Fringe Intermission

The 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival is half over, and after five days of seeing shows I took a break from the heat and chaos so that I could go to an audition. (An audition I was invited to at the last minute, for a show that I don’t know really anything about. So, chaos and heat v. chaos.)

Thus far during the Fringe, I figure my success rate of hitting a good show is about 70%. That’s not bad. There have been some years where my rate has been much lower. And even more importantly, there have been years where the disparity between the good and the bad is significant.

Here’s a brief rundown of my Fringe experience thus far:

  • Most of the good shows I’ve seen were ones I expected to be good: The Damn Audition, Entwined, See You Next Tuesday, A Sad Carousel, Amaretti Angels. If those had been disappointing I’d have been surprised. There are some talented, skilled people involved in them. They’re making this a great festival.
  • A sleeper that blew me away: Standing Long Jump – a new script (so new it was still changing and actors carried scripts) with imagination and heart and beauty, all really well staged. I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Last night I witnessed a wonderful piece (my old acting teacher would say “that was lovely”) by a woman named Jessica Ferris. Her one-woman, biographical show about searching for her father, called Missing (or more accurately: Missing: the fantastical and true story of my father’s disappearance and what I found when I looked for him) may have jumped to the top of the list as my 2010 favorite. Her performance is charming and funny and executed beautifully, where I’d be laughing along (at some things you normally wouldn’t) and then suddenly feel my breath taken away. I hope she gets lots of people at her shows.
  • I saw a local actress for the first time and found her truly engaging. And then, because it’s the Fringe, I found myself standing next to her at Fringe Central (aka Bedlam) and had to say hello. Rachel Austin is a smart, sweet….I want to say “kid” but she’s not…young talent who will hopefully show up on more stages around town.
  • The Fringe this year introduced curtain speeches by the house managers before each performance. This has sparked some debate. (Some heated.) This has also sparked some rogue performer wannabes dressed up as house managers who do a 3-minute riff with the audience, and audiences chanting said wannabe’s name. I loathe curtain speeches of any kind. I’ve been enlightened to the values of it for the Fringe, and acquiesce. A little direction, a little editing, and this too can work.
  • Fringe goers continue to be cheery, friendly and helpful people. There’s a great sense of community as we all stand in one line, then the next (or perhaps the next if you’re in the wrong one, because some spaces can be confusing, and if you’re confused ask someone) but it’s like the Eisenhower Expressway – it’s crazy busy, confusing, possibly scary but everyone looks out for the other guy and we all get to where we’re going.
  • I saw one woman walk out of a show last night about 20 minutes in to it. I’m not surprised. I don’t suspect the material of the stand-up routine was her cup of tea. Plus, I had seen her get frustrated trying to use the automated parking machine at the parking lot, get snippy with the parking lot attendant, and she seemed surly then. We didn’t need her there.

A few more days, and perhaps too many must-sees to actually see but I’m going to try. As long as I don’t lose my sanity, or any friends in the process, I think I might survive.

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