(Photo above taken by me with my trusty iPhone. The beautiful artwork on the buttons is by Lydia Burris. Her larger, and even more beautiful, original IndyFringe piece was unveiled around the beginning of August 2010 and will be on display on the side of the Firefighters’ Memorial at the intersection of College and Massachusetts Avenues in downtown Indianapolis for one year.)
Well, another Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival draws to a close. What a satisfying week it has been, both personally and artistically.
As usual, I learned a lot about myself and about life during Fringe week. Plus, for the first time since I started Fringing four years ago, I did a good job of pacing myself so that I am relaxed and refreshed here at the end of the Fringe rather than exhausted. Yay, me!
I had to give up my goal of gathering and posting links to all IndyFringe reviews because there were just so many people writing about the shows this year, both in the professional, mainstream media and among “citizen journalists” such as myself. What a great problem to have! I hope that people will continue to see live theatre shows and write about them year-round.
I am grateful for all of my interactions with people between shows, even the uncomfortable ones, because they either helped me clarify some things, or gave me practice with some things, or (and this is true of most of them) gave me pleasure.
But mostly I am grateful for the shows and for all of the artists on and off stage that contributed to bringing these shows to life in this particular place, at this particular time. I would like to have a) seen each of the 48 shows, many more than once, and b) written about each of them in detail. This was impossible.
However, I did manage to see exactly (coincidentally) half of the 48 offerings, plus two of the busker (street performer) shows.
AND I scrounged up the cash to pay $10 for each of the shows I saw plus buy three Fringe Backer Buttons at $5 each. The extra Buttons were because a) I wanted to collect all three and b) one day I forgot to bring any. You have to wear your Backer Button to every show.
AND I managed to tweet about almost all of the shows I saw, using the #indyfringe hashtag (topic marker) so that my Twitter posts would show up, at least temporarily, not only in the Twitter thread for that topic but also on the homepage of Smaller Indiana as well.
There is always room for improvement, but I feel good about my support of the Indy Fringe Festival this week, and about my on-going work as a year-round volunteer commentator on Indianapolis area performance art.
The advantage of Twitter is that it is easy to post or read something in the moment from your iPhone (or whatever). The disadvantage is that the content that you so carefully pared down into a pithy message using 140 characters or less disappears after just a few days. So…Because my Indy Theatre Habit record is a little more permanent than the record on Twitter, below are the 2010 IndyFringe shows I saw, in the order that I saw them, with at least one thing each that I tweeted about them within an hour or so of seeing them.
Oh! I should also explain that I sometimes re-tweeted other people’s mini-reviews as well, which is considered in the “twitterverse” to be a form of both approval and generosity as long as credit is given to the original tweeter. If you see “RT” in front of part of a tweet, that means that part was re-tweeted, or copied, from someone else. Credit for the original tweet goes to the person behind the “@” sign. For an example, please see “Please Don’t Use My Flannel for That: a Memoir,” below. I wrote “Agree!” and then re-tweeted what Lorraine Ball (aka @roundpeg because that is the name of her business) wrote about the show.
“Andrea Merlyn’s Book of Magic” – Andrea Merlyn’s transgender #indyfringe show is a satisfying blend of magic tricks, history, storytelling, theatre, & schmaltz.
(Full review here.)
“Please Don’ Use My Flannel for That: a Memoir” – Agree! RT @roundpeg #indyfringe – Loved “Don’t Use My Flannel” Fabulous one performer – great storyteller, funny and moving.
(Full review and video conversation with the performance artist here.)
“Deep in Love/For Adults Only” – Also loved local storyteller Deborah Asante’s earthy deep love stories at the #indyfringe tonight.
(Full review here.)
“Phil the Void: Spontaneous Dumbustion” – Phil the Void says he is moving to Indy and running for mayor. I’d vote for him. Loved his new #indyfringe show tonight!
(Full review here.)
“Grind: the Musical” – “Grind: the Musical” is a LOT of show. Big cast, big set, big variety of performance art forms. Fun & charming. #indyfringe
(full review here)
“A Brighter Shade of Blue” – Normally I would run screaming from a sexy guy dissing his “childish” ex-wife, but I enjoyed Paul Strickland’s “Brighter…Blue.” #indyfringe
(full review here)
“Teen Jesus” – Thought I was going to hate “Teen Jesus” but it turned out to be my first standing ovation this #indyfringe.
(full review here)
“Bill & Erin: One Night Standards” – Still processing “Bill & Erin.” Sexy, talented cast. Very Roland-esque script. (odd, funny) #indyfringe
(full review here)
“Blizzard Rewind” – “Blizzard Rewind” made me laugh like a seal. Tremendous energy & presence from the 6 Bloomington actors. #indyfringe
(I saw this show twice; full review of first time here)
“Not a Peep” – Wordless “Not a Peep” is exquisitely funny & specific. A tad shorter, time-wise, than most #indyfringe shows but completely satisfying.
(full review here)
“Gilgamesh” – “Gilgamesh” uses 3 kinds of puppets, yes, but also masks, movement, music, & more in its powerful storytelling. #indyfringe
(full review here)
“Another Fifty-Five Minutes with Loren & Howard” – Loren & Howard’s #indyfringe stories went places I didn’t expect. (Peyote & handcuffs.)
“Swan Balloon” – “Swan Balloon” is a polished reading of a touching, uplifting #indyfringe work-in-progress.
(video interview with the author/performer, Dan Bernitt, is here)
“The Four Food Groups” – “Four Food Groups” is an innovative & refreshingly mature exploration of a favorite #indyfringe topic: sex & relationships.
(Below is the full review of this piece that I wrote as part of a longer Indy Theatre Habit post that I started but didn’t have time to finish:
“The Four Food Groups,” written, directed and choreographed by Kim Popa and Lindsey Jones – ComedySportz
The Act – The usual tables and chairs at the ComedySportz venue are pushed back to make room in the middle of the floor for a wooden dining room table and four chairs. The regular CS stage becomes a place off to the side for a lighting technician to sit, surrounded by boxes, spare props, and what-not. As audience members enter the venue, they sit on all sides of the newly-created “stage.” There may be a plate of rolls, or a plate of green beans, or a plate of fried chicken, or a plate of mashed potatoes near your seat. Gradually you realize that the four people that are casually milling around the room – dressed in street clothes but in the colors of these four food groups – are the four performers in the show. An accordion plays a refrain over and over and over and OVER again as performers and audience ease into the “meat” of the show, which is an exploration of human patterns of sex and relationships through movement, rhythm, words, and more. The theme of “four food groups” is tied to various categories related to human interaction.
The Art – “A Fringe show about sex and relationships” is a cliché but this unique show is a creative treat. The dancers – two men and two women – are very talented but real-looking people. They are young, but the show’s treatment of this topic is refreshingly mature – i.e., realistically messy (both physically and emotionally), and laugh-out-loud frank and compassionate.
The Appeal – The appeal for this show is its originality and creativity, hands down.
The Audience – The audience when I saw “The Four Food Groups” held a broad mix of adult ages, from people in their late teens and twenties to people my age (49) and older. Some people laughed out loud nervously, I think because the physical disrobing and other sexual content surprised them, while others laughed or at least smiled in comfortable recognition. This show is definitely not for children and it is not for people who are offended by the sight of same-sex kissing or people stripping down to their underwear.
The Artists – The four performers are Johnny Kyle Cook, Matt Geller, Kate Kershaw, and Kim Popa. Jillian Hacker is the company manager. S.R. Woodward is the composer. www.ponesinc.com )
“Before Tomorrow” – “Before Tomorrow” is a visually beautiful & emotionally satisfying collage of dance, words, & 3D painting-in-progress. #indyfringe
“Ophelia’s Revenge” – “Ophelia’s Revenge” is a hilarious mash-up of Shakespeare classics & zombie lore. #indyfringe
(Below is the review that I wrote as part of a longer Indy Theatre Habit post that I started but didn’t have time to finish:
“Ophelia’s Revenge,” written by director Kevin Burgun with Maria Meschi – Marion Underground
The Act – This is a “what if” mash-up comedy – What if in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” Ophelia had only faked her suicide? What if when she clawed her way out of her grave to avenge her father’s murder and her boyfriend’s rejection she found her world populated by zombies? This piece not only riffs on “Hamlet” and classic zombie movies, it pulls in characters and scenes from other Shakespeare plays as well. It is a relatively fully staged, 5-act play performed by a cast of six.
The Art – Many of the lines in this play are laugh-out-loud funny. (I am laughing again, remembering “What happens in Verona stays in Verona!”) The comedic acting is quite good. Ben Asaykwee, for example, can convey a world of hilarious meaning in just a flick of an eyelid, but each of the cast members brings something special to the mix. Maria Meschi’s costume and makeup designs are either gorgeous or, in the case of the zombies, appropriately disgusting. There are several bits of creative pleasure in the set and the sound design as well.
The Appeal – “Ophelia’s Revenge” is a goofy-fun mix of the macabre and the literary that should appeal to both Shakespeare and zombie fans, but also to fans of theatre arts problem-solving. How do you thunk a shovel into a grave on stage when you have to be able to set up and take down your Fringe show in 15 minutes, for example?
The Audience – I don’t think this show would offend anyone in terms of language but the zombies and violence that are obviously and enjoyably fake to teens and adults might be upsetting or confusing to children.
The Artists – I was impressed to read in my program (yay, programs!) that the fight choreography for this show is by local expert Eric Bryant. Brandi Gilbert is the stage manager. Music is by Nobody Here. The cast includes Maria Meschi as Ophelia; Ben Asaykwee as Horatio; Carrie Morgan as Juliet; Molly Kraus as Lady Macbeth; Dave Eckard as Yorick, Polonius, and others; and Ryan Powell as Laertes, Romeo, Hamlet, and others. I got a chance to chat briefly with Ryan on video, which you can watch here.)
“They Touch in Flood” – “They Touch in Flood” is an unabashedly sexual dancing-with-words #indyfringe show. Fun & erotic to watch.
“The Boy in the Basement” – “Boy in the Basement” lived up to the hype. Funny, funny show! #indyfringe
Note: This IndyFringe show was, I think, the only show to sell out every single performance. ,At first it was because they lucked out and got great coverage in the mainstream media, but very quickly it was because of how funny the show itself was. The actors told me that they are going to do “the extended version” at the White Rabbit venue some time this fall. Very exciting!
(9/18/10 update: I did get to see the extended version at the White Rabbit. I wrote about it here.)
“Lot o’ Shakespeare” – “Lot o Shakespeare” is a treat. Thrilling to hear many famous speeches & sonnets live for 1st time. #indyfringe
Also tweeted: I won a t-shirt in Iago Bingo & wept over Antony’s speech over Caesar’s body. Lot o Shakespeare. #indyfringe
“Madwomen’s Late Night Cabaret” – “Madwomen’s Café” is wacky herstory humor with 4 beautiful singing voices & feisty pianist. #indyfringe
(I first saw this show at Divafest. See full review of that performance here.)
“The Screw You Revue”
(tweeted before the show) I put “Screw You Review” in my “no” pile for #indyfringe…until I saw the duo working the crowds last weekend. Stunning!
(tweeted after the show) Against all odds, I loved “Screw You Review.” Offensive, yes(!) but also so well grounded, clever, & fresh that it’s hilarious. #indyfringe.
Note: The woman who gave the curtain talk for this show said that she is the producer of the Orlando Fringe Festival. She and IndyFringe’s producer, Pauline Moffat, are collaborating on several projects, I think, including maybe bringing this show and “Another Shade of Blue” back to the Indy Fringe Theatre this winter. I would love to see both of those shows again, so I hope they do!
“The Screw You Revue” is a two-hander that includes a) an exceptionally talented improv artist pretending to be a grouchy old racist/homophobic/etc. geezer and b) a stunningly beautiful and equally talented transgendered vocalist pretending to be his Lolita. Their show starts with an enthusiastic use of the “f” word in a hilarious sentence, ends with “You’ve been screwed!” and in between is basically a politically incorrect, outrageously offensive roast of whoever catches their attention in the audience, interspersed with lovely music and funny choreography.
But here’s the thing: I think these two also have very finely-tuned senses about what they can get away with in every situation and with every person. Also, on some level I think you realize that they are coming at all this bird-flipping and snark-flinging from a victorious and compassionate former victim position. Aggh, I don’t have the words to describe what I mean! But anyway, somehow, they are lovable rather than hate-able, even though their show is so outrageous.
And in any case, I was touched and impressed by the effort they had taken to learn about Indianapolis and ground their traveling show here. Not only had they created a song for Indianapolis, they were able to throw in reference after reference to Indy in their improv work.
“The Tale of Mephisto” – “Tale of Mephisto” like nothing I’d ever seen before. AMAZING (yes, the “a” word) dancer. Story went over my head, tho’. #indyfringe
“Archy and Mehitabel” – “Archy & Mehitabel” is funny-sweet poetry & philosophy from a 1916 writer via a great actor. Its relevance made me weep. #indyfringe
Today (Sunday, August 29, 2010) is the last day of the Indy Fringe. The last set of performances is at 10:30pm. If you haven’t “Fringed” yet this year, you still can. For more information about the shows and the schedule, please see the regular IndyFringe website at www.indyfringe.org or the very easy-to-use mobile version at www.m.indyfringe.org.
‘See you at the theatres year-round and at the 2011 Indy Fringe!