the onslaught of countless indie theatre patrons clamoring to get into a theatre for which 80% of the tickets are already pre-sold and half of those patrons haven’t arrived 10 min. before curtain. People get angry. They get impatient. They look for an excuse to take their frustrations out on someone and, as house manager, that someone will be you.

Now these folks have my empathy, every single one of them. After a pretty disastrous first day, I quickly got into the swing of things and made it my priority to communicate that above all else, we are trying to help YOU. The final day of this year’s festival I had to deny entry to show to that show’s director. She’d travelled “all the way from Santa Cruz” with her boyfriend and was told by the show’s performer to just give her name at the door. Well the only names we have at the door are on the will call list and this one was packed. The show completely sold out and I told the director how sorry I was. “If anything,” I said, “this should be a testament to how good your show is.” Directors have been shut out of their own films at Sundance. Is it more important that you see your work or that the audience does?

But we do have an arts ‘n crafts section you can use.

But we do have an arts ‘n crafts section you can use.

Thankfully, as the song says, you get by with a little help from your friends that served me well. Stuart has already mentioned Christina and the wonderful folks who keep the EXIT and Fringe gears moving as smooth as a Swiss watch, and bless them for that. When you’re an apple-green newb trying to figure the best way to tell someone the “No Late Seating” rule is in full effect, it really helps to have an even-tempered Ariel Craft standing near to back you up. And what I would have done without Florian on-hand, I don’t know.

And let us thank the Theatre Gods for the aforementioned hospitality room. Not just a place for patrons to chew popcorn, sip lemon water, paint domino masks, and have their photos taken as “Fringe Royalty” (yes really) – the area might be most valuable to Fringe staff. When not in the middle of the mad rush of patrons, the near-silence of green room makes it almost seem like 30-minute day spa. I don’t know of many day spas that play The Cranberries over their speakers, but more should. Taking time out to chat with Stuart, Barbara, Tonya, and Quinn about… whatever, I remembered just how valuable such moments are, and have been for me over the past year. Having spent most of the summer sequestered from both Facebook and most of my regular theatre friends, the time I’ve spent reconnecting, reminiscing, and, yes, gossiping have been invaluable.

What, did you think I was kidding about the throne?

What, did you think I was kidding about the throne?

I arrived really, really late to the Fringe closing party this past Saturday. I’d gone to a friend’s party in Oakland, which was a lot of fun. By the time I caught up with my fellow Fringers at Emperor Norton’s, most of them had already left and the others were on their way out the door. I had a few of the leftover hors d’œuvres before heading out myself. Still, the Fringe has left its mark on me. Though I might not necessarily agree that The EXIT is akin to a used record store, I do agree – and have been saying aloud for years – that it is the true heart of the San Francisco theatre community. The ACT and Berkeley Rep might be akin to fancy hotels, but The EXIT is home. And the SF Fringe Fest is akin to opening one’s home to both regular friends and out-of-town guests. Or at least a decent hostel. There might not be an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but the activities are fun, the guests are… unique, and you’ll definitely tell all your friends when you get back home.

Charles is happy to be a part of Fringe royalty. He shall be calling The EXIT his home for at least the next month as he begins rehearsals for Stuart’s new play Pastorella.