Thursday, August 05, 2004

Support Your Local Theatre Hosts

It takes a special kind of theatre to host the Fringe.

Opening your doors to 11 other theatre groups, most of which you've never heard of before, a few of whom didn't even exist before it was time to fill out the Fringe application...well, that takes a lot of trust. Trust that theatre in all its big messy glory is worth it - the bad with the good, the stinkers with the stellar.

Heck, they all deserve a big pat on the back. Among them...

- Bryant Lake Bowl
(which does this crazy kind of open-door, Fringe-style cabaret year round)

- Pillsbury House Theatre
(which is always doing exciting new plays - fresh from New York, or even better, fresh out of a local playwright's laptop - there's a reason the City Pages lauded it as Best Theatre for New Work - and their ongoing community outreach, such as The Chicago Avenue Project)

- Red Eye
(which has been experimenting wildly for many glorious years and opening their doors with a new works series of their own)

- Brave New Workshop Theatre
(breeding ground and home to a wide cross-section of the city's burgeoning improv community, and the delightfully unpredictable Improv A Go-Go)

- Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts
(home to art by and for people with disabilities)

- Minneapolis Theatre Garage
(home to many theatre companies who have no home of their own)

- Illusion Theatre
(which expanded its annual Fresh Ink series of new work in development into Fringe season, the extension becoming Fresh Fringe)

Acadia Cafe, Jungle Theatre, In The Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre, Intermedia Arts, the list (thank goodness) goes on and on...

Three companies leapt to my mind in particular when I was ruminating on the subject and I'd like to give them an extra plug...

CalibanCo Theatre

New this year as a Fringe venue, this group actually came into being because of the Fringe. Their popular production of "2 Noble Kinsmen" a couple of years back had people calling them up saying,
"Hey, when's your next production? We want to be sure to come see it."
"Uh, well, we aren't actually a theater company, but...hey, let's start a theater company and do more of this stuff we like so much. We know there's an audience, so let's serve them!"

And start they did. They're doing quite well for themselves, and thought it only fitting that they open up their new home to the Festival that helped put them on the map - and maybe help jumpstart yet another new theatre company in the process.

In addition to hosting this year, they also have a production of their own in the mix, a new take on an old legend, Feeling Faust. Befitting the risk-taking that the Fringe allows, it's a brand new script, not their usual translation or adaptation of existing classic texts.

"When world famous surgeon Dr. Faust develops cancer, he makes a deal with the devil. In exchange for immortality and eternal youth he must personally experience all the evil he's inflicted on everyone in his life." Don't you hate it when the bad guy wins? If you're of the opinion that too many bad guys have been winning lately, then this show might just be your cathartic cup of tea.

The Loring Playhouse has not one but three year-round tennants sharing the space and the overhead. And two of them have shows in this year's Fringe offerings which I've spoken of before.

Outward Spiral Theatre Company,

telling stories of the GLBT community, has a new script to share in The Valets, which I wrote up in my While You're At It... category.

Theatre Latte Da,

always experimenting with new ways of bringing music and storytelling together, and now doing even more development of new work through their Theatre Latte Dark monthly series, brings to the Fringe an expansion of Jim Lichtscheidl's previous forays into his hybrid of performance called "storieography," entitled Knock! - which is one of my personal Top Ten must sees this year.

Reward these theaters for supporting new work and new artists.

Go to their Fringe shows.

Even better, sign up for their mailing lists, visit their websites, seek out their names in the newspaper calendar of events and support them year round.

What better way is there to pass the time til Fringe comes round again, than to spend it in the company of theaters who aren't afraid to go out on a limb?

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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