Holy smokes! Have you heard? Phil Van Hest, aka Phil the Void, aka the hilarious, long-time Indy Fringe performer who has been comfortably based in Los Angeles the whole time I have known him, aka the beloved purveyor of gnome saying bumper stickers and BattleCat trading cards, is definitely MOVING TO INDIANAPOLIS this spring!
Last Thursday night I drove to the White Rabbit Cabaret in the Fountain Square neighborhood on the near south side of Indianapolis to see the full-length version of the hugely popular 2010 Indy Fringe comedy, “The Boy in the Basement.” It was written by Katharine Heller and first produced at the 2008 New York Fringe Festival. Here in Indianapolis, it was directed by Callie Burk and produced by the Wisdom Tooth Theatre Project. Wisdom Tooth’s artistic producing director is Ronn Johnstone.
Because of its popularity at the IndyFringe last month (every single performance was sold out), “The Boy in the Basement” has received an extended run of three Thursday night performances at the White Rabbit in September. (There are two performances left.)
(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.
I haven’t had much writing time during the past two days, but I was able to make two more little videos with performers from the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival.
In the above video, playwright-performer Dan Bernitt talks about his solo staged reading of “Swan Balloon,” a fairy tale for adults.
Yesterday I made two little videos while hanging out between shows at the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival. In the video above, “The Last Straight Man in Theatre,” Kurt Fitzpatrick, talks with me about his multi-media solo show (which I hope to see next weekend) and shares advice about how to succeed as a performer on the Fringe circuit. He is from New York and has taken this particular Fringe show on the road throughout the Midwestern United States and Canada.
(While Kurt and I are talking, his stage manager is recording both of us for their own video files.)
The other little impromptu video, which is at the bottom of this post, is of cast members and friends of “Grind: the Musical” sharing songs from that show for the people walking by on Massachusetts Avenue. I’m sorry I didn’t stand close enough for my iPhone to pick up the sound better, but I think you can still tell that there are some lovely singing voices in the “Grind” company.
Also at the bottom of this post is a review of “Bill and Erin: One Night Standards.” But first I’d like to indulge myself with a sort of Fringe-goer’s reflective journal entry:
I stood to applaud after each of the three shows that I saw on my third day of the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival, and not just because all three came with paper programs.
Paper programs are understandably rare for Fringe shows since their cost keeps performers from reaching the goal of breaking even financially, let alone making a profit. It can be argued that spare cash is better spent on designing and printing postcards that include a web address directing interested people to more info about the show’s background, cast, and design team. The postcards double as programs and as something for “off-duty” performers to hand out as they’re schmoozing the people waiting in line for other shows.
However, for local (usually professional) theatre companies that exist, or hope to exist, beyond the Fringe circuit, a separate paper program, printed in judicious quantities so as not to waste paper, can offer a good return on investment in terms of audience development.
Paper programs are also a good way for a show’s producer/parent to publicly say “thank you” to the village of individuals that have helped raise the show, especially since there is little or no time for a curtain talk at a Fringe show.
Paper programs are also an opportunity for an additional revenue stream if someone associated with the show has the time and skill to go after paid advertising and get it into the paper program before the show opens.
I know, I know: paper programs use up limited natural resources. I’m working on decreasing my carbon footprint by doing things like bringing my own cloth bags to the grocery store, but I think I will always enjoy bringing paper programs home from the theatre.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the three IndyFringe shows I saw last night:
On my second day of shows at the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival, I found myself standing in line next to a zombie. I asked if I could make a little video with him for my blog while we were waiting. He “grrr!”ed affirmatively, so I pulled out my iPhone and began.
Unfortunately, I must not have tapped the correct icon, because when I got home, I had no zombie video. “Epic fail!” as the gamers say. Grr!
So…Zombie Ryan, if I see you around the Fringe again, I’d like to try again, if you’re willing. In any case, I will look forward to seeing you in “Ophelia’s Revenge” at the Marian Underground venue later this week.
In the meantime, for my beloved blog readers I have two little videos of some of this year’s IndyFringe most hypnotic street performers. The video at the top of this post is of Carenza bint Asya and her friends. The video at the bottom of this post is of some hula hoopers about whom I know nothing, unfortunately, except that they were able to do amazing things with not only hoops but huge fire batons and more.
(8-29-10 update: The woman with the hula hoop in the video below left me a comment. Her name is Lynn Spencer-Nelson and she is part of Indy Hoopers, a “Hoop Instruction Company.” She teaches weekly classes and workshops. Her company also offers instructional parties for ages 8 and up and parties just for fun for all ages. They also bring nationally known instructors to the Indianapolis area.
The man in the video will always be Sexy Fire Guy to me, but he is officially part of a company called Phoenix Fire Productions.
During the second weekend of the fringe, more performers from both groups were back on Mass. Ave., this time with a comedic announcer and many more kinds of hoops and fiery juggling items. It was even more of a treat to watch their work a second time!)
I also saw four more shows in theatres at IndyFringe. Here are my thoughts on them:
I had a wonderful, wonderful first day of shows at the 2010 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival yesterday. I met some lovely new people (including Australian comedian Lou Sanz – see the little informal video we made after her first show, above) and reconnected with some dear friends.
And…I saw four satisfying shows!
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.
So…I’m thinking that I will approach blogging about this year’s IndyFringe as a readers’ advisory librarian.
Last Friday night I stayed late at the Indy Fringe building in downtown Indianapolis to see another of the five winning plays in the first annual, juried “DivaFest” – a celebration of local women playwrights, sponsored by the Indy Fringe Festival.
This one was called “Madwomen’s Late Nite Cabaret.” It was written and directed by Julie Lyn Barber. She also starred in it along with Amanda Hummer, Erica Dumond, Ben Asaykwee and Darrin Murrell.