The summer’s Capital Fringe Festival is always an exciting time for theater lovers, but thankfully, you don’t need to wait 12 months for another peek at some of the most original and thought provoking theatre performances.
The 5th anniversary of the fallFringe festival will take place from Nov. 1-17, offering a look at seven sold-out shows from the summer and six brand-new, contemporary performances from production companies that participated in previous Capital Fringe Festivals.
“The first criteria for my choosing what goes in is that you had to have participated in the summer Fringe in some manner and started a relationship with Capital Fringe,” says Julianne Brienza, executive director of Fringe. “We had a lot of sold-out shows this summer so there was a demand from audiences to see a lot of these shows again.”
“The ones that come back are usually artists who have an on-going dialogue with me about things they want to try,” Brienza says. “These may be a bit riskier to do, and I do try to keep it a mix of new shows and returning shows so they can all get attention.”
Overall, 13 shows will play 80 performances at three venues over 11 days. It’s enough to make any theatergoer scream in delight.
Capital Fringe schedule
Tickets:$20 or $15 with your 2013 Fringe button. Buy online at CapitalFringe.org
or by phone at 866-811-4111 or at the Fort Fringe box office: 607 New York Ave., NW Washington, DC 20001.
With his previous Capital Fringe show, e-Geaux beta, Joseph Price used real life audience data for interactive and comedic effect, but the playwright wanted to try something a little different for this fall’s offering. The result is Operating System, where Price mixes data and storytelling to present a portrait that he feels is greater than the sum of its parts.
“I’ve been wanting to incorporate data into narrative in a more intimate and insightful way,” he says. “That’s where this show is coming from, I’m opening up my data to show not only what the data says, but what my relationship with it is.”
The five-time Fringe participant is always excited to return to what he calls “a phenomenal incubator, with great venues and audiences” and is grateful he is getting the chance to present “a strange show” that might not otherwise been seen.
“This is a play about a man in love. With a woman, with computers, with data,” Price says. “It charts the course of those relationships. Throughout the show, you are hands on with my data. In fact, through the pre-show website, I expose three sample data sets to get audiences into the analytic mindset.”
With 43 and ½: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies, five actors present the guts, glory and stabby bits of the famed playwright’s greatest tragic deaths by giving pop culture treatments to scenes from Shakespeare while still retaining the Bard’s original language—all in 70 minutes of fun.
“By creating our inter scene vignettes, we allow the audience a peak into what it’s like in the rehearsal and creation process for actors and artists. By utilizing gender blind casting and character creation, we allow all women who perform this piece (now and in to the future) the chance to play meaningful roles they may otherwise be denied,” says Aubri O’Connor, one of the show’s creators. “ By doing the death scenes we’re able to give the audience what they asked for while also maybe enlightening and entertaining them in the process.”
The idea for the play came about last summer when the creators were discussing Shakespeare and were coming up with reasons that people didn’t like Shakespeare anymore. Over the course of the conversation the complaints that stuck out the most were that he didn’t seem relevant, didn’t seem timely and that aside from the death scenes, weren’t that good.
“I wanted to make a play that would bring Shakespeare into our present,” O’Connor says. “He had such amazing breadth of work. I think if Shakespeare was working today he’d be Joss Whedon, simultaneously presenting campy horror TV shows, cult classic adventures, big budget action flicks, and classical interpretations on the indie film circuit. I wanted to bring that Shakespeare to life for the audience.”
Returning from summer is the popular musical, Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk written by Vaughn Irving and Paul Foreman.
“I have been writing this musical for two years and it has been quite a ride,” Irving says. “At first, the show was just a long string of bad Jesus puns. But, as I continued to work, the story became bigger than I intended. It became a story about art and love and faith. Not faith in God (in fact there is surprisingly little about religion in the play), but faith in each other and faith in oneself.”
But not to worry, he left in plenty of bad Jesus puns and added loads of hot disco and funk to spare. In fact, he and co-composer Paul Foreman, have been lost in the ’70s for the last two years, listening to everything from James Brown to The Village People.
“We have included a taste of every sub-genre that can be considered funk or disco and the result is: a psychogroovulent funkstorm that will tear the roof off the world and rattle your inner consciousness with vibrations of inter-dimensional soul,” he says. “We promise you’re gonna leave the theater shaking what the Good Lord gave ya, ready to take on the world, and with the answer to the age-old question: ‘What Would Disco Jesus Do?’”
Brynn Tucker reveals she’s been dancing naked for over 10 years as a tool to check in with herself, get grounded and to help her self-confidence. Dancing in her apartment one day, she was struck with a realization: Not a single soul on the planet knew she was doing this. And other people should feel the freedom that she felt.
“I found that it’s not just fun, it’s important for a positive self image, which is a real struggle these days, especially for women,” she says.
Last summer, Tucker presented A Guide to Dancing Naked at Capital Fringe and it returns this fall.
“In A Guide to Dancing Naked, I talk about my life as a person who dances naked and give my audience tips on how to transform their living room, apartment, bathroom, closet, into their own dance floor,” Tucker says. “What makes my show special is that I teach the audience choreography throughout the show and put it all together at the end of the show for an awesome dance party. Dancing in highly encouraged.”
Tucker adds that she hopes that people who see her show go home and dance, ideally naked, but no pressure. She just wants people to try it and have fun with their beautiful bodies on their own time.
Matthew Pauli, Karen Beriss, Rich Potter return to Fringe with Clown Cabaret: All-Stars, a new show presenting a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary display of the modern face of clowns.
For the last three years, Clown Cabaret has been the only show of its kind outside of New York City.
“Although clowns are pervasive in our popular culture through movies and television (Dick Van Dyke, Steve Martin, Mr. Bean, Monty Python, Charlie Chaplin, Steve Carrell, Bugs Bunny), the theatrical tradition is alive and vibrant and we wish to strengthen that,” Potter says. “As an evolving art form, we feel it is important to keep in the front of the public. The Fringe Festival brings out theater enthusiasts who are willing to have fun and try something new and we hope to create new enthusiasts for the art form.”
It’s adults only for Sheldon Scott’s Shrimp & Griots, a sweet boy’s story of the bitter South and the animated characters informing his coming-of-age.
“The piece is an exercise in introspection. Frequently posed with the question, ‘Where are you from?’ I wanted to explore an answer that wasn’t limited to geography, but included cultural, social, economic, and psychological qualifiers as well,” Scott says. “Shrimp & Griots is a performance of stories of identity and acceptance and the need to find those things in yourself versus gleaning them from those around you.
As a black, poor, effeminate boy growing up in the South, this challenge is further complicated as everything the world wants, you are not, making finding your place next to impossible.”
For her first foray into the world of Fringe this summer, Jenny Splitter wanted to write something campy and funny and her mind immediately went to the Housewives franchise—a guilty pleasure of the writer.
The result was H Street Housewives, an interpretation of what a season of the Real Housewives would look like on H Street NE. Inside, you’ll find the only Fringe play to reference kombucha, free-range parenting and the X2.
“I liked the idea of juxtaposing the drama of reality television with a satirical take on my neighborhood: H Street NE,” she says. “It begins with everyone’s favorite episode: the reunion. You can expect urban chicken farming, listserv drama, and a secret plot to change H Street forever.”
Writer Hunter Styles had been hoping to work on a project with Grain of Sand for a while, and after kicking around ideas revolving around a myth or well-known story, the idea for Tell-Tale came to fruition.
“We went through a few options, ranging as far back as the classics, but the work of Edgar Allan Poe really stuck with us. I think we were all attracted to the visceral (and, often, somewhat theatrical) way in which Poe uses short stories to build little worlds full of strangeness and dread,” Styles says. “Many of his characters feel trapped, and we found this translates well to a theatrical space.”
The challenge for Styles then became, how do you separate your story enough to make it you own and make audiences see something they never saw before. Judging by the audiences reactions this summer, he accomplished that and more.
The plot is simple enough. A man wakes up after a near-fatal car crash to find he is healing miraculously fast. He follows a mysterious connection to his blood donor to discover her secrets, as his journalist wife looks for answers and gets in over her head.
“The devices in the script add other dimensions, and bridge the plot and the deeper human elements. Characters connect with each other and see each other across time and space. Each character shares his or her story with the audience,” says director Carl Brandt Long. “The director’s challenge is to make the play cohesive, and instead of resisting or trying to maneuver around these elements, I embraced them. I looked to Picasso and M. C. Escher for inspiration, and sought ways to make the fractured nature of the script visual and physical.”
A few changes have been made since the summer show: two new cast members who have brought new ideas to their characters and the play as well as some things they wanted to explore further or differently.
Jason Patrick Wells, who along with wife Jacy Barber comprise Not A Robot Theatre Co., will be presenting He Smokes With Mirrors, a nonlinear exploration of reflection and illusion told through monologues, movement, sound, projections and objects.
“When we began the creation process of this piece we thought we were going to create a toy theater piece based around a dressing table,” Wells says. “But as we brainstormed we realized we were more interested in the mirror sitting atop of the dressing table than the table itself. Then we started to investigate reflection. Physical and emotional reflection.”
Who did we miss?