Writer, editor, professor, etc. For more information, see jaygabler.com.
Ivory Tower Burning is the name of a new play I’ll be writing and presenting at the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival. Hope to see you there! Here’s an FAQ (by which I mean “FA”Q) about the project.
Q: What does it mean to present a play at the Minnesota Fringe Festival?
A: The Fringe Festival is an 11-day festival of performing arts. Producers who have shows in the Fringe are provided with a venue and technical support for five or (for the most successful shows) six performances. Ticketing is run by the Fringe; producers pay an up-front participation fee, and ticket revenues for each show are shared between the producer and the Fringe.
Q: How’d you get into the festival?
A: The Minnesota Fringe Festival is non-juried, so it was a matter of simple luck: they literally draw ping-pong balls from a bingo-style cage, and my number happened to be pulled.
Q: When is the show happening?
A: The 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival will take place from August 2-12. [Update: Ivory Tower Burning will be performed Saturday, 8/4 at 5:30 p.m.; Monday, 8/6 at 10:00 p.m.; Tuesday, 8/7 at 7:00 p.m.; Wednesday, 8/8 at 8:30 p.m.; and Saturday, 8/1 at 17:00 p.m.]
Q: Where will the theater be?
A: That’s yet to be determined, but it will be somewhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul. [Update: It will be the Bryant-Lake Bowl.]
Q: How much will tickets cost?
A: Probably between $10 and $15, depending on whether you’re buying multi-show passes to see more shows in the festival. Reserved tickets will go on sale via the Fringe website sometime this spring, and walk-up tickets will also be available at the performances themselves. [Update: Tickets available now!]
Q: What’s the play about?
A: I haven’t actually written the script yet (better get on that) [Update: It’s written], but the play will depict a fictional meeting between two real-life people: sociologists Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) and C. Wright Mills (1916-1962). The setting will be Parsons’s Harvard office, probably circa 1960. Parsons and Mills are two of the most important sociologists of all time and were both very influential in the mid-20th century, but they had very different views about how society works, and their public conflict was distinctly acrimonious. The play will revolve around their personal and academic conflicts, ultimately touching on fundamental questions of human nature that remain very relevant today. My goal is make the show both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Q: Who will the actors be?
A: I’ll play Mills, and I’ll cast an actor to play Parsons. [Update: I’ll play Parsons, and my brother Joe Gabler will play Mills.]
Q: Have you ever done theater before?
A: Yes: I was last seen onstage as Col. Pickering in My Fair Lady at St. Agnes High School, when I was 17 years old.
Q: Why are you doing this? Why now?
A: Having seen hundreds of theatrical performances over the past few years in my job as a journalist, I’ve had an increasing interest in getting back into theater myself. I’ve long been interested in the rivalry between Parsons and Mills, and this winter it occurred to me that I could effectively dramatize that rivalry in the form of a short play—so I entered the Fringe lottery, and here we are!
If When this goes well, I’ll start thinking about other theatrical projects I might pursue.
Q: Do you need any help?
A: Definitely! Here’s how you can help:
(1) Come to the show! I’ve already performed this show dozens of times in my head, so I don’t need to do that any more. I hope you’ll come and see a performance, and let me know what you think.
(2) Help spread the word! This will become especially important in the weeks leading up to the festival: anything you can do to let people know about the show and encourage them to come see it will be much appreciated. If you’d be willing to help distribute advertising cards or other non-virtual materials, please let me know.
(3) Creative collaboration: I’m planning to cast a costar, but I don’t know who it is yet, so if you are or if you know of a middle-aged male actor who might be interested in being a part of this show, let me know! Once rehearsals begin, I’ll appreciate thoughts and feedback from people with theater experience; let me know if you’d be interested in attending a rehearsal and talking about the show with us.
(4) Props: I’m planning to keep the set and costuming very minimal, but a couple of things I already know I’ll need will be appropriate period garb for both characters; Mills will dress somewhat more flamboyantly than Parsons, but both will wear suits such as professors might have worn in the 1950s. I’ll also need one of those standalone chalkboards that rotates back and forth, so if you know where I could borrow one of those, please let me know.
Q: Where/when will there be more information?
A: Right here—stay posted! [Update: Our show is listed at fringefestival.org.]
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