The summer is full of theatre festivals, and the Fresh Fruit Festival, a multidisciplinary LGBTQ arts festival, offers something for everyone.
By Kimberly Lew (Playwright/Blogger)
While Greg has been participating in the summer festival season as an artist, I've found myself on the opposite side of the table, having taken a summer gig helping do marketing on the festival-organizing side for the Fresh Fruit Festival. An LGBTQ multidisciplinary festival for artists, Fresh Fruit will present several plays, cabarets, dance pieces, and films over the course of two weeks (July 8-21) at The Wild Project, with some additional programming at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Leslie Lohman Museum. It's been a pleasure to work with a lot of talented, enthusiastic artists, and you can view the full line-up of the festival--which includes the US premiere of a hilarious comedian, a Fringe-award winning one-person show, and one of the earliest portrayals of homosexuals in film-- here.
In the meantime, I thought I would share a Q&A with Artistic Director/Founder Carol Polcovar about Fresh Fruit's origins and what it's like running a festival now in its 11th year:ME: What was the origin of the Fresh Fruit Festival? Considering its political roots, how did you decide to incorporate all the different genres of performance and art?
CAROL POLCOVAR: One rainy afternoon, three members of the New Village Productions Board of Directors, Kevin Brofsky, Keith Angora and myself were sitting in an empty theater asking each other what’s next. The focus of New Village Productions was diversity and putting on plays about people who were not usually presented on the commercial stage. It was not queer oriented theater but many of us working in the organization were gay. As we imagined our next steps, our conversation drifted to all the people in the LGBT community who were seldom featured artists and how past great LGBT artists were never acknowledged as such. Everyone enjoyed the work of LGBT artists, singers, writers, etc., but so often the public failed to note that these artists were members of the LGBT community. It was also true that the many groups within the LGBT community did not really connect with one another and that, in fact, there was sometimes even prejudice within our own community.
We agreed art was universal and LGBT artist’s continuing contribution to world culture throughout the must be recognized and celebrated in order to break through the walls that separated us from each other and from the greater community. As working playwrights and writers we knew the problems of getting our work seen, especially when it was not mainstream work. We agreed that we would want to deal with diversity, and offer opportunities for LGBT art and artists. A festival, we agreed, could do that, could open doors. The three of us wanted to present the work of LGBT artists past, present and future, artists in all disciplines. We believed seeing the richness of our community's creativity would fight prejudice both inside and outside the community. Next we needed a name, something that would sound like fun and let people know we were a LGBT group presenting exciting, new work by our artists. Keith Angora listened to this description and said, half joking, "Then it has to be called 'Fresh Fruit.'" Kevin and I laughed and thus the journey began and the Fresh Fruit Festival was born.