08 Fringe: Quick Notes

On my way back to my car tonight (the 2nd Saturday of the 2008 Indy Fringe Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana) after a 10:30 show, Justin from the Fringe office pulled up to me on his bicycle.  “It’s been a big night for us,” he said.  “Four or five shows sold out, or came very close.”

“Yay!” I said.  “Which ones?”

“‘Phil the Void,’ ‘Monkey Poet’ and ‘And I Am Not Making This Up’ came very, very close, if they didn’t actually sell out.  ‘Assholes and Aureoles,’ ‘Adventures in Mating,’ and ‘Moved’ definitely sold out.  Isn’t that surprising?  I hadn’t heard any buzz about ‘Moved.'”

I hadn’t either until yesterday, when my new, five-year-old friend, Hannah, told me I should see it.  I guess the kindergarten grapevine is the one to tap if you really want to know which shows to see. 

I wonder if Hannah has a blog.

I took Thursday off from seeing shows at the 2008 Indy Fringe Festival, but I couldn’t stay away longer than a day.  On Friday night (last night) I stayed out WAY too late with friends and didn’t get any writing done.  It was worth it – I had a great time bonding and flirting and discussing and so on – but now (Saturday night), I am even farther behind in my reviews.  So…here are some quick notes about what I saw yesterday and today:

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A Conversation with Emily Schwartz

playwright Emily Schwartz

Several days ago, after I had seen the Spotlight Players’ production of “The Dastardly Ficus and other Comedic Tales of Woe & Misery,” I got to chat by phone with the playwright, Emily Schwartz.  She was born and raised in Brownsburg, Indiana, but now lives in Chicago.

It was a pleasure chatting with her!  I am therefore going to take a brief break from writing about the 2008 Indy Fringe Festival in order to share some highlights from our conversation.  This is the last weekend for “The Dastardly Ficus” at Spotlight.  (For more information or to make a reservation, please call 317-767-2774.)

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08 Fringe: Odds ‘n’ Ends Mid-Fringe

I have now reported on the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival for seven days straight.   I am taking today (Thursday) and maybe tomorrow off from seeing shows to play catch-up with my posts and my life.  Even God took a break after six days, right?  And God knows, NO reviewer is a deity.

So, before I get dressed and take myself out for brunch, here are some brief comments about what I saw last night (Wednesday), plus some other bits of Fringe-related news and gossip:

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08 Fringe: Blogging Delay for Delicious Reasons Today

Beloved readers, I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be able to post any new reviews until this afternoon.  Justin from the Fringe headquarters invited me to the Performers’ Luncheon today.  How fun is that! 

(But I hope that if there are tomatoes on the menu, certain performers will be able to resist flinging them at me.  Hmm.  Maybe I had better put a change of clothes in my car, just in case.)

I will also lug my laptop downtown, though, and find a place in which to continue writing after lunch and before this evening’s shows.  So please check back later for more reviews.  Quickly, here is what I saw on Monday and last night:

** “Phil the Void: Comedy Over Quality” – I think I am developing a knee fetish.  First the Clown’s and now Phil’s through his torn jeans.  In other words, no tux this year, but his comedy is sharper and smarter than ever.  This man’s observations on life, porn, marriage, and aging made me bark with laughter.

** “Improscaping” – If you went to the Preview Party, this is the woman with the cucumber.  Her actual show includes zero cucumbers.  That was just something she was playing with; it might turn into a full piece later.  Her actual show is a collection of  polished “concept pieces” that incorporate dance, costumes, props, and a lovely variety of music.  The pieces are interspersed with recorded narration from various people in her life giving advice, which you may or may not want to take seriously.  I found myself crying at one point during this show because I felt so inspired.  Here is a woman who rejects what she has been told about how old dancers are allowed to be, or what they are supposed to look like, and dances for us anyway, with wit and strength and grace. 

“The Honeymoon Suite” – There are vampires at the Indy Fringe! Who knew?  Or maybe they are werewolves.  Or mermaids.  Anyway, I was DELIGHTED by this macabre, sexy show.  It is full of poetry, rock-and-roll, and spider dancing.  It made me want to run to my public library and re-read Anne Rice’s vampire books and Francesca Lia Block’s erotica.  Actually, I guess for the erotica I will have to check my home library.  But anyway, I loved this show.

“Jealous Sky” – This biographical drama left me weeping.  And vowing to remember Harriet Quimby as well as Amelia Earhart.  A powerful, powerful piece.

“Wicked Dreams Pleasant Nightmares” – This is a beautiful dance piece that tells a story, too, about (as you might imagine from the title) a girl’s dreams and nightmares through the course of one night’s sleep.  At one point in the show, my friend Dane leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Do you have THOSE dreams?”  Yes, sweetie, I do.  I loved this piece’s interpretation of them.

I will write more about each of these shows later, but I hope you can tell from the brief comments above that I had an especially satisfying time at the Indy Fringe on Monday and Tuesday nights.  Tonight, the Monkey Poet is finally back!  I’ll have to check my Fringe booklet to see what else I have circled for tonight.

As always, thank you for reading, and thank you for your patience.  I hope to see you at the Fringe!  It continues through Sunday.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

08 Fringe: “The Cool Table”

Artist unknown, unfortunately

For the last time slot (10:30) of the first Sunday night of the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival, I had circled the “Potpourri Potluck Kitchen Sink Meatloaf” show by Shantz Theatre Company out of Chicago.  I enjoyed their “Burying Mom” show at last year’s Fringe (pre-blog.)

However, that particular performance was cancelled, so I dashed down Mass Ave to the ComedySportz Arena to catch one of the “Cool Table” shows. They are a sketch comedy group, also out of Chicago.  I reviewed their Indy Fringe show last year for IndianaAuditions.com.

I enjoyed the show I saw this year, too, but it seemed very short.  

Continue reading 08 Fringe: “The Cool Table”

08 Fringe: “Christmas in Bakersfield”

Les Kurkendall in “Christmas in Bakersfield”

I happened to meet actor/writer Les Kurkendall at the Metro Bar and Grille after the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Preview Night Party.  I enjoyed chatting with him, so I looked forward to seeing his personal storytelling show, “Christmas in Bakersfield,” too.

I saw it at Stage Two of Theatre on the Square at 9:00 on the first Sunday evening of the Fringe festival.

It is warm and satisfying.

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08 Fringe: “Stripped”

Greg Browning and Amy Pettinella in “Stripped”

At 7:30 on the first Sunday evening of the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival, I walked over to the Phoenix Theatre to see “Stripped,” a new play by Amy Pettinella.  She also directed it herself, and stars in it with Greg Browning.

Several people had made a point of telling me about this piece, but I would have gone to see it anyway because I have huge respect and admiration for Pettinella.  For one thing, she’s a playwright who actually completes plays and gets them produced instead of just talking about them.  I also loved her acting work in “Blackout” at the Alley Theater last year.  (That was pre-blog, but I wrote about it here on IndianaAuditions.com.)   ANY time Pettinella is involved creatively with a live theatre project, I’m there.

Should you go see “Stripped?”  Of course you should.  I say this about any show I review: you should always go see it yourself and form your own opinion.   I would also love to hear what you think, if you have time to leave me a comment or send me an email (amarylliswriter at gmail dot com.)

However, since this is my theatre reviews blog and I am trying to stay honest about what I see, I have to say that “Stripped” as it is being performed this week at the Fringe just does not work for me.  The rest of this post is an explanation of why, so there are lots of spoilers.  If you have not already seen “Stripped,” I recommend that you go see it before reading any further.

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08 Fringe: “And I Am Not Making This Up”

Nell Weatherwax of “And I Am Not Making This Up” - photo by Chris Eller

On the first Sunday afternoon of the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival I had to miss a few of the time slots because of a previous commitment, but I was back downtown on Mass. Ave. by 6:00 in time to see one of my most-anticipated shows, “And I Am Not Making This Up,” by Bloomington (Indiana) resident Nell Weatherwax.

I wrote about this show last year when I was a member of the IndianaAuditions.com review team.  Last year, the show was in the very intimate Stage Two of the Theatre on the Square (TOTS).  This year, the show is on TOTS’ larger Main Stage.  Not every show transfers well between the two spaces, but this one does.  Weatherwax uses the larger space fully and effectively. 

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08 Fringe: Becki still needs volunteers!

(embedded links to appear eventually)

Becki Roach, the volunteer coordinator for the 2008 Indianapolis Fringe Festival, told me that they still need several volunteers to staff their box office tables, usher, and do other things.  There are evening shows all this week and the second Fringe weekend is coming up! 

If you have some time you could give, please sign up to volunteer via the Fringe website.  Here is a direct link to the Volunteers page:  http://www.indyfringe.org/volunteers.php 

Or give the Fringe Volunteer Hotline a call at 317-869-6660. 

See also Becky’s comment, below.

Continue reading 08 Fringe: Becki still needs volunteers!

08 Fringe: “Alone and Testifying”

Loren Niemi “Alone and Testifying” 

By 10:30 on the first Saturday night of the 2008 Indy Fringe Festival I was worn out.  Worn out, and therefore in danger of biting people’s heads off.  Even though the structure of the Fringe festival allows for a relaxed, just-right transistion time betweeen shows, six shows in one day, plus all of the enjoyable but information-rich conversations in between, is a LOT for this HSP to take in.

I probably should have just gone on home, but I really wanted to see and hear Loren Niemi’s opening show.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that Niemi’s show was one of my five picks for what I would see if I only had $50 to spend at this year’s Fringe.

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