Ryan is sitting at the corner table of the Baldacchino Tent’s outdoor patio, sipping from a blackberry Izze soda, when his animated conversation allows.
He’s making a pit-stop in the middle of an already busy day. He had an audition in the morning, saw the Fringe show ECCE in the afternoon, and will watch a friend perform in Raising Cane in twenty minutes. As soon as the play ends, Ryan will hustle to Studio Theatre, where he is performing in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at 8:30. Maybe that explains why he is drinking the Izze when most of the patrons at the Fringe Tent are enjoying stronger drinks on this sunny afternoon.
A veteran Fringe performer, Ryan’s busy schedule does not allow him to appear in a Fringe show this year. Instead, he comes to the Tent for the sense of community and a taste of the counter-culture.
“If I had a friend coming in from out of town this weekend, this is where I’d take him,” Ryan says. At 6:15 on a Saturday afternoon, the patio is filling with theater-goers, actors, and directors, who mill about holding drinks, talking with friends, and passing out a seemingly endless supply of promotional post-cards. “After the National Mall, the monuments, and the museums, I would take him here. Somewhere the tourists don’t go.”
Ryan gesturers to the busy bar and patio, talking rapidly. “This is a kind of secret underground community. Most of the people who live in DC will never know about it. But once you become part of it, it’s amazing.”
Somehow, even with all the talking, Ryan has finished his soda. When offered a beer, he mentions his show later, joking that “it’s usually better not to get drunk before performing.” Ryan checks his cell phone for the time. He is going to cut it close getting to the next show. He dons a white fedora, and orders another Izze for the road. Blackberry, of course.