Well, the shows are over, the Fort Fringe tents have come down, and we imagine the Fringe crew is off on a well-deserved break. But not before they announced their Pick of the Fringe winners voted on by you, the audience. They are:
- Best Experimental – Crashing Home, WEERD SISTERS
- Best Comedy – Dr. Serenity Hawkfire’s Beyond Being Workshop, Suzanne
- Falter-Barns LLC
- Best Drama – Ethan Now, XLTHEATRE COMPANY
- Best Dance – Fiddler Ghost, Old Lore Theater
- Best Solo – 7 (x1) Samurai, David Gaines
- Best Musical – Diamond Dead, The Landless Theatre Company
- Best Show – The Sticking Place, Molotov Theatre Group
- And the Director’s Award: Children of Medea, Sue Jin Song
This year, DC Theatre Scene managed to cover nearly a hundred shows. Tim Treanor, with 25 reviews, led the DCTS pack of regulars and some talented young reviewers. He kicks off the conversation here and weinvite our writers and readers to give us your impressions of this year’s Fringe.
A lot of shows I saw weren’t really ready for the Fringe, but there were also some terrific pieces. We Three and Thicker than Water were both moving meditations on mental illness and the way families cope with it. The Naked Party was a blast. Some folks said without the nudity it wouldn’t have been much of a show, but that’s like saying that Death of a Salesman would have been nothing if Willie Loman wasn’t so depressed. The nudity was the point. I loved Chicago monologist Joe Zarrow’s piece about love and dentistry, Hold Me, Drill Me, Kiss Me. Speakeasy DC showed what a valuable institution it is with its wonderful Chocolate Jesus and, even better, Revenge of the Cat-Headed Baby. But the best thing I saw in this year’s Fringe was a monologue by James Judd called 7 Sins. I was laughing so hard that I was grateful the monologue was only 60 minutes. Any longer, and the oxygen deprivation might have affected my brain.
How was your Fringe?
I do agree that there seemed a lack of publicity leading up to the Fringe. I knew it was coming, and kept looking for info as close as one week prior, and still found very little info about it. For folks who aren’t already active in the DC theatre scene, I don’t think there was enough promotional material displayed in the city. I didn’t see any posters until the first week itself – it may have been on a metro train or bus, can’t remember. Even folks I work with in the city had no idea what I was talking about when I said I was Fringing over the weekend. I do think more could be done to create broader awareness of and interest in the Fringe throughout the entire metro area. But still, as a patron, I had a great overall experience and very much enjoyed this year.
Brian Cooper says
Hey Jenn! Your all my crack babies darling! and i am the bloated androg Mother Goddess spilling my spawn into the darkness. Gosh I missed you guys. Tell you what though Jenn when DD raises its mutated head In Octoboer I will be there!
Love You all big hugs to everyone!
Lenny Levy says
I performed in one play and saw eight others at this year’s Fringe Festival. I thought “One for the Road” was the best show that I viewed. The other shows varied from Wonderful (7 Samurai, Laura Zam) to what were they thinking. I respect any performer’s efforts to put together a play and present it. But the Fringe is a showcase for actors to show some wonderful performances for the general community. More great shows this year mean more audiences next year. So let’s accept the challenge to make next year’s Fringe not necessarily the largest, but the best. Also, talking to people at shows revealed that they felt there was not adequate information for them to determine which shows they wanted to see. They complained that a two-line blurb by the people putting on the show did not give enough information. They were desperate for more information so something should be done to provide it. On the other hand, when I spoke to people who lived in Montgomery County, MD, almost nobody had any idea that there was a Fringe Festival, let alone what it was. It appeared that most of the publicity for the Fringe was done through “The Washington Post” and the “City Paper.” There are dozens of local papers all over the DC Metro area, and if these papers had been contacted, it may have lead to more publicity and larger crowds. The Fringe is the type of event that the entire DC Metro community should participate in. Another source of publicity should have been this year’s Artomatic, a gathering of artists from the area that ran from May 9 to June 15. While a major focus was the work of visual artists, Artomatic had close to 200 performing artists participate. There were several stages available and any performing artist was free to participate. With large crowds in attendance, this would have been perfect for staged readings or short plays. While Artomatic does not have a set time each year, since they need to secure a new space each year, it is an excellent opportunity for performing artists to get some stage time. It would probably be good for the leaders of the Fringe to contact the leaders of Artomatic (www.Artomatic.org) to ensure some type of interaction in the future. Finally, the worst facility where I viewed a show this year was The Shop at Fort Fringe. Since this is supposed to be the permanent home of all things Fringe, including a year-round performance space, I hope the problems can be chalked up to it being a new space and that it will be vastly improved in the very near future. There was no air-conditioning the first weekend of the Fringe, even though it was promised there would be. Ah, July in DC and no air conditioning. At least my sweat glands got a good workout. What was eventually supplied was one small window unit which could not even make a dent in the large space occupied. Several fans were in action, but these added much noise and little coolness. There is no access to The Shop from Fort Fringe and attendees at shows have to walk out of the box office and around to the back of the same building to access the theater space. While New York Avenue seemed like a good area to walk around, L Street did not look as hospitable. Reverse this process if a patron had to go to the bathroom. Since this entire building previously housed a restaurant, there has to be a connection between the two sides of the building, but I was told there was too much stuff in the way to allow access from The Fort to The Shop. Telling patrons that they can’t get to the bathroom without walking around the building is unfair to the patrons. Another problem, one performer did not realize there was a backstage area, information that should have been shared when he arrived for his rehearsal. He was using an area that our group did not know was available. Information like these needs to be provided to the performers. I’ve probably said more than my share, so I look forward to next year’s Fringe, both as a participant and a viewer of shows.
For only getting in on the last weekend, I managed to catch two of the “Picks of Fringe”, as well as a number that were well reviewed, and my overall experience was great. I managed to catch 11 fringe shows, and only 1 was a bummer! That ain’t bad! Faves in order: Fiddler Ghost; Slave Narratives Revisited; and Tales of Doomed Love. Already looking forward to next year!
Elizabeth J. Y. says
I saw “If You See Something, Say Something” and thought it was excellent: moving, funny, scary, informative, entertaining, brilliantly done.
While this is true (and we very much appreciate the Fringe reps’ help over the past few years), there have been many instances where I’ve experience reps being uncommonly rude and unaccommodating when our show’s performers were polite and did everything necessary in a timely manner. Sometimes I chalk things up to folks having bad days, but a consistent “bad day” is inexcusable. Simply put; if you don’t want to be there to help us figure things out with the venue (we only know what reps tell us) and put on a great show, don’t be there at all. No show needs negative reinforcement to bring everyone down!
This is true. It’s just unnecessary. Maybe the Fringe staff had another show to get in, who are guaranteed an hour to set up. Maybe they couldn’t keep the building open that late. My point to Nick, admittedly not as clear as it should have been, fueled by anger as it was, is that the Fringe staff take a lot of flack from patrons (“Why is there no AC,” “I bought a ticket online,” and my personal favorite, “What do you mean I need to spend $5 more on a button?”), and they shouldn’t be blasted, as VOLUNTEERS, for doing their jobs.
Ronnie Ruff says
I don’t use that term very often but tell me… How do you not offend segments of the population now days 🙂
Rosalind Lacy MacLennan says
Two shows completely blew me away: For experimental: Slave Narratives Revisited with Ed Shockley and Lary Moten. Those two actors could teach some of the other D.C. actors a thing or two about acting with full voiced nuance, projection and deeply felt conviction. The subject was painful stuff but delivered with style and clarity that just glides through your ribs right into your heart. I was hanging onto every syllable. The other show was Euripedes’ The Bacchae for drama gave me new insight into an ancient play. I also loved Marat/Sade which I reviewed. Can’t help it. Those phrases and images linger today, uncomfortable as they are. We are living in a mad house. More later. I’m on the run but not from a strait jacket or as a fugitive from justice yet.
Nick, “Fringe Nazis” is one of the most offensive and stupid comments I’ve ever read. Learn to express your opinion without, you know, offending a large segment of the population.
Jen Tonon says
Brian! Where the heck have you been, you old so-and-so? We love your crack-baby of a show 🙂
Brian Cooper says
Hi Erin and Nick,Im really excited that you dug The Diamond Dead Im really blown away by the Landless Theater dedication to Richard and I,s little musical. Andrew Baughham is like some sort of force of nature keeping it going. He rocks!
Brian Cooper Cteator of the Diamond Dead
I produced my play “Three Times a Lady” and couldn’t be happier with the Fringe Staff. The audience was wonderful as we were near capicity for the last 3 performances. My biggest disappointment is that while I count 91 reviews on this site, my show was one of the unfortunate ones that didn’t make the cut — despite tickets being reserved for two different performances. (It’s not too late if you want to post a review!).
Totally agree, Erin. Diamond Dead was a blast, and I’m not exactly a zombie/heavy metal fan. I hope this isn’t the last show . . . the audience called for a Diamond Dead encore, but the fringe Nazis wouldn’t let them play.
Steven McKnight says
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of quality shows. I saw 17 shows (reviewed 9, saw 8 on my own) and thought 10 of the 17 were really good (a pretty good batting average even for non-Fringe theatre-going). Further, that number of 17 only included one of the “Pick of the Fringe” (and I didn’t include that one in the 10 that I really enjoyed!). Of course, I took advantage of the DCTS reviews to buy tickets for some good shows before they sold out (hint for next year, Fringe-lovers).
Alphabetically, my 10 favorite shows were: Born Normal, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Gilgamesh, Jerry Springer, Lebensraum, Lexi Star’s Privates, Manifesto, On the Sly, Tales of Doomed Love, and The Naked Party.
Congrats, however, to all of those intrepid souls who had the guts to put it all out there on stage. Even the lesser talents helped make the Fringe what it is.
I had the pleasure of seeing “Diamond Dead” and really really enjoyed myself! The cast gave off great energy and kept the show moving right along. I still find myself singing songs from the show. It seemed the entire audience was really in to the show and participating which really made it fun as well. I would definitely see this show again.