Fringe Pushes In

This month the Intiman Theatre, which abruptly canceled its 2011 season amidst massive financial bungling, will “identify the preferred concept for reopening the theatre.” While the theatre’s subscribers might be waiting on tenterhooks for that decision, the city’s fringe theatre sure isn’t. 

A number of actors, directors and playwrights are using Intiman’s closure as a catalyst for dialogue about improving regional theatre in Seattle. On Aug. 1, the community will gather at the new Fremont theatre space West of Lenin for an open conversation titled “Seattle Theatre: What’s Next.” 

The discussion will pick up on a conversation initiated in June by Maridee Slater, an actor and director who worked as a set-builder for the Intiman last year. Slater gathered input from the independent arts community and subsequently issued a report—cosigned by dozens of others in the community—called “Bring Us In From the Fringe.” The report maps out the potential for the fringe community to put the Intiman space to use by creating a collective of companies, which would function more nimbly than a lumbering institution. 

“This is a conversation that has always begun but just sort of fallen apart,” Slater said over the phone from Saratoga Springs, where she was training with City Company. “A bunch of theatre artists get together and say, ‘We can do this, but…’ Then they go drink it off and get angry. I’m interested in taking that initial spark and finding a way to support it.”

Slater’s report was delivered to the Intiman board by Andy Fife, executive director of the artist support organization Shunpike, during a community meeting in June. Whether or not the ideas contained in the report find a home inside the now-dormant Intiman remains to be seen. 

Photo courtesy of Initman Theatre