Just Asking: Julianne Brienza of Capital Fringe


(Andre Chung/For The Washington Post)
Writer and editor

Julianne Brienza, 39, founded Capital Fringe in Washington as a home for experimental theater and performance art in 2005. The Capital Fringe Festival runs July 10-27.

If you were making a play about putting on the Fringe festival, what would you call it?

Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section's Local Enterprise team. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine and is the paper's resident Downton Abbey expert. View Archive

Oh, my God, I think about this all the time. I would call it “Julianne’s E-mails,” and I would love to read my e-mails out loud ... because some of the things that people tell me — positive and negative — it’s just, like, wow. I have learned so much about how humans express themselves in various situations.

You know, as the CEO, you could actually make this happen.

I could. I’ve thought about it. I don’t really need that much preparation.

How do you decide what shows the festival is going to put on?

It’s first-come, first-served. You could do a show.

I’m not going to do a show.

Well, it’s first-come, first-served, and it’s up to what we can accommodate in our venues. This year we’re doing, like, 140.

But how do you ensure quality?

We don’t. We don’t. It’s a total gamble.

What sets the Capital Fringe Festival apart from other fringe festivals?

Everyone is welcome here. The festival is starting to become a place where it doesn’t matter if you know about theater; it’s really about human stories. And I think that’s unique.

Who is a Washingtonian with no connection to theater that you would love to see put a play on?

I think Jim Vance would be a really cool solo show. He’s always real when he’s doing his broadcast. I just find him to be, I don’t know, not silly and not manufactured. I feel like he probably has some good stories.

A lot of people might not think of D.C. as a “fringe” kind of city.

I think the word “fringe” has a lot of connotations. To me, it’s more about not being a part of the mainstream and really stripping away all the bull----.

What’s the toughest thing about putting this on every year?

The toughest thing is that we’re really trying to cement this so that it is a performing-arts institution in D.C. that will be here after we’re dead. The hardest part of that is making tough decisions.

After the festival is over, how long is it before you’re ready to see more theater?

Well, right away. This year I’m going to the Edinburgh festival right after. What I don’t do anymore, what I have trouble doing, is going to shows that have an intermission. I’m like, This is not necessary; let’s just get it done.

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