In taking on the unenviable position of Vancouver Fringe Executive Director, David not only managed to put together an outstanding festival in the face of a venue-disrupting civic strike, but he also weathered a shit-storm of controversy about the Fringe’s decision to try out a new idea to raise awareness and pay down its debt. Oh, the temerity – obviously there’s no room for experimentation and new ideas in indie theatre, let’s just keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. Yeesh.
Congratulations on a job well done, David, and thank you for all your hard work promoting the most essential and disregarded art form in Vancouver.
1.) In one word, describe your present condition.
Recovering…from my recent bout of Fringe.
2.) In any amount of words, describe the condition of the Vancouver indie theatre scene.
I think there’s a lot of creative energy here – a lot of people suffering to put innovative work on the boards.
3.) How did you come to a post in arts administration?
I started out acting (Isn’t that what gets us all into this mess in the first place?), but later found my calling as a director. So I did a couple of degrees, directed a lot of plays and along the way I gathered experience in fundraising, grant writing, producing, publicity, and filling gaps…the Fringe was a natural fit for me. Its such a vibrant and essential part of theatre in Canada. I’m passionate about the role that the Fringe plays.
4.) What are the top 3 things you now know about indie theatre that you didn’t before heading up the Fringe?
I’m really still learning about the scene. In many ways the Fringe is part of and not a part of the rest of the theatre scene. I’m working to try and bridge the gaps.
5.) What was the biggest obstacle in mounting this year’s Fringe?
6.) What was your proudest moment at this festival?
Seeing a line up out the door for people waiting to buy beer at the Fringe Club…that and hearing the crowd respond to our first act at the Opening Night Gala from backstage.
7.) Any words of advice for prospective Fringe artists?
No. Anyone who participates in the Fringe comes to table with passion and determination. These are the essential ingredients.
8.) In terms of marketing, where can local companies improve throughout the rest of the year?
I think everyone can profit from cross promoting each other’s work – that’s what makes the Fringe wheel go around. I know it’s more difficult to organize outside of a festival, but word of mouth works. Theatre is old-fashioned that way.
9.) What would you like to see more of on Vancouver stages?
Spoken word. I think we have some world class talent here that I would like to see cross-pollinating with the theatre scene. I also love the proliferation of puppets that are working their way into plays.
10.) What are your top 3 theatre reads?
The Empty Space – Peter Brook. I can’t say how much that book affected my understanding of what theatre is and why we do it.
The Making of Modern Drama – Richard Gilman does a great job of contextualizing the 19th and 20th Century, which is where most of our theatre conventions, habits and obsessions come from.
Endgame – Samuel Beckett. A true masterpiece.
11.) What’s next?
2008 festival planning started last week.