Longfellow women earn Fringe award


Longfellow residents Candice and Sarra Beckham-Chasnoff receive the inaugural Beverlee Award at the conclusion of this year's Fringe Festival. They saw 57 shows this year, part an effort to be more intentional about how they spend their time and where they seek community. (Photo by Max Haynes)

For the first time, Fringe Festival staff recognized a powerhouse audience member exemplifying support for Adventurous Artists through their spectatorship. The Beverlee Award was jointly given to Longfellow residents Candice and Sarra Beckham-Chasnoff.

This year’s Fringe Festival ran Aug. 1-11. Awardees were announced Sunday, Aug. 11 at the Closing Night Party At Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul.

How many years have you been attending the festival?

Candice and Sarra: We’ve been attending the Minnesota Fringe Festival since the early 2000s. For many years we attended the Fringe on a casual basis, and our attendance has gradually increased. For the past few years, we’ve been seeing 50 or more shows during the 11 days of Fringe. This year we attended 57 shows.

What draws you to the Fringe Festival and how does it build community?

Candice and Sarra: For us, the Fringe is about art and about community. As we’ve been dealing with the inevitable stressors of life and the stress of the world, we’ve become increasingly intentional about how we spend our free time. We try to spend our free time engaging in activities that leave us feeling positive, rejuvenated, validated, and connected. Fringe does all that for us.

At the Minnesota Fringe you can see dance, spoken word, storytelling, comedy, live podcast recordings, puppetry, performance art, and plays of all genres. Some shows address the problems of the world, some shows are an escape from the problems of the world, all of the shows feel deeply personal.

Every artist involved in Fringe has put their heart into their show. It’s truly beautiful to engage with that.

And regarding community, while the Fringe is underway, the Fringe artists, staff, and audience members end up forming a vibrant sub-community within Minneapolis. While buying tickets, standing in line for shows, walking between venues, and attending shows, it is very easy to get to know other patrons and the artists who are milling about. Everyone is talking about the shows they’ve seen, the shows they’re looking forward to seeing, where to get a snack and some coffee between shows. It’s a very fun community, and it’s easy to make new friends!

How do you feel about winning this award?

Candice and Sarra: Winning the inaugural Beverlee Award is one of the most lovely things that has ever happened to us. The award is named after Beverlee Everett. Her son, Matthew Everett, is a Twin Cities playwright and theater reviewer who avidly attends and reviews Minnesota Fringe shows each year. Beverlee would travel from Pennsylvania to Minnesota each year to attend Fringe shows with Matthew, and she was a beloved Fringe presence.

Beverlee passed away in July of this year, just a few weeks before the 2019 Minnesota Fringe Festival began, and the Fringe community was heartbroken. At least one show was dedicated to her, and the Fringe staff also created this award in her honor to recognize an audience member “who exemplifies support for Adventurous Artists through their spectatorship” (quote from an Aug. 5 MN Fringe Facebook post).

We feel honored to think we are walking in the footsteps of Beverlee Everett who was such a warm presence. We are probably most excited about this award because it means the artists know how much we appreciate them. Somehow, from our seats in the back of each theater, our admiration and appreciation of the artists has reached them.

That means a lot to us because we really feel that we can’t thank the artists enough for the beauty they bring into our lives.

~ Compiled by Tesha M. Christensen.


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