Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #7 - Leah Cooper

Monday, June 20, 2005 - 11:00am

I'll admit it. I love Leah Cooper, Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival. I'm proud and flattered to be able to call her my friend. She's really just cooler than any human being has a right to be.

She writes, she acts, she directs. But most importantly, she's one of the best (if not flat out just *the* best) thing to happen to the Fringe and the theater community in general in a very long time.

She loves artists, she understands artists, she welcomes artists - and artists at all levels of skill and experience. That might sound like it should be a given for arts administrators and leaders in the field but trust me, it's not. It should be. And seeing Leah in action reminds me that it is indeed possible. She keeps me striving to be better about community building and getting my own art out there besides. Nurturing and the opportunity to create are good things and should be available to all. That is the Fringe at its core and at its best, and Leah is its standard-bearer.

And it's a heck of a lot of fun just to dish with her about the Fringe. We are fellow addicts. We share an obsession. So it's fun and a relief to talk to someone about the Fringe and realize they're not gonna look at you funny because you're really round the bend about it.

Thanks to our little chat, I'm going to be on the lookout for "the trainwreck effect" to see how it manifests itself in this year's Fringe. No names were named, mind you, but I love the idea. Basically, the trainwreck effect is a show that benefits from seemingly negative buzz. It's the show that's so bad that it becomes entertaining in a completely different way than the creators intended. And people flock to it, because their friends and fellow audience members tell them, "Seriously, it's so bad, you kind of have to see it for yourself to fully understand."

They say the only worse thing than being talked about, is not being talked about.

Whatever gets them in the seats.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit www.matthewaeverett.com)

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