Fringe 2009: When I disappear

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by Matthew A. Everett | March 9, 2009 • It’s not that I don’t enjoy blogging. I do. Writing about theater, and in particular the Fringe Festival, is often great fun.

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.

Sometimes when I disappear from this space it’s because I’m doing something over on MNArtists.org. Sometimes I’m doing something over on MinnesotaPlaylist.com

A lot of the time, I’m carving out time for my own playwriting.

Another chunk of the time, though, I’m working.

I don’t get paid for blogging. I only get paid for playwriting when someone produces or buys a script of mine.

Can’t live on that, unfortunately.

And right now, as you might imagine, the day job front is kind of scary.

My benefits and vacation time job (which makes Fringe Festival attendance and getting out of town for rehearsals and family time possible) is in fundraising for education. I know. Worthwhile, but a lot easier last year than this year. I’m in the development arm of a larger organization devoted to promoting higher education. Our fundraising year runs from July of one year through June of the next.

At the beginning of the campaign year, our grant writer and Greater Minnesota campaign manager made a lateral move to another part of the organization. Still in house, but no longer a full part of the fundraising team. So we started the campaign operating one person short.

Then halfway through our fundraising campaign, the bottom dropped out of the economy.

The election was a bright spot.

Then the president of our organization announced his retirement in December (for this coming December).

Which effectively froze all hiring. Insuring that we’d be continuing the rest of the campaign one person short.

Then last month my supervisor, the head of the fundraising team, announced she was leaving for another job.

Leading up to her departure, we were all cramming in as much campaign work as possible, to set things up well for the interim director who’d be taking the reins in the middle of the campaign.

Now the interim is on board, and I’m helping train in a new boss (third time since I’ve been here).

The person who ultimately takes over the president’s job could reconfigure the entire organization.

The person who takes over the fundraising campaign after the interim is a complete unknown at this point, and wouldn’t be hired until that new president is in place.

I coordinate the database, the gift processing and the mailings, so I’m in a pretty good position.

But everything’s essentially up in the air there. Out of my control. No sense worrying or borrowing trouble. Just gonna be a bumpy ride for a while, with the destination uncertain.

My part-time job – to help pay down my debt faster and keep me in paper and toner cartridges – is in the Guthrie Theater box office.

As theaters go, the Guthrie’s on a more solid footing than most. But we’re looking at significant cuts – of both money, and people.

The first round of people get let go at the end of this month, before the new fiscal year starts for the theater on – April Fool’s Day. Wish that were funnier.

The next round of people get cut sometime after the big Tony Kushner-fest that runs April through June.

The theater season, still a set of mysteries at the moment, will still be four productions on each of the big stages. But the proscenium will have two of those four as co-productions with other companies. Up in the blackbox space on the ninth floor, no in-house productions next year. All rentals and/or co-productions with other companies.

No more commissions for new plays beyond the ones already in the pipeline. Even though it’d be a mighty leap for me to reach that door someday, it still was awfully hard to hear that door for living playwrights slammed shut. And locked. For now.

And that means the BFA acting students won’t be working with living playwrights in the near future for their senior project. Which is a shame. The experience would do them good. And some of those plays the last couple of years have been quite lovely.

I’m pretty high up on the seniority list on the box office roster right now. But they’ve already started cutting back everyone’s hours. And more cuts may be in the offing.

Of course if no one has the expendable income to buy tickets, the phone doesn’t ring, and there’s less need for someone to be around to answer it.

Again, nothing I can do about it. Totally beyond my control. All I can do is just do my job to the best of my ability and hope that’s enough.

Of course, good work is no guarantee of an audience – just ask the company of “A Delicate Balance,” or “The Home Place.”

Fewer hands, heavier load. Less time for the mind and typing fingers to wander.

I thought I was handling the stress well. I’m exercising regularly, trying (not always succeeding) to get a decent night’s sleep, eating as well as I can on my schedule.

But then my face started breaking out over the weekend.

So clearly my body’s caught on to the situation.

New de-stressing strategies are in order.

Writing helps. That includes blogging.

So hopefully you’ll be seeing more, not less of me, in the weeks ahead.

But when I disappear, that’s the context we’re dealing with at the moment.

Hope you’re all doing well on the job and happiness front.

Thanks for reading.

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 matthewaeverett.com.

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