I have been remiss in getting up a post about my final Fringe Festival experience of the year - Scranton PA! Pictures! (There are a LOT! Between the fest AND traveling by train...well, it was a well documented trip!)
Okay, first things first - if you ever have the opportunity to travel across the country via train, I suggest you do it! I saw amazing sights (The Rockies viewed from the train observation car are STUNNING) and met some amazing people. Australians, Brits, a Scottish gentleman, a formerly Budhist monk in training who had decided that life was not for him, and of course folks from all over the US as well. Including one older lady who was also traveling by herself. Traveling by yourself is fantastic. You should really try to do it at least once. Also met an awesome musician (Hello Heidi!) who was playing her guitar, and started a lovely friendship! (Mostly via facebook, but in this day and age, that counts, right?) We bonded over worrying about the French kids who got thrown off the train in Provo. (I still don't know what happened to them. I hope they ended up being all right.)
Now, have I mentioned that Fringe people just tend to be awesome? Because Fringe people tend to be awesome. When they realized my bus was arriving a day before out of town performers were going to be able to check into the hotel, co-founder of Scranton Fringe Elizabeth took the time during a franticly busy time for her to pick me up at the station, and co-founder Connor's family opened their home to me so I would have a place to sleep for the night. I am very grateful! The Scranton Hilton was serving as a sponsor and venue for the festival, and they put up out of town artists. It was nice to be able to take the elevator down a floor to catch some of the events. In fact, the entire festival was extremely walkable - which was good, since I had taken the train and did not have access to a car.
After a multiple day train trip, and arriving late at night, I of course said. "SUUUURE...let's get up at four in the morning to go do the Ryan Lachey show with a bunch of other artists. (I am glad to report that Connor shares my philosophy that asking theatre people to do anything before noon requires feeding and caffeinating them!) It was great fun, a nice way to meet other perfomers, and also opening night festivity host Molly Balloons! She makes these incredible dresses out of balloons. And if you think a person who makes a living from balloons seems like they would be super duper fun to hang out with? YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!
We had the opening night party, and the next morning Cody and I checked out Steamtown National Park. If you are ever going to go to a train museum? Try really hard to go with a train fan. It makes it so much fun, and you can ask them a bunch of questions! (Cody was also performing his train themed kids show as "Conductor Cody" as part of the festival.) We were also lucky enough to be there when they were doing rides on the steam train. I wasn't sure I wanted to add more train riding to my schedule, but how often do you get to ride a steam powered train? Check out Cody's website here!
A teen playwrighting workshop was having staged readings as part of the festival. Elizabeth called me, wondering if I would be interested in stepping in to read for it. YES, of course! I have such a soft spot for teenagers, especially the theatre babies. I walked over to the cutural hall to meet and rehearse, and then that was my first performance for the festival the very next day. These kids are writing some good stuff, and it was an honor to help bring their words to life. Keep an eye out for some good theatrical writing coming out of Scranton in the next decade or so!
WHAT I SAW
"The World Will Stop if we Make a Mistake"
Sarah Stachura Regan and Patrick Holmes
So delightful. The programs were also coloring books, there were puppets, animation and film, so this show was already right up my alley. Charming and fun, but also touching and hopeful.
"The Hugging Army: a meditative journey"
Vanessa Leigh White Fernandes
Oh, how I needed this one. Vanessa has been offering free hugs to the people in Scranton for a while now, and this was a reflection and meditation on her experiences. With many many hugs at the end. And after many days of traveling solo, well, it did not take long for me to tear right up. Some of my hugs tended to be extra long, but they were all generously returned. Humans can be so lovely to each other.
Gaslight Theatre Co.
A play made up entirely of online reviews, mostly of a toaster. It sounds a bit bizarre. In actuality, it was hysterically funny and oh so very human.
"I'm Still Standing"
Sharp, witty, wry, passionate storytelling from Maggie Nutall. There seems to be a lot of storytellers attracted to Fringe scene. And there's something just really nice about the simplicity of just taking the time to sit and listen to another person tell you their story.
"Happy Birthday Mr Lunesta"
Cabaret, burlesque, and sideshow/variety shenanigans! Also, I have now talked to two different accordian players whose answer to "So, how did you come to be an accordian player?" was essentially to shrug and say, "Well, you see, there was this accordian sitting in the closet..."
"Retrospective: a journey to the center of a pop icon"
New Vintage Ensemble
I'm just going to borrow my own words from my facebook post right after I saw this one:
The kids are alright, y'all. They are speaking out, they are creating, they are passionate and they give me hope. Their voices are important. What a wonderful way to end Fringe.
Hello, I'm Julie and Dance owns my soul
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