Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fringe 2008 Top 11-20 - If you removed the gun from my head...

If you removed the gun from my head and I was allowed to see ten more Fringe shows, what would they be in and why...?

OK, I’d been running this part of the list backward, thinking I’d have better success closing in on the middle, but apparently not, as the day of Fringe opening has arrived.

So here’s what I had so far....

20 - Empty S Productions - Roofies In The Moccachino - their show page, my write up, a video clip and another video clip

19 - Culture Mesh Collective - Trying Guilt - their show page, my write up, a video clip

18 - Hometown Theater - War of the Worlds: The Musical - A Tribute To Old-Time Radio - their show page, my write up, a video clip

And now we’re gonna just have to dive in and try to make it brief if I’m to have any hope of posting this today...

17 - This one’s a father/daughter tag team, the Reivas - father Dan is behind

Electric Telescope - The Virginity of Astronauts

“A science-fiction adaptation of Euripedes play "Ion." A persistent knock on a spaceship's door near Mars... Who's there? Two astronauts face a powerful being's plan to control the universe in this updated Greek drama.”

I keep going to Electric Telescope shows for an evolving, and often conflicting, set of reasons. The first show I saw “Quantum Odyssey” was an interesting mix of ideas, updating another classic text. Not entirely successful, but I admired it for trying, and the parts that worked, really worked well. Last year, it was another sci-fi pastiche “The Cold Dark Matter At Hand” - again, a whole tossed salad and a half of ideas, literally crammed into a tiny Fringe-length running time, often bewildering, and heavy on the cheese, with some serious eye candy in the cast to make it all go down a little easier. This time around, the eye candy’s back - and we’re getting sci-fi and ancient legend thrown together in the same package. Honestly, it could be a complete train wreck, but I feel compelled to see it for myself and find out. Show page here, video clip here (and yes, "riding the tuna pony" - a part of me is deeply ashamed, but I'm still going).


Rachel Reiva - Love and Video Games

“As Jack struggles with the violence of his brother a a death of a parent, Stacy, a teenage ghost, believes the only was to help Jack is to hook him up with the hot guy next door.”

This one I feel slightly less “guilty”/”guilty pleasure” about. Rachel’s been working her way toward this over several years of performing in other people’s scripts in the Fringe. Now, it’s her work being staged, and that alone makes it exciting for me. What sealed the deal is just the delightful weirdness of the plot - a matchmaking ghost, trying to pair up two guys. (Wait, oh crap, now I know why that’s familiar). That aside, the video clip of their Fringe-For-All preview should make it a little clearer. The whole, “Wait, you want to match me up with another guy?!” stage of the plot is completely skipped over. Because in the world of Rachel’s play, it’s not a big deal. On that level, it’s being treated like just another romantic comedy, which I find really hopeful. So I’m rooting for this one on several levels. Show page here, video clip here

16 - Vanderpan Enterprises - Paul Bunyan Runs For President

"Lower Taxes, Bigger Axes. That's the message Paul Bunyan approves when America's biggest lumberjack runs for the country's highest office."

Three Days In Hell” from Vanderpan ended up on the tail end of my Fringe schedule last year almost by accident and I really enjoyed myself. Well-crafted comedy play, well-executed. I’m always up for more of that. One of that cast, and the playwright/director are returning for this one, so that’s all I need to know to recommend them. Show page here

15 - Megan Dowd - adjective

"Madison went looking for someone. Maybe someone to love. Maybe someone to screw. She found someone, stumbled across him, who she didn't expect. Who she stumbled upon, however, means everything to everyone."

Timothy J. Meyer did quadruple duty last time around in the Fringe - writer/actor/director/producer - with "Burning Bridges." This time around, he’s focusing in just on the script and letting others help with the remaining duties. Haven’t seen a script or a performance preview. I’m just interested, after seeing the first play, in how Meyer has grown as a playwright in the last couple of years, and where that’s taken his stories and his characters. Again, it’s an exploration of relationships, but this time it seems the emphasis is on the female, rather than the male, half of the couple. So I’m curious. Show page here

14 - Maddak Productions - The Mistress Cycle

"Mistress: A woman who illicitly occupies the place of wife. No male equivalent. Intimate musical tale 'The Mistress Cycle' explores choices and consequences of five women, historical and fictional. Engaging, enticing."

Mindy Eschedor is a regular with Nautilus Music Theater. I love Nautilus. They do adventurous new work on a monthly basis in their Rough Cuts series. They nurture the talent of writers, performers and musicians alike, locally. So if Mindy’s involved as producer and music director on this project with Maddak, that’s really all I need to know. The preview they did at Fringe-For-All (video clip here) only reinforced this. Interesting concept, high caliber talent. Why not? Show page here, video clip here

13 - Dean Hatton - Silent Poetry

"A collection of nonverbal comedic and dramatic skits inspired by the work of Marcel Marceau written and created by Dean Hatton, a student of Mr. Marceau's."

Mime. I know. I have friends who put up their hands and create an invisible wall in mock protest to protect themselves from mime. But I saw Dean perform as part of a Maximum Verbosity showcase not long ago, and man, was I wrong. He played a street mime who could only get people to give him money by pretending, in ever more gruesome fashion, to kill himself. (Everybody loves a mime in pain.) It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages. Plus, at Fringe-For-All, he performed to the opening fanfare from the first Star Wars movie. So that appealed to the geek in me as well. Took him a while, but I think Dean's finally getting me to one of his Fringe shows - don't wait as long as I did. Join me there. It's good stuff. Show page here

12 - Lex-Ham Community Theater - Hue and Cry

"US premiere of a play by contemporary Irish playwright Deirdre Kinahan. Cousins Kevin and Damian meet for the funeral of Damian's father. Damian's long absence makes the meeting awkward as the two men try to reconnect and find life again."

This one’s for Grant Henderson. He was in the workshop of a new script I did last year, and the Fringe show I did four years back, and has helped develop new work with me pretty much every year in between. He’s a great actor. He inspires me to me a better writer. And the group in the Fringe is doing the US of premiere of an Irish play - and those Irish tend to shame me into being a better writer as well. So, all in all, this should be a good solid piece of theater. I’m really looking forward to it. Show page here

11 - Courtney Roche - Stupid Face

“Life is hard, but when you wake up to find your entire world has changed without consulting you, life turns into a real bitch. This is the story of one woman's quest to laugh in the stupid face of adversity.”

Every year at Fringe-For-All, I see at least one artist who makes me sit up and think, “Wow, I don’t care what I have to do to rearrange my carefully arranged schedule, I have to find a way to see this person. They’re amazing.” Last year, it was Allison Broeren’s spoken word contortions of language. This year, it’s Courtney Roche and her strangely hilarious tales of paralysis. She’s not only a great comic performer, she’s also apparently a great comic writer as well. Video clip here - you have to see it to understand what I’m talking about. Dammit, there goes the schedule. Happens every year, and it’s a problem I love to have. Thanks, Courtney. Show page here, video clip here

Fringe Top 10 - The List

So, handy links to the whole list in one place. Here we go...

If you held a gun to my head and I could only see ten Fringe shows, what would they be in and why?

This year's edition of the list is

(and yes, I'm cheating, I'll admit that up front. Go ahead and pull the trigger - I might be a more incisive reviewer with only half a brain my head, you never know)

1 - Rampleseed - Reincarnation: Another Chance At Failure - their show page, my writeup, a video clip

2 - No Refunds Theatre - Sun Tzu's The Art of War - their show page, my writeup

3 - The Drollery - Watthen Wherenow - A Pinkerton Tribute - their show page, my writeup, a video clip

4 - Joseph Bingham - Conundrum Rehabbed, also Kari Jensen's Ars Longa Vita Brevis - their show page, and the other show page, my writeup, a video clip

5 - Jonas Goslow - Shift - their show page, my writeup

6 - Patty Nieman - Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary - their show page, my writeup, a video clip

7 - Questionable Company Theater - Orange - their show page, my writeup, their video and blog page

8 - Onomatopoeia Productions - Dandelion - their show page, my writeup, a video clip

9 - Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw - Dance of the Whisky Faerie, also DRP Dance - Modern Muses - their show page, and the other show page, my writeup, a video clip and another video clip

10 - Youth Performance Company - The Boyshow, also Young Artists Council - Reefer Madness: The Musical - their show page, and the other show page, my writeup

10.5 - Magicword Theater - The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag - their show page, my writeup, a video clip

Fringe 2008 Top 10 - #10.5 - Magicword Theater Company

"...and then, the porn music starts..."

"The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

Now what kind of crappy producer would I be if I didn't also tell you that the show I'm helping mount is also a damn fine piece of theater?

Really crappy, that's what.

So I'm wedging in the list here between the first set of ten and the second.

Two short plays, looking at the often peculiar beginnings and endings (and rebirths?) of relationships.

But the guys in the cast do the best job of selling the show, so I'll let you look at a little video clip from Dog Tag which they presented at the second edition of Fringe-For-All (part of he Fringe's YouTube page of video previews)

"'Six condoms?! You're an optimist.' - If a $100 bill can bring a nerd and a frat boy together, can it last longer than the sex?

If a dog can talk, can he reunite two estranged lovers?"

One of the actors in the cast is fond of referring to "Bronze Bitch" as the scenario to a porn film (frat boy and nerd negotiate money in exchange for sex). And given that my last Fringe show had a horny gay pizza boy in it, and the script I'm currently rewriting has a couple of gay Marines in it, the assessment might hold more water than I care to admit.

No nudity warning. We only have to warn you if they take off their pants - not their shirts.

Arriving at the end of a rehearsal to drop off the newly printed show postcards a couple of weeks back, I was told, "Oh, you just missed sexy time."

I really should have said, "Guys, whenever the three of you are in a room together, it's always sexy time."

Because it's true.

Not only are these three guys - Sasha Andreev, Joe Bombard, and Buddy Haardt - all talented as hell, they're extremely easy on the eyes. The fact that they're so emotionally open as their characters in both plays is what makes the scripts come to life in a way that's so funny, and sweet, and a little sad.

It's great stuff.

And I say that not just because I helped write the things (because I frequently forget and feel more like a producer than a writer), not just because these guys are all doing wonderful work and deserve the biggest audience I can get them,

But because this is exactly the kind of theater I go to the Fringe to see.

The rest of the year, I'm hard-pressed to find new plays by local writers on many of the stages around town.

The rest of the year, I'm hard-pressed to find good stories reflecting the lives of gay men on many of the stages around town.

I write (and apparently now also produce) the kind of things I feel like we need to see more of.

The Fringe allows us to do these kinds of things.

That's why, right now, at the start of an eleven day stretch of new exciting theater by the widest possible range of artists, at all levels of their careers and abilities, is the happiest time of year for me.

Whether I've got a show in the mix or not.

This year, I'm really proud to be part of the crowd on both sides of the footlights.

Come see me put my theater where my mouth is.

(Hmmm, that sounds like it should come with a warning. Sorry...)

Video clip here

More information on this and what's next at

Location, dates and show times, and ticket info are all available here.

Fringe 2008 Top 10 - #10 - Youth Performance Company/Young

Youth Performance Company - The Boyshow

"It's here! YPC's 'coming of age' trilogy is complete! 'Goddess Mense,' 'The Talk' and, now, 'The Boy Show,' a no-holds-barred exposé of growing up male. Warning: No snips, snails or puppy dog tails."


Young Artists Council - Reefer Madness: The Musical

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

I kind of held off mentioning this double feature because last year I mentioned YPC's Boyshow as one of my Top 10 in the context of the TV show I host, and then it promptly dropped off the schedule. Not wanting to jinx it two years running, I thought I'd bide my time.

It seems like it's actually coming off this time around, however.

Plus, Youth Performance Company's offshoot for the older young artists (hmmm, older young artists? Anyway...) the Young Artists Council it also hitting the Fringe this year with the musical version of Reefer Madness, so it looks like they're trying to make up for lost time. (Also, a friend of mine's in the Reefer cast, so that's added reason to recommend it, and try to get my butt over to the Bryant Lake Bowl to see it)

I missed YPC's bit hit Fringe show about menstruation (no, really). I did catch "The Talk" during it's Bryant Lake Bowl run outside the Fringe and was impressed. But then I'm always impressed with the quality of the productions that Youth Performance Company presents, so another good show from them is no surprise.

Yes, the boys in the publicity photo look a little bored, but I'm pretty sure the audience won't be. No preview video clips to present to you, but knowing the company, I'm really confident about the product.

Either one alone, or a double feature of both, would be a good example of the kind of thing the Teen Fringe does best. So add them to your schedule.

Also, keep an eye on the Youth Performance Company theater offerings year round - their website is


Very Highly Recommended.

Locations, dates and show times, and ticket info on both shows can be found here and here

Fringe 2008 Top 10 - # 9 - Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw

"...a dark, brooding, blood-thirsty monstrosity known only as a dancer!"

Dance of the Whisky Faerie

"Uncorked and mischievous, the Whisky Faerie captures a wandering storyteller. Together they dance, soliloquize and spar through bizarre Celtic tales. Will he get his whisky or will she keep her freedom?

Join husband and wife team Joseph Scrimshaw ("King of Comedy" -MN Monthly) and Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw ("lanky livewire" for a dance & storytelling exploration of Celtic myths - fun, quirky, and comic, with a few insights along the way. And in the end, who does end up with the whisky?"

And she's also involved in

DRP Dance - Modern Muses

Passion, conflict, hope and knowledge. A fusion of life's desires.

"Modern Muses interconnects life's desires through the movement of modern dance with four women performing the roles of the Muse of Passion, Muse of Conflict, Muse of Hope and Muse of Knowledge. The Muse characters thread as individuals and fuse as a whole representing the emotions and challenges presented in everyday life choices."

Now I suppose I could have just slipped Sara in under the general Scrimshaw umbrella, but though she's also got a sense of humor like her generally wackier husband, Sara's primary mode of expression is dance (often amusing dance, but still a different kind of comedy than that based more on words). So I figured she merited special mention. First, it's her own show (though performed and created in tandem with Joseph Scrimshaw). Also, just like most years in the Fringe, she's doing double duty, as part of the dancing company of DRP Dance - which I saw a couple of previews for last year and was really bummed to have missed.

There are video previews for both Whisky Faerie and Modern Muses on the Fringe's YouTube page full of clips of the two Fringe-For-All showcases. Check them out here and here.

Whisky Faerie looks like a great merging of the strengths of one of the Fringe's favorite artistic odd couples - though I hope it's not a reflection of their marriage, where Sara withholds alcohol and then kicks Joseph around a lot. (However, it would make parties at their home really interesting for guests.)

Modern Muses strikes me as another sampling of what DRP's Artistic Director/Choreographer Danielle Robinson-Prater does best, create visually beautiful stage pictures full of movement - in unison, in opposition, in waves of overlapping repetition. It's the kind of thing I find almost impossible to recount afterward, but it has its own subconscious logic to it that's extremely satisfying to watch. Like good music, it sort of washes over you, submerging you in its world. It's lovely stuff.

More information for Fringe and beyond at

Both shows come

Very Highly Recommended

Location, dates and show times, and ticket info for the two shows available here and here

Hey, Where'd The Fringe Blog Go?

Well, I was told that cross-posting was driving someone crazy, so since I'm primarily posting to Twin Cities Daily Planet for Fringe purposes, I was just planning on doing a weekly update post with links to send the traffic more in one direction - which I did, on MySpace and Facebook, for about a week and then...

Honestly, I've been helping produce a Fringe show, and finishing a script that goes into rehearsal the day after the Fringe closes, so I've been a little distracted and scatterbrained. Apologies.

Here's links to everything currently residing on the Daily Planet blog since the last time I posted in the middle of June, which can always find at

So What Exactly Is A Bronze Bitch Anyway?

So Where'd The Talking Dog Come From?


Fringe Top 10 - #1 - Rampleseed

Fringe Top 10 - #2 - No Refunds Theatre

Fringe Top 10 - #3 - The Drollery

Fringe Top 10 - #4 - Joseph Bingham

Fringe Top 10 - #5 - Jonas Goslow

Fringe Top 10 - #6 - Patty Nieman

Fringe Top 10 - #7 - Questionable Company Theatre

Fringe Top 10 - #8 - Onomatopoeia Productions


Fringe Top 20 - #18 - War of the Worlds: The Musical - A Tribute to Old-Time Radio

Fringe Top 20 - #19 - Culture Mesh Collective

Fringe Top 20 - #20 - Empty S Productions


Returning Favorites - Rhino Productions

Returning Favorites - Rik Reppe

Returning Favorites - Spring Awakening

Returning Favorites - Claire Simonson

Returning Favorites - Walking Shadow

Returning Favorites - Joseph Scrimshaw

Returning Favorites - Theatre Unbound

Returning Favorites - 3 Sticks

Returning Favorites - Live Action Set, part 1

Returning Favorites - Live Action Set, part 2

Returning Favorites - Live Action Set, part 3

Returning Favorites - Live Action Set, part 4

Returning Favorites - Allegra Lingo

Returning Favorites - Ben Sandell (aka Leaky Pen, Ink)


Shameless Plug of the Day - Disquietude Theatre Company

Shameless Plug of the Day - Upright Egg

Shameless Plug of the Day - Skewed Visions

Shameless Plug of the Day - Nancy Donoval

Shameless Plug of the Day - Twin Cities Improv Festival


What The Heck Is A Fringe Festival?

You're Never Alone At Fringe Time

Fringe - A User's Guide

Things I Learned About The Fringe At The Library

Fringe on the Radio - and online after

Users Also Scheduled

Fringe Scheduling Hurdles

Mom's On The Way


Fringe-For-All 1 - Robin Gillette

Fringe-For-All 1 and 2 - Traffic Lights

Fringe-For-All 1 - 59 Minutes Til The End

Fringe-For-All 1 - The Visitor, or From Here to Angina

Fringe-For-All 1 - My War - From Britain to Bismarck and Back

Fringe-For-All 1 - Reincarnation: Another Chance At Failure


Fringe-For-All 2 - My Turn

Fringe-For-All 2 - Among The Oats

Fringe-For-All 2 - Hey, I'm Talking Murder Here

Fringe-For-All 2 - Skunkape Sexkult

Fringe-For-All 2 - Meet The MacBeths

Fringe-For-All 2 - Casanova Man

Fringe-For-All 2 - Audish


Card Shark - Fringe-For-All 1 Edition

Card Shark - Guthrie Edition

Card Shark - Library Edition

Card Shark - Snail Mail Edition