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August 13, 2007

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Kevin Doyle

Dear Mr. Cote,

I've read your writing in TimeOut for years now -- had the pleasure of meeting you briefly at the Blogger event at CUNY's Prelude last fall. Never felt the urge to write though.

In regard to all the FringeNYC criticism circling around -- Ms. Soloski's article, Andy's recent remarks on Culturebot, your posting from today -- what is a legitimate downtown/Brooklyn theatre company to do?

We've been to Europe -- we know what's going on in the world and how other major festivals are run -- but what's a company to do?

We know we're doing good work -- without that Fringy Amateur Night At The Apollo Feel -- maybe even innovative work -- but we're at that transitional funding/money phase. We have too much work backlogged and stockpiled as it is -- so from our perspective the NYC Fringe is a good deal.

But not if its at the expense of losing the respect we've worked so hard to earn from people the last two years since our company's inception. And from the growing chorus I'm hearing in the last week in regard to the Fringe -- I'm concerned.

I am in total agreement with you that the bulk of what is presented here at the NYC Fringe is the worst possible advertisement for Off-Off Broadway -- hell, even theatre as an art form -- but for some folks in the rat race, like us, presenting our best work for a few nights at a reduced operational cost is a pretty sound business plan on the way to say, a month rental at the Ohio Theatre in 2008, or futher development from Barrow Street or Culture Project or somewhere else.

We know we're on the right track artistically and creatively -- but we desperately don't want to wait until the next Grant Application Cycle to be able to share our work with people.

Didn't mean to write a rant here.

Just feeling a tad "damned if you do, damned if you don't" upon reading your entry from today.

Alas.

Warm regards,

Kevin Doyle
Sponsored By Nobody

Mac

Thanks much, David! These thoughts are both kind and quite useful.

After I do some theatergoing this weekend I may have some other Fringe recommends to send your way.

David Cote

Hi Kevin: Having produced Off-Off theater myself for about six years in the 1990s, I completely agree that you get a lot of potential bang for your buck at the Fringe. And for $15, the audience could possibly see a perfect Fringe show (low budget but effective) OR something that should move to the next level (Urinetown). No argument there. But for media folks like me who are bombarded by shows on Broadway, Off and Off-Off 365 days a year, the Fringe can feel like a superfluous marketing gimmick for way too much bottom-feeder theater and international stuff that couldn't make it into better festivals. But I understand your dilemma: For small Off-Off companies like yours, it is hard. Unless you get funding and regularly produced at PS 122 and/or get locked into the European festival circuit and have regular media coverage because you're edgy, avant-garde and cool, yeah, it's tough. In the 15 years I've been in NYC, it's never been this bleak for Off-Off. Ridiculously high cost of living, insane rents, a city full of transplanted overpaid assholes who will go to a chic restaurant or club in the L.E.S. but wouldn't ever think of seeing a play. It's a sad scene, with Brooklyn as a possible ray of hope.

Kevin Doyle

Hi David: Thank you for the kind reply. I hear you about the state of New York -- believe me -- my family's from Brooklyn. What's gone on in the last several years is astonishing. Its a different city. An alien city. Wish you could catch NOT FROM CANADA. (that's not a press pitch). It was written as a reaction against the Legions Of The Transplanted Overpaid Assholes you reference. Plus, my parents had me inoculated as a baby to protect against all kinds of diseases, including Biltmore Syndrome. There is still hope. Warm regards. -- Kevin Doyle

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