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Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Comer

Posted June 29th, 2009

Kim has been a volunteer for Live Arts since 2007. She also had worked behind the scenes with Festival favorites Pig Iron Theater Company and New Paradise Laboratories. A 2009 graduate of Swarthmore College (major: Theater, minor: Psycholinguistics), her plan for the coming year includes finding a job that will allow her to travel and, naturally, volunteering for Live Arts.

Why did you start volunteering?
Free shows! To hang out with awesome artists! To be a part of Fringe and Live Arts!

What volunteer roles have you taken on?
Oh man . . . fire watch, ticket seller, usher, runner, traffic cop.

What are you most excited about in this year’s festival?

I’m really excited for both Pig Iron’s and New Paradise Lab’s new works [Welcome to Yuba City and FATEBOOK, respectively]. I’ve followed both companies for a while, and worked with them both, and am such a huge fan. I’m also looking forward to the creative uses of the city and alternate presentation styles that abound in the festival, like this year’s small metal objects. Being a Swarthmore grad, I’m of course looking forward to Mike Zadara’s (Swarthmore class of 1999) Operetta. Mortal Engine looks awesome. And Fringe shows aren’t even posted! [They will be soon, promise! – Ed.] I’ll stop now. But yeah, I’m excited.

What has been your most “Fringe” moment?
Well, there was the car accident.

I swung by the box office [then at 2nd and Arch], picked up the pouch with the will-call tickets, tickets to be sold, and the cash, and headed to Plays and Players. Not even a block away from my parking space, a passenger in a taxi opened his door in the middle of the street and straight into my car. The door scraped off my side-view mirror, cracked my windshield and damaged the paint from bumper to bumper. No one was hurt, but I had all the tickets for a show that started in half an hour across town.

It took forever for the cops to get there and all I could think about was how the show started soon. I made it to the theater with five minutes to spare, and everything went smoothly for the rest of the night. Eventually, the insurance company even paid for the complete repair of my car.

My other favorite Fringe story is from 2006, my first year attending the Festival. I went a little crazy, seeing every show I could, while still getting acquainted with the city. One rainy Saturday afternoon I headed to the ICE BOX, not exactly sure where it was. I walked half an hour in the rain only to be told that [the show] was sold out, so I walked half an hour back down to the city proper.

I returned on Monday (by this time I discovered the subway), and the show was again sold out. The same ticket seller was there who had seen me all wet and bedraggled on Saturday, so she made an exception and sold me one additional ticket. That experience sticks in my mind as a Fringe experience: the hunt through the city to find the venue, learning the lay of the land as I went. Fringe is definitely how I learned to navigate Philly! The experience also included great personal connections, since this ticket seller recognized me and fudged the system to let me in. There’s such a personal element to the Fringe, where the community really stands out and comes together. And of course, the show that I got to see – Still Unknown from Subcircle – was one of my favorites of all time.

Disclaimer: Ticket sellers probably shouldn’t let people in when a show is sold out, but that’s how nice our volunteers can be!

–Karina Kacala

Photo courtesy of Kim Comer

“Volunteer Spotlight” is a feature from Karina Kacala, the volunteer coordinator for the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe. Our volunteers are crucial to the success of the Festival every year; without their fantastic work, the Festival couldn’t exist in the form you’ve come to know and love. In this space Karina will talk to past volunteers about what they’ve enjoyed in past years, what brought them to the Festival in the first place, and what keeps them coming back. For more information on volunteering at the 2009 Festival, please visit the volunteer page of our website.

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