Just minutes away from the opening of Capital Fringe 2016, Ryan Taylor posts the first entry of DCTS’ newest column, On the Fringe. Take it away, Ryan –
Welcome to DC Theatre Scene’s 2016 coverage of the Capital Fringe Festival! I’ll be your host for the evening (and the next three weeks or so) as we dive deep and unpretentiously as possible into the 11tth year of Fringe.
I’ve been around Fringe since the beginning, as an artist, producer, journalist and audience member. For the past several years I’ve taken it upon myself to look for patterns in the Fringe chaos, trying to find discernible in the works being presented in a particular year.
What did I say about being unpretentious?
On that note, I bring you this entirely subjective, completely non-scientific look at the trends of Fringe 2016. Am I wrong about some stuff? Probably! It’s all based on early Fringe marketing, which can be a bit of a Rorschach Test. Keep in mind these aren’t recommendations per se, since none of them have opened yet, just some examples of what seems to be on the Fringe community’s mind these days. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Fringe Has A Song In Its Heart
Lots of musicals this year. Lots of ‘em! Witness my totally baseless speculation about the influence of Hamilton on young artists who are so very, very lucky to be young enough to have Hamilton as a formative influence. I guess Glee was there too. Remember when Glee was a thing?
Lil’ Women: A Rap Musical – A hip-hop infused take on a literary classic? This hits so many CapFringe sweet spots. Do not be surprised Orlando-based Lil Theater Company’s production, currently touring the Fringe circuit, is a bit of a hot ticket. (At Atlas Performing Arts Center, starting Friday, July 8th)
35MM: A Musical Exhibition: In his marketing Ryan Scott Oliver declares that his combination of new music, storytelling, and projection “re-imagines what the modern American musical can be”. Consider the gauntlet thrown. Also, please note that “Ryan Scott Oliver” is not I, Ryan Scott Taylor’s, clever attempt at a pseudonym. (At Atlas Performing Arts Center starting Saturday, July 9th.)
Over Her Dead Body – CapFringe stalwarts Pinky Swear Productions have put aside their traditional summer cabaret in favor of this collaboratively created bluegrass-infused musical. Rock on. (At the Logan Fringe Arts Space: Trinidad Theatre, starting Saturday, July 9th.)
It’s been year of some soul searching as DC theater (and the American theater) makes an effort more radical inclusivity of minority and under-heard voices, good to see what seems to be a more diverse Fringe this year as well.
Love In Ruins – El Toro Theater presents this love story set in the Spanish Civil War. (At Logan Fringe Arts Space – Upstairs, starting Saturday, July 9th.)
Cake! – Maybe the show I’m most intrigued by this year. Burlesque performer Ché Monique presents a recreation of one of her own performances gone disastrously wrong. (At Gallaudet University’s Elstad Auditorium starting Friday, July 8th.)
“POWER!” Stokley Carmichael – One of the breakout hits of last year’s festival, playwright/performer Meshaun Labrone remounts his solo show about the civil rights leader. (At Fringe’s Trinidad Theatre starting Saturday, July 9th.)
This year’s Fringe is crammed to the brim with Sci-Fi, and riffs on our interactions with technology. And some of them seem to feature relationships beyond the platonic. Check out these forward-thinking shows, be nice to my Cylon life-partner, and don’t judge me:
AS IT WERE and/or WHAT (ever) DOESN’T MATTER – This year’s winner of “Fringy-est title award” goes to local playwright and CapFringe veteran Stephen Notes. The blurb promises “humanoid robots bent on lust”. Rise of the Sexbots? (Starts Friday, July 8th the Logan Fringe Arts Space: Upstairs)
Play Cupid – Another local playwright, Brett Steven Abelman, goes interactive, with the audience given power of several singles dating lives. Results, apparently, may vary. (Disclosure: I may have had a teeny-tiny bit of input on the development of this one when it was still just a concept.) (At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, starting July 8th.)
Dial R For Robot – This one basically combines all this year’s trends. Composer/performer Christian Crowley presents a noir-tinged rock opera riff on Blade Runner. (At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, starting July 9th.)
Have you spotted any other trends this year, Dear Reader? Am I completely off-base? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter with #dctheatre! I’ll see you at the festival!