Introducing the 2017 Scranton Fringe Interns

While moving in to the new Fringe headquarters in AFA Gallery, we had an opportunity to get to know the “Fringeterns” (aka Fringe interns) that are helping the Scranton Fringe Festival run smoothly in the months leading up to the festival.

You might have met Allison Northrop and Tom Racek at recent Fringe’s events such as the very fun “Scranton StorySlam: Taking the Fifth” at the Scranton Cultural Center or the awesome 2017 Announcement Party at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the fringeterns yet, you will definitely see Allison and Tom on Saturday, July 29th at ScrantonMade’s awesome 5th Annual Arts on the Square event in downtown Scranton!

Never complaining about their work behind the scenes or their many arduous tasks, such the move into the new, second floor Fringe HQ at 514 Lackawanna Ave., Tom and Allison took a break to answer a few relevant and/or irreverent questions about themselves.

Allison Northrop and Tom Racek pal around in front of the work of Jeremy Ciliberto, previously on display at AFA Gallery

Q&A for Allison

Fringe: What’s your favorite movie, and why?

Allison: Catch Me If You Can is my favorite movie of all time.  It’s so funny and smart AND it’s based off of a true story. That blows my mind.  I watch it all the time and I can always find something new to be amazed at. Plus Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walken are in it!

Fringe: Favorite book that you recently read?

Allison: Of Mice and Men is my favorite book. The story is so good and I weirdly relate to the story.  The first time I read it I locked myself in a bathroom for a night so that no one would disturb me and just read it. And yes, I did sob when Lenny died. I was fortunate enough to see the play on broadway when Chris O’Dowd and James Franco starred in it, and I cried just as hard then.

Fringe: You’re not a Scranton native (gasp) but you attend the University of Scranton. What led you to choosing “the U” and what is your favorite Scranton moment?

Allison: I was very interested in marketing and advertising in high school, so I decided to major in marketing when I came to college.  From an academic standpoint, I chose Scranton because there is a great business school and excellent facilities.  More personally, I chose Scranton because I love the campus.  It’s crazy beautiful.  After my first semester, I decided to switch to advertising because I wanted to be more creative.

I am a member of the student run theater group on campus, Liva. Joining Liva was the best decision I could have made at Scranton.  Not only have I found a group of like-minded people who I adore with Liva, but Liva is what makes Scranton a home for me, as cheesy as that is. So, my favorite Scranton memory is from performing the musical Grease my freshman year. I’ve always wanted to be in Grease, and I got to play the unpleasant principal, Ms. Lynch. I probably had too much fun being a weird old lady. Aside from the musical being Grease (!!!), that was also the time I met so many of my closest friends on campus. Every rehearsal was so full of energy and light hearted.

Fringe: What is your major and how do you think it ties in with the Scranton Fringe’s mission?

Allison: I’m a strategic communication major with a track in advertising and minors in general business and theater so I think that the education I’m getting at Scranton is a perfect fit for this internship with the Fringe. I have a huge love for theater and I try to support the arts in any capacity that I can.  I’m thrilled to be able to help further the Fringe Festival’s reach and to help grow their audience with the knowledge I have in advertising and business.

Fringe: What mark do you want to leave with the Fringe, and how do you think your skills will change the organization for the better.

Allison: I love the Scranton Fringe because it not only supports the arts, but it benefits downtown Scranton businesses. It is growing bigger and bigger with every year that it is around so I hope to help increase its growth even more and to generally help assist the organization to run smoothly for this upcoming season!

Fringe: Finally, as most Americans know politics is getting out of hand with this Russian scandal. With that being said, what’s your opinion of pineapples on pizza?

Allison: I’m so glad someone finally had the courage to ask this question. Honestly, I find it atrocious. Not only is is disgusting and wrong, but it offends me deeply.

Q&A for Tom

Fringe: You’re a film major at Vassar. What’s your favorite movie of all time? How has it impacted or inspired you?

Tom: I find that my personality is 30% based off of the movie I watched recently, so my recent favorite movie is Grizzly Man. I am inspired by it because, Herzog is a boss director and very ambitious in all of his creative endeavours. He always seems to pull it off, and that type of drive is inspirational for me as well. With that I often take on projects that are more than I can chew, and sometimes it’s like watching a slow-mo version of the ice caps melting, you know it’s going to be a disaster but the wheels are set in motion and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes though, sometimes, you have a piece that is organic, raw and beautiful, and that’s why I love film.  

Fringe: You have a bit of a history with the space occupied by the 2017 Scranton Fringe HQ at the AFA Gallery. Tell us about your hobby of fencing.

Tom: I first started fencing once a week at The Fencing Exchange (now the AFA Gallery),  when I was 6 years old. I went to a Penn State Fencing Camp at 11, and that was the first time I realized that I could actually participate in this sport at college. So from 14 onwards I became a bit more focused in training. Unfortunately the Fencing Exchange closed in April of 2012, so my Mom and I began to travel to New Jersey just for practices. In the end it was worth it though, and I am currently fencing for Vassar which has been one of the defining moments and transformative experiences of college. To be back at the old space where it all began (the AFA Gallery) is very nostalgic. There are a lot of memories ingrained in the wood floor of that place, and I truly miss it. It’s also cool to revisit the space from an older age and see which elements of my personality (for better or for worse) were formed at the old Fencing Exchange.

Fringe: What led you to choosing the Vassar and what is your favorite Vassar moment?

Tom: Vassar was a reach school for me, and fortunately I had been in conversation with the fencing Coach and he helped me along the way. I applied early decision and once I had found out that I was accepted in December, it was such a relief. I am so grateful to the Coach and to my Mom for supporting me and allowing my dream of being a collegiate fencer at Vassar to come true.

My favorite Vassar moment…. I will tell the one that I would have gotten in the most trouble for had events played out differently. It was the Halloween night of Junior year and we went on an adventure. I “borrowed” a security golf cart at 1:30 in the morning, blasting the “Obituaries” by the Menzingers to help elevate the mood of a friend who was upset. We then were intercepted by security in their slightly faster Honda CRV. They pulled us over and asked us if we were supposed to be driving the golf cart. One of my accomplices whispered into my ear “Act confident.” With that gem of advice I proclaimed, “Yes” and then shot the officer a smile. I was still in my make-up from the Halloween party and it must have been magic because the officer immediately looked away and told us to “have a nice day.” In utter disbelief we drove back to our room, having achieved the goal of cheering up my friend with some harmless fun!

Fringe: What is your major and how do you think it ties in with the Scranton Fringe’s mission?

Tom: I am a Film and Hispanic Studies double major. I think that it ties in with Scranton Fringe, in that film can be used to convey events to a larger audience. Film done correctly can express itself across all cultures and language barrier, and I think Fringe is trying to grow its audience. So I’m looking forward to being a part of that process.

Fringe: What mark do you want to leave with the Fringe, and how do you think your skills will change the organization for the better.

Tom: With Allison I think we both have the ability to demonstrate the work ethic, and willingness and commitment that we both possess to the Fringe. It seems like our generation is constantly being disparaged due to its lack of dedication/ discipline/ or its narcissism due to the  follower driven social media mentality. Hopefully we both can disprove this stereotype and assist the Fringe in whatever is needed for the mission, (pulls out phone, checks Snapchat.) 

Fringe: Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So, do you prefer the Backstreet Boys or N’Sync?

Tom:  “Everybody… Rock your body…. BACKSTREET’S BACK ALRIGHT!!!”