Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fringe 2017 - Top 10 - #2 - Blackout Improv


#2 on the Fringe Top 10 list this year is

Blackout Improv - Rogues Gallery Arts

“Members of this all person of color improv team take on the Minnesota Fringe in a way that only they can, with humor, swag, and a focus on social issues. Each performance will feature an amazing special guest!”

Like I said the other day, it was a toss-up between this show and Odd Man Out for the number 1 slot.  Odd Man Out and Blackout Improv were the two shows that excited me the most about the upcoming Minnesota Fringe Festival.  I could technically grandfather these folks in as a returning favorite since one of the members of the troupe, Duck Washington, topped my Top 10 list last year with Caucasian-Aggressive Pandas and Other Mulatto Tales, but they warrant more of a spotlight than that.  Honestly, given all the press they’ve garnered, most recently as one of the acts in this week’s New Griots Festival (see THAT, too, tickets to all acts are just $9 and it runs through this Sunday - very Fringey in spirit and a much needed spotlight for artists of color - plus, see three shows and get vouchers for seven more tickets free)… ok, that sentence got away from me. Simply put, they don’t need my help to get the word out.

So, there’s the founding members Alsa Bruno, Joy Dolo, John Gebretatose, Andy Hilbrands, and Kory LaQuess Pullam; and the second generation of artists invited in - Denzel Belin, Sami Dee, Alyssa DiVirgilio, Ashawnti Ford, Neal Hazard, Khary Jackson, Theo Langason, Duck Washington, and Nimene Wureh. (Denzel, Alyssa, Joy, John, Kory, Duck, and Nimene are listed as performers in the Fringe outing, with Khary as musician and Sami as stage manager)

If you haven’t run across at least one of those names in your theatergoing over the last several years, where the heck have you been hiding?  They work in theaters large and small, in projects obscure and inescapable, all over the Twin Cities metro.  (I quite literally do not have time to find and link to all my past theater reviews, or even shows of my own, that mention each of them.)  If you’ve seen any of them in action, you know this Fringe show is going to be smart, quality comedy.  If you haven’t, honestly, catch up.  The Fringe is providing you with an ideal opportunity.

And it’s improv, so it’s going to be completely different every single show.  You could go to all five and have a new experience each time, newer than the usual “all theater performances are different” kind of thing.

Blackout Improv has a regular monthly berth at Phoenix Theater (which is also their Fringe venue) - third Friday of the month, 10:30pm.  Now if, like me, it’s been (cough) a while since you were in college or grad school, 10:30pm on a Friday to START a show is a little late.  But the performers are so busy with other theater projects around town on a regular basis that it was either late night or not at all.  I must admit to only being able to summon the stamina for a late Friday show once so far.  (I’m very glad I did, which is why I’m so excited about their Fringe and New Griots outings, but I wish I had the strength for more at the end of a work week at the day jobs.) That’s why their banner ads on the Fringe website say “Blackout Improv at a reasonable hour” :) (Their latest time slots in the Fringe are 8:30pm, so we’ll all still be fresh as daisies.)

It’s a show I can already say I’m likely to see more than once because, well, it’s rare that you KNOW ahead of time you’re going to have a good time AND it’s worth repeat viewing. That’s Fringe gold right there.

If you haven’t seen them, you should.  If you have seen them, you probably stopped reading this blog post at the headline because you needed no convincing to go.  So Mom and I will see you there.


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