Lie-Berry Goes to the 2010 Indy Fringe Festival…and Beyond

My angel card for this weekend is Surrender.  I think this means that I am supposed to just follow my heart around the 2010 Indy Fringe Theatre Festival this year, not necessarily follow my carefully-plotted out viewing plan.  It was fun to make that plan, but I’ll see what I am meant to see.

This is a good time to remind myself (and you) that latecomers are not admitted to IndyFringe shows, so clock-awareness is still important even when in Surrender mode.

The other thing that I have been thinking about for this year’s Fringe here in Indianapolis is my approach to “covering” it.  Part of surrendering to What Is is surrendering to the fact that a)  my main gig, my day job, is being a professional librarian in a public library and b) I love my day job.  Part of my day job…well, almost all of it, really, requires creativity, training, experience, skill, and talent, but at the end of the day it is not about making art but rather about enjoying, evaluating, and sharing art and information with other people.

Sound familiar?

So…I’m thinking that I will approach blogging about this year’s IndyFringe as a readers’ advisory librarian. 

In other words, just as when I read a new book, I will pay attention to artistic quality and ask myself questions such as: What works about this piece?  Which artistic choices were successful?

But I will also pay attention to what RA librarians call “appeal factors.”  I will ask myself questions such as:  Who would enjoy this piece?  If this were a book, would it be more of a beach read, a book club contender, a go-to book for reluctant readers, a read-alike for a certain popular author or series, a challenging-but-worth-the-effort literary piece, or something else?

By the way, if you want to read more about readers’ advisory work, I loved the recent article by Laura Miller on on “The Fine Art of Recommending Books.”

Laura Miller quotes librarian action figure/RA guru Nancy Pearl’s four “doorways” – story, characters, setting, and language.  I am going to keep those in mind, but also be open to developing my own rubric for live theatre and storytelling.

Live performance art is different from written art, of course, and I am an oral tradition live storyteller as well as a librarian and theatre blogger.  I love that the performance storytelling community is beginning to embrace formal criticism as being a good thing for our art form, as discussed in a recent blog post on “In Search of Storytelling Excellence” by Illinois-based storyteller Sue Black.

I will keep Sue’s points, and the points of the other storytellers she cites, in mind as I go about reviewing IndyFringe storytelling shows this week and other storytelling shows this fall and beyond.  (Have you seen the Story Theatre line-up from Storytelling Arts of Indiana?  Some very exciting tellers are coming to Indianapolis this season!)

Another part of what a librarian does is collect things, organize them, and make Useful Lists.  I have always embedded links in my Indy Theatre Habit posts, but this fall, beginning with the Fringe, I am going to add a list of related links to other reviews to the bottom of each of my own reviews.  That will be time-consuming but, I hope, useful to all of us, so wish me luck!  (And I hereby promise not to whine any more about the time it takes.  Some day this blog will be an online magazine, right?  And I will hire someone else to be staff librarian/researcher.  Until then, I’m it.)

Here is what I’ve read around the Internet so far about the 2010 IndyFringe Theatre Festival:

Labels Merely an Illusion for Taylor Martin,” by David Lindquist –, August 15, 2010.  This is a wonderful article about our local transgendered magician.  Taylor has performed as Andrea Merlyn or one of his other personas at every IndyFringe since the beginning.

Female Characters, Creators, Rule the Stage at the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival,” by Jay Harvey –, August 15, 2010.  This article previews eight of this year’s shows with photos and mini-interviews.

Indy Fringe Returns!” by John Belden –, August 17, 2010.  John mentions some of his favorite returning Fringe performers.

Local Celebrity: Matthew Roland,” by Amanda Kingsbury –, August 18, 2010.   Local bizarre playwright gives short, bizzare answers in an interview about his new Fringe play, “Bill and Erin: One Night Standards.”  Ah, Matt, you fascinate me.

Too Bad I Wasn’t an Actress: IndyFringe 2010,” by Breena Fain –, August 18, 2010.  A Fringe advocate who made me laugh by addressing me (her reader) as “homeslice.”

Indyfringe: Forty-eight Plays Over Ten Days = 280 Shows,” by Jeff Cox, with other Fringe articles by other Nuvo staff below it –, August 18, 2010.   Some great preview stuff in this piece, too, including info about the new venue, Marian Underground.

I expect to add links here to reviews and/or blog post(s) by Indianapolis Business Journal arts editor Lou Harry and to Nuvo’s compilation of staff reviews mid-week, so check back.  Based on past experience, Smaller Indiana’s citizen reviews will be hidden where no can easily find them, but my dear readers, I will do my librarian best to share with you a link to them, too.  I can tell you right away that Pat, SI’s founder, sent an email to all 9000 members encouraging everyone to tweet about the Fringe using the hashtag #indyfringe, and that those tweets are for now looping at the top of the SI home page, so that is encouraging.

I will share links to whoever else writes thoughtfully about the IndyFringe this year.  Please let me know if I miss something that should go on this list.

If you are not already signed up for the IndyFringe’s daily e-updates during the run of the festival, I recommend that you do.  Here is the direct link to that sign-up page:

Years ago, when I was working as a children’s librarian in a different library from the place I work now, there was a little boy who came to the library every day after school and shouted, “Hey, lie-berry!  How’s it going?”

“I’m fine, Gerold,” I would say.  “How are you?” (I actually don’t remember his name, unfortunately, but I remember his sweet face and the affection I felt in his name for me very clearly.)

“Got any good books?” he would ask.

“Lots of ‘em.  What are you in the mood for today?”

If you see me around the Fringe this week and ask me what’s good, that is what I am going to ask you, too.  Because performance art, like free-time reading, is a very personal thing and good recommendations must be, also.

But I will also encourage you to surrender to whatever show seems to be calling you to see it.  That is Fringing at its purest.

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – and

P.S. “Librarian Avenger” photo above is by Erica Olsen.

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