A couple weeks ago I attended a small fundraising event called Wordstock, benefiting a spoken-word troupe of sorts. A small theatre company. Well, actually, I’m not sure that’s right either. I mean even according to their own website they can’t define what they do. And by “they” I mean one person. Unless there are others with him.

Anyway – the evening was a small fundraiser at someone’s home, and included a silent auction and performances. It felt like part party, part fundraiser, part performance and part kegger.

Yes, kegger. The “fundraising” included a suggested donation at the door, which entitled the donor to a red plastic cup and access to the keg in the kitchen. This was something I haven’t done in years.

After an hour or so of small talk and perusing the numerous (and some very nice, others…not so) items up for the silent auction the crowd was corralled to one side of the living room to allow for a small “stage” complete with its own entrance out of the kitchen. Our host and emcee (and benefactee) greeted us all and introduced the various acts.

This was certainly the highlight of the evening. I had come primarily because my very good friend and collaborator was doing a ten minute story she’d written, which I’d recently read and discussed with her. It was a true story, but one that I don’t think I’d ever heard (which was surprising given how long we’ve known each other.) There were some intriguing, funny and touching elements to it. There was also some fiction, but only in a person’s name so as to not…well, to be fair, I suppose. No one really needs one’s dirty laundry aired publicly, even if only to a group of strangers in a suburban apartment living room.

She’s a very talented actress, but hasn’t been on stage in a few years and this was nothing like what she’d done before. I wanted to see how she did, and I wanted to give her support. I also felt compelled to go to simply be supportive of the host and the other performers.

She did well, and the friendly audience loved her and wants to see more. I know she was a bit nervous but she remained charming and engaging throughout, and I hope she continues to write more pieces. Despite having the challenge of following a master story teller in the lineup of the evening, she held her own and shined.

I found it all inspirational. I think story telling, particularly when it’s non-fictional, biographical memoir, (as a number of the pieces were that evening) can be very engaging, and I suspect challenging to write. Or, to write well. Only during the Minnesota Fringe Festival do I ever really see and experience story telling.

This is where all things may converge for me. The 2010 festival starts this week, and unlike last year, I’m not involved as anything other than a ticket buyer. I wonder if there’s an experience to happen, a story to tell, of this year’s fringe. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write about the shows I see, not as a critic (which I’ve said I wouldn’t do here) but rather as a person in a social setting. Not about the plays themselves but about the festival, the experience, the sites, the people, the smells, the sounds, the energy and the exhaustion.

I may or may not post any of it, either during or after the Fringe.  And I will likely change the names to protect the innocent (or not-so-innocent,) just as my friend did. It’s only fair. So, if we cross paths at the Fringe, you’re still safe.


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