Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fringe Archive - 2006 - Five Fifths of Casablanca

Here's looking at you, kid - as well as five very different theater companies splitting up a classic and reinterpreting it for a very good cause - the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fringe Archive - 2006 - Fringe TV and Fringe Mailbox

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, I got myself a PO Box, and the TV show I host, asked for video samples so we could try and include some of the out-of-towners in our pre-Fringe coverage. Said samples were sent to said mailbox, and on we go...

Fringe TV - Cue to Cue - homework time, who will the guests potentially be...?

CUE TO CUE - a TV show covering theatre in the Twin Cities - As we prepare to tape our fourth annual Minnesota Fringe Festival spotlight episodes, here’s a little overview of where Cue to Cue has been in the past three years...

A Call For Video Samples for Fringe TV

Fringe Mailbox

Mail Call - Week 1 - Missives from old friends The Candidatos, and new Fringers Guess Who's Coming, Dario and Bario.."

Mail Call - Week 2 - Christopher Leuck's I Want To Be Musashi-A Clown Samurai Fantasy, Wilson Loria's To The Winners, Jeff Baenen's Bud and Wally...

Mail Call - Week 3 - Three Crazy Sons' one man show Dancing with Jimmy, and the improv comedy of Fresh Meat NYC and 88 Improv...

Fringe TV Time, Year 4

Mail Call - Week 4 - The last of the video mailers, this one from Abby Browde and Erin Search-Wells...

Mail Call - Week 6 - Video missives from Majestic Theaterworks, Courtney McLean, Synapse Arts Collective, Timothy Mooney Repertory Theater, Hiram Pines, Three Stickes Theater Company and Jimmy Hogg...

Video Updates - Video sample overviews from Guess Who's Coming To, Dario and Bario, Christopher Lueck, Wilson Loria, 3 Crazy Sons, Fresh Meat, Majestic Theaterworks, Courtney McLean, Synapse Arts Collective, Timothy Mooney, 3 Sticks Theatre, and Jimmy Hogg...

CUE TO CUE - a TV show covering theater in the Twin Cities

Cue to Cue - 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival Broadcast Schedule

Cue to Cue - 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival Broadcast Schedule

Mail Call - Week 7ish

Cue to Cue and the Out of Towners - A Noble Experiment

Cue to Cue - 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival Broadcast Schedule

Fringe Archive - 2006 - My Pre-Fringe Top 10

If You Held A Gun To My Head...

...or, if I could only see ten Fringe shows, what would they be and why?

First, Clearing The Decks

Then here's the full run-down, with write-ups on

#1 - Perpetual Motion Theater Company - The Depth of the Ocean

#2 - Dan Bernitt - Thanks for the Scabies, Jerkface

#3 - Jeffrey Barnes - Remember Who Made You

#4 - Noontime Theatre & Otsie Kerplotsie - I Want to be Musashi: A Clown Samurai Fantasy

#5 - Universal Dance Destiny - African Roads American Streets

#6 - The Donovan Ensemble - Don't Drop the Soap or Lutherans Gone Wild!

#7 - Shantz Theater - A Year in the Life of 25 Strangers Living in a City by the Lake

#8 - Four Humours Theatre - Deviled Eggs

#9 - Leaky Pen Inc. - Mittens for Fat Kids

#10 - Fresh Meat NYC - Fresh Meat

And here's a quick-and-dirty write-up for the time-challenged

And here's the low-down on returning favorites from pre-Fringe Top 10/Top 20 lists past...

Returning Top 10/20ers 2005 - the final version, with Tom Cassidy, Tenth Muse, Unbound, Live Action Set, Scrimshaw, Walking Shadow, Allegra, Three Sticks, and the Players of Notorious Temerity - plus an earlier version when the list was still fresh and the schedule not finalized

Returning Top 10ers 2004 - Chameleon Theater Circle, and Tim Uren - and an earlier post about that cadre of artists coming back

Returning Top 10ers 2003 - Kevin Kling, the Ministry of Cultural Warfare, and Kurt Hunter Marionettes - plus an earlier post on these folks

Fringe Archive - 2006 - The First Fringe-For-All - and Other Previews

A bunch of previews of acts in the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, including the wildly popular new idea, Fringe-For-All...

Some Fringe-For-All Teasers - Background on Fringe-For-All acts Trans State, MATHeatre, Gunyou, Commedia Bouregard, Universal Dance Destiny, Scrimshaw, Unbound, Topsy Turvy, Electric Telescope, Mechanical Division, Muse of Fire, Council of Doom, Holm, Fools, and Four Humours...

Fringe-For-All Post-Mortems

No Balls

There... Isn't... Time... - Fringe Out of Towner Showcase, part 1

And It's Opening Day Already - Fringe Out of Towner Showcase, part 2

Fringe Archive - 2006 - My Pre-Fringe Top 20

If You Remove That Gun From My Head...

...or, if you let me see ten more Fringe shows, what would they be and why?

Here's the 2006 edition of my pre-Fringe Top 20, slots 11-20, with coverage of...

#11 - Topsy Turvy Theater - Alex the Boy Scout (and other stories)

#12 - Suspiro/Inept Productions - Sin Cities 7

#13 - Bruce Ario - The Longest Road

#14 (part 1) - New Theater Group - How To Cheat
#14 (part 2) - Emily Gunyou - She So Beloved

#15 - Mechanical Division - Cannibal! The Musical

#16 - M & M Productions - Tall Tale of a Broke Heart

#17 - Jenny Pennaz Dance Works - One An(d)other

#18 - Upright Egg - The Afterlife Project

#19 - Trans State

#20 - 88 Improv - 88 Improv presents The Hitchhiker

Fringe Archive - 2006 - Community

Other posts about Fringers around the edges of the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival...

Plea for a BYOV

Anyone Got A Pool?

Fork It Over, You Cheap Bastards (Please?)

Slim Pickins

Thanks Leah Cooper and Matthew Foster (and to all of you)

Welcome, Robin!

Fringer Wins Title of Funniest Person In Twin Cities

Fringe Archive - 2006 - Fringe Lottery and Ping Pong Ball Awards

2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival blogging coverage by me of the various lotteries and my tongue-in-cheek Ping Pong Ball Awards related to said lotteries...

The Fickle Ping Pong Balls of Fate - Be patient, and be ready. And if all else fails, be resourceful...

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 1 - The Emphasis on the D, Classy Lady, Audience Participation, Oops I Did It Again, Thanks I'll Be Here All Week, Best. Proxy. Ever., Lions & Tigers & Bears Oh My, & Fly, Monkeys, Fly Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 2 - The Favorite Title (So Far), Favorite Description (So Far), This Should Be Interesting, Waiting To Exhale, & I Am Trying To Break Your Heart Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 3 - The Eat Me, & My Kind of Musical Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 4 - The (Unintentional) NAMBLA, Limp Noodle, Truth in Advertising, Nice Ass, & Moms Only (?) Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 5 - The Sentimental Favorite, Hot For Teacher, My Kind of Queers, & All Day All Night Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 6 - The Sigh of Relief, Not As Dirty As It Sounds, Internet Is For Porn, Vanishing Point, Pentecostal Wisconsin, & Bourbon and Butter Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 7 - The Fringe: The Next Generation, Mixed Kharma (parts 1 & 2), Double Feature, Because It Is Bitter & Because It Is My Heart Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 8 - The Ah Let Em In, Climb Every Mountain, One Is The Loneliest Number, PHEW & Red Badge of Courage Awards

The 2nd Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards, set 9 - The Can't Hardly Wait, Total Eclipse of the Fringe, Wish I'd Thought of That, Go Blogger Go, & Handsome Cowboy Awards

Movin' On Up - Coming in off the wait list and onto the regular schedule for the 2006 Fringe are...

The Disappeared - Fringe artists we won't get to see this year, as they're dropping off the waiting list...

The 'You Like Me, You Really Like Me' Award

Fringe-Guthrie Encore Lottery

Fringe Archive - 2006 - Life of a Blogger (and Mom)

A bunch of random entries scattered around the other coverage of the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival...

Happy Birthday, Mom! - Yes, today is one of the many days to celebrate the woman without whom both I, and this blog, would not be possible.

Four Fringe Venues In One Place

F*** off and get back to the Fringe, amateur - I think I have a new title for my blog...

On the blogging sidelines...

The emailing barrage begins

First Blush...

First Pass...


Blog Withdrawal

If You're Going To Be Part Of The Fringe...

Just How Many Shows Can One Person See in 11 Days

So, Tell Us About Yourself

My Two Fringes

First Show of the Fringe

Crunch Time

Star Charts

Mom's Thursday Short List, part 1

Mom's Thursday Short List, part 2

Thursday Night Posse Proposal

Invisible Ink


The Red Nose Is The Smallest Mask

Don't Be Shy

Stalked By A Fringe Show

Fringe Volunteers Are The Best - But You Knew That

When Audience Members Attack!

Subject to Change


The Use of the Word Idiot

Farewell, Mom

What I'm Seeing - Monday Edition

What I'm Seeing - Tuesday Edition

What I'm Seeing - Wednesday Edition

What I'm Seeing - Thursday Edition

Things I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

What I'm Seeing - Friday Edition

What I'm Seeing - Saturday Edition

What I'm Seeing - Sunday Edition

Caffeine, My New Best Friend

Fringe Etiquette for the Holocaust

One Last Time...

Up For Air

Full Immersion

The Revenge of Inanimate Objects

Fringe Archive - 2006 - Festival Snapshots

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, I experimented with getting quick, down-and-dirty mini-reviews up on everything I'd seen the day before. Unfortunately, it also gave me unconscious permission in some cases to not get around to writing all the full reviews I meant to. Still, it was an interesting tool, and everybody did get *something* written about them, however brief, so I've gathered them all here...

Opening Night Snapshot - A Day of Love and War with Mom

Friday Night Snapshot - An Evening of World Premieres

Saturday Night Snapshot - A Lot of Laughs plus some Androgynous/Homoerotic Dance

Sunday Snapshot - Puppets, Preachers, Pools & Science, Oh My!

Monday Snapshot - Clown Samurai, Brain Injury, & Torture

Tuesday Snapshot - Fallen Paradises, Puzzles, Cat Whisperers & Really Tall Men

Wednesday Snapshot - Flatulence in a Scent Free Venue, Firsts, WonderDave, Singing Cannibals and a Sliver of the Universe

Thursday Snapshot - Great Dance, Help Wanted, Black & White Christmas, and The First Show I Can't Recommend

Friday Snapshot - Rats, Bats, Cats, Laser Buddhas, Dance Party & the Full Gunyou

Saturday Snapshot - Baggage, Bridges, Borderlines, Bent, the Afterlife, and the Wonders of the World

Sunday Snapshot - The Lips of a Clown, Pulling Teeth, Crowded House & One Last Dip in the Ocean

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 5 Stars - Life-Altering Experience

From the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

5 Stars - Life-Altering Experience

Very Highly Recommended

A Heap of Broken Images - Allegra Lingo

Baggage - Players of Notorious Temerity (saw it twice)

Bent - Tenth Muse (mini-review at the top of the page - best thing I saw that day) - and I have to include here, too, one of the more bizarre audience moments of my Fringing - that year, or ever - Fringe Etiquette for the Holocaust

Deviled Eggs - Four Humors

Great Hymn of Thanksgiving/Conversation Storm - The Nonsense Company

How To Cheat - New Theatre Group

Tales to Tickle a Striped Ass Baboon - Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble (mini-review at the top of the page - best thing I saw that day)

Thanks for the Scabies, Jerkface! - Dan Bernitt

The Depth of the Ocean - Perpetual Motion Theatre Company (saw it twice)

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 4-1/2 Stars - Damn Near Perfect

From the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

4-1/2 Stars - Damn Near Perfect

Very Highly Recommended

A Year in the Life of 25 Strangers Living in a City by the Lake - Shantz Theater

Cannibal The Musical - The Mechanical Division (scroll down for the mini-review, and assurances that I will be the last one eaten)

Christmas in Bakersfield - Traveling Kurkendaal Productions (scroll down for the mini-review)

Die Clowns Die - Joseph Scrimshaw (scroll down for the mini-review)

The Star Chamber - Screaming at the Sky Theater Company

Two Queers and a Chubby - What Happened? Productions (mini-review at the top - best thing I saw that day)

Ukraine Morrocco Monte Carlo - Majestic Theaterworks (scroll down for the mini-review)

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 4 Stars - Excellent

From the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows that I rated...

4 Stars - Excellent

Highly Recommended

1926 Pleasant - Walking Shadow

Curriculum Vitae - Jimmy Hogg, aka The Roodie Pancake Experiment (scroll down for the mini-review)

Don’t Drop the Soap or Lutherans Gone Wild - Donovan Ensemble

Fresh Meat - Fresh Meat NYC

HP Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls - Tim Uren (scroll down for the mini-review)

Monsters In America - Puppets of Mass Distraction - Chameleon Theater Circle

Mittens for Fat Kids - Leaky Pen, Inc.

Remember Who Made You - Jeffrey Barnes

Sock Puppet Serenade - Kurt Hunter Marionettes

The Musicker’s Balalaika - Walking Boxes

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 3-1/2 Stars - Good Job Plus

From the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

3-1/2 Stars - Good Job Plus

88 Improv presents The Hitchhiker - 88 Improv

African Roads, American Streets - Universal Dance Destiny (scroll down for the mini-review)

Borderlines - 3 Sticks (scroll down for the mini-review)

Dirty - Chris Schlichting (scroll down for the mini-review)

She So Beloved - Emily Gunyou (scroll down for the mini-review)

The Afterlife Project, or 'She's Just Sleeping' and Other Lies Your Mother Told You About Death - Upright Egg (scroll down for the mini-review)

The Wonders of the World: Recite - Totally Realistic Productions (aka Missoula Oblongata) (scroll down for the mini-review, and wounded artist response - serves me right for making an REM song title joke and not explaining it - ah well...)

Wonderland - La Vie Theater

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 3 Stars - Good Job

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

3 Stars - Good Job


Alex The Boy Scout (and other stories) - Topsy Turvy Theater

Burning Bridges - Timothy Meyer (scroll down for the mini-review)

Firsts - Happenstance Theater

Higher Power - Little Red Square Theater

I Want To Be Musashi - A Clown Samurai Fantasy - Christopher Lueck, Noontime Theatre and Otsie Kerplotsie

One An(d) Other - Jenny Pennaz Dance Works

Past the Size of Dreaming - Starting Gate Productions (scroll down for the mini-review, and a chatty and informative response from the playwright)

Sh*t Up Louder - Tom Cassidy & Co.

Sin Cities 7 - Suspiro/Inept Productions

Tall Tale of a Broke Heart - M & M Productions (scroll down for the mini-review)

The Day the Universe Came Closer - Hiram Pines (scroll down for the mini-review)

The Longest Road - Bruce Ario

Welcome To Dystopia - Typewriter Bear Suit Skateboard Productions

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 2-1/2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I've rated...

2-1/2 Stars - Not Bad, Still Needs Some Work

Resonance - Cynthia Veal Holm

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

Trans State

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

Trans State

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 1-1/2 Stars - Life's Still Too Short

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

1-1/2 stars - Life's Still Too Short



Fringe Archive - 2006 - 1 star - Life's Too Short

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

1 Star - Life's Too Short

Dario and Bario - DB Productions

(scroll to the bottom of the Thursday Snapshot and there they'll be...)

Fringe Archive - 2006 - 0 Stars - Run For It

For the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival, shows I rated...

0 stars - Run For It



Monday, March 24, 2008

Fringe Archive - 2007 - The 35W Bridge Collapse, and Fringe Fallout

Sometimes, real life is infinitely stranger than art...

One Weird Night


Bridge Fatigue

John Munger Blog Post - Painful Hindsight

The Price of a Fringe Button

Fringe Archive - 2007 - My Pre-Fringe Top 20

If you removed that gun from my head...

...or if I were allowed to choose ten more Fringe shows to see, what would they be and why?

And, due to time-crunches and artists dropping out right and left on me, the second group of ten never quite reached the 20 mark.

But here at the ones I got...

Fringe Archive - 2007 - My Pre-Fringe Top 10

If you held a gun to my head...

...or if I could only see 10 Fringe shows, what would they be, and why?

My 2007 edition for the Minnesota Fringe Festival...

The general idea

The first part of the list

The second part of the list

Plus, a notes on returning favorites in 2007 from past Top 10/Top 20 lists...

Returnees from my 2003 List

Returnees from my 2004 List

Returnees from my 2005 List

Returnees from my 2006 List

Fringe Archive - 2007 - Fringe-For-All Previews

Posts related to that two-night extravaganza of lightning-fast previews of dozens of Fringe shows, the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival's Fringe-For-All...

Fringe-For-All - Two Nights of Fringe Previews

Fringe-For-All, Night 1

Fringe-For-All, Night 2

Fringe Archive - 2007 - TV Coverage, Video Samples, and such

Each year, the locally produced TV show which I host, "Cue To Cue - A Conversation About Theater In The Twin Cities" tapes several episodes spotlighting the Fringe. These are the posts related to the episodes focusing on the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival...

Cue To Cue overview of the recent past

2007's Call for Video Samples from Out of Town Fringe Artists

A second call to the out-of-towners

The Last Minute Scramble before taping

Out of Towner videos, part 1

Out of Towner videos, part 2

In Studio and In Front of the Camera

Out of Towner videos, part 3

Out of Towner videos, part 4

Cue to Cue 2007 Broadcast schedule and episode/guest breakdowns

Fringe Archive - 2007 - Five Fifths of The Wizard of Oz

Revisit the madness that was the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Fundraiser - Five Fifths of The Wizard of Oz...

Coming Up

Looking Back - "Did they just say they'd defile the corpse of Tyrone Guthrie? For beer?"

Fringe Archive - 2007 - Life of a Blogger (and Mom)

Technical difficulties, and other oddities, related to being a blogger about the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival...

The Working My Last Nerve Award

Some Questions...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Check Your Spam Filters

How Do You Talk About Blogging?

77 Shows

Email Blast - from around town, around the state, around the country, and across the ocean - wild.

Producers' Meetings

Good Show

Quick & Dirty Web Pages for Fringers


Stupid Question


Fringing With Mom 5.0

Website Down, Website Up, and the Next Five Years

Hmmmm, Anybody Out There?

The Email-Eating, Cyber-Monster


OCD Alert - Fringe Schedule Is Up

Too Nice

Dangerous Waters

Do You Have A Show In The Fringe This Year?

Official? Unofficial? Who Cares? Not Me

Mom's Schedule Takes Shape

The Man Behind The Curtain

Mom's On The Road

Opening Night, Opening Slot

This Time Next Week, Fringe Ramp-up

Sweet Jesus

When Do You Write?

Other People's Favorites

Farewell, Mom - Safe Journey!

Shows So Nice I Want To See Twice

My Schedule

A Final Rundown

A Brownout, and Back To Russia

Archiving The Old, Looking Ahead to the New (yes, already)

One Year On

Cleaning Up

Fringe Archive - 2007 - Fringe Community

Various posts touching on members of the Fringe community in the ramp up to the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival...

A Death In The Family - Chase Korte

Four Humors Fundraiser

Pizza Date with Dave Mondy Tonight

Dave Mondy - Let's Try This Again, Shall We?

Fringe Archive - 2007 - Fringe Lottery and Ping Pong Ball Awards

Some posts on the Minnesota Fringe Festival Lottery and my tongue-in-cheek, completely random Ping Pong Ball Awards for 2007...

The Page Turns

Ping Pong Ball Awards - series 1 - The It's A Small World After All Award, St. Valentine's Day Massacre Award, Luke Skywalker Award

Ping Pong Ball Awards - series 2 - The To Catch A Predator Award, Cavalcade of Vaginas Award, 9/11 Award, Fervent Plea to the Laws of Chance Award, Early Bird Award

Ping Pong Ball Awards - series 3 - The Nick Ryan Award (and addendum), Take That, Annie Sullivan! Award, Fangs for the Chuckle Award

Ping Pong Ball Awards - series 4 - The Freudian Slip Award

Ping Pong Ball Awards - series 5 - The Single Entendre Award

The Fringe Lottery System - Drinking The Kool-Aid

Fringe Encore Lottery Results

Fringe Archive - 2007 - Applying For the Fringe

A handful of entries centered around the how and why of applying for the Minnesota Fringe Festival...

Oh My God. They're Right. I Do Recruit

T-Minus 2 Days and Counting

For Complete Artistic Control

Cheaper Than Starting Your Own Theater

Applying At The Last Minute

The Fringe's Ides of March

Fringe Archive - 2007 - 0 Stars - Run For It

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

0 stars - Run For It


Fringe Archive - 2007 - 1 star - Life's Too Short

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

1 Star - Life's Too Short

Twisted - Medusa Head Productions

Fringe Archive - 2007 - 1-1/2 Stars - Life's Too Short

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

1-1/2 stars - Life's Too Short


Fringe Archive - 2007 - 2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

Earnest Ernest or The Sales Pitch - Holland-Federhart, Co.

Helen of Boyd - Ole Olson Onstage

The F Quotient - Building the Perfect Fringe Show Through the Miracle of Modern Technology - What Happened? Productions

Wallace and The Dragon - Walking Boxes Productions

Fringe Archive - 2007 - 2-1/2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival Shows I rated...

2-1/2 Stars - Not Bad, Still Needs Some Work


Fringe Archive - 2007 - 3 stars - Good Job

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

3 Stars - Good Job


But I'm Not Bitter - Confessions of a Middle-Aged Lounge Lizard - Jeffrey Jackson

Circumference of a Squirrel - Metro Productions

Diary of Self-Help Boot Camp - Holly Davis Productions


Loss of Breath - Jill Anna Ponasik

On The Road With The Stars - Bruce Ario

Perhaps They're French - Oaftrax Productions

Pigeon Man Apocalypse - Act Provocateur International

The Cold Dark Matter At Hand - The Electric Telescope Theatre Co.

The FUNeral - Anton Jones

The Methuselah Tree - Cockroach Theatre

The Patriot Actors in the Most All-Americanest Sketch Comedy Show Ever - American Candy Bar

The Way It Is - Barebones Theatre Productions

Fringe Archive - 2007 - 3-1/2 stars - Good Job Plus

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

3-1/2 Stars - Good Job Plus

also Highly Recommended


none last year


Fringe Archive - 2007 - 4 stars - Excellent

2007 Fringe Shows I rated...

4 Stars - Excellent

Highly Recommended

American Cake - Jonathan Pereira

Blonde On Blonde - The Drollery

Bouffon Glass Menajoree - Ten Directions

Burying Mom - Shantz Theatre

Bye-Bye Beirut - Eli Effinger-Weintraub

Franklin's Eyes - Marc Halsey

Macbeth's Awesome Scottish Castle Party - Joseph Scrimshaw

Pack Up Yer Troubles - Belfast Poets Touring Group

Streaming Twin Cities UNCENSORED, or I'm an Artist…What's Your Excuse? - ForceField Productions

Take A Left At the Giant Cow - A Beginner's Guide to North Dakota - Spoken Word Fringe

The Comedy Jesus Show - Creative Mindworks Productions

the limitation of sight (saw it twice) - Country Waif Productions

Three Days In Hell - Vanderpan Enterprises

Venice Gashouse Trolley - Adam Gregory Pergament

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fringe Archive - 2007 - 4-1/2 stars - Damn Near Perfect

2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows I rated...

4-1/2 stars - Damn Near Perfect

also Very Highly Recommended

62 - Third Rabbit Dance

All The Things I Never Told My Mother - Mumble Mumble Productions

An Intimate Evening With Fotis - The Taller Side of Ferrari McSpeedy - Mike Fotis

Conundrum (saw it twice) - Joseph Bingham

Forks! - Shorn Sheep Productions

ourSpace - Mo Productions

Spotless - Pie-Eyed Productions

The Chuck Mee Project - Upright Egg

Fringe Archive - 2007 - 5 Star Shows - Life-Altering Experience

Since the Fringe isn't in the blog hosting business anymore, and the blog-like function on my website is still under reconstruction, I thought it might be handy to have a set of quick links to past coverage (for me as well as readers wandering over to this new/old blog setup). The links in the title list will lead to the review I posted. So, let's start with last year's favorites for me...

Shows in the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival I rated

5 Stars - Life-Altering Experience

Very Highly Recommended

A Brief History of Petty Crime - Jimmy Hogg, aka The Roodie Pancake Experiment

(what was...) American Folksongs (now The Prince Myshkins) - The Nonsense Company

Bards (saw it twice) - Four Humors Theatre

Christmas In Bakersfield - Traveling Kurkedaal Productions

Descendant of Dragons - Maximum Verbosity

I Hate Kenny G - Allegra Lingo and Commedia Beauregard

Killer Smile - New Theatre Group

KIPO! - TigerLion Works

Monster Movies With My Undead Dad - Nancy Donoval

Requiem Pour Une Ame Seule - Isabelle Barbat

The Cody Rivers Show - Flammable People (saw it twice) - The Cody Rivers Show

William Shakespeare's Hystery Queene Margaret - Bedlam Theatre

The "It Only Looks Like It's Sleeping" Award

to the Minnesota Fringe Festival website

(and, to be fair, it could just as easily apply to this blog over the last couple of weeks)

The new look for the front page of the Fringe site doesn't appear to have changed much lately - but that's deceptive.

First up, if you click to refresh the page, the Button Discount featured on the front page changes.

Also, the main list and waiting list for the shows on this year's Fringe schedule has been updated at least three times that I know of. It even took me a while to check back, just to see if anything shifted. And what do you know, if you click on those links to download the pdfs of the lists, it does indeed give you something new. There were updates that changed on 3/4, 3/12, and now 3/20.

We lost two entries in the Teen Fringe, an entry in the Artists of Color lottery, a National Fringer, and it looks like six from the general lottery pull, thus far.

12 acts came up off the wait list onto the main schedule.

Haven't ferreted through the wait list for all those that just dumped out and didn't want to... well, wait on a list.

So, check back. Things are evolving.

Sign up for the Fringe Herald. Some of the button discounts listed there haven't made it to the site or the rotation on the front page yet, so it's a handy bit of additional information.

Now it's time I got back to a bit more regular blogging, now that the taxes are behind me.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Review - What's Done In The Dark - No Refunds Theatre - 4-1/2 stars

“His hands were clean. The rest of him was a mess. But his hands were clean.”

Damn, that was a hell of a lot of fun.

That was my first reaction at the end of watching the all-too-brief offering currently on stage at the Red Eye from No Refunds Theatre Company, “What’s Done In The Dark.” When you bill your production as “A Graphic Novel On Stage,” you set the bar of expectations pretty high. On nearly every front, “What’s Done In The Dark” delivers in fine style.

Personally, I’m not a big reader of graphic novels (or comic books). That’s more my brother’s bailiwick. Me, I drop in and out occasionally, enjoying something off-kilter like “The Flaming Carrot” or hopelessly mainstream like “Spiderman.” I’ve probably seen more movies based on comic books and graphic novels than I’ve actually read the source material. Things like “Sin City” tend to amuse the hell out of me. I like to think I can appreciate a good story, well-told, regardless of the genre or the style of presentation. If I’m tremendously entertained, so much the better. “What’s Done In The Dark” is tremendously entertaining. Bottom-line, it’s just good theater, which is really refreshing.

It’s hard to talk about “What’s Done In The Dark” without giving the twists and turns away, and they are a large part of the fun, but I’ll do my best not to be a spoiler.

There are only three characters - police officer Michael King (Kiseung Rhee); Deborah Seever (Billie Jo Konze), a woman widowed by the brutal murder of her husband; and a man known only as The Witness (Robert C. Hammel). All three actors turn in solid, enjoyable, substantial performances. Only one of these characters is what they seem to be - to say which one, would be telling. And unfortunately, to go into detail about why each of their performances is so effective would also give the game away.

The Witness was given an unusual gift as a young man. A psychic ability was passed on to him (how, again, would be telling - the story has several layers before the truth is revealed). When The Witness is presented with the scene of a murder, and he touches the spot where it happened, he takes on both the life story of the victim and the murderer, including the motive for the crime. As you might expect, this gift is a mixed blessing. Over thirty years’ time, many violent crimes were solved with his help, but the flood of painful experiences took their toll. Suddenly, twelve years ago, The Witness vanished. No explanation, just withdrew from the world. Now Deborah Seever has tracked The Witness down, intent on solving her husband’s murder of five years back, which has stumped the police, and all private detectives she hired to take the case. Michael King, The Witness’ former contact on the police force, has mixed feelings about teaming up again with the man who abandoned him. Why The Witness disappeared is another secret best kept until one sees the show, but it’s a doozy.

There are a number of things about “What’s Done In The Dark” that are impressive. One of them is that they do it all with a metal table, three chairs and three actors. The reason you don’t feel they’re skimping is the stunning use of projections on the back wall, the kind of thing the Red Eye space was built for, and of which No Refunds takes full advantage. For some reason, I can’t find the information crediting the artist in the program, but if I’m remembering correctly from the end credits (it’s animation as well as individual images throughout), the amazing artwork is the contribution of Ian Llanas. Not only does the artwork capture that look of panels in a graphic novel - vivid, clean, two-dimensional verging on three-dimensional - it often springs to life in unexpected ways. Pictures layer one over another, leading the audience through a sequence of images and ideas, propelling the scenes forward and fleshing out the backstory. The special effects which take the audience inside one of The Witness’ crime scene contacts are great fun. Also of note is a truly lovely evocation of the inside of a church that serves as the scene of yet another crime. An apartment, a graveyard, an isolated cabin, a deserted field, a police interrogation room - they all come to vivid life and set the stage for the action.

Steph Drinkard’s work with lights, and director Reid Knutilla’s keen sense of composition, build on top of Llanas’ visuals. There were several moments throughout when the image of actors silhouetted against those backdrops as scenes were gearing up or winding down actually gave me goosebumps. It says a lot about a production when even some of the transitions between scenes are thrilling to watch.

The chief virtue of Matt Dawson’s script is that it strikes that tricky balance between lofty ideas and down-and-dirty murder mystery. The story never devolves into complete fluff, while also never becoming ponderous as it contemplates the larger issues of guilt and innocence, crime and punishment, duty and self-preservation. “What’s Done In The Dark” is sly pulpy fun that you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying. It’s got a brain, and a twisted heart, as well as adrenalin. While the text often relies on mountains of exposition, it nearly always pulls it off because the story is that clever, at times even poetic, and the performances are that good. Director Knuttila also deserves a lot of credit for taking all that talk and finding ways to stage it and make it compelling to watch.

Minor quibbles - for a production with this much polish, sometimes the scene changes seemed a bit clunky. It would have been nice if the whole thing flowed just a bit more smoothly. Still, if it’s an excuse to hear some Johnny Cash in the dark, I’m game.

Also, despite the great work from this trio of actors, and the wonderfully complex central character of The Witness, the play sometimes showed the strain of being confined to just three characters. With a host of victims and murderers out there, and a well-populated backstory for all three onstage characters, a bit more of the visual presentation of those myriad other people, or even an extra actual body on stage moving about and interacting with the others, might have helped the feeling of claustrophobia. Plus, it almost gives the game away if the audience knows there’s a murder to be solved, and only three possible options for people to implicate. Even so, the play is incredibly creative - no one’s guilty in the way you think they’re going to be.

Also, there’s suspension of disbelief, and there’s suspension of disbelief. There’s a central connecting idea between all the murders which left me scratching my head and wondering, “Didn’t this guy, or the multitude of incredibly fertile women he bedded down with, know anything about contraception?”

But it’s all a symptom of a larger issue for “What’s Done In The Dark” which is - I want more.

This is a good problem for a play to have. While I didn’t feel cheated in any way, I did find myself wanting more. The whole production clocks in at just a little over an hour. It’s an enjoyable and well-stuffed hour to be sure, but with this much talent on display, think what they could have done with a bit more room for the story to breathe. Many productions these days have the opposite problem - you feel they’re over, or should be over, long before they actually stop. It’s not often a production leaves me wanting more. “What’s Done In The Dark” definitely has room to grow. I hope No Refunds continues to explore this production conceit. Like their Kung Fu outings of the past, the basic premise is rich with possibility, and they clearly have the talent to deliver on it.

The night I saw the production, there were only a dozen people in the house. That’s a shame. Go see it. “What’s Done In The Dark” deserves big crowds. It’s the most genuine fun I’ve had watching a piece of theater in ages.

Very highly recommended.

What’s Done In The Dark” continues through Sunday, March 16th. All performances take place at the Red Eye Theater, 15 West 14th Street in Minneapolis. It plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm, with a special pay-what-you-can performance this coming Monday night, March 10th at 8pm and an additional Thursday performance this week March 13th at 8pm. Tickets are $12 ($10 with Student ID, Fringe Button, black belts, certified ninjas, members of the clergy, veterans (active duty, reserved & retired), a lazy eye, possession of demonstrable superpowers, proficiency in Elvish, Dwarvish, or Creole). (I’m not making that up, it’s on their website.) For reservations call 651-245-2527 or email More information is available at

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fringe 2008 - Chapter Ends, Chapter Begins

Yesterday was a little weird.

I arose and posted something on the primary Fringe blog, and then cross-posted it here, there and, you know, around, like usual lately, in anticipation for what was to come.

About halfway through the morning, the website for the Minnesota Fringe Festival posted its new design.

I like it.

But I also knew something wouldn't be there any more.

The blogs. Mine included.

The blogs are now freelance, and open to more than just a bunch of Fringe-happy folks selected by the Fringe staff.

It's good, I think. Though the blogs on the Fringe site started out as something pretty laid back, more and more it seemed like - though the Fringe bent over backwards to reinforce that the blogs were not any kind of official opinions of the Fringe itself - there were these blogs that were saying, "This show's great!" "This one, not so much." And they were housed on the Fringe website.

So a huge non-juried festival seemed to be passing judgment, which is not what the Fringe is about at all.

There were, of course, audience reviews aplenty to be had, and as far as I know there still will be, but the blogs were kind of becoming the 900 pound gorilla in the room.

So now, they're going to treat bloggers, any and all bloggers about things Fringe, like the rest of the press online.

There'll be some kind of page (still under construction at the moment) which has links to all of us independent blogs out there that cover the Fringe, and people can look at them or not as they choose, and they're not housed on the Fringe site. They exist elsewhere, and the Fringe is just helping people find press coverage on the web like they always do. But they're not housing it. They're not showcasing it. At most, they're pointing.

I don't think all that much is going to change for me. We'll see. I'm still going to cover the Fringe like I always do. This year's just going to be an experiment all the way around, I guess.

The Fringe first introduced me to blogging. And I like writing about Fringe, and theater in general. It helps sharpen my own inner critic so I can be better about improving my own scripts. I learn a lot from seeing and evaluating other people's work - what works for me as an audience member, what doesn't, and more importanly why I think that.

It's still just my opinion like it's always been.

Thanks for reading. More Fringe coverage, as always, in the coming days and weeks. Wherever you're reading this, it shall continue.

And don't forget to go to the Fringe website - I'll be linking to it, of course, but it'll be a font of information like it always is. All the things I know about the Fringe are pretty much stashed in there. I just dig a little deeper than the casual viewer.

Like the good obsessive-compulsive that I am.

Exciting times ahead.

Cross posted to and archived on my site

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Big Night Tonight for Fringe Comedian at ACME

Heads up for those of you needing a good laugh (and who doesn't?)

and for those who want to support a very funny Fringer on a big night.

Fringe comedian Ben Sandell (Mittens for Fat Kids, The F Quotient, Funniest Person In The Twin Cities 2006, blogger, etc.) dropped me a note last night about a big show tonight at ACME Comedy Company...

"Thought I should let you know I'm emceeing this week, and... Thursday night (3/6) is going to start with a showcase of the best local comedians.

The talent scout from David Letterman is going to be there, so if there was ever a night to have friends in the audience, it's Thursday.

...the showcase should be great. I'm hosting it, and will be the opening act (10 minute set), 8 pm sharp.

I haven't started writing my Fringe show, yet, but I plan to get on it after this week. The stress is starting to build. It's going to be a crazy five months. But I think I'm going to have a little more fun with it this time. I took it so seriously last time I forgot to have a good time.

I'm a bit punch drunk right now. I didn't realize how big of a deal Thursday's show is going to be until about an hour ago.

...I better get some sleep for the big day."

I am, sadly, working my second job tonight, but I figured I'd help spread the word and see if other folks could go support Ben in my stead.

Anyone who's seen his work in the Fringe or out knows how amusing his intelligent off-kilter brand of humor is. So I have no trouble very highly recommending you top off your Thursday with a visit to ACME to see Ben Sandell.

ACME Comedy Co. is located in the warehouse district of Minneapolis at 708 North 1st Street in the Historic Itasca Building.

Their website is

For more on Ben anytime, visit


Cross posted to and archived on my site

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fringe 2008 - The 'Hey, Where'd Everybody Go?' Award

Don't get me wrong. There were a heck of a lot of applications this year for the 15th annual Minnesota Fringe Festival. 277 to be exact. For 150 slots. Almost twice what the festival could hold.

But the sublotteries surprised me a little this year. There were fewer of them this year, but that wasn't it.

The lottery has some special mini-lotteries within the larger overall lottery, just to insure plenty of diversity of artists and content. This year, in addition to the usual sublottery for the 75 minute slots (since they're all concentrated in one venue for scheduling sanity, and there can only be so many in any one place), there were sublotteries for national artists, international artists, kids shows, teen shows, and artists of color.

Plenty of applicants for 75 minute, national, and teen fringe.

But there'd been ten slots set aside for international acts and kids fringe, and 15 slots set aside for artists of color, and they didn't need to use them all.

There were only nine applicants for kids fringe, so they all got in - yay.

There were only twelve applicants for artists of color, so they all got in - yay.

There were only two international applicants, so they... both got in - yay?

The kids were the big surprise for me. I don't think that's happened before. They normally have a bunch of applicants and some of them have even ended up waiting on the wait list. No such issues this year. And they only came up one short there, so it's probably a fluke this year.

It's exciting that the teen applicants were so plentiful, and a number of them got in through the regular general lottery after that, so the next generation of fringers is well-represented. We're in for some adventurous theater there, as always.

The artists of color and international trends aren't new. They may have even had more artists of color in that group this year compared to previous ones. More outreach will doubtless continue. And it's really tough for international acts - the costs of travel, and the many hurdles of travel, for a Fringe show may just not make it worth it. Still, some of the most interesting stuff last year was from artists visiting from overseas. I'm glad we still keep getting a couple, but I wish it was more feasible for more of them. It'd be nice to see all ten slots and then some filled up some year. One can dream.

The upside to the unclaimed spots in the special lotteries was that it meant a dozen more open slots for the general lottery, so more artists had a chance locally and nationally to get in on a second try, and more of the teens had a shot of getting in.

It all balances out eventually.

I was thinking about cost the other day. A veteran Fringer I chatted with at the after-lottery party was quite proud of himself because he joked that every year, if he was lucky in the lottery, he'd think, "Great! I'm in! Oh wait, now I have to make sure I have the money to pay for the application fee!" This year, he planned ahead and set the money aside a bit at a time. So he had the money ready. And he ended up so far down the wait list, there was no chance he'd slip in this year. So, hey, now he has an extra $400 sitting in his bank account to help him mount his next show.

That silver lining keeps shining through.

So $400. If I was caught short this year but really wanted to be involved next year, that's 52 weeks to plan ahead. That's about $7.69 a week. Most people spend more than that on... well, pretty much anything in a given week. Make it an even $8 or $10 and it adds up quicker. Even if there are special venue things you want to put in for and there are added fees, they don't add up to *that* much. It's not nearly as out of reach as it might seem when you look at a $400 fee all in one lump.

And of course, the benefits are ample.

Hmmm... Everyone always asks me if I've got a show in the Fringe. Maybe I should start setting some cash aside this week...

Cross posted to and archived on my site

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Fringe 2008 - The Red Badge of Courage Award

goes to...

Kamikaze Action Group

the very last ping pong ball to be drawn for the wait list at night's end for the Fringe lottery this year

The Fringe show we're unlikely to see this year...


"Young versus old, joy versus gloom and life versus death in this classic Hungarian play set during WWII"

Bummer. Sounds kind of cool.

Cross posted to and archived on my site

Fringe 2008 - The Not Long To Wait Award

goes to...

Baby In The Box

(the first ping pong ball to be drawn for the waiting list for this year's Fringe - come on, you know *someone's* gonna drop out. Several someones. But at the very list one...)

and their aptly titled...

Squirrels in My Roof

"A pregnant mother battles the squirrels in her roof."

Cross posted to and archived on my site

Fringe 2008 - The Squeaker Award

goes to...

Urban Samurai Productions

the very last ping pong ball to be drawn for the general lottery before they had to start the wait list (phew!)

Their initial notice...

Musical the Musical!

"A musical parody of musicals. Each song more hysterical than the last as the lyrics and choreography continually comment on themselves."

The Samurai, too, have a production coming up in advance of the Fringe, in April.

American Apathy

"Despite their Fiber Boost Juicer 5000 and 28 passenger SUV, Ron and Judy are sensing a void in their lives. The TV assures them that it’s nothing their credit cards can’t handle, but when imminent bankruptcy looms large they may be forced to wake up from their 'blissful' American Dream. Don’t miss this new comedy by acclaimed local playwright Aaron Christopher."

(They aren't kidding about the acclaimed part. Check out
their previous reviews of past productions. The critics are liking them.)

American Apathy is playing at Fringe venue the playwrights center.

Details at

I've been missing their productions, though they've increasingly caught my eye. So I'm looking forward to rectifying this blank spot in my theatergoing - sooner rather than later...

Cross posted to and archived on my site

Fringe 2008 - The 'Damn, That Was Easy' Award

goes to...

Young Artists Council

and their show

Reefer Madness

"A musical based on the 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film of the same name. It's a tongue-in-cheek comedy about the perils of drugs, sex and general moral turpitude."

They were the first ping pong ball of the night drawn, as part of the 75 minute slots' special lottery.

So the suspense was out of the way pretty quick for them.

Plenty of time to nip outside for a smoke...


They were probably pretty mellow anyway.

This award also goes out to the guys at

No Refunds Theatre Co.

(who were the first ping pong ball drawn in the general lottery after the special lotteries were dispensed with)

and their hilarious and topical adaptation of

Sun Tzu's, The Art of War

"The 3,000 year old manual on war's practice and philosophy adapted by Charlie Bethel with Matt Dawson. Used throughout history by generals and businessmen with ruthlessly effective results, ignored by countless politicians with ruthlessly not-so-effective results. Now on stage! And funny! There will also be a mambo."

I saw their original outing with this one, and it's perfect Fringe fare. 5 stars, in fact.

I was rightly chastised by a fellow theatergoer for leaving out the mambo in my review. It's a highlight in a show full of them.

I'm happy I get to share it again with Mom this time.

They just opened a new show - a graphic novel for the stage called What's Done In the Dark - which I'm happy to say I get to see this weekend.

After partaking of Sun Tzu's, The Art of War
, I can recommend this one sight unseen. Don't wait til the Fringe to catch No Refunds in action.

But when Fringe rolls around, they should be on your list for sure. More on them in the near future.

Learn more about them and their theatrical creations at

Cross posted to and archived on my site

Fringe 2008 - The 'It Doesn't Matter When You Apply' Award

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the number each Fringe hopeful gets on the ping pong ball is assigned by the Fringe in the order in which the applications are received...

(Anecdotal evidence suggests this is true, since it was mentioned onstage the night of the lottery that Maximum Verbosity's application was the first received, the day after applications were being taken, and they had ping pong ball #1.

Tangentially - really? No one got it in the very first day? Nobody downloaded the application, filled it out, and walked it down to the Fringe office? Really? Guess Fringers aren't as obsessive as I thought they were...)

This wonky little observation goes out to those who bemoan the laws of chance.

Out of ping pong balls 1 through 10 - six got in - over half.

Out of ping pong balls 268 through 277 (the last ten applications received) - six got in - over half.

Out of ping pong balls 134 through 143 (let's call them the middle ten, right in the center of the list) - five got in - half.

So it really doesn't matter when you apply, so long as you do.

I'm not arguing for everyone to wait til the last minute, far from it.

But since the lottery's been instituted - obsessive compulsives and procrastinators alike get an even playing field.


Cross posted to and archived on my site

Fringe 2008 - The 4th Annual Ping Pong Ball Awards

I cannot express just how much I was aching to blog the last couple of days.

Seems like the Fringe Lottery was forever ago already - well, it's been almost a month, which is forever in Fringe time.

Right after the lottery, I was out the door and headed back east to help my Dad celebrate his 80th birthday.

Sick there, I returned sick, and was out of commission for several days.

Then I was off again to help Mom celebrate her 70th birthday and retirement.

Back again in Minnesota, I was determined not to let the lure of the blog keep me from getting some real writing done - as I'm overdue to get some serious page counts created on three playscript projects.

So I held off til after my writing group meeting tonight, and now, dear blog, here you are.

I'm a little bummed I didn't get more than four pages and some change done on the script I was working on, but I've only been back in town two days, and I was starting from scratch. A few pages a day every day over the next two weeks means I'll have more to show the group next time. The ideas are churning, and the characters are feeling chatty, so that's a good sign.

Meanwhile, I'll allow myself a bit of blogging to break up the routine and get the juices flowing.

Much to dissect and ruminate over in this year's lottery like always, so the fourth annual tongue-in-cheek Ping Pong Balls awards shall now commence.

Completely random, totally subjective, just things that caught my eye, really.

Take 'em for what they're worth. There's a world of change between now and then and if I know the Fringe, it's probably already underway...

Cross posted to and archived on my site