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BYT Interviews: Julianne Brienza of Fall Fringe
November 1, 2013 | 12:35PM

We’re fans of Capital Fringe. We’re fans of Capital Fringe founder Julianne Brienza. In fact, she’s one of our 101 Reasons To Love DC. One of the reasons she’s one of our reasons is the Fall Fringe festival. The smaller yet still ambitious theater festival begins its fifth incarnation tonight. We spoke to the artists’ friend about what sets Capital Fringe apart from Fall Fringe and nuts. Roasted nuts.

Photo courtesy of Capital Fringe

Photo courtesy of Capital Fringe

Julianne Brienza: I just roasted some nuts.

Brightest Young Things: What did you do?

Yeah, I roast nuts for Fall Fringe.

OK.

And I don’t know how I started doing that, but I just did I don’t know, 31 cups of green chili nuts.

OK.

So I did set my little fire quickly.

Alright. That’s a good way to start this.

Yeah, right?

Absolutely.

Start with fire, it’s good.

Besides the nuts, how is Fall Fringe different than the regular Fringe?

It’s totally different.

How so?

It’s much smaller, which is the obvious thing. We also don’t have applications for it, so you can’t apply to be in it. You have to participated in a past festival in any sort of manner, which could be, you were in someone’s show. However you have intersected with the Fringe community during the summer exhibit. I think sometimes people get a little confused because they think that they’re my favorite shows or something. Well I do care about everyone, that’s not a criteria. A lot of the conversation is about who’s going to be in Fall Fringe from the start of the summer Fringe and a lot of the people approaching me say I really would love to do it and a lot of the decision process that myself and the Fringe goes through and figure out who’s going to do it, who’s going to have a good time and be successful because it’s a different producing environment than the summer festival.

We have like thousands of less audience members and thousands of less participants. Some of it is picking shows that were successful and this year we had a lot more sell-outs. A lot of people were actually shut out of shows so they couldn’t go, so when those people approached us it was, yeah, sure.

About three years ago we started figuring out that they can’t just all be encores of the summer festival because that’s just really boring.

We started engaging certain artists that have done the festival to come back if they haven’t done it in like two years to come back to Fall Fringe and try something in sort of a safer environment than doing it on their own you know like running a venue and that sort of thing. This year I feel like we have a great balance, half coming from the summer festival and then new shows. Hopefully that means people will be more engaged to come.

This is different because people can actually see all of the shows.

Yeah, you can totally go to all of the shows. There are only thirteen.

I think the person who saw the most shows at the summer festival saw 67.

Jesus Christ!

Yeah, it’s crazy. People are like really fanatical.

At a certain point, isn’t it just – how could you enjoy that? No offense, it just seems like it’s impossible.

I think a lot of is just like people get addicted to things. You know? Like most of the people who buy the all access pass really see 40 shows, like that’s normal.

Wow, that’s still a lot of shows.

I can’t do that. I’ll be honest with you. I see like thirty shows during the festival and that’s like maximum capacity. I cannot do anymore than that.

That’s still a lot.

Yeah, that is, it is a lot.

It seems like this is your more manageable, friendly, easy, like a friendly dinner party-esque festival compared to the regular Fringe, which has more of a summer music festival type craziness. Is that a fair comparison?

Yeah, I think that’s actually pretty valid. I think the reason Fall Fringe started five years ago was I needed to raise $9,000 before the end of the year to reach my budget goal or whatever. Three artists actually volunteered to donate their shows to Fringe and I was like, “OK, let’s try this out.” So that’s how Fall Fringe got started. I didn’t think about all the pros and cons of it, but it wasn’t really surprising because that was back in 2009 I guess where DC still very much had the culture of everybody got used to in the summer. I think we’re getting out of that a little bit. So people would come to the fall festival and be like, “I’ve heard about the Fringe Festival. Is this Fringe Festival? I’ve always wanted to go!” And I was like “Well, it’s not really the Fringe Festival, but let me tell you about the summer festival.” So it’s a good way to like actually introduce people to what happens in the summer in a way that’s better than doing some sort of mailing or whatever sort of nonprofit type of thing we could do. If that makes sense?”

Absolutely it makes sense. I would rather see a show in the fall than in the summer for weather reasons.

Yeah, you have heat.

It’s actually sort of fun to see a lot of people in the summer where they are barely dressed and then you see them in the fall and you’re like, “Oh my god you have a jacket on!” It’s crazy”

So you get to see your summer camp friends in the winter and it’s a little jarring.

Yeah, yeah

What’s something you’re really glad that you’re including in the fall version you just couldn’t make it happen in the summer?”

Operating System.” It was supposed to be in the summer festival but he got a job that required to him go to Edmonton, Canada a lot and so he was just he just couldn’t do it. He’s done the Fall Festival in the past and his show was pretty interesting and people liked it. I was really kind of pissed at him when he sent the email to be like I’m not going to be in the festival. I’m just like that’s so lame, I’m so mad at you because I was actually really excited about the show because it’s all about data collection on yourself and that’s something we’re all talking about now. I thought he would have had a very successful time in the summer festival. So when we were getting ready for Fall Fringe, I asked him to do it. So he does trips to Canada he can do fall Fringe. so excited about that. I really think it was a missed opportunity this summer.”

Photo courtesy of Capital Fringe

Photo courtesy of Capital Fringe

Should the viewer or the audience member approach this with any different expectations to a normal night at the theatre? How is this still Fringe-y, if that makes sense? Or is this just a bunch of shows?

I think it’s sort of like in the summer festival, we always encourage audience and artists to sort of hang out and talk to each other. We’re doing two bars this year. One on each side of the Fort Fringe. And because there are fewer people, it’s that much more intimate. So if you actually want to talk to someone, I guarantee you the artists are going to come get a beer or whatever. I just really want to talk in a way that’s not facilitated, talk back session and actually want to have a discussion or a dialogue. This is a really great opportunity to do it in a more casual way. I think that’s something that’s kind of special about Fall Fringe.

The whole staff really loves Fall Fringe because it’s a little bit like the summer festival but it’s much more chill.

Fall Fringe begins tonight, November 1, and runs through November 17. More information about the very manageable festival can be found on the Capital Fringe site.

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