Free Range actually has little to do about Free Range Parenting. The play is not so much inspired by Free Range Parenting as it is inspired by the media coverage that Free Range Parenting received in 2014 and 2015. Free Range Parenting seems like a perfectly reasonable way to parent, with much to admire, assuming adequate preparation and demonstrated readiness. Still, I am at no risk of being mistaken as a true practitioner of it. (Too anxious, if for no other reason.)
No one will leave our play without being aware that the main characters are scientists who adhere to a parenting philosophy. This is not because of anything said by parents involved in the case, but because of what columnists chose to highlight.
In addition to the media, the play satirizes what seems to be most prevalent parenting style among upper middle class couples: to be simultaneously hyper-vigilant and overly permissive. And, as anyone on a parents’ ListServ would be quick to recognize, raising kids is fraught with anxiety and other people’s judginess, both of which provide good material for jokes.
Above all else, Free Range is comedy. We’re going for laughs more than anything else. Please join us for an hour of whimsy, absurdity, and hilarity. The jokes are not limited to parenting. As Chinwe Nwosu, who plays anxious parent Jen, says, “Free Range will be entertaining for both parents and non-parents. The play pokes fun at many different kinds of people who are probably overthinking something. But it also raises some intriguing social questions that aren’t always brought up in polite company. If you leave the show laughing, questioning your life choices, or just plain confused we will consider it a success. But please, keep your parenting ListServ comments civil.”
The majority of the cast are seasoned improv actors in their first scripted work. Although I was the primary writer, we collaborated on the script during rehearsals. The production brought to the stage developed from this collaboration. Justine Hipsky and Derek Hayes, who co-direct Free Range and also perform in the same improve troupe, offer perspective on the experience. Hipsky, who also stars as Samantha, the leader of the movement, reflects, “As an improv actor who’s used to making it up along the way, it has been such a wonderful experience to work on building a scripted, comedic world with such a thoughtful, talented cast.” Hayes, who takes on the role of fellow Free Ranger Dave, explains, “As the playwright, Jeff allowed the script space to grow and mature, and he let it flourish without arbitrary restraints. Just as would, I’m guessing, a Free Range parent.”
With Derek Hayes, Justine Hipsky, Chinwe Nwosu, Sherrita Wilkins, Sarah Maher, Kristen Ruga, & Bryanda Minix. Produced by Jeff Reiser, Christopher Leibig, & Jeanne Dillon-Williams.
Jeff Reiser is the writer of Free Range. This is his second play. In The Great Awkward Hope, which was part of the 2015 Capital Fringe Festival, Jeff played the lead role, a character essentially a version of himself. Even that was beyond his capacities as an actor. This year he only appears pretty much as an extra.
July 8 — July 23, 2016
Logan Fringe Arts Space: Upstairs
1358 Florida Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
Show details and tickets