Monday, September 5, 2011

Industry Voices: Alexis Williams

Alexis Williams, a literary associate at Bret Adams Ltd. Artist Agency and judge in the 2011 Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival (full bio below), shares her perspective on Fringe with us:

Oh, the joys of Fringe.

Fringe gives the participants a chance to get their work out there, to have it produced and publicized on a larger scale (which, let me tell you, is easier said than done). Fringe enables audiences to get a lot of culture, from a variety of sources, in a quick, intense burst, without straining the bank account.

And for those of us who work on the business side of the theatre industry, it gives us the opportunity to hear new voices, voices that may not have been on our radars before.

We all know the success story of Urinetown – which humbly began in the NY Fringe Festival and eventually ended up with 9 Tony nominations and 3 wins on Broadway – there’s that glint of promise that permeates the very spirit of Fringe – anyone can be Cinderella, and that’s just thrilling.
Plus, from an agent’s perspective, getting to know new, exciting work and writers is always a plus - even if only, initially, just to continue to follow someone’s progress or to track their upcoming work.

Sure, most big theatres produce new plays and have fantastic programs for emerging playwrights, but the writer of the must-see new show at the Goodman probably already has representation – the writer of the must-see show of the Fringe very possibly doesn’t. Makes for some very useful, practical scouting.

And beyond that it makes for some fun. There’s just such a great sense of community and straight up fun around fringe, you can feel it in the air. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a participant, an audience member, a scouting agent or producer – no matter who you are it makes for one heck of a good time.

Alexis Williams has been a member of the literary department at Bret Adams Artists’ Agency – a New York based agency representing actors, playwrights, directors, composers and designers – for the past three years. Before joining the team at Bret Adams Alexis worked at McCarter Theatre Center, assisting directors such as Emily Mann, Shirley Jo Finney, Michael Unger, and others; served as Literary Manager for Detroit’s Planet Ant Theatre, where she originated and developed Southeast Michigan’s first late-night theatre series; and completed a fellowship at the Contemporary Stage Company in Wilmington, DE. At Chicago’s Stage Left Theatre Alexis developed an evening of new, thematically linked short plays written by up-and-coming American College Theatre Festival winning playwrights. In her time in the theatre Alexis has worked as a producer (various projects, including co-producing 13th Street Rep’s first new short play festival), a director (favorite pieces including Arcadia at Princeton Summer Theatre,Equus at Northwestern University, and the first production of Kyle Jarrow’s Emperor’s New Clothes Redux at Contemporary Stage Company), a teaching artist, and has assumed multiple other roles in the theatre industry. Recently she was a judge for the 2011 Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival. Alexis is an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and a graduate of Northwestern University – where she served as the Artistic Director of Northwestern’s Multicultural Theatre Ensemble.

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