Fringe 2009: Don’t despair, my wait-listed friends


by Matthew A. Everett • “Well, it’s time to start killing people.”

So said a person who was not entirely happy with where their friends’ show had ended up on the wait list in the Fringe lottery.

But of course, they were kidding.


single white fringe geek is the blog of matthew a. everett. in addition to being one of five bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet, he blogs throughout the year about theater and culture.

Honestly, there’s no need to resort to violence. Yet.

Here’s the thing – everybody on the wait list, sit tight.

I know it’s hard to wait, but you don’t have to wait idly.

Write that script you haven’t written yet. Inquire after friends who were going to help you put the show together. You can do all kinds of things without laying out any money yet. And you’ve got the time.

The Fringe never – I mean, never – ends up doing the festival that’s drawn out of the lottery on the first go.

First, the people who just got in the Fringe via the lottery – a fair number of them will now panic – “Oh crap! I have to put a show together! I can’t put a show together!”

For some, the panic will subside – and they’ll do a show.

For others, the panic will remain – and they will drop out.

And the first bunch of people come up off the wait list onto the schedule.

Next panic point after the initial shock – the deadline to withdraw and still get your money back – normally the middle of March sometime.

After trying valiantly for a couple of weeks, some folks will realize they just can’t get it together, and should pull out and save their money to try again next year.

So the next group of people come up off the wait list onto the schedule.

Then for any number of reasons over the next five months, productions will implode, peter out, just not come together.

Those people will withdraw, learning a lesson that cost them a few hundred bucks.

And still more people will come up off the wait list onto the schedule.

One year a friend and I had a script that was being produced by someone else, and we made the mistake of assuming our producer/director knew to sit tight and wait for a few months. We were somewhere around the 90 point on the wait list.

Following the wait list anyway, like the obsessive-compulsive blogger that I am, I noticed that a few people on the list just above us were getting called up. Too late, I contacted the producer with the good news. They’d figured there was no chance in hell we were going to be called to do a show. So they’d committed themselves as a director to another project, and even enlisted some of the same actors they would have used for our script.


So, the wait list people behind on the wait list us got a break.

The first 30 or so on the wait list stand a very good chance of having a production go up in August – if they’re ready when the call comes.

The next 20 or so (up to 50) on the wait list also stand a better than average chance.

I had a friend who ended up at a spot right around 70 on the wait list this year. As requested, I texted him with an update and told him, “Write the script anyway. We’ll talk.”

Last year, two days before the festival opened, someone dropped out. The company all the way at next to last on the wait list got a call, and because they had an actor who had several one man shows in his pocket ready to go – voila! Instant Fringe show. It was Charlie Bethel’s “Beowolf or Gilgamesh” which my Mom loved so much she wanted to give it six stars on a one to five scale.

Not everyone has those resources, I know. Out of towners have to plan much farther ahead. But local artists, if you’re ready when the call comes, you could be in. If not, the person behind you on the wait list just got lucky.

Remember – my own script was languishing at around 90 one year, and still the call came. We just weren’t ready. We gave up too soon.

There’s a lot of time between now and August. Create your art.

Check this link regularly

And wait.

Good luck.

I know I’ll be seeing a lot of you at the Fringe.

Matthew A. Everett is a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at

Published on 2/19/09.