Fringe Freedom

because why not? theatre company was created in 2015, when I got into a Fringe Festival. This year, when I had the opportunity to participate in Shake38, the Artistic Line Director said “So much of because why not?’s identity is tied to Fringe…” and I realized it was true. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love that I don’t have to “run my ideas” by anyone at Fringe. People ask because they are interested, or because they need the info for promotions, but what we produce is up to us.

One of the first lessons I learned in theatre (4 whole years ago!) that continues to serve me well, is that all anyone is doing is expressing an opinion. It doesn’t matter how many degrees someone has or how much experience or how important they may be in the theatre community, it all comes down to the question "what do you like?" That can be tough when you’re pounding the pavement, trying to get an acting gig, or trying to get your script produced and you’re faced with rejection. Often, it isn’t that what you’re doing isn’t right or good, it’s that the person judging doesn’t like it. It is all subjective.

When I’m a part of Fringe, I have the freedom to do what I want, how I want. That is wonderful. What I’m presenting may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I respect that, but it’s still going on stage. That’s what Fringe is. Freedom. And that’s something that is hard to find.

My friend River wrote down what happened to her. She finally reached the point where she could express the horrific abuse she and others had suffered. She was finally in a place to let her voice be heard. To refuse to be silent anymore. And I am still so completely stunned and honored that she asked me to take her brave and beautiful words and turn it into something that would allow her story to be heard on a somewhat wider venue. Maybe the things we do are difficult to watch, maybe people don't come out in droves due to our sensitive and challenging subject matters, maybe we're fools for believing that theatre can change things, theatre can carry a message, and if that's the case, we will continue to be foolish. We will continue to demand that people think about what they saw on stage, even if it's for five minutes in the car. Think about the questions we're asking because they never have a simple answer. Just like life.

A woman in her 70s left a preview of this show recently, and she stopped and asked, “Those things don’t really happen, do they?” I was sad to tell her they do, but proud we had made her aware.

So come to Duet in August and watch us perform a piece that we hope will result in contemplation and dialogue about human trafficking and the exploitation of children. If you’re already turned off, no harm no foul. If you watch it and hate it, I respect your right to feel that way. If it touches you, if it proves thought provoking or cathartic, then we will feel we have accomplished what we set out to do. Fringe gives us all that Freedom.

Shannon Geier, Founder and Artistic Director, because why not? theatre company and self-professed Fringe Junkie. “ ‘Til the Cold Winter’s Through” by Shannon Geier and River A. Dowdy will be showing at Duet as part of St. Lou Fringe.

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