Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fringe 2005 - Change of Venue

Hey all,

Looks like the Fringe has decided to bring its own venue as well.

They're moving the blogs onsite, rather than channeling them through a separate host - in this case,

So yesterday was spent over there experimenting with the test blog setup.

I'm going to be playing over there again today. And the Fringe site with all its wonderful redesigned features will be going live at noon on July 1.

So check us out over there at at that time.

More later.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #8 - Rik Reppe

Monday, June 20, 2005 - 12noon

And what better way to follow being recorded just hanging out with Leah, than to be recorded just hanging out with Rik Reppe?

Based on a tip from those in the know back in 2003, I put Rik and his one man 9/11 storytelling odyssey Staggering Toward America on my first top ten list for my first year blogging (under the banner, If You Held A Gun To My Head...and I Could Only See Ten Fringe Shows, What Would They Be, and Why?) [and just like last year, the gun is returning to my temple - I'm just waiting for the Fringe site to go live to get started making the tough decisions...]

We exchanged emails, Rik and I, and when he got into town from L.A., we hung out at the Anodyne, one of my favorite coffeehouses, and I learned a little about how Rik manages to get these amazing stories out of people wherever he goes in his travels - the guy likes nothing better than to have a conversation. And not just small talk, real talk. It's so easy and relaxed, you don't even know you're doing it until you're in the middle of it all, and you realize, "Hey, I just met this guy."

Maybe he's right. Maybe the old cliche is true and it is easier to open up to a stranger, particularly one who you figure you're never going to see again, as most of his subjects do.

But I think Rik's not giving himself quite enough credit. Just like that other great story collector, Studs Turkel, it takes a particular kind of person to set another person at ease and get them to open up in conversation.

And boy, what Rik can do with the stories he hears.

His latest creation, Glorious Noise, may not be about 9/11, but it's every bit as powerful and compelling as Staggering Toward America.

We got all set up to record Rik's performance, did a sound check of the highs and lows in volume (which offered a couple of tantalizing hints of what was to come, and then Rik sat down on the stool, we got the countdown and...


He told the story only once, with a song at the end of it, and we all had to pick our metaphorical jaws up off the floor when he was done.

When it was over, there was a little more silence than we normally have taking us out of the moment.

Then Carol gave us the all clear over the god mic, and walked into the studio applauding Rik.

She never does that.

She tells everybody they're good - when they are - and when we need to do it again to pick something up. But that's the first time I've ever seen her take the time clap for someone in the middle of a hectic day of taping.

(Knowing Rik and his work, I wasn't surprised he might get that response. But it was fun to see him gain another fan right there on the spot)

By the way, this is not the Red State/Blue State thing that was announced at the lottery. Funny, but both Rik and David Mann, who were each planning their own one-man meditations on the divided state of the electorate, decided early on that the idea was too simple, and would already be long ago played-out by the time August 2005 rolled around. The state of the country, its leaders and the world would be addressed more obliquely, in a completely different fashion by them both.

Glorious Noise is about people's favorite songs - and how those songs are tied to either their greatest joy or their greatest pain. If the story we heard in studio is any indication, this is going to be an amazing bunch of stories.

After a couple of extra shots to give Carol some options in the editing booth, we switched over to conversation mode and that was just a breeze. Some guests you can just ask a question, and set 'em loose. Rik's one of those guests.

And, bless him, I can sometimes make him laugh. And it is a hearty, room-filling, joyous laugh. Does a person good to think they can elicit that kind of a response from another human being every now and again.

The moral of the story: see Glorious Noise. Those of you who saw Staggering Toward America know what I'm talking about. Those of you who didn't have the good fortune to see it, don't miss this one.

The man deserves to have as many sold-out houses as the Fringe can provide.

Oh, and the happy ending to the story is that Rik liked Minneapolis and the Fringe so much back in 2003, he moved here this year. So we'll hopefully get the pleasure of his company and his work on stage year round, or at least we won't have to wait another two years before he'll be telling us stories again.

He was my Mom's favorite performer back in 2003, and so Rik's definitely on the list of opening weekend events for Mom's four day Fringe binge at the start of the festival this year. It's either a late Mother's Day/birthday gift, or an early start on Christmas for the theater junkie who raised me.

The tricky part of editing the TV show sometimes is that we don't quite have enough material, or at least enough good material. With Rik, of course, we have the opposite problem. Where the heck do you cut into or out of that story in progress? or that song? or the converation afterward? I know Carol will pull it off in fine style, given the raw material she has to work with, but I'm glad I don't have to make that decision.

Rik Reppe
Glorious Noise
Loring Playhouse
1633 Hennepin Avenue
Fri 8/5, 8:30 pm
Mon 8/8, 7:00 pm
Thu 8/11, 10:00 pm
Sat 8/13, 7:00 pm
Sun 8/14, 2:30 pm

For more on Rik and his performances, visit

For my love letter to Staggering Toward America in 2003's Fringe, click here.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #7 - Leah Cooper

Monday, June 20, 2005 - 11:00am

I'll admit it. I love Leah Cooper, Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival. I'm proud and flattered to be able to call her my friend. She's really just cooler than any human being has a right to be.

She writes, she acts, she directs. But most importantly, she's one of the best (if not flat out just *the* best) thing to happen to the Fringe and the theater community in general in a very long time.

She loves artists, she understands artists, she welcomes artists - and artists at all levels of skill and experience. That might sound like it should be a given for arts administrators and leaders in the field but trust me, it's not. It should be. And seeing Leah in action reminds me that it is indeed possible. She keeps me striving to be better about community building and getting my own art out there besides. Nurturing and the opportunity to create are good things and should be available to all. That is the Fringe at its core and at its best, and Leah is its standard-bearer.

And it's a heck of a lot of fun just to dish with her about the Fringe. We are fellow addicts. We share an obsession. So it's fun and a relief to talk to someone about the Fringe and realize they're not gonna look at you funny because you're really round the bend about it.

Thanks to our little chat, I'm going to be on the lookout for "the trainwreck effect" to see how it manifests itself in this year's Fringe. No names were named, mind you, but I love the idea. Basically, the trainwreck effect is a show that benefits from seemingly negative buzz. It's the show that's so bad that it becomes entertaining in a completely different way than the creators intended. And people flock to it, because their friends and fellow audience members tell them, "Seriously, it's so bad, you kind of have to see it for yourself to fully understand."

They say the only worse thing than being talked about, is not being talked about.

Whatever gets them in the seats.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Taping - Day 2

Monday, June 20, 2005 - 9:30am

Well, we tried. Rather than have a double booking at the 2 o'clock hour today, some calls were made yesterday afternoon, with the possibility that maybe we'd have a 10am guest today instead.

Came in early, since I took the day off to deal with Fringe stuff one way or the other anyway. Turns out that, despite the phone tag and double-checking, it just wasn't going to work out to shift anyone.

So the new plan was to tape one guest's performance downstairs in the main studio, and then lock down most of the cameras for their interview segment, and while we're recording that second part, upstairs in the mini-studio, the other half of the crew records the performance for the second 2pm guest. Once the first interview is done, the second group comes down for their interview and we're back on track. At least, that's the plan...

So I spent a leisurely hour or so gathering my schedule info together for the Fringe Festival, trying to sort out in some preliminary way what I want to see and how it all stacks up. Because much as I want to see everything, it just isn't physically possible. Decisions will need to be made and the agonizing might as well start early.

SPNN was giving what I think were high schoolers a tour of the place, part of a day-long event, I think (during which I believe they also got a crack at the mini-studio upstairs). So I was in the studio, sitting at the interview table with my laptop cracked open, typing away with a bagel and juice nearby, when they came through. "And this," my producer/friend Carol said, "is a host." (Yes, I live here. They won't let me leave.)

Damn, high school kids look younger and younger every year. Can't somebody stop that?

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #6 - Emigrant Theater

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 3:30pm

For me, there's sort of an awkward phase when you don't really know someone personally but you greatly admire their work that makes them kind of hard to talk to. They can be the nicest, most accessible people in the world, but I get tongue-tied. It's different if I know them first and then realize how talented they are. They're a person first so the work, while impressive, isn't intimidating or overwhelming. Sometimes I'm lucky and people I admire sort of level the playing field and somehow help me get beyond the awkward phase and a friendship develops anyway. But there's a weird no man's land in between that's an odd place to wade through in the interim. I guess a person doesn't need to be a star in the eyes of the whole world before I'm starstruck.

Everyday conversations in this situation are tricky enough. When you're supposed to interview them, and the whole thing is recorded, well, all bets are off.

This was one of those interviews.

And the weird thing is, through the magic of editing, everything will probably seem perfectlyl normal. (But if I count the number of edits in that interview segment of the finished episode, I'm guessing the number is going to be higher than elsewhere).

Why all the qualifiers? Guess I'd just hate an awkward interview on my part to make you think this wasn't a great group. Because they are. As a playwright myself, I'm all for another theater devoted to new work and living playwrights opening its doors in this town. No matter how many opportunities there are out there for writers, it never hurts to have a few more. So I was happy to hear that Emigrant Theater was opening shop. Part of the name is about the journey. Part of it is about the destination. They want Minneapolis to be a place that writers come and make their artistic home. And they want to be a part of making that happen.

The intimidation factor comes from the playwright they're working with for the Fringe, Carson Kreitzer. Carson herself? Delightful. A lot of fun to talk to. But I didn't meet Carson first, I met her plays. And frankly, I was so bowled over by them that meeting her for the first time, after following her work for about five years, sort of got the whole thing turned around backwards for me, as I tried to describe above. I was serving on the Theater Arts panel for the Minnesota State Arts Board fellowships, read her script "Freak Show," and that did it. After that, whenever I heard of a play of hers being done locally, I made it a point to go and see it. Were the productions always good? No. Were the scripts without flaws? What script is, really? But I was taken with her style and the way she commands the language to do what she wants, regardless of the subject matter at hand. So I was a fan, which kind of got in the way of the whole interviewing thing a little. (On the flip side, I get a kick out of the fact that I work on a show that provides me with the opportunity to meet people whose work I admire, or get to know new artists whose work isn't yet widely known. It's a great payoff to all the work that goes into the TV show. And it's also the sort of community opportunity to meet with artists that the Fringe provides on a much larger scale for audiences in this town.)

First the performance, a scene from Dead Wait, featuring Catherine E. Johnson (from Emigrant's first production The Presence of Children), Wade Vaughan (from Emigrant co-founder and playwright Matt Di Cintio's play The Valets which Outward Spiral produced as part of the Fringe last year), and Ryan Lindbergh (whose work I get the distinct feeling I should have run into by now, given the list of things the producers rattled off for me that he's done lately - that's what I get for my finances knocking me out of the habit of regular theatergoing the last year or two, oh well). They portray three people, each with varying amounts of celebrity or near celebrity, who each died gruesome deaths - Jayne Mansfield (I not explaining her, look her up), and two waiters, one who was killed by the convict who ended up writing "In The Belly Of The Beast," the other who had the misfortune of visiting Nicole Brown Simpson on the night she was brutally murdered by... (well, they haven't convicted anyone of that yet but there was a trial you may have heard of)

This was another instance where I was asked if the word "ass" would be a problem (though they also had "tits" thrown in for good measure - this is, after all, a play with Jayne Mansfield in it). (However, the Scrimshaws paved the way earlier in the day. No worries)

Emigrant co-founder and director of the production Jason Brown was amused by the fact that for some reason the capturing of the actors on tape made them look younger. "If you're ever worried about your age, check out the tape of this episode."

After the performance taping, it was time for the interview and I was surrounded - Jason, who I'd at least met and talked to before at a performance of The Presence of Children, on one side; Matt Di Cintio, who I'd been emailing back and forth, and who wrote The Valets and The Presence of Children (another kind of unintentional playwright intimidation that you can read for yourself elsehwere), on the other side; and right next to me, Carson Kreitzer.

Considering I was surrounded by talented, intelligent, attractive people all squeezed around our little interview table to get us in the shot, and didn't dissolve completely into incoherence myself, things went pretty well. But it was a mighty odd way to end the day.

All that said, I'm very much looking forward to seeing another production by Emigrant and another production of one of Carson's plays, and if you haven't had the pleasure (or even if you have), the Fringe is offering up a real treat. So go enjoy. I will. (I just may not be up for conversation afterward).

Emigrant Theater
Dead Wait
Jungle Theater
Sun 8/7, 8:30 pm
Tue 8/9, 10:00 pm
Wed 8/10, 5:30 pm
Fri 8/12, 8:30 pm
Sun 8/14, 2:30 pm

For more on Emigrant, check out their website at

For my thoughts on their first production, Matt Di Cintio's play The Presence of Children, click here.

For my thoughts on Matt Di Cintio's The Valets in last year's Fringe, click here.

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

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #5 - whoops...we'll try that again tomorrow...

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 2pm

Well, there was a misunderstanding somewhere and the guest scheduled for 2pm Sunday actually thought they were supposed to come 2pm on Monday. Whoops. So, a double booking for tomorrow, but for today, a little breathing room.

During which we took care of the intros and outs for the episodes.

You'd think that walking and talking at the same time wouldn't be that much of a challenge.

Every time I stumble over one of these sequences, I'm reminded anew why I love and respect actors, and normally have the good sense to leave the working in front of an audience thing to them. They know what they're doing. They're trained, and come with good instincts to boot.

Me, it's a miracle if I can memorize and then recite something in a less than wooden fashion that I even wrote myself, and practiced.

Add to that walking in and out of camera range, in and out of my light, hitting a mark, sitting without missing the stool, and sounding enthused about something I'm actually very psyched about, rather than just staring into the camera, seeing my reflection in the lens and looking terrified.

Attempting a cartwheel I sometimes think would be less embarrassing.

Then you reverse the whole thing for the goodbye segment. Start sitting, then stand without losing the camera and becoming the incredible headless host, turn and walk away.

Talk, but not too fast. Try to get all the words out without bobbling them.

Last time, we ended up having to just run the audio part of the exit over the credits because of time constraints, so maybe I can avoid the walking out again at least.

I cracked my funeral director/wedding/job interview suit out of the closet for the occasion. Hopefully it's a step up from my beleaguered blue jacket (at this point the clothing equivalent of the Velveteen Rabbit)

Finally, the cavalcade of guest names...

Today on Cue to Cue...
The Scrimshaw Brothers
Allegra Lingo
The Early Stage
Aniccha Arts
Teatro del Pueblo
Emigrant Theater
Leah Cooper, Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival
Rik Reppe
David Mann and The Rogues
MedusaHead Productions
the Players of Notorious Temerity
Ballet of the Dolls

...and if you think you're surprised we managed to get that lineup, imagine how surprised I am.

3pm, on to the next guest...

Oh, if you're wondering what Cue to Cue: A Conversation about Theater in the Twin Cities has done in the past, click here to see our past cast of theatrical characters

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #4 - Aniccha Arts

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 1:30pm

Taking for its name, a word that means "lack of desire" in Sanskrit, and "permanence of change" in Pali - Aniccha Arts blends multimedia, live performance and audience interaction into a mix that aims to draw the audience into both the action and the thematic content of the production. This more active role, not just as observer, truly does influence the outcome of the piece and makes every performance different from the last in a way that multiplies that common effect found in live theater.

Last year's Fringe saw their production of "Fear of Freedom" - contemplating the individual's place in society and the ever-moving engine of progress. Here members of the audience were given the power to allow change, or to stop it; to participate in the event moving forward, or causing it to grind to a halt, and all that power implies.

This year, the world response to the tsunami disaster is on creator/director Pramila Vasudevan's mind. It seems easier, simpler, to respond to a disaster that is beyond human control, like the tsunami, than to offer help in a situation that is less clear - such as rebuilding a country or trying to help the people of a nation who are suffering under threat of a dictator or civil war. But is anything really free of politics? That is some of the territory this performance piece, entitled Fragile Lines, is exploring.

It's hard to explain the method in writing. It almost needs to be see, or better yet experienced first hand. I got drafted into an in studio performance that may or may not be used in the final cut of this particular segment of the TV show. We'll see.

Meantime, here's their scheduling information. Check them out. It's the kind of theater even the Twin Cities doesn't have in abundance throughout the rest of the year, but the Fringe makes it possible for these kind of voices to be heard, and be easy to find.

Aniccha Arts
Fragile Lines
Mixed Blood Theater
Sat 8/6, 5:30 pm
Sun 8/7, 4:00 pm
Mon 8/8, 7:00 pm
Sat 8/13, 1:00 pm
Sun 8/14, 7:00 pm

For more on Annicha Arts, check out their website at

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #3 - The Early Stage

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 12:30pm

In the interests of full disclosure, I have a soft spot for The Early Stage.

Gregg Peterson, one of the best directors I've had the pleasure of working with, so much so we teamed up a second time, launched The Early Stage as a way to get new work on stage that he was interested in having a hand in helping to develop and put in front of an audience for the first time.

For its inaugural production, Gregg chose my play Heaven and Home - and gave me my first production in Minneapolis as well. Amazing cast, great reviews, sold out houses. A great way to start any partnership. It's hard to for me to sit here and do the math and realize that was nine years ago now. Greg also helped hook me up with a company out in Los Angeles that produced the play again the next year for an extended run, again getting good notices and audiences, Critics Choice, three Dramalogue Awards, and a nomination for a GLAAD Award. When I got a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship the following year to help workshop another new play, I hired Gregg to be at the helm, and assembled much of the Heaven and Home cast again. We've had a rather good run, The Early Stage and I.

Naturally when I saw The Early Stage's name in contention at the Fringe lottery earlier this year, I was very happy to see they were back in business. And happier still when they made the first cut and didn't have to tough it out on the waiting list.

Gregg came to the studio with Aaron Gabriel, Jennifer Grimm, and Drew Pearson. Together, they're four of the six person ensemble that is creating and performing the new musical The Candy Ass Club (with the first of many inquiries over the next 48 hours about language concerns - "Is it a problem that we have the word 'ass' in our title?") (for my response, see the earlier entry on the Scrimshaw Brothers below...). Drew, also the arranger and accompaniast, brought his keyboard, on which Jennifer played and sang her song "Queer Condition" (despite the seriousness of the lament, they all assured me it was a comedy). The mood was lightened by some off camera toying with the various keyboard settings for sampling and funky rhythms, with a few suspicious moans thrown in for good measure (ah, the wonders of modern technology)

They apologized in the interview segment for getting a case of the giggles, but hey, that's a sure sign that things are going well, if everyone still likes each other at this point. Several of my past Fringe experiences could have used less unnecessary offstage drama and more laughter. If the audience has half as much fun as their having with this autobiographical paean to queer childhood, then once again, this time as an audience member, I'm in good hands with Gregg in charge.

Here's their schedule info...

The Early Stage
The Candy Ass Club
Intermedia Arts
Sat 8/6, 7:00 pm
Sun 8/7, 4:00 pm
Mon 8/8, 8:30 pm
Wed 8/10, 10:00 pm
Sat 8/13, 2:30 pm

Definitely going to this one with Mom on opening weekend, hopefully their opening night. Since she considers Heaven and Home her first grandchild, she has a soft spot for The Early Stage, too. Come join us.

For info and pictures on Early Stage outings of the past, you can click on the titles below and browse around

Heaven and Home
Leave (The Surface of the World)

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #2 - Allegra Lingo

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 11:30am

Even though Allegra wears many hats for the Fringe (and bless her for it), I wouldn't have happened upon her work as a spoken word artist and storyteller had it not been for my writer friend Eli Weintraub being in the same spoken word showcase with her. I came to support Eli and wound up a fan of several other spoken word folk as well, chief among them Allegra. In fact, most of my review of Agog (for that's what the showcase was called), was about her tales of trying to fit in as the "unconventional" partner of a bridesmaid at a wedding. Very sweet, clever and amusing material winningly presented.

Back again with a slot all to herself, regaling us with tales of her journeys through Ireland and all the other tangents which may spring from that recounting, in a show called Hubcap Frisbee.

The sampling of that show on display was tales of missing hubcaps leading to talk of an English teacher who hears voices and leads a crusade, and a lawsuit, on behalf of a bush where faeries (the legendary kind, not the gay pride weekend kind) were said to congregate. Said bush was in the path of a road-widening project, but Ireland, it seems, has different priorities...

After hearing this, and chatting with Allegra for the interview about the line between storytelling and spoken word, and where inspiration comes from, I could happily spend another hour of Fringe time listening to her spin tales of countries I have yet to visit. Helps bring the world a bit closer together, and brings out the traveler in me at the same time.

Allegra was actually my first show card. She had the new Fringe logo on it and everything. Like any good artist pimping her show, she had them with her and passed them out to everyone in the studio. The postcard parade has begun.

Allegra's schedule is interesting - she has shows four days in row early on, and then her final performance is on the final day of the festival. I urge you to help her with word of mouth and filling those early shows. Given her lineup of show dates, she has to get that momentum going quickly. So don't wait til the last performance. Slot her into your Fringe-going early.

Allegra Lingo
Hubcap Frisbee
Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts
Sat 8/6, 5:30 pm
Sun 8/7, 10:00 pm
Mon 8/8, 7:00 pm
Tue 8/9, 10:00 pm
Sun 8/14, 1:00 pm

For more on this show and Allegra's writing and performing in general, check out

For a little remembrance of Fringes past, check out my review of Agog by clicking here.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #1 - The Scrimshaw Brothers

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 10:30am

There is something both fun and a bit daunting about starting off a long day of shooting with a couple of guys as lively as the Scrimshaw Brothers (not that anyone's lively first thing on a Sunday morning, but...)

I was prepared to be amused, but I also knew I needed to be on my toes if I was going to get through the interview. Smart and funny multiplied by two is a hard act to keep up with. Plus, they were better dressed than I was (again, not that this is exactly hard to do, my wardrobe is rather limited, still...)

Script in hand and a few doodles later, we were ready to shoot the performance part of the segment. Sort of a "Love Letters/Hate Mail" opening bit where the brothers argue in hilariously escalating fashion through correspondence both strained and abusive about what the nature of the opening segment of their new Fringe show is going to be. Talk of rebirth leads to, among other things, talk of a wisecracking placenta puppet (at which point I come very close to laughing out loud off camera and screwing up the taping, but I restrain myself).

Later guests were concerned about the language in their own performances - "Is it OK to say 'ass'?" I could reassure them by saying, "Please, the Scrimshaws read a series of letters one of which began 'Dear Fuckface.' I think you're fine."

Look Ma, No Pants has been retired and replaced by the new comedy/variety outing The Scrimshaw Show, which Joshua and Joseph have been performing on a monthly basis over at the Bryant Lake Bowl through out the year since the last Fringe. (They have one more non-Fringe set of performances coming up, which includes the swan song of Marc Doty before he moves to Washington, D.C., so catch them next Friday and Saturday, July 8th and 9th at 10pm at the Bryant Lake Bowl) And then of course, see the Fringe edition, which, if the excerpt they performed in studio is any indication, should be a different but no less potent kind of funny than we've come to expect from these guys. No big production numbers, a more intimate sort of show, which I'm very much looking forward to seeing for myself.

And no Fringe is complete without at least several different Scrimshaw entries. In addition to the late night Scrimshaw show, Joseph made the lottery pick with his own show as well, which has morphed from a solo show to a three person show called Adventures In Mating, based on the "choose your own adventure" style of books. The audience makes a series of simple decisions - white wine over red, for instance - and that determines which version of the story the actors perform next. Getting a couple throw a successful first date is just as difficult with audience participation as it is when you're doing it all by yourself. But in this instance, you have others suffering the potential indignities for you. And who knows, depending on your chooses in the audience, you might just get them through it without any major mishaps. Good luck. After what I can only describe as Joseph's one-man ensemble piece last year Jack and Ben's 10th Annual Bar Crawl and Moveable Feast - that pulled off the trick of being both outrageously funny and heartbreaking at the same time, I'm up for whatever comes out of this guy's word processor next. Scrimshaws, alone or in pairs, are always enormously entertaining. Wouldn't be a Fringe without them.

The Scrimshaw Show is playing late nights at the Loring Playhouse and well worth staying up for:

The Scrimshaw Brothers
The Scrimshaw Show
Loring Playhouse
1633 Hennepin Avenue
Thu 8/4, 11:30 pm
Fri 8/5, 11:30 pm
Sat 8/6, 11:30 pm
Sun 8/7, 11:30 pm
Wed 8/10, 11:30 pm
Thu 8/11, 11:30 pm
Fri 8/12, 11:30 pm
Sat 8/13, 11:30 pm

Joseph's intrepid Adventures In Mating is over toward uptown at the Brave New Workshop:

Joseph Scrimshaw
Adventures in Mating
Brave New Workshop
Fri 8/5, 5:30 pm
Sun 8/7, 10:00 pm
Wed 8/10, 10:00 pm
Sat 8/13, 10:00 pm
Sun 8/14, 1:00 pm

For more on the Brothers Scrimshaw, check out

For remembrance of Fringe's past, click on the titles below

Look Ma, No Pants - 2003 Minnesota Fringe Festival
Look Ma, No Pants - The Last One (2004 Fringe)
Jack and Ben's 10th Annual Bar Crawl and Moveable Feast

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit
Well, that was embarrassing...

It seems my internet problems stem from the fact that I am apparently the electronic equivalent of an old woman living with 12 cats and stacks of old newspapers.

Unable to connect with or update my website, and then watching my email account go kaflooey as well, I called in the cavalry. The tech people, after poking about for a bit, informed me that what was gumming up the works was the fact that I had let my email account get so backed up with old messages that the system was basically saying, "Look, we're not letting anything else in or out until you clean up this mess."

Which I did. And what do you, smooth sailing from that day forward.

Just in time for the TV taping.

So I've been playing catch-up ever since.

But with the impending live-ness of the Fringe site with all this year's information upon us, I figured it was time I got back on the blogging again.

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

Monday, June 13, 2005

Fringe 2005 - Another TV Update

Speaking of difficulties...

No sooner do I post that list of potential guests than one of them has a key collaborator needing to drop out due to a family emergency. So they not only needed to reluctantly withdraw from TV taping, the fate of their Fringe show in general is a question mark.

Hope I didn't jinx anybody. Including myself.

I think I won't be posting any more about the taping until the interviews and performances are in the can. Just to be on the safe side.

But this time next week, one way or another, that'll pretty much be a done deal. Cross your fingers.

We also haven't yet heard about potential broadcast dates, if any, from TPT-17, so that's another thing to think good thoughts about. It'd be nice to spread the Fringe fervor to as many TV sets as possible.

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

Just a quick note of explanation. There have been some issues with my website and email account over the weekend and they're still not resolved.

So even though the front page of my site hasn't been updated, there's still new material, and it's still fully functional.

And if you sent me a message in the last 72 hours, I may have either received it and then watch it vanish mysteriously from my inbox, or I may not have received it at all. So don't feel slighted. I'm not sure that any of the replies or new messages I tried to send over the weekend got through either.

Hopefully this will all be resolved in the very near future and I'll be back on track. In the meantime, my other contact info is on the Contact Me page of the website if you need to reach me.

Ah, technology.

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

Friday, June 10, 2005

Fringe 2005 - TV Update

So far, this is what the roster of guests is looking like for the upcoming taping of new episodes of Cue to Cue spotlighting the Minnesota Fringe Festival (last year, we featured interview/performance segments with a couple of City Pages' Best of The Twin Cities winners - Knock! and Calibanco - no telling which of this year's guests might tickle the collective fancy of this year's theater-going audiences. They already have my attention):

Asian Media Access (of 2004's "The Story of Temple Street," bringing "Shanghai Extravaganza" to this year's Fringe)

Ballet of the Dolls (of 2003's Beauty and the Beast, now bringing us "Stripped")

Leah Cooper, Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival (of course)

The Early Stage (who launched with my first Minneapolis production, Heaven and Home, and now brings us "The Candy Ass Club")

Emigrant Theater (who just had their inaugural production, The Presence of Children a great new play from the author of the 2004 Fringe's The Valets, and is now bringing Carson Krietzer's "Dead Wait" to the Fringe)

Allegra Lingo (of 2004's Agog, among her many other Fringe duties and performances, with this year's "Hubcap Frisbee")

David Mann and the Rogues (of more past Fringe successes that we can go into here - Sex With David Mann and The Worst Show In The Fringe being just a couple - this year he expands on the Shakespearean version of The Godfather that he composed for the Fringe's Five Fifths of the Godfather fundraiser)

Mary Jo Pehl (of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame, here teaming up with Starting Gate Productions to present her new script "Man Saved By Condiments" - based on a true story)

Penchant Productions (inspired by seeing a Fringe show last year, a poet and a prose writer team up to bring us "Dinner with Medusa")

Rik Reppe (of 2003's Staggering Toward America, with this year's "Glorious Noise")

The Scrimshaw Brothers (of more past Fringe successes than we can go into here - but I just linked to a few anyway - back with their new "Scrimshaw Show," plus Joseph's latest creation "Adventures in Mating")

Walking Shadow Productions (of 2004's Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, now presenting "Ten Speed Revolution")

And waiting in the wings, like the runners up in the Miss America contest, ready to take over the duties of guest if scheduling falls through for one of the others...

Annicha Arts (of 2004's "Fear of Freedom," now tackling the tsunami disaster and world response in this year's "Fragile Lines")

Mime performer Dean Hatton (of 2003's "What Plotline Where?" and other Fringes past, bringing us this year's "Skits-ophrenia!!!")

No Refunds Theater with Kung Fu Hamlet (from the purveyors of 2003's zombies and 2004's sitcoms, we now have 2005's "Kung Fu Hamlet")

The Players of Notorious Temerity (who delivered a ripped-from-the-headlines satire based on Shakespeare's Macbeth, entitled "McBush", and now join the Fringe with "Desolation In America")

More details as I have them.

Sorry to have been incommunicado. A combination of juggling the two day jobs, working on the above scheduling issues, and trying to get the first act of a new play of my own completed to take into a writing group meeting earlier this week. More soon.

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

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Fringe 2005 - Bring Your Own Venue

Live Action Set hits The Soap Factory

One of the things that bummed me out about the Fringe lottery this year was seeing groups that I really liked, whose work I wanted to see, end up far down on the waiting list with little or no chance of getting a slot on the regular slot. All's fair, of course, everyone had an equal shot, but still, sigh.

One of the great things is about the Fringe, however, is that it only seems to have the boundaries that all the performing artists in the Twin Cities allow it to have. Didn't end up with a slot on the schedule in one of the standard spaces? Find a space of your own, apply with the Fringe to be a "Bring Your Own Venue" act, and join the party. The Fringe grows and the Fringe audience still gets a chance to see you in action.

One such group I'm very happy to see getting their own venue to share their own unique style with another year of Fringe audiences is Live Action Set.

In 2003 they didn't have their handy new name yet, but the main players were all in place - Noah Bremer, Megan Odell, Galen Treuer, and Vaness Voskuil - and presented one of my favorites of the Festival that year (5 stars) - Exposure ("It was stunning to see, or I guess be reminded again, of just what the human body is capable of doing").

In 2004, I wasn't aware of the Live Action Set name and nearly missed them - but I luckily caught the final performance of Before Dark ("Fourth wall, why have you forsaken me?").

Now I'm on the lookout, and noticed in making my way around the internet the other day that they're at it again for Fringe 2005, strutting their stuff over at The Soap Factory.

If you haven't seen the Live Action Set in...well, action...I highly recommend them. They have a whimsical way of combining dance, clowning and other forms of physical and musical storytelling that's quite delightful to watch. It doesn't always make literal sense, in an everyday fashion, but it always has its own sort of emotional sense with which one can connect. The variety of bodies in motion in their ensemble, doing things both amusing and often amazing, is another of their unique strengths.

Here's what they're up to for this year's Fringe (August 4th-14th)

"Please Don't Blow up Mr. Boban" - A site-specific collaboration with British clowning director, Jon Ferguson, to premiere at The Soap Factory (2nd Street SE in Minneapolis). Created with support from the MN State Arts Board.

To get more information on Live Action Set and get on their mailing list, there are a couple of places you can go.

They have a page at which has current listings on upcoming shows - here's a link - Live Action Set at Minnesota Artists Online - or you can search them up in the Dance companies section of that site.

And they have their own website, still currently under construction but amusing and functional. One of the most fun bits is a constantly cycling series of words and phrases that have to do with their work that go flying by on the lower half of the home page. when you hold your pointer over the words, they freeze on a particular word or phrase you catch at that moment, and it's almost always completely different. Kind of a fun way to noodle around online. Go play for yourself at

Between now and the Fringe, Live Action Set has another project planned (and I just missed yet another in Red Eye's Works In Progress series). Still upcoming...

July 17th - Bastille Day cellebration at Cafe Barbette (in Uptown, 1600 West Lake Street in Minneapolis)

Live Action Set will present a show in the style of Bouffon, a French form of grotesque clowning. Society's misshapen castoffs seek out the jolly-making crowd, and the chaotic romp culminates in a ludicrous re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille. Viva la (twisted) France!

To see my past reviews of Live Action Set in their entirety, click on the links below:

For Exposure

For Before Dark

And see them in this year's Fringe. They're great.

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

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Celebrity Traffic Jam

Every now and again, working a second job at the Guthrie box office isn't so bad.

Don't get me wrong. My co-workers are fun. I need the extra money. And it's nice to get a little free theater out of it.

But always having one job or another or both every day of the week can wear you down sometimes.

However, the other night was kind of fun.

I just got trained to work at the window, processing tickets and dealing with people face to face and not just on the phone.

And Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance, who are the leads in the next Guthrie mainstage production, His Girl Friday, came to see the current mainstage show, She Loves Me.

I didn't wait on them. Courtney Vance came to another window, and Angela Bassett came in by the stage door so there was less chance of a fuss. But they both came out into the lobby at intermission and they were clearly enjoying the show. It's funny, but I always expect people to be taller for some reason. For me, the camera doesn't add ten pounds, it adds three feet. They're both such imposing presences on screen, I guess I pictured giants in my head or something. Weird. He's a handsome man, and she, well, I'm still gay and everything but she is just stunning. They were both just out to see a show, no big deal. But she just glows. She's lovely. And it's even more apparent when she smiles. They're just a sweet couple. Makes me look forward to His Girl Friday all the more.

The person I did get to wait on was John Guare.

I just turn around and there he is saying, "Ticket for John Guare?"

It's nice that we have to turn our back to the window to pick the tickets out of the rack because it gives one a chance to have whatever momentary freak out one needs to get out of their system before turning back to face the customer.

This man's writing has seriously influenced the way I write, the way I think about theater and what it's capable of. "Landscape of the Body" and "Six Degrees of Separation" are two of my top ten plays of all time (right next to a couple from Chekhov, Shakespeare and Tony Kushner). This man has written incredibly funny and powerful work and managed to make a life for himself in the theater. It's all very inspiring.

But what do you say, really? You've got about ten seconds and then it's on to the next customer in line.

"Here's your ticket. Enjoy the show."

I hope he did.

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

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fringe 2005 - True Tales of Tech Terror

...or at the very least, Tech Embarrassment.

The tech people on the Fringe are great. But they can't read your mind. So if you're doing a Fringe show, you need to let them know what you need.

Rule #1 - Turn in the paperwork

If you want anything special, the time to let them know is now. Hopefully you turned in all the paperwork early. They may not be able to accomodate special requests, but there's a greater chance of it working out if you let them know now. The last minute is beyond too late. If it's that important to you, you should know now and plan accordingly. And have a contingency plan or two (or three) in place, in case you can't get what you think you need.

Rule #2 - Show Up for your Tech Time

Sounds simple, huh? I kid you not, when I arrived for one of the techs I was a part of at last year's Fringe, there wasn't anything going on. I figured the group ahead of us must have gotten done early. No. The tech person said they never showed up. They were still in the Fringe. They just hadn't bothered to show up. The tech person basically waited around for three hours until the next group was due. Not only is that disrespectful, it's stupid. There's really no excuse. You know well it advance about tech times and places. Adjust your schedule. Otherwise your tech is also your opening performance. You deserve what you get in that case.

Rule #3 - Be Prepared

Now ordinarily that'd be Rule #2, but if you don't show up, being prepared doesn't do you much good, now does it? Your show is brief and relatively low-tech, being a Fringe show. But don't expect to be able to wing it. There isn't enough time. No matter how much time you think you have, if you blink, you miss it. Know where the cues are going to be. Know the space (that means go on the Fringe-authorized tours of the spaces - DO NOT try to sneak into the spaces or contact the owners on your own, that's the kind of thing that makes people not want to be part of the Fringe. Go through approved channels. You may think you're the one exception. Trust me, you're not.) If you're ready to go, the unexpected things that come up won't be cause for alarm. If you're not ready, even the basics may not get covered. Be prepared, so you can be calm and everyone can get through tech time with as little offstage drama as possible. So, you know, *read the handbook* - it answers more questions than you even have.

Rule #4 - Learn The Names of your Tech People

It's common courtesy. Fringe tech people do theater for the same reason most of us do theater, because we love it and we believe in it. Could we all be making more money doing something else? Sure. So why are we doing the Fringe? Because we want to. Because we get something out of it. One of the things we get is community. If you forget someone's name, do what I (frequently) do, apologize and say something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, my brain is a sieve today, I'm not retaining anything, please give me your name again." Do not, as some people have done, continue to refer to them as "Hey you" or, my personal favorite "Hey, light girl." Honestly, people. These are the people who hold the fate of your show in your hands. They're running it. You're not. They are your new best friend. Learn their names.

(Just for amusement - Rule #5 - It's Spike, not Spic)

I'm not kidding, this actually happened. I admire people for trying to pick up the lingo but... When you put little pieces of tape down on the stage floor so you know where to set the furniture and such, that's called spiking. When you say "spic" instead, people wonder whether you're being some peculiar sort of bigot and want people to place illegal aliens at strategic points on the stage floor for the actors to walk around.

But seriously, folks, Rules 1 through 4, they'll make your lives so much easier. Happy Fringe-ing.

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