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IWSG February 2016


Quote of the Day: “Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

[Commencement Address, Wellesley College, 1996]”
Nora Ephron

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeToday’s post is for the Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click on either link to read more, or join.  A large group of bloggers now belong to this group that offers support and encouragement to each other as we all navigate this bumpy road to writing success. 

Last month, I wrote about my interest in the Minnesota Fringe Fest. I have written a couple plays, produced one locally, had a table reading here last year, and have the spark of a new idea. Applying for a spot in the MN Fringe would be a motivator to produce another show. The problem is that all the shows are performed in Minneapolis, and I live over two hours away. I am daunted by a few logistics: the distance, the cost of travel and/or staying there, the time away for me and the cast, and being in unfamiliar territory.  Ann from the MN Fringe contacted me and set up a meeting. She and Jeff, the Executive Director of Fringe, came to Brainerd to chat with me about the Fringe. Jeff says, “It’s big and it’s fun.” Everyone wants Big Fun. They assured me that they’re there to help me and other insecure threatre producers that they can have big fun at Fringe. I’d like to attend this year as an audience reviewer before I take the big step of trying to get a show into the Fringe. They use a lottery system, so the chances end up being about 3-1. I won’t be applying for a spot. The timing’s not right. I have a boy heading off to college mid-August. The same week as the Fringe, August 4-14, is the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that is an annual trip for the Biker Chef. I’m not in a place where I can ask a cast from Brainerd to reserve 11 days out of their summer for this project. Maybe the cast for this show is too big for what I have to do to make it work. I blurted out another project idea to Ann and Jeff. They said, “Write it!” And, I, in my insecurities responded, “I don’t think I’m fringey enough to write a show like that for Fringe.” (Okay, you can slap me now. I think both Ann and Jeff rolled their eyes!) Seriously, anything goes at Fringe. Sure, they have some eyebrow raising adults only type shows, but Jeff said, “Most shows are family friendly.” It’s your chance to try something different, to spread your wings as an artist, and as an audience member.


Cast of Coffee Shop Confessions at The Coco Moon in Brainerd, MN

When I produced my own show, Coffee Shop Confessions, I think, in a way, I did my own one-show Brainerd Fringe Fest. MN Fringe uses actual theatres for performances with a handful of site specific shows. One being a guy doing a farce of a bus tour, rented a city bus for his “performance.” Another woman did her show from the bathtub to the handful of people who could fit into the bathroom. I had my Coffee Shop show performed in the local coffee shops here in the Brainerd area. Jeff calls this an “Open Access” model. Some cities do this. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it all began in 1947, uses a combination of both. Jeff has been to this Festival, and he says over 4,000 different shows are being done throughout three weeks in every type of venue imaginable. “It takes over the town,” he said. 

The best move for me, right now, is to edit the play I had these fine folks read with me last year. They offered great feedback, and I have some good ideas on how to improve the play. I’ll ask the director at our community

Readers for the table reading of Grace Notes. THANK YOU!!!

Readers for the table reading of Grace Notes.

theatre if I can do the play there. We have a good relationship now that I’m teaching workshops for kids at the college, and he asked if I’d be willing to direct a full production in the near future. In the meantime, I’ll work on that new project idea and attend some of the MN Fringe this August, maybe on our return from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever attended a Fringe Festival? Are you open to supporting independent artists? Have you ever decided to put a plan on hold, or change it, to better fit your situation?

  1. Hi Mary,
    Love the Nora Ephron quote 😉
    Wow – that’s a heck of an undertaking, I agree that going along and checking things out first make sense and I wish you all the best of luck with your venture.
    I’ve been to the Edinburgh festival and yes, there are all sorts of acts in all sorts of venues, so anything goes.

  2. Wow, all that sounds so exciting. I think you have a sound plan. That is pretty awesome they ask you to write a play. I think you are smart not to overwhelm yourself, since that can affect the writing, but you should do what feels right for you. Good Luck & Best Wishes,
    Juneta Writer’s Gambit

  3. Go for it! That sounds awesome, and it sounds like you have people backing you up. Maybe next year you’ll get to be a part of it–hopefully the timing is right then!

  4. That’s so exciting about the new play and the possibility of reviewing for the Fringe Fest. I’ve heard of them but never been to/participated in one. You know, there’s still a part of me that considers writing a play but I just can’t seem to get over the fear of all that would have to happen AFTER it’s written. You know, like actually getting people involved! ACK!! But I have to get over that, branch out and really “see the world” so to speak. I’m such a homebody and yet I crave connection. Le sigh…there’s an insecurity for you! Sorry for the long comment! Thanks for stopping by and for the lovely comment. Good luck with that new play! I look forward to hearing how it progresses! Cheers! ~ Jen

  5. I bet it was a blast. Very excited about you doing another play and I expect lots of pics from opening night. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  6. If the timing isn’t right, just wait. Go to observe and you’ll be prepared to tackle it next year.

  7. I have not been to a fringe fest, but it sounds really cool! What a cool example to your kids that you’re involved in theater work. I always like to see creative families.

  8. I find it so hard to say no but if your gut was telling you no than I think you made the right choice. Closer to home seems like a big win.
    I miss going to Sturgis, it just ended up being at the worst time for us every year and so far away. We still go to Daytona, it is a bit calmer than Sturgis!

  9. I went to the NYC Fringe Festival a few years ago. It was a lot of fun! I love the idea of finding a “hidden gem,” something that no one know about yet.

    My husband writes plays. He’s had a few readings, but no productions yet. It means, though, that we spend a lot of time talking about the imaginary people in our lives!

  10. I got to the Edinburg Fringe Festival back in 2000. It was wonderful! How exciting that you’re finding your way into something like this! It sounds like you’ve got a handle on it: you really understand what an undertaking it is and you’re going to do it right.

  11. I am beginning to read posts for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the first time, and your post is different than others I have seen so far because of the inclusion of your journalling prompt. I wish I having fringe-type experiences myself. Your post is interesting because you have a lot going on. It sounds like there will be opportunities for fun in your neck of the woods. As a playwright, if I understand correctly, break a leg. Glad I landed on your post. You should definitely persevere.

    • Thank you, Patrick. When I started blogging, I was also teaching journaling classes and wanted this to be a place where people could go for journaling prompts. Welcome to IWSG!

  12. I’ve never heard of this. I know. Where have I been? It sounds like so much fun. Writing a play and seeing the actors performing it would be an exciting experience.

    • I didn’t know about Fringe Festivals until I wrote a play, and produced it, and someone suggested trying to get it into the MN Fringe. And, yes, it is exciting to write something and have a team of people bring it to life.

  13. Great post, Mary. I have not been involved in a playwright community since college. I do miss it. It sounds like you have some exciting challenges ahead of you. I wish you luck with the Fringe decisions.

  14. You really held the performance in a coffee shop? That’s epic.

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