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Exit Theater, Christina Augello, Artistic Director 

Wednesday, Apr 8 1998
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The Exit Theater figures that staging the San Francisco Fringe Festival -- a two-week series of short pieces by anyone who can get his or her proposals to Artistic Director Christina Augello on time -- takes about $1 million worth of work by volunteers. (Exit Managing Director Richard Livingston did the calculation figuring imaginary wages at $10 per hour.)

"As much as the government subsidizes the arts, it's really the artists who subsidize the arts," Augello says. For over 15 years she's been subsidizing them back. She founded the Exit Theater in 1983 to provide cheap theater space in the Tenderloin, and since 1993, when it moved to a larger house on Eddy, the Exit has offered modest dinner and booze in a bistro setting unique in the city. (The Marsh also has refreshments, but mostly cookies and soda.)

Augello doesn't curate for her general season -- she says she's never turned down a proposal for any reason besides scheduling -- but advances her own tastes by organizing a yearly Absurdist Season. "I'm not sure why I like the absurdists so much," she says. "It's probably the old hippie in me." Near the end of his life Eugene Ionesco mused about flying out to see an Exit production of The Bald Soprano; but his health was failing, and the idea was sunk by his doctor.

-- Michael Scott Moore

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