Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fringe 2010 - Top 20 - #s 16 to 20

If you put a gun to my head and I could only see ten Fringe shows (that weren't already on a previous Top Ten list of mine), they would be these and these.

If you removed that gun from my head and allowed me to see ten more, they would be...

#11 to #15


The Failed Voyage of the Failed Ororo

Nicholas Clark, Sophie Gori and Larry Sass-Ainsworth

"Being forgotten by everyone for less than a second and thus transported to a forgotten dimension isn't stupid.

It's dumb.

The tale of a soulless cowboy and the loneliest boy in the world's journey through time and space, back home to the comfort of Ma and Pa.

Told through a dizzying mixture of puppetry, video projection, shadows, and dumb-boy-choirs.

Ah, if only they knew the title of the show..."

Genre and Warnings - Puppetry, Sci-fi/mystery, Teens, Strobe lights, Loud noises/gunshots

First of all, the video...

What. The. Hell... ?

(and I mean that in a good way. No, really. It's in my Top 20, remember.)

It's sort of early Gus Van Sant crossed with all those odd homoerotic European films about young soldiers or scouts out in the wilderness that are just this side of gay porn.

(and I mean that in a good way. No, really. It's in my Top 20, remember.)

So, I was curious, and I emailed Nicholas Clark, and this is what he had to say...

"This is my third year in the Fringe Festival, but my first as a self-financed, self-produced creator. My first experience was with 2008's "The Boy Show," in which I wrote a little bit and also performed, and last year I wrote "Mutant Squad!," which was really to test both the Fringe and writing out. It was incredibly difficult last year and while I'm extremely proud of some of "Mutant Squad's" moments, I really wanted to present myself this year to both my friends and the community.

[Blogger note - Those were both Youth Performance Company shows. I love YPC. They train their artists to a very high standard. They have the Ivey Awards to prove it. Very good sign.]

I wasn't planning on participating in the Fringe this year until I got extremely frustrated with theater while in school, not that there wasn't enough great shows around town, but none that were really doing what I was hoping for. I wanted to see ton's of mixed-media, puppetry, and maybe even some horror! So I decided that since this was possibly my last year performing in the MN Fringe (I'm 17 and who knows where I'll be next year), I better get at it.

Me and my friend Sophie Gori (who has helped me design both this show and "Mutant Squad!") then started talking about putting on a show that incorporated BIG, video projected sets and that's when it really took off. Shortly after we decided that, "Brief Encounter" came to the Guthrie and blew me out of the water, I knew if I was going to go ahead with video projection, I was going to have to do it real good.

[Blogger note - Anyone blown away by "Brief Encounter" is OK by me as well.]

The show has changed a lot over the year, but one aspect has always been the same, the story of quite possibly the loneliest boy in the world and a mysterious stranger who finds a way to exploit him, only to together discover their virtually non-existent presence within the Universe.

Oh, and make it fun too. We decided before we began that we wanted to do a two-man show, both because it made the characters seem extremely alone and overly reliant upon each other. Also it's rare to see a teen Fringe show without a large ensemble, an aspect of "Mutant Squad!" I found to be a great source of stress last year.

I don't know if you've seen our trailer,

[Blogger note - Uh... yeah...]

but you can probably tell from both that and the description I want to keep the show mysterious. We've worked hard at creating a world for this (which is an alternate dimension, well a few of them at least) and I really want people to be surprised by it when they first see the show begin. Me and Larry Sass-Ainsworth (the other performer as Ororo) have really run free with this show, trusting our guts upon every aspect from embracing the convoluted science-fiction of the piece to understanding no joke is ever too dumb, but more importantly trying to tell a story that's both extremely intimate and still pretty damn epic.

[Blogger note - convoluted science fiction, dumb jokes, extremely intimate, pretty damn epic - check, check, check, and check.]

I hope to God we pull it off, we've poured our entire summer into it and have no regrets about it either. I hope you can make it to our show and see what we've done, we really want people to see it more than anything else!"

You know me. I love an quirky underdog show when I meet it. This is another of 'em. Even if they don't pull it off to their own satisfaction, it's probably gonna be fascinating just to watch them *try.* I just love watching somebody swing for the fences. 17. Damn.

Look at that video again. Aren't you just a little bit curious? I know I am.

Their Fringe page

Mom and I are seeing their fourth performance on Tuesday 8/10.
(Their first three performances are Saturday 8/7, Sunday 8/8 and Monday 8/9)


Naked Yoga (and Other Gay Love Stories)

No More Mr. Nice Gay Theatre

For all the reasons listed here

Note that they've updated their show listing a bit. Not all plays are playing all days. Everyone gets the Yoga and Vampires, if you have your heart set on killers, Bush or IKEA, look closely at their specific dates to see the show combo for you.

Their Fringe page

Not sure where this one lands on the schedule yet.
Their performances are Saturday 8/7, Sunday 8/8, Tuesday 8/10, Friday 8/13 and Sunday 8/15.


Skiing On Broken Glass

Still Standing Productions

"A successful but lonely writer and a young male escort, both haunted by their pasts, find themselves in an unexpected and unlikely relationship. Can love heal their past wounds or will it cut them to shreds?

This two character drama is for mature audiences. It explores the psychological and sexual dynamics that exist in every relationship. Relationships are about power - who has it and who doesn’t. But, is power static or is it fluid? In every relationship, the couple negotiates the terms they can live with; but, can they live with terms they negotiate? Filled with emotion and humor, each character struggles to find his 'happily ever after.'"

So, this can go one of two ways - it can end the way Pretty Woman turned out, or the way Pretty Woman was originally written, which was, shall we say, a bit darker and less Cinderella. I know how I'd like it to end, but I'm not writing this one, and it's Fringe time, so who knows?

I've written my share of plays about guys dealing in sex for money, so the dynamics of the difference between sex and love is obviously something that continues to nag at me. Prostitution's just a really handy metaphor.

"lonely writer... young male escort..."

Let's face it, some days, there but for the grace of God, and the ability to afford someone who looks like Max Polski, go I.

Random observation - Between Skiiing On Broken Glass, Skating on Open Water, and Swimming in Quicksand, the playwright sure loves his S verbs.

The cast (Joel Liestman, Max Polski) and director (Michelle O'Neill) make me think we're in good hands, and that this one's going to be a cut above the rest. Haven't read the script or anything, but it's had some development time to mature, and didn't attract these artists for nothin'. It's why it floated close to the top of my list when perusing the Fringe offerings this year.

Their website -

Their Fringe page

Not sure where this one lands on the schedule yet.
Their performances are Friday 8/6, Saturday 8/7, Monday 8/9, Friday 8/13, and Sunday 8/15.


Condoleeza's Rites

Tyehimba Leadership Center

"Over-the-airways political satirist Condoleeza Truth unleashes a deadly blow to poor black Americans. Trapped between life and death, she is forced to review her history and is haunted by its reflection."

I'm basically going to this one because phillip andrew bennett low will not shut up about it (and that's a good thing). I remember him raving about it the last time it was brought to the Fringe, but I didn't get a chance to see it. Now he's going back for more with this remount of the production...

"Condoleeza's Rites is actually a remount of a show that impressed the hell out of me when it presented a few years back -- and didn't get anything resembling the audience it deserved. The story of a shock-jock conservative reflecting on the choices that brought her to her profession, it stood out as rising above the material -- rather than a shrill condemnation of conservatism, an examination of the forces that shape things like the Tea Party movement. And this was written, like, years before anyone had dreamed up that nonsense. I'm eager to check it out again, to see how the play has changed -- how I've changed -- and, well, how the audience has changed. Here's hoping it gets a better shot this time around."

Anything that arouses that kind of devotion in phillip, I have to see for myself.

Their Fringe page

Not sure where this one lands on the schedule yet.
Their performances are Thursday 8/5, Sunday 8/8, Tuesday 8/10, Thursday 8/12, and Saturday 8/14.


James T. Wilson

Harold D.

"James T. Wilson haunts himself as he dissects his relationship with his father and his half-sister. James is an average man in present day America where the sense of "status" begins to slowly take over his life, affecting his relationships with the people closest to him. James takes a risk that will make him happy and hopefully salvage his relationships that mean the world to him. WIll he be happy? Or will he be sad during the hard times of a recession."

Oh man, I am taking a big leap on this one. But I am strangely compelled by it, first because it was so hard to find anything out about it, and then when I did, well...

It's sort of fascinating in the same way a car wreck is mesmerizing. That, plus I talked with the producer/writer/actor Stanton Pavlicek on the phone the other day, and based on sheer force of personality, I feel like I have to see how this one turned out.

Because it's not a shiny, happy show, and I tend to like my Fringe with just a smidge more hopefulness in the mix.

But the fact that this show is happening at all is something of a small miracle. The script completely changed about a month ago (from comedy to tragedy), they lost both of the actors (so you won't be seeing either of the men in the publicity photo onstage), less than a week ago the two actors who are currently in the show (Stan, and Kevin Goff) switched roles, and their tech is the morning of the same day as their first performance. Phew.

Oh, and the actors are currently living together under the same roof, so the line between psycho on stage and pyscho at home is a thin one. But Stan got his playwright friend Max Hammel (who's going to NYU to study Dramatic Writing in the fall) to help him polish the script. And he sounded like he had a pretty clear idea of the sort of tech he wanted, and it didn't seem extreme or burdensome. He's also got a background in improv comedy, so he's used to thinking on his feet, which has carried him this far.

In the teeny tiny world department, he asked, "Are you the guy who wrote 'Leave'?" Because Stan is friends with one of the actors in the cast, and was one of a posse of people who drove down from Morris, MN to see the show at the Bryant Lake Bowl in 2008. But they couldn't get in, because it was sold out. So they bowled instead and then hung out with the cast after the play came down. I'd tell him to come see the show when it gets produced in early 2011 by Urban Samurai, but Stan's perpetual motion existence continues after the Fringe. He's getting his motorcyle license, and will be heading off to Los Angeles at the end of the month to seek his fortune in acting, modeling, and comedy.

Wear a helmet.

Their Fringe page

Not sure where this one lands on the schedule yet.
Their performances are Thursday 8/5, Sunday 8/8, Tuesday 8/10, Wednesday 8/11, and Sunday 8/15.


And here's a handy index of links for all blog content on the 2010 Fringe!

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