Phillip Allen Coan, St. Lou Fringe venue director: It's a very "found" space.

Kerrie Mondy, St. Lou Fringe venue director: It intrigues me. We can put stuff in it.

Piro: They're letting us use it for free. And I have a verbal commitment from Fubar to be a three-day venue, which should be finalized in two days. I'm still tentative about them. They could sweep this out from under our feet. For a backup, we can use this space. Billy can rig the walls so the Casas campaign stays open. We're also talking to Nu-Art, but with rehearsal time, we'd have to pay them $2,500. I'm hoping one of these spaces will work out.

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.

Coan: It's the first year, so people are worried about what it will be like. Afterwards it will be about what the festival is.

Piro [indicates butcher paper]: I've laid out the schedule, based on the questionnaires we sent the artists about their production needs. I'm still trying to figure out where we can put the aerial acts. Fubar claims it can handle aerial.

Mondy: It cracks me up that Fubar's not sure they want us to use their space, but they're OK about aerial rigging. It's difficult to commit people to spaces they can't do their shows in. It would've been nice to have the spaces determined before people started to request things.

Coan: All the companies know that they can walk in and request something, and we can say they can't have that. The question should be, "How close can I give you to what you want? How close can we get to your vision? Why do you need a spotlight?"

[A knock on the front window. Dexter yaps. Mondy answers the door. A stranger hands her a bottle of wine and a stack of plastic cups and disappears into the night. Mondy turns back to Coan and Piro and shrugs.]

Mondy: Well, I'll take it.


[Setting: April 13. Fringeland.]

Piro: I got Fubar by begging fervently and being pitiful. [Dexter climbs on the table and begs.]

I said we were poor artists and that they would be offering a very, very generous donation. I hope we're not being selfish in our endeavors. We're bringing good things everywhere we go. I hope we're giving as much as we're taking.

The Acts: A Sampling

Robin Gillette: Each fringe tends to represent the culture of its city. New Orleans is less burlesque-y and more circus-y, with acrobats and masks. Minnesota is sci-fi/mystery/geek-dorkery.

Piro: I think the St. Lou Fringe identity will emerge. I don't know what the feel is in St. Louis. My friend says St. Louis performers are nomadic. They don't have a single place. In St. Louis anything can pop up anywhere.

[Setting: March 15. Ides of Fringe event at the Fountain on Locust, an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. Fringe performers on hand will be given 60 seconds apiece to introduce themselves. Outside the first thunderstorm of the year rolls in. Inside people are eating dinner and ice-cream sundaes. At precisely 9 p.m. Piro jumps onstage.]

Piro: This siren will go off if you go over 60 seconds. A great uproarious ruckus will ensue, like such [the audience yells and whistles obligingly] until you get offstage. The artists have our unquestioned support of their work. If they think it's good and want to perform, then we won't interfere.

[A thin young man climbs onstage and starts to juggle five small balls. As he turns in a circle, still juggling, the crowd cheers. Silent up till now, he speaks.]

Young Man #1: We're Coty's Circus Variety Show.

Young Man #2: I'm Toby. I've never met Daniel Shar...or had sex with him. No one has. Daniel will be here to do a one-man show about his sexual ineptitude and arrested development.

Young Woman #1: We're Easelmuse. Every night we'll have a different musician interpret the same musical motif. Other artists are invited to join in the creative play and novel experience by creating a piece of art or just listening to the music. We'll also have open space for dancing! [Some members of the audience appear puzzled.]

[Bryson Gerard of the musical act Lux Ascension kneels onstage and plays a minute-long original composition on the bouzouki, a stringed instrument that looks like the body of a ukulele attached to the neck of a guitar. The sound it makes is high-pitched and eerie. (Gerard will subsequently describe his musical style as "electric doom metal bouzouki.")]

Young Woman #2: I'm Ashley Tate of the Ashleyliane Dance Company. We do hip-hop, jazz and improv. [She demonstrates. Her movements are graceful and precise.]

Older Man: The Washington Avenue Players will be performing Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by John Patrick Shanley. This production was originally intended for a high school performance, but the students couldn't use the F-word. So we're bringing it here, and we're bringing the F-word in.

[Croghan appears, sweaty and disheveled, clutching a can of Pabst.]

Croghan: I think this turned out well. I'm always nervous before we do an event. It's good to see people doing what they're going to be doing.

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