Unleashing my voice started with volunteering at St Lou Fringe

As writers, we are always looking for a way to get our work produced. How do we do that? We submit to theatre companies or festivals and hope and pray that our work appeals to the select few who get to choose.

As artists who wish to produce their work or the work of others, it’s about finding a space to produce in. How much will it cost? When will it be available?

There are so many hoops to jump through.

The first show I ever produced was at an out-of-town Fringe, and I have been lucky enough to have a show in St Lou Fringe last season and again this year.

What has always meant the most to me about Fringe is the uncurated aspect of it. Yes, there’s a lottery. If, by luck of the draw, you are chosen, then what you put on the stage, a stage that is provided for you, is whatever burns in your heart. Wanna sit on the stage for an hour and paint a ceramic goat blue? Do it! For 1 hour, it’s your space, to do with as you like!

The other part of Fringe that means so much to me is that it is a hugely collaborative community of artists who come together to support each other, to watch each other’s work, to talk up what they’ve seen and to join together in friendship and fellowship.

I am a woman who decided, at the age of 44, with zero experience or education, to start producing theatre. Fringe is the place that lets me do that. Fringe lets me get my name and my work out there. It gives me support, confidence and free posters! I don’t hear “Sorry, we just don’t feel what you are producing is right for us!” I hear, “Let’s go!”

The first year I was a part of St Lou Fringe I was a volunteer. I met people I still count as friends today, I learned how the organization was run, I saw the public come and be changed by what independent, artists can do.

Matt Kearns contacted me last year about presenting something at one of the monthly Fringe events. It was a 10 minute one act, it was two actresses and me on stage; and the feedback we rec

eived from the audience was really positive. Matt (and by extension the Fringe organization) encouraged me to keep going and now, at the 2017 St. Lou Fringe, in the Kranzberg Art Center Black Box Theatre, my piece, Shakespeare’s Women or The Bard’s Broads will have 4 performances before 4 sold out houses!! (Hey a girl can dream!)

There’s a reason the theatre company I started is called because why not? Because why not put yourself and your art out to the public? Because why not connect with other people passionate about what they do? Being involved in Fringe, attending Fringe reminds us all that we can dream and that we should never wait for anyone to give us permission to create and be passionate about our art.

SHANNON GEIER, Fringe Artist: is the founder and artistic director of because why not? theatre company, brings an original PoV to contemporary subjects. Since her first St Lou Fringe show, she produced a short play for BRIEFS LGBTQ play festival, and her full-length play FAT received a full production and positive reviews earlier this year.

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