Colorado Creatives

100 Colorado Creatives: Dave Ortolano of the Boulder Fringe Festival

#46: Dave Ortolano

Dave Ortolano is both a theater Renaissance man and a friend of theater. Naropa-trained and a collaborating member of Boulder's Band of Toughs company, his first love and major creative focus is his role as executive director of the Boulder International Fringe Festival, which kicks off another year of unjuried theatrical mayhem beginning on Wednesday, September 18.

See also: Boulder International Fringe Festival

This year, Ortolano hopes to raise the Fringe bar a little higher by pushing the dates back a month to take advantage of a new audience of returning University of Colorado students and by entering into a partnership with the new Agora at the Riverside, which will serve as Fringe Central for the multi-venue twelve-day event. And in spite of the flooding in Boulder, the Fringe must go on: Ortolano says many performers have been affected by the Colorado deluge, but will still be hitting Fringe stages this week.

What makes a guy dedicated to performance experiments and the joy of theatrical revelations tick? We asked Ortolano to tackle the 100CC questionnaire, and his answers follow.

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Dave Ortolano: Albert Einstein. He not only seemed to be a pretty smart person, but he also had a great sense of creativity and vision for the future. It would be really great to have him on the team to just hang out, talk about fundraising, scheduling and go see shows together. He understood that relative creativity existed at the center of everything, inside the atom, like Peter Brook's Empty Space.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Barack Obama is pretty damn interesting right now, to see him go from "hope" to "hopeless" in the hands of our great American system of government. He represents both hope that we can become more culturally competent and failure, which gives us quite a fascinating view into one of the root causes of the breakdown of American society. Our conflicted two-party problem will keep any president from doing the job that we all know needs to get done, but can't because of the machine that we've built that is now ruling our culture by way of economic neediness. His hope campaign has helped us all understand that we all need to step up and do something fast -- because he can't. Yes, we can.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Teddy bears with a sexy tongue hanging out...

Continue reading for more from Dave Ortolano. What's your day job?

Director, musician, playwright, actor and designer (I wouldn't really call those day jobs, they mostly happen at night).

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Launch a HUGE arts education campaign whose goal it is to teach people that art and creativity are the center of our being, and from a good healthy artistic process, anything can happen. Art helps us frame our understanding of the world. Art helps us create businesses, creatively solve some of the biggest issues on the planet and give us each a context for living together, in conflict or not, in sickness and in health. The theater is where we play our shadows so that our shadows don't play us. The theater is where we celebrate what it means to breathe, to feel and to vision our future. Every human needs to understand that.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts? 

Invest in the arts for more than just the return. Encourage artists to become artists. Not only do the arts draw attention to business and actually bring people out to patronize bars, restaurants, hotels, etc., but, more important, the arts are an investment in our children, how they grow, how they understand each other and eventually how they run our country. Arts programs in schools should be re-prioritized to one of the most valuable programs in a curriculum. Arts programs can actually help out all of the other subjects if they are simply recognized as a great point of reference in any topic.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Its a tie between Buntport Theater and Control Group Productions. They're both very innovative, passionate about the arts and able to keep creating without compromising their artistic integrity for any reason, and they also share a vision in original material that can raise the bar for other creatives in the state of Colorado and beyond. 

What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

Write the book of Fringe: how to, and how come. Why is "the Fringe" so necessary to our society?

Who do you think will get noticed in the Front Range theater/performance community this year?

Steve Wangh, Acrobat of the Heart, faculty at NYU and Naropa, and writer on the Laramie Project. He's living and working in Colorado and is developing new works. Check out his book and see what he's up to... For more information visit the Boulder Fringe Festival online.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd