Photo courtesy of Kyle Peterson
Desmond Dutcher and Kristin Katherine Sheilds of “In Loco Parentis” use “Hamlet” to work out some issues.
Themes emerge among 200+ FringeNYC offerings
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Having survived its awkward tween years, FringeNYC is growing into young adulthood surrounded by a multitude of other theater festivals competing for our attention. Already this summer, The Midtown International Theatre Festival, Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival, the Fresh Fruit Festival, International CringeFest ‘10 and PS 122’s Undergroundzero Festival have all come and gone — and on Aug. 8, LES mainstay Theater for the New City launched their own festival (“Dream Up” runs through Sept. 5).
But for now at least, those others are dwelling in the long shadow cast by an annual event whose trailblazing presence on the Downtown summertime theater scene earned a 2007 Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture. So let’s give some well-earned props to FringeNYC — which, like our mayor, is a savvy little entity whose staying power is derived from a willingness to change the rules (naysayers be damned!).
Whether intentional on the part of its programmers, a matter of fertile minds thinking alike or a provocative mix of both factors, FringeNYC’s content always manages to offer up some common themes. This year’s edition delivers multiple choices in categories such as Shakespeare, musicals, dance, parental concerns and gay stuff. Who knew there were queers in show business — what’s next, Jews? Those Fringe folks certainly know how to shock us!
Rather than feature our possibly-best-of-the-fest picks in alphabetical order, this roundup will be presented by theme. In the interest of plugging as many shows as possible, we’ll do away with all the time/date/venue information. That’s easily found at www.fringenyc.org or by calling 866-468-7619 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.
FringeNYC runs from Aug. 13-29, and general admission tickets are $15. You’ll save some dough with multi-show passes that let you see 5 shows, 10, or all of them. FringeCentral is located at 1 E. 8th St. (at 5th Ave.).
First and foremost on our list — in a category of her own — is Fay Lane. Her show (“Fay Lane’s Beauty Shop Secrets”) is culled from the writer / performer’s time spent in a Texas beauty salon. She lived to tell about it, and now she’s dishing on the experience by way of stories, songs and free prizes. When all was said and done, Lane chose to leave the Lone Star State and shack up in NYC. She’s been here for two decades, so show this local gal some love by seeing her show and visiting www.BeautyShopStories.com.
THE HURRICANE KATRINA COMEDY FESTIVAL mines laughs from tears — as Batture Productions presents five true New Orleans stories. Visit www.KatrinaComedy.net.
23 FEET IN 12 MINUTES: THE DEATH AND REBIRTH OF NEW ORLEANS,
from Word on the Street Productions, marks the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by introducing you to six real-life New Orleans characters forever changed by the storm. It’s based on interviews conducted with over 60 Katrina survivors and New Orleans transplants. Visit www.wordonthestreetplays.org.
HIP-HOP HIGH — THE MUSICAL
ebbs and flows from the bendable minds behind Z-Man Films and Records. Their urban tale centers on newcomer Drew Moore — who’s gotta decide whether to run, fight, dance or rap after he sees fellow students commit murder. Visit www.hiphophighthemusical.com.
VIVA LOS BASTARDITOS!
is Jake Oliver’s sublimely ridiculous take on love, music and revolution. In a strange land called Western Massachusetts, three rock heroes emerge to unite The People against rapidly rising dictators. Visit www.bastarditos.com.
POPE! AN EPIC MUSICAL
is from Chelsea boys Justin Moran, Christopher Pappas and Adam Podd. These clever locals have crafted a musical tale of Vatican exile, Archbishop power plays and Pope-based revenge. Visit www.popethemusical.com.
JURASSIC PARQ: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL
spells its name just well enough to avoid a Spielberg-sponsored lawsuit. That gives them plenty of time to present this bold re-imagining of the box office Brontosaurus — as told from the perspective of the dinosaurs (who apparently have much to say about gender, sexual, and racial identity. Its wise creators say you “should probably see it drunk.” Visit www.JurassicParq.blogspot.com.
THE PRINCES OF PERSUASION: RECIPES FOR ROMANCE,
by Ithai Benjamin & Rebeca Raney, injects indie-pop music deep into an adventure populated by a cast of robotic puppets, vegetable casseroles and animal assholes. What, that old story again? Visit www.princesofpersuasion.com.
GETTING EVEN WITH SHAKESPEARE
is Self Fulfilling Productions’ take on what happens what pissed off Shakespeare characters do in when they’re not strutting and fretting their hour upon this stage. Macbeth’s into paintball, Juliet is an ecstasy dealer, and Lear tries in vain to avoid the rain. Visit www.gettingevenwithshakespeare.com.
TRISTAN & ISOLDE,
as interpreted by The Shore Theater, is a “poetic tragedy set against ancient times.” Visit www.theshoretheater.com.
MacCHIN: THE LAMENTABLE TRAGEDIE OF JAY LENO
sets “Macbeth” in the world of the late night talk show wars — every bit as bloody and power-crazed as those scheming Scottish play denizens. Visit www.macchin.tumblr.com.
from Less Than Rent Productions, takes place in post-WWIII England — as punk rockers navigating a nuclear teenage wasteland wastoids fight for a crown they want “really effing bad.” Visit www.LessThanRentProductions.com.
THE MAID OF ORLEANS,
by Manhattan-based Demimonde Theatre & Opera Co., is described as a “romantic tragedy by the German Shakespeare.” It charts what happens when Johanna of Arc loses her battlefield mojo upon letting earthly love enter her heart. Visit www.themaidoforleans.com.
JULIUS CAESAR: THE DEATH OF A DICTATOR
is based on the Shakespeare text as adapted by Orson Welles. The Gangbusters Theatre Company supply the speed and violence. The militant, Metallica-fueled future is now. Visit www.gangbusterstheatre.com, or suffer the consequences.
created by the Ensemble, is Bert Hana’s slide show retelling of a summer holiday taken with his daughter. It took home the award for Best of Amsterdam Fringe. Visit www.berthana.nl.
IN LOCO PARENTIS,
directed by NYC’s own veteran creative queer Jonathan Warman, follows Carly — who thought she was in the know. Then, her mother died and she started grasping for an A while studying “Hamlet.” Visit www.inlocoparentisplay.com.
LETTERS TO CLIO — PART II, MARGARITA
was created from first-hand interviews conducted by Brooklyn-based performer Jessica Lefkow were used to created drama. In 1976 Argentina, a mother searches for her daughter as the country crumbles. Visit www.letterstoclio.com.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM
has Meghan Gambling’s Teaspoon Productions probing the strange tale of Oliva — who flew home to surprise mom on her 55th birthday only to discover the woman who gave birth to her all sexed up and expecting a ripped young man for Craigslist hookup sex. Damn, those Baby Boomers got it goin’ on! Visit www.happybdaymom.biz.
MY DAD’S CRAZIER THAN YOUR DAD: A SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
is from writer/performer Katharine Heller — who’s been making an impression lately in the show “Naked in a Fishbowl” (dark Aug. 24-Sept. 26). In this interactive FringeNYC effort, she makes the case for her dad’s insanity by revealing him to be a diet-guru-turned-Disney-fanatic whose exploits thoroughly bewilder his family. Visit www.mydadscrazier.com.
from, appropriately enough, Tangled Lines Productions, challenges Ismene (whose mother died and whose sister killed herself) to decipher her eccentric grandmother’s stories in order to discover her destiny. This multi-media performance features real-time painting. Visit www.tangledyarn.net.
STANDING UP: BATHROOM TALK & OTHER STUFF WE LEARN FROM DAD
is wisdom gleaned from Only40Entertainment. Their tale of a thirtysomething waitress is a hilarious bit of open-wound truth telling that just might save your life — or somebody else’s — or nobody’s. Visit www.tleestandingup.blogspot.com.
is Diversionary Theatre’s collection of stories about Harvey Milk — as told by the people he knew. Those people include Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk, Harvey’s campaign manager Anne Kronenberg and AIDS Quilt founder Cleve Jones.Visit www.diversionary.org.
from the gloriously resurrected pioneering gay theater troupe TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), features writer/performers The Five Lesbian Brothers — who portray a cult of high-heel-wearing homicide-happy secretaries who work the desks of the Cooney Lumber Mill in Big Bone, Oregon. Visit www.thesecretariestosos.com and www.tosos2.org.
JEN AND LIZ IN LOVE,
by BlondeBrunetteRedhead Productions, has a great premise: After closing time at the county fair, Jen and her childhood friend Liz get trapped in the kissing booth. Some serious stuff goes down as they wait for rescue. Visit www.bbrproductions.org.
WHEN LAST WE FLEW,
the work of DRD Theatricals & Eric Louie, involves a shakeup in the dull Midwestern life of misfit teenager Paul — who injects some homo-awareness into his dullsville (population 1) Midwestern existence when steals his library’s sole copy of “Angels in America.” Visit www.WhenLastWeFlew.com
from Talk Sense Pte. Ltd., sets fire to everything you though you knew about Southeast Asia’s transgender women (formerly typecast as ladyboy showgirls). Visit www.ahkuashow.wordpress.com .
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY WAY,
from The Theatre @ Boston Court, is based on a little-known and/or largely-forgotten slice of 1914 Long Beach, California history. Reality and fantasy blend when two actors take on multiple roles to portray the entrapment of homosexuals on charges of “social vagrancy.” Visit www.bostoncourt.com/events/64/the-twentieth-century-way.
HEADSCARF AND THE ANGRY BITCH,
written by Zehra Fazal, features a star turn by Zed Headscarf — “The Muslim Weird Al.” Zed rocks out, folk style, as he takes you on a comedic investigation of faith, love, sex and growing up Muslim in America. Visit www.zehrafazal.com.
DRIVING THE SAUDIS
asks where our gas money really goes — and provides some answers by following the grueling adventures of a chauffeur who whisks Saudi Royals through a Beverly Hills shopping/plastic surgery vacation. Visit www.drivingthesaudis.info.
FOR KINGDOM AND FATHERLAND,
from writer/director Shabana Rehman (in association with the American Comedy Institute), recounts the escape of the Kingdom of Norway’s most famous Muslim comedian (from Norway). Visit www.shabana.no.
BUTTERFLY, BUTTERFLY, KILL KILL KILL,
from the folks at Depth Charge, is a yakuza noir inspired by Seijun Suzuki’s “incomprehensible” masterpiece “Branded to Kill.” Expect monstrous puppets, mystic sex rituals, a live electro-jazz-exotica score and…violence! Visit www.depthcharge.us.
choreographed and directed by Brooklyn’s Eva Dean, has performers balancing, spinning and gliding amidst the creation of beautiful — and humorous — dances. Visit www.evadeandance.org.
THE MAD 7 — A MYSTICAL COMEDY WITH ECSTATIC DANCE
comes from The Mad 7 Team (writer/choreographer Yehuda Hyman and director Mara Isaacs). This modern-day riff on a 19th century Hasidic tale sees a San Francisco office worker going through the motions — until his life gets an unexpected jolt from seven mystics. Visit www.themad7.com.
is a collaboration between Megan McClellan and Brian Sostek — who share director/choreographer credits. Their company, Sossy Mechanics, takes you into a world of bookies, dance hall girls and championship fighters whose machine gun rat-a-tat-tat dialogue meets its match in the form of ebullient dances and puppetry. Visit www.SossyMechanics.com.
SWAHA: RITUALS OF UNION,
by Trinayan Dance Theater, plunges you into a world of statuesque, grounded, vibrant, pulsating movements — by way of dances born in Orissa, India and passed from gurus to disciples. Traditional-inspired solos, duets, and ensemble work explore the thin line between humanity and divinity. Visit www.trinayan.org/swaha.
THE GREAT GALVANI,
from The Magpies, is writer/director Shawn Reddy’s magic/burlesque performance/slideshow in which a tinkerer of dead frogs dissects everything from the famed Fiji Mermaid to catastrophic loss and the need for bewildering beauty. This way to the Egress! Visit www.themagpiesproject.com.
from MagicMouth Theatre Company, has two-time Emmy Award Winner Alexander “Sandy” Marshall answering “How do you build connection in an art form based on deception?” Visit www.magicmouth.org.
MISCELLANEOUS STUFF THAT SEEMS COOL
THE TIM & MICAH PROJECT
is from those two, with a little additional choreography by Joe. Their thing is extreme, rapid, physical, smart and strange sketch work. It’s comedy from Chicago, which is almost always a good thing. Visit www.timandmicahproject.com.
PIGEONS, KNISHES AND ROCKETTES
high kicks you in the chest (and the heart), courtesy of writer Diana Rissetto and director Ilana Becker. Sweet, idealistic, holiday-lovin’ Eve falls for a boy who sings Christmas songs...but doesn’t like Christmas at all. Visit www.pigeonsknishesandrockettes.com.
OMARYS CONCEPCION LOPEZ PEREZ GOES TO ISRAEL (TO SPEAK TO GOD AT THE WAILING WALL)
may very well be the longest-titled show in this year’s festival. That’s what it takes, though, to get across the concept — which has the Persian/Puerto Rican gal arriving in Israel (from the Bronx) on a mission to converse with the Divine. Visit www.leilaarias.com.
from New Conservatory Theatre Center Of San Francisco/Trash de Blanc, burdens an unemployed comedian with the task of directing North Carolina’s worst community theatre in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Visit www.jimdavid.com.
STRANGE LOVE IN OUTER SPACE
takes The Contasia Players beyond our star system in this musical tale of strange love as experienced by a one-armed, four-eyed alien princess, a four-mile-long mad scientist worm, a bloodthirsty merman and a doggish pirate. Visit www.strangeloveinouterspace.com.
FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF WHITE,
from the contemplative folks at BROWNSTAR, (Pushkar Sharma, Sathya Sridharan, Chuck Kim) is a sci-fi comedic memoir fueled by South Asian poet-performers navigating race and time as they quest towards possible answers to the universe’s most daunting and dangerous questions. Visit www.brownstarrevolution.com.