Senior Reviewer Tim Treanor had these thoughts about our first Fringe
The Fringe itself was an unalloyed success. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen Washington area theater do. What it shows is that there is immense talent waiting to get out and express itself. Most of the Fringe stars were folks I had never seen on stage or writers I had never seen produced. The Fringe gave them an opportunity to explode out of whatever limitations were keeping them off stage and into public consciousness, to the benefit of public consciousness.
The most important lesson is one in theater economics. I saw thirteen shows, and ten of them were sold out or nearly sold out. This is immensely informative to small companies with revenue problems. If I was running one, I would immediately grab some of the hot shows (particularly the one-actor shows, which obviously have minimal operations costs) and put them in my theater on dark weekends, splitting the take 50-50. The $15 admission price worked for the Fringe, too, and may be informative for theaters throughout Washington. It may be time for theaters to rethink the supply-demand curve; in Washington, supply of fine professional theater seems to exceed demand, and that may have to impact prices.
I think that Fringe management was smart not to impose content restrictions in an effort to make the Fringe far out. The fact of the matter is that audience defines the sort of theater we’re going to have here. Washington is a culturally conservative community, and it is unlikely that the eccentric productions that make it big in New York or Chicago (Manson! the Musical! was one of my favorites there) are going to find a home here, even on the Fringe. Don’t push the issue, I say. Let the artists and the audience collaborate to find out how experimental they want to get.