Sunday, February 8, 2004

Local fest director immersed in work


By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Orlando fringes. So does Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Seattle's famous fest has just folded. Charleston, S.C., has Piccolo Spoleto, which is a fringe festival in every detail but name.

There's an official North American Fringe Circuit with more than 20 member fests, most of them in Canada.

Fringe is not about mainstream success stories, although there is one: Urinetown, Tony Award-winning Broadway and touring musical, made its debut at the New York International Fringe Festival in 1999

It's "highly unlikely," Jason Bruffy says with a laugh, that an entry in the Cincinnati Fringe will go on to international fame. "But it would be OK."

Bruffy's model isn't New York but the 11-day fringe in London, Ontario, a mid-sized city with a walkable downtown.

Jason Bruffy, 25, is a man on a mission. From the 'burbs of Atlantic City, he came to Cincinnati to join the Cincinnati Shakespeare's Young Company 2 1/2 years ago, figuring he'd be here for the nine-month tour of duty then move on.

Armed with $25,000 in start-up funding and a dream, Bruffy, who's so artsy that he lives in Brighton, above Semantics Gallery, is looking a little pale and hollow-eyed these days.

Who is this guy masterminding a Cincinnati Fringe Festival?

How do you stay so fit?

Coffee, beer and cigarettes.

How does sleep fit this health regimen?

I go to bed no later than 4 a.m. and get up no earlier than 8 a.m.

How do you make a living?

I do a lot of tech theater work, lighting and sound for Cincinnati Shakespeare and Contemporary Arts Center. I also do carpentry. (He also admits, when pressed, to doing a stint on the serving staff at Sitwell's Coffeehouse on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton.)

What do you think of the Oscar nominees?

(Blank stare) I have no idea.

What were you going to be when you grew up?

I had an ROTC scholarship and was on officer track, I was going to be pre-law, then I discovered theater.


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