Friend a Day – Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw
I met Sara through her husband Joseph quite some time ago. I don’t remember when. I just remember being taken with her almost immediately.
Sara is a terrific dancer who can do a great job combining modern dance with comedy and storytelling. Her dances are always about something and always accessible to the audience. She’s graceful, yes. But she is also purposeful. Her movement has direction and emotion and I very much enjoy watching her dance.
When she was in Highlander: The Musical a few years ago, I learned she could also sing. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised but it was nice to see a new dimension of someone whom I already knew to be so talented.
What I’ve also learned is her skills as a comedian are as refined as her skills as dancer. She has great comic timing and a wonderfully expressive face. I’ve discovered all of these facets to her over the last few years and I don’t know why I keep being surprised. I guess I keep thinking there must be something she can’t do so darn well.
Sara is the organizational half of Joking Envelope with Joseph and I think it may be hard sometimes to see how important she is to their success. She is at every show handing out surveys, signing people up for the mailing list, and being the public face of their theatrical work.
She handles the details that need to be handled. And she does it with a smile and one of the most positive, friendly demeanors you are ever likely to encounter.
I enjoy spending time with her outside of theatrical work because she is so charming. She is thoughtful and interesting and funny.
Since she and Joseph have moved to California, I know that I’ll see her a lot less frequently so I hope to take advantage of the time I have when she is back in town. She’s simply someone who makes time pass more quickly when she is around and those are valuable friends to have.
Fringe Festival – Day 2
I’m opening two shows today so there won’t be much extracurricular Fringing for me this afternoon. Yesterday, however, I got in a good run of shows that crossed the spectrum from very good to very awful.
How to Date a Werewolf (or Lonesome, Wild and Blue)
I make fun of Matthew A Everett because we’ve never actually met in person. I’m actually pretty sure I saw him in the lobby before the show but I was with my wife and I didn’t want to abandon her to introduce myself to someone who may or may not have been him.
I may not have met him in person but I do follow him on Twitter so I know he’s been working on this script for quite some time. His work is evident in a very tight and funny script that isn’t so much about monsters as it is about love, loss and life.
There is a lot to like in the script but one thing I’ll highlight is the way Everett makes his characters lesbians without ever saying “hey look everyone! I wrote a play about lesbians!” The characters in the play are homosexuals but they don’t talk about homosexuality. They talk about dating and life and love and being werewolves (or zombies). Because being a homosexual shouldn’t be different. A relationship between two men or two women or a man and a woman should be normal.
I don’t know if he thought about that while writing the script. I noticed it and in a festival filled with people talking about their sexual identity (which is fine), it is nice to see a show where the characters are just living their sexual identity.
The actors in this show do a great job but Joy Dolo steals every scene she’s in. In fairness to the other actresses in the show, Joy’s part is easily the meatiest and the most fun. She executes every part she is asked to play with remarkable versatility.
So I don’t know if I’ll ever actually meet Matthew. But he writes a really good show.
This very short (less than 40 minute) show is a serious of comic vignettes of varying quality.
The cast is decidedly a-list and therin lies the problem. They are better than the material. The material isn’t awful, mind you. I was never bored. But I was always left feeling like the show should have been better. It was missing a spark that would have made it brilliant.
There was a languid pace to the proceedings that seemed to undercut the comedy. Ari Hoptman did a really good piece about memory that felt too slow because he had to wait for the audience to see multi-media elements. The multi-media elements were funny but did they all need to be there?
As a side note: we went to this show as a replacement for Once Upon a Chalkboard, which sold out. Selling out a show that early in the run means if you want to see the show, reserving your tickets in advance would be a very good idea.
The Press Conference at the End of the World
Kelvin Hatle is a friend of mine and this is his third year producing a one man show at the Fringe. He’s getting better each year.
Kelvin has a dry sense of humor that has a tendency to ambush an audience. You think you know where he’s going but his punch lines tend to catch you completely off guard.
In this case, Kelvin plays a Presidential Press Secretary dealing with the press in what could be a doomsday scenario. He also plays several other characters commenting on the situation. He gives us the information in frustratingly short sound bites that ensure that all we really know is that we want to know more.
My one critique of the show (and it isn’t really a critique) is that I was particularly fond of one character in the show and was disappointed he didn’t show up more often. I think that is more a testament to Kelvin’s ability to create interesting characters than it is to any failure in writing on his part.
So yeah, Kelvin is a friend. He’s also writes really good comedy. Go see this show.
Don’t go see this show.
This one man clown show managed to do something pretty extraordinary. It managed to offend me.
At first, I felt the show was merely boring. The character that was at the core of this one man show simply didn’t appeal to me. He was a clown character with a series of affectations and vocal tics that I was tired of after five minutes.
My issues with his character are my problem. I wouldn’t rip on a show just because of that.
But when he got to a rather lengthy section of the show where he was talking about vaginas and how you needed to give someone something if they let you see vaginas, all I could think was that he was basically suggesting that all women were prostitutes. You give money to some of them. You give flowers or chocolates to others. But basically, you need to pay women to have sex with you.
I don’t know if he even realized that’s what he was saying and that made it even more horrifying.
Later, he said the problem with the world was that nobody loved any babies except their own. I have a feeling that anyone who has an adopted child (or is an adopted child) might have a real problem with that statement. I kept hoping he’d clarify, but he never did.
As someone who creates theatre, I recognize that every show at the fringe, good or bad, is a risk by the artist. I don’t want to see any show fail. I certainly don’t want to hate a show.
But I really hated this show.
I don’t go to a lot of dance shows because they aren’t really my thing.
I go see dance shows that feature Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw because she brings a whimsical sensibility to her dancing that I really enjoy.
HEATWAVE featured seven different dances by a number of choreographers. A couple of them went on quite a bit longer than I felt was needed but I really enjoyed most of the performances. Sara’s two brief dances could have easily been longer. It was clearly pretty tough to dance in red rubber boots but I wish she had.
Sara also did a dance with frequent partner Danielle Robinson-Prater that was beautiful. Any time I see the two of them on stage, I know that I’m really going to enjoy the work that they create.
My favorite piece of the night, however, was the first one. LQ Hustle was a vibrant, energetic dance work powered by a great song. It was just a joy to watch.
So that’s five more shows. Today I’ll be watching my own show from the audience, which is a little strange for me. If you are Fringing, please come see Schrodinger’s Apocalypse at the New Century Theatre at 7:00 tonight and let me know what you think! The script is a rather dramatic departure for me and I’m definitely interested to see how it will be received.