The Man burns in 46 days. Don’t worry that’s not a line from the Nicolas Cage flop Wicker Man, but Capital Fringe’s intentionally funny Ten Principles, a free flowing oral performance based around the infamous desert bacchanalia Burning Man. Through ten stories, actual festival goers, or “burners,” recount their time out on the Playa, living a life of dust, art and fire in the temporary Black Rock City with 70,000 other free spirits.
The Ten Principles of Burning Man are a code for festival decorum and lifestyle guide that stress radical self-expression and self-reliance. The show Ten Principles )'( touches on themes and virtues found within the code, acting as a far-out morality play where each storyteller encounters a Burning Man Principle during their stay and undergoes a personal transformation as a result.
Ten Principles )'(
Conceived by JR Russ
at Bedroom – Fort Fringe
612 L Street NW
Washington, DC 2000
Details and tickets[/wpcol_1quarter]Director Jeffrey Brady does a skilled job at curating the story collection so that the show’s arch stretches far enough to cover the rainbow of Burning Man experiences. Each storyteller comes at the festival from a different perspective as well as life-stage. There is the young burner who bicycles around the extensive city street system wearing little more than a jockstrap Crown Royal bag or the reserved suburban mom who surprises herself by rolling in the desert sands naked with perfect strangers shortly after arriving. The raconteurs, as diverse as their wardrobes of day-glow, tie-die and bizarre onesies, represent a wide swath of the Burning Man citizenry and broaden the notion of the average burner beyond mere hallucinogenic enthusiast.
In fact, contrary to the isolated nature of drug use, most of the stories in Ten Principles focus on an ebullient connection with an uncompromisingly inclusive community. The Burning Man culture fosters this famed bonhomie with a strong tradition of gift giving. With no commercial goods available onsite, the festival functions on an economy of mutual charity. Everyone is expected to contribute to the festival with the resources they have. Some give baths, some help others find their Burning Man nickname or “Playa Name,” while many people, it seems, give hugs.
In each story, someone receives a life affirming hug from a total stranger who turns into a best friend for life. At times, these stories can sound a little like summer camp memories with less clothing, and it’s okay to roll your eyes in these moments. But throughout Ten Principles, you do believe in the festival’s collective power to bring people together to build a city and culture in the middle of a dessert if only to burn it down eight days later.
Like the culminating moment of Burning Man, setting the Man ablaze to light up the dessert dark, Ten Principles draws in the audience’s attention with its entertainment and spectacle, inviting participation (audience members are given costumes to wear) and connection. If you are interested in what exactly takes place at Burning Man, gift Ten Principles )'( to yourself and get ready for a strange and funny trip.