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Fringe fanatic / anime enthusiast / competitve Bridge player / Whig Party member Lawrence Hayes at Fort Fringe Friday night

So I was talking with Capital Fringe Festival Supreme Allied Commander Julianne Brienza last night about her and her confederates’ decisive action to counter this soul-searing heatwave by cutting ticket prices from $17 to $12. Based on no data, and drawing upon the nigh-Greenspanian fiscal savvy that has made me the independently wealthy man of leisure that I am so, so not, I suggested she take the festival’s $300 All Access pass and make it, say, $150, reasoning that they’d probably move a lot more of them.

Brienza had told me previously the festival only sells about 10 of these golden tickets, which authorize bearers to see as many shows as they want as many times as they want, each year. (It’s not possible to see every show in the festival unless you have the ability to be in two places at once.) Even at the price of three c-notes, they’re “a loss-leader,” she told me.

So who buys these passes?

Well! I had the good fortune to meet the fascinating Lawrence Hayes at Fort Fringe last night as he was waiting for the house to open for the 11:59 p.m. performance of Embodying Poe. From a bulging briefcase full of newspapers and glossy fliers for Baltimore’s upcoming Otakon anime and manga convention (“Otaku, Start Your Engines!”) he produced his dog-eared, heavily annotated copy of the festival guide, patiently explaining to me the calculus by which he had chosen the 42 shows he’ll have ticked off by the time the festival shuts down tomorrow night. (Unit cost: $7.14, if you care.)

I’ll be honest: I couldn’t follow his system. But then I readily accept that even discounting the lateness of the hour, the neck-wringing squishiness of the night air, and the accumulating pints of Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale (Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so cold), I would still lack the mental dexterity necessary to keep up with this man in conversation.

Prior to his retirement, he worked in computers for the General Services Administration. The ball cap he’s sporting in this photo is a souvenir from one of his trips to Hawaii to compete in a bridge tournament. He is a big proponent of Rockville’s Victorian Lyric Opera Company, producers of this year’s Fringe entry Foggerty’s Fairy and last year’s Engaged.

Verily, he is man of many passions, passionately pursued. He is quick to tell you that the best World Cup Soccer anthem is the one from 1982—-Plácido Domingo‘s “Mundial ’82”; I had to look it up—-though he liked the Shakira one from last year OK, too.

He says he is a registered member of the Whig Party, “the party that sent Abraham Lincoln to Congress,” but not the party that sent him to the White House. (You can write-in party affiliation when you register to vote here in the national seat. If registering online, other than the two majors, you can choose “DC Statehood Green,” “No Party” or “Other.”)

Hayes’s discourse follows the rising action of a well-made play, the stakes and rewards gathering steadily to a climax that astonishes.

“I don’t own a home computer,” said the devotee of anime, soccer, defunct political parties, and global news. “I don’t see any reason to get involved with the Internet.”