To see Matt Ward enjoying a microbrew and casual conversation under the Baldacchino Gypsy Bar’s tent on Saturday night, you might not guess he was fighting for his life less than an hour before.
A transplant from Mississippi who recently performed in Synetic Theater’s Home of the Soldier, Matt spent the evening as part of Raising Cane where, covered in dirt, he wrestled and punched his fellow cast members in a violent mash-up of Deliverance, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, and the WWF’s Monday Night Raw.
Right now, though, he is trying to remember who played the lead in the film version of The Importance of Being Earnest. Matt is a collector of movie trivia; not knowing is driving him crazy.
In his second year at Fringe, what Matt likes most about the festival is the opportunity to see and perform new work.
“My first Fringe show was written by an amateur playwright,” Matt remembers. “She wasn’t an established writer or anything, she was just someone who wanted to write a play. She finished a full script, which is a big accomplishment itself, and we put it on. That might not have happened outside of Fringe.”
Matt describes his second Fringe show, My Christian Penis, as “me talking to a disembodied, right-wing, reactionary Christian penis.”
Matt stares into the crowd, still trying to remember who starred in The Importance of Being Earnest. At 10:30 at night, the bar is full of actors, directors, and playwrights celebrating successful performances and promoting tomorrow’s shows. A man hands out postcards advertising his play, which he says is about a sex robot.
“Most theater companies don’t want to take chances on new material,” Matt says, frowning as he studies the postcard, which indeed features a sex robot. “Fringe gives people who might not have their play performed otherwise a chance.”
A young director stops by to passing out promotional material for his show, which sounds like a surrealist musical with puppets.
“Rupert Everett!” a friend suddenly says, remembering the answer that had stumped Matt.
“Rupert Everett,” Matt says, “right.” He pulls out his phone to verify on the IMDB. “I’m going to stream that on Netflix.”