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The force behind the fringe going to CBC

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THE guiding force behind the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and the Master Playwrights Festival is leaving the Manitoba Theatre Centre for CBC Radio One, it was announced yesterday.

Bertram Schneider, the 36-year-old executive producer of the MTC Warehouse and the fringe festival takes up his new post Oct. 20 as a producer on Information Radio, CBC Radio's regional morning program.

"It feels like a logical step for me," Schneider said yesterday during an interview. "I'm coming from one of the most successful and important regional theatres in the country and moving to what I believe is one of the most important national cultural organizations that we have."

He interviewed for the CBC on Friday, after which he was offered the job. Schneider whetted his appetite for the media last March when he quietly did a three-week internship at CBC Radio. John Bertrand, regional director of English radio and television for CBC, said it was an opportunity for both sides to determine whether Schneider and radio were a good fit.

"Bertram has a great track record for creating programming that hooks audiences, that creates a buzz, and that people can connect with," Bertrand said. "That's what we do."

No one at MTC was completely surprised by yesterday's announcement. Schneider's internship had prepared MTC for the possibility of a jump to CBC.

In the short term, the organization needs to find someone to take over the reins of the festivals.

"I'm going to miss his ingenuity and kindred spirit," said MTC artistic director Steven Schipper. "It's not a great time for him to leave, but he has a month to write down all that he's been doing at MTC so we can ask the next person to do the same."

The East Selkirk-born Schneider says he has no experience in radio other than as a listener. He was interested in finding another creative outlet post-MTC and was attracted by the challenges of a new medium. News stories, not arts coverage, will be his focus.

"It's scary as anything," Schneider said. "It's intimidating to make this move."

Schneider leaves MTC after 12 years, rising from the part-time job of poster hanger for MTC in 1991 to Schipper's right-hand man, who oversaw the company's recent success stories at the summer fringe festival and the winter master playwrights festival.

He leaves on top, with the fringe festival setting a sixth consecutive record for ticket sales, a total that narrowly missed topping the perennial leader in Edmonton this year.

"I wasn't going to leave until we were ahead of Edmonton but I had to leave something for my successor," cracked Schneider.

"It's very hard to leave MTC. It's a great place to create art. The people are so committed."

When the former University of Winnipeg student looks back on his MTC term, his festival experiences will stand out as the highlights.

"The master playwrights festival feels like a vibrant thing formed out of thin air," he said. "And, of course the fringe is a phenomena. It seems like the entire city is talking about theatre for a couple of weeks."

PHOTO Schneider: 'a logical step'

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 10, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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