Jason Zinoman over at the NY TIMES has written a great article on why FringeNYC is so disappointing:
Does it matter that New York has a drearily mediocre Fringe Festival?
I have long thought not, since the annual August assembly line of toothless political parodies, dumb musicals, navel-gazing solo shows and occasional gems always seemed harmless. It gave hundreds of young artists a chance to shine and filled a niche for the press during the dead quiet of summer. As I have visited much more audience-friendly Fringes in Edinburgh and Philadelphia, however, the New York International Fringe Festival now appears needlessly bland and poorly organized. It also does no favors for the reputation of downtown theater. We deserve better.
Um. Yeah. While Mr. Zinoman is little bit late to the party, his open discussion of the disappointing morass of bad work that is FringeNYC is most welcome. Perhaps most importantly because he points out the very real problem that for some mainstream theatergoers, FringeNYC is their only detour from the well-trod paths of Broadway and the bigger Off-Broadway houses. Instead of seeing the kind of high quality, provocative, challenging and excellent work that is produced Off-Off Broadway all year round, they are more likely to be exposed to dreck. And possibly think that they’ve seen the best of what Off-Off has to offer.
I don’t hold out much hope that FringeNYC will change or improve, but I’m glad that at least we can start to have a discussion about the Fringe Festival that NYC deserves, rather than the one it has.
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