Inspiration and connection
Recently returned from our second year participating in the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival! I am continuing to fall in love with the whole Fringe Festival scene and vibe. I got into a bit of a discussion about what the appeal of Fringe Festivals were on twitter, and it boiled down to:
1. Innovation. Risk taking. These are encouraged rather than pushed to the side in service of ticket sales and the almighty dollar.
2. Accessibility. It may take planning and saving, but the entry fee and venue costs are do-able even for small (tiny!) companies. Far more within reach than it would be for me to secure a venue, pay rent, technicians, insurance, etc.
3. Structure and promotion. Even though it is up to each individual company/artist to promote their own shows, having the structure of the festival does give the shows a level of visibility that individual shows might not otherwise have.
4. My favorite: CONNECTION! Meeting other artists, getting to see their shows, talk to them, etc.
Aside from performing "Shedding Skin" four times to small but appreciative audiences, I took in the following shows:
- "Behind These Walls" from Act Risk No More Theatre Company. Raw and honest, these kids had important stories to tell.
- "Stories of Uncreation" from Theatre Dojo We were so very glad to get to experience Theatre Dojo's storytelling and music this year. (Last year we had identical performance schedules.) Wisdom and warnings from stories from our past, and hope that we can work together in community to make the world better.
- "Hamlet and Ophelia go Swimming" from Brabble Arts. Such a very human take on these two characters we know so well. A show that makes you remember that they were just teenagers at the time the events in Hamlet took place.
- "Filament: from Cat and Fish Dances was beautiful full-bodied modern dance.
- "Resolved" from Company of Cohorts promised a party, and delivered. With all the fun, ridiculousness, and drama that parties can bring.
- "An Oak Tree" from Sackerson Theatre Company was utterly fascinating. An exploration of the power of suggestion, of loss, and mourning. We're going to be talking about this one for a while.
- "Apt 404" from Who's Louis was an interesting experiment in non-linear, overlapping storytelling.
- "Innovation" created by Jared Larkin was an evening of physical theatre storytelling with clever use of minimal props and some absolutely lovely and moving moments. (That's Julie Speak for "It made me cry.")
- "People from the Future" from Jaron Hatch was an evening of skillful physicality, enthusiastic storytelling, as well as audience participation and a refreshingly optimistic point of view.
- "Aerial Odyssey" from Arial Arts of Utah was an absolute thrill for my inner five year old who wanted to be a trapeze artist! I'll be honest, 42 year old me was pretty thrilled as well. I found a surprising preference for the trapeze bars and hoops over the aerial silks, just because it felt there was more of a continuous flow with the movement that could be performed.
- "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" from Youth Theatre at the U was the last show we took in before heading back to Pocatello, and it was an utter delight. Fast paced, funny short plays with social and political commentary performed with enthusiasm and abandon.
(And if I didn't include a link, it was because I couldn't find one, so leave a comment or email me if you have one for me, or if you'd prefer a different one from the one I used!)
BEHIND THE SCENES:
One or two stories from our experience
-Getting there: How long does it take to get to SLC from Poky? Oh, about two and a half hours. And we took off with just enough time to get there for our tech rehearsal, and...forgot about that whole "road construction" thing. Which, living in Idaho, we should DEFINITELY know better. Still, we made it just in the *nick* of time for tech. I am spoiled in that Glenn usually does the tech for my shows, so it's a minimum of fuss for me. I am going to miss his help and support terribly when I do my next two festivals and he can't be there.
-What's a show without at least one technical difficulty, right? Preparing for the first show:
"Hey Glenn, how's the projector set up and focusing going?"
"Don't ask me that." (Bless his heart, he was doing everything in his power to not let me know that he was panicking at this point.)
Turned out his computer had decided to update at the WORST possible time and got stuck in a weird loop. Of course I had decided to leave my Mac at the hotel to make our bag a bit lighter, since we had "everything we needed" on Glenn's computer. (Yeah, don't do that. Backups. ALWAYS have backups.) We hauled out my Ipad since I had the sound score on it and hooked it up, but it was looking like I just might not get to have my projections. (Which aren't *absolutely* necessary to the piece, but add a nice texture and dimension. And I had also spent many many hours filming and editing, so I was bummed to be missing them.) Luckily, we were able to have a five minute hold and get all the tech working. Hurray!
-We took a few hours to visit some USU theatre friends who we had not seen in too long, and hung out with them while they built their delightful five (and a half!) year old kid a playhouse. There is something very amusing about watching someone you hung out with in your twenties Dad-ing it up. (EMBRACE the middle-agedness.)
- After seeing "Behind These Walls" I gave many of the kids hugs. They then came to my first show that evening. Glenn has been teasing me ever since about my new strategy of "hugging people into the audience." Which, take note, Pocatello - if that's all it takes to get you into the audience for original shows, I am ALL OVER THAT.