Armstrong: Would that matter in June?

Piro: It's got no cooling either. It's got no restrooms, no power. All it's really got is awesome.


Dancers from Ashleyliane Dance Company:  Michelle Bohn, Jake Henke and Ashley Tate.
Jennifer Silverberg
Dancers from Ashleyliane Dance Company: Michelle Bohn, Jake Henke and Ashley Tate.
St. Louis Osuwa Taiko members Andrew Thacheimer and Eddie Pelikan.
Jennifer Silverberg
St. Louis Osuwa Taiko members Andrew Thacheimer and Eddie Pelikan.

[Setting: April 2. Staff meeting at Fringe HQ, a.k.a. Fringeland. A white tent emblazoned with the Locust Business District logo and decorated with original artwork has been erected in a corner of the enormous ground-level loft that serves as the base for Martin Casas' campaign for state representative. (A projection screen toward the rear of the space is evidence of Casas' other role: director of Frontyard Features, a migrating outdoor film festival.) Fringe's furniture consists of a couch (formerly Piro's), a table, folding chairs and a single bucket seat from a van. All the seating space is occupied; the table is covered with art supplies and personalized postcards and magnets.

Piro sits at the head of the table, in the only chair with arms. Her chihuahua, Dexter, is tethered to a table leg. Dexter is the unofficial St. Lou Fringe mascot. Over the next few months, he will eat rat poison, suffer an attack of hives and injure his trachea by straining against his harness. He will survive these mishaps and periodically disrupt meetings by jumping into people's laps.]

Piro: I was very impressed with the building next door to the Urban Chestnut [Brewing Company], but then I discovered it was ridden with asbestos. I had to do a cost/benefit analysis: It's an awesome space. But it could be poisoning our audience.

I met with Robert [Fancher] at Fubar again. He's under the impression that we are incredibly wealthy because we are an arts organization. I was hoping he would let us use the space for free, and then we could give him a couple hundred bucks. I'm going to ask Tom Martin to talk with him.

Croghan: Tom's old and has gray hair.

Roper: And he can be scary.


[Setting: April 9. Staff meeting. Fringeland. Dexter sits in Piro's lap.]

Piro: OK, we have less than a week before we're supposed to meet with the artists and tell them where they're going to go. I booked the Kranzberg black box and cabaret. But we're still two venues short.

Croghan: Let me wrap my head around this. One and two are the Kranzberg. We can have the Centene for two days if we pretend it's Prison Performing Arts putting on the fringe festival. We can use the Locust Business District office. And here.

Piro: I talked to Tom Brady. He's a performance artist, and his organization, Satori, is here on Locust. I asked if we could use a small space. He gave me a verbal yes and then no. We're not allowed to use the space because the festival is unjuried. We're running into that a lot, but it's what a fringe festival is.

Daniels: A lot of people have gotten freaked out about the unjuried thing. They think the quality isn't going to be as great, because since we're not picking what goes in there's going to be a lot of crap. But if we say, "We don't know you because you don't have a lot of experience," we might be missing out on the best show.

Piro: The first year is where we prove ourselves. But it's a Catch-22. We can't prove ourselves without having better space. The Grandel offered us a very contrived option. We can use their lobby, but not while the Black Rep is performing. They've got a show that weekend. That means we can't use it anytime between 7 and 10.

Daniels: No.

Piro: We can have the garage at the Castle Ballroom. But it's eight blocks from the Kranzberg.

Daniels: No.

Martin: I'd suggest dumping the Centene. It's off the beaten path, and it's leaving you open for heartache and trouble. Focus on finding venues on Locust. If you get Fubar, you'd have this whole block.

Piro: We can have the Nu-Art [Metropolitan Gallery] for $500 a day. But I'm concerned about spending money on Nu-Art when it's not equipped, and we're getting the Kranzberg for free. I want to tell them, "We'll be bringing thousands of people into your space."

Croghan: There was no friendly banter with that guy. We have a hard-and-fast deadline. We have to get the performance schedule laid out before Sunday.

Piro: We talked to at least thirty potential spaces for four venues. I've been working on this daily since December. The artists need to know where they're going to be. We've been acting on the principle that things will fall into place, but they haven't been.


[Setting: April 11. Tech meeting at Fringeland. A large piece of butcher paper is on the floor, covered with Post-it notes. Dexter noses the Post-its with interest.]

Piro: I booked the Nash Motor Company. It's part of Automobile Row. It used to be an automobile manufacturer, then it was a hat-form manufacturer, and now it's empty. I looked at it a long time ago, in December, and I didn't think it would work because I was focusing on the upstairs, where pigeons roam free. But it turns out the downstairs office is climate-controlled, and we can use it. It has an enormous pillar in the middle that we'll have to work around.

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