I want to thank everyone who helped to make the 5th annual Indy Fringe Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana such an enjoyable and satisfying experience. I know I miss some people in this video (and I meant to say Christina LEAR instead of Christina Leary) but thank you, everyone! I sing a little song at that end of this video that is maybe a little cheesy, but it is how I feel today: this is “good night” and not “goodbye.”
For more info about the 2010 Indy Fringe Festival, please see www.indyfringe.org. (And thanks, Bob Burchfield, for being the webmaster!)
Oh, my, the final Saturday of the 2009 Indy Fringe Festival here in Indianapolis, Indiana was sublime. The weather was glorious, so the walks between theatres were almost as invigorating as the shows themselves. Plus, I spent most of the day with my theatre buddy, Adrienne Reiswerg, which I always enjoy.
Best of all, the day included a satisfying mix of shows that ended with one of the most exhilarating theatrical experiences of my life: the 10:30pm performance of “Waiting with M. Godot,” by Ronn Johnstone. The light-hearted yet profound script about love and relationships was a treat to begin with, and in that particular sold-out performance, both the actors and the audience were “in the zone.” Kurt Owens as the rudely mystical waiter, Monsieur Godot, and Nick Foreman as the sexy but overly-concerned-with-perfection Jaxon – a man who is waiting in a fancy restaurant to propose marriage to his girlfriend – were exquisitely hilarious. The beautiful but “loud” girlfriend, Dani, was charmingly played by Lisa Ermel.
I know that “magical” is a cliché when it comes to writing about theatre, but this truly was.
No one wanted to leave the Theatre on the Square’s second stage area afterwards, including me, so I made three more little videos. One is the one you see above, with the director, Steve Pierce. Unfortunately, the one I made with actor Nick Foreman by himself did not record. (Hope, darn it: the little red light has to be blinking!) However, I’m not sure you would have been able to hear him anyway because the still-packed theatre was very noisy then. So I’ll just tell you that this exceptional actor is a cutie in real life, too, and based in Chicago.
Here he is with Kurt – who was already one of my favorite actors and who now is even higher in my esteem! – a little bit later:
I am tempted to let “Waiting with M. Godot” be the last show I see at this year’s Fringe because it left me feeling so high on theatre and life in general.
Well, while I think about that some more, let me tell you about the other three shows I saw on Saturday, in the order I saw them:
(FYI: the above video is a conversation with Erin Schlabach, director of one of my favorite 2009 Indy Fringe shows, “Crossing the Bridge.” Scroll down to see other videos embedded in the post below.)
One day last week during the 2009 Indy Fringe Festival here in Indianapolis, Indiana, juggler Brent McCoy told me, “The audience is like a monster: if you treat it right, it will roll over and let you tickle its belly.”
Brent’s show, “Blunder Construction,” is one of, if not the most, popular shows at the Fringe. Last night there were more than a hundred people lined up outside Theatre on the Square (TOTS), hoping to get in to Brent’s show.
I had been feeling proud of myself for trying something new with my blog (i.e. – video content) but I realized suddenly that I had not been handing out my blog card this year the way I did last year. I hadn’t even taken little piles of cards around to the theatre lobbies.
So when I arrived at TOTS last night to see “Tortillo” on its second stage, and I saw all those people waiting outside to see “Blunder Construction” on the main stage, I decided it was time for me to tickle the beast a bit myself.
After a promising start, I was feeling discouraged about my new video project for my blog because one little interview that I made with a 2009 Indy Fringe Festival director on Sunday did not record at all and I couldn’t seem to get the other two to transfer from my iPhone to my YouTube account. However, maybe YouTube was just having a bad day yesterday and the day before because today, all of my little Fringe videos transferred from my iPhone to my YouTube account with no problem. The latest, which I made in my living room this morning, is above; the other two are below.
I had never been to the Earth House before. It is a very fun place! It is architecturally interesting and filled with people trying to make a difference in the world. The walk to it from Massachusetts Avenue is an easy one. If you are going to a show at the Earth House after seeing a show at the Phoenix Theatre or the Indy Fringe Building, you don’t want to dawdle but you don’t have to rush, either.
At various times during the day I went to the Café on the first floor and had lentil soup ($5), a strawberry smoothie ($5.50), and three of cook Jenxie’s exotic sides: marinated beets, spicy Moroccan carrot salad, and flavorful potato salad. (I don’t remember how much they cost.) All organic and yummy.
The theatre is upstairs, so be ready to either climb a bit or see if the ancient-looking motorized railing chair really works. (Update Tuesday night: I asked someone and the chair thing-y does work. They used it today!) But in any case, the stairs are covered in a velvety carpet, there is a comfy padded bench at the top, and the chandelier in the upstairs lobby is ringed with bits of fringe and other interesting decorations.
I recorded a conversation with the Earth House Cafe manager, which you can now view on YouTube. As you can see above, I also recorded a snippet of Brent McCoy juggling with fire outside Theatre on the Square Saturday night. I might take that down, though, because I didn’t ask his permission first and technically it was a show. I know, I know: you saw me attempting to take videos of some of the previews at the Fringe Preview Night Party last Thursday. It’s true. However, I don’t think it’s right to take pictures or make recordings during a regular show because a) it’s distracting to the performer, b) it’s distracting to the audience, and c) I think of a theatre as a sacred space, a place in which you’re supposed to try to be as present as you can, even if you’re a blogger, not be thinking ahead towards reliving the experience later. I.e. – have the experience as fully as you can first and then tell people about it later if you feel so led. (Or, of course, if you got in on a media pass. Then you are duty-bound to write about the show publicly whether feel like it or not and whether you have an accompanying photo or not because otherwise it’s the same as stealing ten dollars from the performer’s pocket.)
But on the other hand, I’m still keeping my notebook handy at every show even though I bet my scribbling distracts some people so…I guess I’m still figuring out the ethics of being a theatre blogger.
Anyway, I thought I would have three other video recordings of conversations with performers to share with you, too, including one with “Crossing the Bridge” director Erin Schlabach, one with FringeNext poet Mat Davidson, and one with comic storyteller Les Kurkendaal from “The Attack of the Big Angry Booty.” However, apparently the one with Erin didn’t record at all and I can’t get the other two to load onto YouTube, even after I have trimmed them down to well under ten minutes. I confess that I am tired of fussing with them. Let’s go back to “just” words, shall we? At least for now.
Sometimes I am accused of “liking everything.” I used to try very hard to explain that I do not, actually, like everything. Nor do I “get a boner for everyone” as I overheard someone say about himself yesterday.
However, I do focus very specifically on what I appreciate for my blog readers, including myself.
So now I tell people that if you think my approach to reviewing is a cop-out, why don’t you try it. It can be very hard work. Get beyond “That was great!” and articulate why something was a satisfying entertainment experience. Or get beyond “That was disappointing!” and articulate what you would keep and build on if you were in charge of improving it. Articulate and document what was worthwhile about the experience in order to nurture that part of it. Someone else, probably the artists themselves and maybe other reviewers, will take care of what doesn’t work.
And by “nurture” I’m not talking about helping individual performance artists by giving them feedback. I’m not even talking about helping individual theatre-goers decide what to see. I’m talking about a cosmic stewardship/sacred calling kind of thing. What we give attention to is what grows. My reviews are usually, I hope, lovingly detailed because I love going to live theatre shows. I love spending time thinking about them afterwards, too.
On the other hand, when the sun streams in the bedroom window after you’ve only had five hours sleep and it’s only the first Sunday of the week-long 2009 Indy Fringe Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, the most efficient thing is to just slam out a few first-impression notes before it’s time to take in the next show.
So…here’s what I’ve seen so far at the Fringe this year, in the order I saw them:
Last night when I sat down at a table at the 2009 Indy Fringe Festival Preview Party, the man sitting diagonally across from me said, “Hey, are you the one that writes that theatre blog?” I think he had seen me handing my blog card to someone.
Anyway, I admitted to it and he said he enjoyed reading it. Yay!
Just as he and I and his girlfriend started to chat, I remembered my new video project. I asked if I could video them. They said yes, and so now I have video #3 in my Fringe video journal. (See above.) Thanks again, Patrick and Jessica!
In the video, Jessica mentions wanting to do a little more research before she decides which shows she wants to see. I need to do that, too.
Last night, after I got off work from my day job, I drove to Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis to see the 2009 Indy Fringe Festival Parade and Preview Party.
I got there too late for the main part of the parade, but lots of people were still walking as parade followers so I fell in with them and headed towards the “Fringe Central Outdoor Stage” aka that big, striped tent at the intersection of College Ave and Mass Ave.
Several people forwarded the above 2009 Indy Fringe Trailer video to me. Perhaps you received it in your email and/or on your Facebook feed, too. It is very short – less than a minute. It is fun to try to guess who all of the characters are after reading many of the show descriptions on the Indy Fringe website. I am looking forward to watching the trailer video again after I have seen a lot of the new shows.
I won’t have time to share any more full press releases with you before the Fringe Parade and Preview Party Thursday night (8/20/09 beginning at 6pm on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis), so I’ll just mention that Taylor Martin of “Andrew Merlyn’s Greatest Hits (and missus)” sends me a weekly email about his magic shows throughout the year. His recent Fringe-related emails say that this is “my best show ever,” so if you are already a Taylor Martin fan, you had better not miss this one! I think that Taylor’s is the only magic show in the Indy Fringe this year.
Alan Velotta sent me the pdf of the program for “The Worst Show in the Fringe,” which I appreciated, too. This show was written by Joseph Scrimshaw and is presented by Merely Players, Inc. out of Owensboro, Kentucky. I thought these guys were a hoot last year in their “Adventures in Mating” show. I love that their Fringe program this year says “Visit our friends” and lists the titles, locations and times for 4 or 5 other 2009 Indy Fringe shows.