We're not talking about greasepaint and patchouli oil, friend
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
11:18AM, Wed. Jan. 25, 2012
FronteraFest's Long Fringe started last night.
We'll have short reviews for you, soon enough,
in the Austin Chronicle's various guises
in print and online – but, this?
What you're reading right now?
This is no review.
It's a moment in the spotlight
for the man who runs the box office
for the entire multipartite spectacle.
It's a brief blogpost glimpse of numbers & notions,
all investigatorily behind-the-scenes-like
for your metatheatrical pleasure.
The box office man for this year's FronteraFest
is none other than Hyde Park Theatre's award-winningest director, Ken Webster.
We recently sat down with him – literally, there on the seemingly eternal bench
to the west of the theatre's familiar front doors – to ask a few questions
AC: Ken, what's it like running box office for FronteraFest?
Webster: "Ah, the agony and the ecstasy." He pauses, kind of chuckles.
"But, actually," he says, "things have been running smoothly. We started selling tickets on December 20th
and we sold over $5000 of tickets between then and the end of the year – which is an all-time record.
The Festival didn't start until January 17th. And, in the last few days we've done about $6000 in sales.
All that's for the Short Fringe and the Long Fringe combined – although, in the last four days,
it's been mostly Short Fringe. Because some of the Long Fringe shows have a lot of walk-ups.
Not so much for the Short Fringe, because those shows tend to sell out quickly and people
tend to get their tickets in advance online. And most tickets are bought online these days."
AC: What about the old-fashioned calling-on-the-telephone?
Webster: "That's changed a lot in the past three years. Very very few calls.
Well, except there's this one particular Long Fringe show, and I've fielded more phone calls
for this show than I have for all the other Long Fringe and Short Fringe combined."
AC: What the hell? What is this show?
Webster: "Ahhh . heh ahhhhh . " His polite evasion is almost endearing.
"Well, the show," says Webster. "The friends of this particular show are of a certain age.
Like my age or older." (Note: He's a skoshie past 50.) "And they're maybe not as used to
this fancy technology with the online ticketing. They're used to You Call Up The Place
And You Make A Reservation On The Te-Le-Phone."
AC: Jesus, Ken, what show is this? What is this thing?
Webster: "It's just this one particular show."
AC: Okay, man. Damn it. Okay. [sigh of frustration]
Okay, so this year is the 19th year of FronteraFest.
Are y'all planning anything special for the 20th anniversary?
Webster: "We are, we are," he says, smiling. "Christi Moore of Scriptworks,
and Rebecca Robinson, who's been doing publicity for the last couple of years, and myself –
we were just discussing today what we might do. We're thinking of inviting some
all-time favorites who haven't been around for a while to come back and perform.
We do have some favorites who come back every year, but there have been some
great performers and writers over the last 20 years, and a lot of them have moved to different cities.
People like Hans Frank. People like Lisa D'Amour, who did a lot of her earliest work at FronteraFest
and just had her play Detroit, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, produced at Steppenwolf in Chicago.
It'd be lovely to get some of those people from the past to come back for our 20th anniversary."