Deep Plays: Notes on the (intern for the) 2013 Fringe Festival

So far this summer, I’ve mastered getting up at 8:30am, stuffing a haphazardly mixed helping of granola and yogurt into my mouth by 9:00am,  and stumbling out into the sweltering sun of the apartments by 9:07am. Beads of sweat steadily tracking moisture down my hastily made up cheeks and lids, I embark on my daily race against the clock. I ignore most major stoplights and road signs, power-walking through metropolitan Ardmore hoping to make the 9:22am. Somewhere around 9:14am, a fellow in a fitted baseball cap, bootcut jeans, a snug crew neck t-shirt, and a mid-sized messenger bag appears opposite the street from me. We never stay in each other’s sights for long; he ducks onto a different route, attempting to utilize a shortcut via the parking lot of Partyland. This shortcut is rather ineffectual, as I, taking the “long route” and he, the “shorter,” both cross the street to the train stop at approximately 9:20am.

Me sleeping, mouth open, France 2009

Me sleeping, mouth open, France 2009

9:22am arrives, and I achieve solace from the perilous social acrobatics and barrage of obligatory head-nods suffered from waiting alongside fellow Haverford students also boarding the train to Center City. Once in the safe, air conditioned care of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, I take a window seat and observe my surroundings–there is definitely a look of employment about the car. Worn leather briefcases, groggily pressed shirts, pointed pleather shoes, and me, serving a look cutely described by my mother as “funky.” Usually, around 9:32, I doze off (mouth probably open, I can never manage to sleep with my mouth closed) past Wynnewood, Narberth, Merion, Overbook, 30th Street, and finally catch wind of the telling smell of Suburban Station.

It takes a minute to shuffle out of the train car among the clumsy crashings of baby strollers from luggage racks and the haughty self-importance of business professionals eager to be the first onto the platform. In the window of 9:44 to 9:53, I arise from the bowels of my usual stop, get a sausage/egg/cheese sandwich on a croissant from Dunkin’ Donuts and a hot Red Eye from Passero’s and quick-step it to the elevator of the 161st tallest building in the world, BNY Mellon Center and push the button that is made to give me access to the 25th floor.  A couple seconds of staring at the superfluously complicated glossy wristwatches of my fellow passengers and I hear a familiar ding!–my cue to step off the upward rising contraption. Nearly always disorriented from the flight, I pursue my best guess in the direction of the FringeArts office, the location of my summer occupation.

imagesEventually reaching the office, I push open the door, croak out a good morning to the rest of the FringeArts team, and wedge my lunch into the fridge. From the hours of 10am to 6pm, I listen to  Yeezus or Magna Carta Holy Grail on repeatedly on youtube. (Note: I would greatly prefer if there were no comments insinuating that alleged rapper J. Cole’s most recently released tiresome slop is superior to either of my listening choices.)

FringeArts is a rather neat organization to be a part of. From reading the “About” page on their website just now, I can definitely confirm that they:

  • support artists (local, national & international)
  • challenge, stimulate, entertain, and educate diverse audiences
  • provide opportunities for—and investment in Philadelphia–based artists in such a way as to lead to the continued growth and health of the local and regional performing arts community
  •  engage fully in the global dialogue and global community surrounding this kind of work

And that is all rather superfly.

While I rhythmically squirm and bop at my desk to the Illuminati’s Greatest Hits on most weekdays, I’m also acting at the guide intern at FringeArts for live arts extravaganza, the 2013 Fringe Festival, taking place this Autumn September 5th through 22nd. As the guide intern, I assist Josh, guide editor and information manager with putting together the festival’s main publication, the Fringe Festival Guide. The guide contains everything a festival goer needs to know about the sixteen FringeArts selected shows and the 145 local artist-curated shows entering the Festival—dates, show times, venues, artist biographies, interviews, photos, show descriptions, yadda yadda yadda. I help edit, write, and organize all of those elements along with Josh and others on the FringeArts team as to accomplish a strong, singular voice as an integral arts platform in Philadelphia. I also contribute to the FringeArts blog, doing weekend art event posts and occasionally some artist interviews and other such thingies. You can check that out if  you click these words.

Meg! Me! The Quiet Volume!

Meg! Me! The Quiet Volume!

It’s all been enlightening to be a direct part of the inner-workings of the Philadelphia arts scene, in however small a way and however brief a summer. I’ve gotten to see so much– Italian high conceptual art involving a damaged father-son complex due to the father’s uncontrollable failing bowels (On the Concept of the Face Regarding the Son of God); a wall-walking mime firmly opposed to gravity in a show replete with projected video animations (LEO); a laboratory experiment/crash course in economics inspired choose-your-own-adventure art installation (Pay Up); a panel-style autobiographical performance of the elderly’s sexual exploits (All the Sex I’ve Ever Had); an absurdist theater artist digging through piles of dirt in a room conducting post-modernist archaeology (The Object Lesson). I’ve even gotten featured in a promotional photoshoot for the guide along with one of my fellow interns, Meg, for a show about the dramaturgical quality of silent study called The Quiet Volume.

I do have one quandary, however. As of yet, I have yet to figure out how to take a lunch break, and often forget about it all together. Do you eat while you work, as exemplified by the multitasking capabilities of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? What about the stains on the keyboard, then? Am I liable for that? Would Lysol wipes be of help? My terrible social ineptitude prevents me from clearly communicating any of these inquiries, so for now for I go downstairs to get a 4th Street cookie and munch on it for a couple of minutes while vacantly staring into space. It is about 1:30pm and I make my triumphant, energized return from daily vacation, on high enough spirits to soldier through the rest of my day of researching all of the wonderfully strange shows preparing to stream into Philadelphia come September. Every so often, the afternoon is punctuated by a small office party, an argument with Greg from Marketing concerning the artistic validity of Justin Bieber, or a go at the cooler of complimentary tuna steaks resting by the supply shelf. 6:00pm rolls around and I pack up my brown leather bag, head buzzing with inquiries about the logistics of a graveyard cabaret show or a musical about federal detention, and amble to track 4 at Suburban Station to catch the 6:12pm.  Day done.

–Maya Beale ’15

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One Response to Deep Plays: Notes on the (intern for the) 2013 Fringe Festival

  1. Ty J says:

    “the perilous social acrobatics and barrage of obligatory head-nods suffered from waiting alongside fellow Haverford students also boarding the train to Center City.”

    too, too, too, too true

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