Generally, the opening few days of the Fringe involve a lot of shows by people I know. That way I can front load with stuff I know I want to see either to support my friends or because I have a lot of confidence in the company who produced the work. Then I can listen to audience members and read reviews to find the shows I didn’t know about but should have.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to do the Fringe. At times, I’m just at a theater and decide to see what’s next. Sometimes, that decision is a great one. Sometimes, it is….I’m going to say less successful.
For day 2, I’m still watching the shows I already knew I wanted to see. But we’ll rapidly start transitioning to the experiments. And the experiments can be a lot more fun. Because you just don’t know what is going to happen.
I love everything about the concept of this show. A build your own space opera with live music that is also a choose your own adventure? I’m in.
Where this show had a little trouble was execution. I’m not talking about actors having trouble remembering lines because that happens in a lot of shows on opening night. The issue was the show really promised to be something with a lot more action and what took place on stage was really static.
I lost count of the number of times the actors formed a straight line across the stage and basically didn’t move from that configuration. The audience voted for “action” twice and the end result was something that wasn’t active. In a choose your own adventure, that is doubly frustrating because it feels like a tease. As an audience member, I was given a choice but the result of that choice isn’t what I thought I was going to get (note I voted for the non action option both times).
The actors were enthusiastic and grasped the silliness of the concept. I love the fact the cast was diverse and all women. I still love everything about the concept. I got lost, though, because the show needed urgency. It needed to feel kinetic. But (for me at least) it just didn’t.
I note that there were, apparently, some audio issues that may have caused some challenges.
As Fringe winds to a close and I start watching shows that weren’t on my early watch list, I start ending up in theaters based, in large part, on where I need to be for my own performances. Fringe roulette can yield some very good experiences and some…not as good ones.
Yesterday’s fringing involved picking a few shows that weren’t on my list. Such choices are exciting because I really don’t know what to expect.
That’s really what the Fringe is all about anyway. You don’t know what to expect. Sure, there are always some artists who have reliably produced quality work. Even so, they are all doing something new and until you sit down in the theater, you don’t know what they have in store for you.
I have one more day to experiment.
I love Fringe Central because it means I get to hang out with some of my best friends for a couple hours every night. I can tell performers who really blew me away that they blew me away. I can laugh and plan new theater and eat cheese curds and be social.
Fringe is a theatrical Brigadoon. I realize that is silly given that Brigadoon is a play and, therefore, already theatrical but never mind.
Fringe springs up for a fortnight every year. Hundreds of artists come together to make theater and then we all go off to create things on our own for the rest of the year. Maybe we run into each other at a bar once in a while. Maybe a few of us do a show together.
But for a few glorious days every year, we are together. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to be a part of it all.
Trump count remains at 10. Pokemon Go count is considerably higher.
One of the things that continues to surprise me, though I don’t know why, is the graciousness of other Fringe artists. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them with talent that, quite literally, intimidates me (I’ll take imposter syndrome for $200).
When you talk to them, though, you are reminded that they are, for the most part, regular people.
I’m still completely stunned by their talent. But in many cases, they actually seem to appreciate mine. Having other artists appreciate your work is really pretty amazing because while they are responding to the finished product, they are also responding to the process of creating that product.
They know what it took.
It doesn’t make their appreciation better than that of any other audience member. It is a different connection that can, frequently, lead to new work and new ideas. Which is super cool.
If you want to know why I hang out with these amazing people for the better part of two weeks, that’s one of the many reasons why.
Trump Count remains at 10. Not a single Trump joke last night. Weird.
Someone out there is going to post a one or two star review of my show.
I think you could write a horror show all about the process of getting audience reviews. Audience reviews are necessary to having a successful run and they can be super helpful. They are also a source of constant pain.
It may come as a surprise to many people that most Fringe artists have fragile egos. Even though we know that there is no way we can write a show that will please everyone, we are devastated when we get that one bad review because deep down, that is the review we thought was right all along.
As reviews for my show roll in, they are pretty positive. And that’s great.
But someone out there hates what we did. And at some point, they will sit down in front of a keyboard to let us know.
I don’t resent those reviews. But I dread them. Because I’m pretty sure they’re right.
And speaking of reviews, here are my reviews of shows I saw on Monday!
When I first began Fringing, I did it hard. If I didn’t have a show, I was at someone else’s show. I wouldn’t even take breaks before my performance because I had an artist’s pass and I was going to use it.
After a full day of shows, I would go to Fringe central and stay there until 1:00 AM or later.
By the end of the festival, I’d be a little burned out.
Somewhere along the way, I realized I could take a one night break about midway through the festival and it really helped restore my enthusiasm for the whole experience.
Tonight, I’ll be staying home. By making that choice, I know I’ll be missing my chance to see something fantastic. I’ll be missing out on the opportunity to socialize with some amazing people I see only once a year.
That’s the price I pay for my fringe tradition. I hope everyone else has a great night at the Fringe.
And now on to my reviews from Sunday!
I cannot presume every artist has the same Fringe experience as me. Yet it would seem that one of the most common topics for discussion at Fringe central is whatever show everyone is going to do next year.
Having managed to pull together one show, it is time to come up with the craziest of ideas for our follow up. For at least ten minutes last year, I was seriously contemplating “Shark Week: The Musical.”
You get five shows over ten days. Then you’re done and this little slice of theatre Brigadoon evaporates into the mists for another twelve months.
But while we all nurse our beers at the Red Stag, the theatre community of the Twin Cities turns into a gigantic brainstorming session. Ideas are flung about in a (sometimes) drunken frenzy and every single one of them could turn into something spectacular.
Most of them (like “Shark Week: The Musical”) are rejected (or forgotten) and fade into the mists of a sleep deprived hangover, but I can never help but wonder what shows at this year’s fringe were given birth at last year’s Fringe. And what shows will never end up on a stage.
The following reviews are from a long Saturday of Fringing.
With the Fringe Festival approaching, it seems appropriate to focus on a few Fringe friends for the next few days.
I met Amy when she was asked to step in and help direct my fringe show “Story Time: Time Bomb.” I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me. I just knew we needed a director.
It was a great learning experience for both of us. I’d never done a “kids” show and she’d never directed a show that was mostly improv. The result was a tight show that was, I thought, a lot of fun.
For all the work I do in theatre, I’m not a very good director. Amy is a great director and her skills have not gone unnoticed in the Twin Cities theatre community. I’m glad I got to work with her before everyone else found out.
Amy always has a big smile on her face. I must assume she is always smiling because she is always enjoying herself. From that experience with her as a director, I think it is also because she is getting to do what she loves with her life. It’s hard to be bitter about that.
I’ll note she isn’t smiling in the picture above. But when you are posing with a Batleth, you should at least try to look serious.
She is co-artisitic director of Walking Shadow Theatre Company and if you haven’t heard of them, you should take the time to learn. They are producing some of the best original (and adapted) work in the Twin Cities.
In getting ready to work with Amy on a show in the spring, I like how excited she is by every idea. She makes a great collaborator and it makes me want to write something worthy of her excitement.
The Fringe has been a gateway for me to a lot of truly talented Twin Cities artists. Amy is one of those people and I’m very happy this wacky theatre festival brought us together.
I’ve known Claire ever since she showed up to interpret a Vilification Tennis show at CONvergence. Actually, I’ve known her longer than that but I didn’t really know her until that evening.
While I’m not her primary clientele, everything I know about Claire tells me that she is very good at what she does. She is passionate about doing her job as an interpreter and she does it in an entertaining and engaging way. When she is doing a comedy show (as she typically is when I’m involved), she understands that she needs to be as much of a comedian as the performers on the stage.
I find her naturally easy to talk to. We often end up as “Fringe Buddies” in years where I’m spending a lot of time watching/being in fringe shows. The walks between the shows are as pleasant as the shows themselves. Because it is the Fringe, some of the walks are far more pleasant than the shows themselves.
She tells stories about her life that are truly fascinating. She should write a show about her life as an interpreter. It would be a bit ironic, I think, that someone else would end up interpreting the show.
Claire seems to squeeze joy out of life. I rarely see her spend time being down nor do I ever hear about times when she is down. She just loves the hell out of being and that makes her one of the best people to see when you are down. You can’t stay down when she is around. It takes too much effort.
The amount of energy she has is staggering. I’ve never seen her exhausted although it has to happen at some point, right?
Having Claire around is something happened by accident but it sure was a great accident. I always look forward to being her Fringe Buddy.
Putting it Together is my Monday “artist talking about art stuff blog”. The title comes from “Sunday in the Park with George,” the best (and possibly only) musical that is entirely dedicated to an artist talking about his art. Is that pretentious enough?
I sometimes wonder if I got into this game too late. Most of my friends who are successful are in their early to mid 30’s. I spent those years putting together a science fiction convention, which is doing OK.
I graduated from college with a theatre degree, but left theatre behind me to do things like work a regular job, have a couple of kids, start a convention…you know, the normal stuff. I still loved theatre but I guess part of my problem was that I never knew what I wanted to do in theatre.
One thing did happen, though. I started writing sketches for CONvergence and I was pretty good. It is possible that writing parodies of popular culture presents very little challenge. I think it is more likely that I found something that finally re-ignited my interest in the stage.