Published on September 12th, 2012 | by Setsu Uzume2
Christina Augello Hosts San Francisco Fringe Festival 2012
Theater season is in full swing this fall as the Fringe Festival returns to San Francisco for its twenty-first year. The festival began in Scotland in the 1940s and has been going strong on the international stage, showcasing lesser-known theater in all its scathing, hilarious and outlandish glory. Here in San Francisco, it is hosted by Christina Augello and the EXIT Theater.
Augello is a performance powerhouse as well as the founder and artistic director of the EXIT Theater. “I love acting and the magic of creativity, especially in the theater. I grew up surrounded by theater and my job in theater allows me so many different opportunities. I’m very proud of EXIT’s commitment to developing the artist.”
“That’s one of the best perks of working in the smaller Indie Theater culture,” Augello said, “the freedom to experiment, to discover work that is new and unique. Many of the artists who have worked with us because of this philosophy have become important to the theatrical landscape.”
She established the EXIT Theater in 1983, and show business is still going strong despite the budget cuts to artistic venues.
“In the ecology of the theater world, small venues are perceived as being at the bottom,” said Augello in a 2008 article for the SF Weekly. “Like most bottom feeders, whether it’s sunny or stormy up top we just keep swimming along.”
When I spoke to her this past week, she talked about some of the challenges she encounters.
Augello takes risks not just with the Fringe Festival and DIVA Fest, but also with local independent shows.
“At times people’s disrespect for our open access policy — i.e. non-curated — has made me uncomfortable,” Augello said, “but I love supporting artists and the unexpected treasures that can be discovered by keeping the door open.”
“It’s very demanding of your time and your energy and not always very lucrative,” Augello added, “but I believe in the magic of the imagination and working in theater has given me a way to revel and grow in its power.”
That scrappy spirit is what the Fringe Festival is all about.
The Festival offers a fantastic experience for both theater junkies and people ready for their first show.
“The arts are a creative force that infuses life into ideas and emotions allowing our imaginations to flourish,” said Augello in an interview for the National Endowment for the Arts. “I think this energy is necessary to balance the destructive forces that humanity struggles with.”
Despite the challenges she encourages men and women to pursue a life in the theater. Even if you’re too shy to get on stage, there is a place for everyone in this industry.
“Indie Theater by its very nature depends on volunteers,” Augello said. “Most of the artists creating it are volunteering their time and always need other expertise to keep things going.”
Most shows are $10 or less at the door. With forty shows to choose from, you’re guaranteed to see something amazing.
To whet your appetite, check out this list below for shows in which women play a major role as directors or producers:
Sugar High: A Brechtian B*tch Slap
The EXIT Theaterplex is located at 156 Eddy Street, and around the corner at 277 Taylor Street in downtown San Francisco. Check out the San Francisco Fringe Festival 2012 September 5th through September 16th.