Fringe By Numbers: Good Shows I'm Sure To Miss
Prior to the festival starting, you may remember that I did a number of preview articles about different plays and companies that would be part of the Fringe Festival. Then, I ran out of time before the Fringe got going and there were no more previews. It was time to actually see and review shows.
Well, time has passed, and it has reached the point wherein I can tell if I'm going to make it to a show or not (in some cases). You see, though I don't know which shows I might see, I can tell at this point if a show has no more performances that correspond with the slots on my charts. The shows at the Bryant-Lake Bowl only line up every once in a while. Since my charts are designed for the standard one-hour time slots, the longer shows at the BLB only line up once a day on week days (10 p.m. slot) and only a couple of times on the weekends. That means that I can tell you right now that though Brilliant Traces will be having two more shows. I won't be seeing either one of them.
Another show I won't likely see is Dipped in Love. Unfortunately, it also only has two shows left. One of those shows in on Friday at 8:30 p.m. So, I have one chance left to roll it. The other show is Saturday at 4 p.m. Scheduling causes a problem there as a member of my theatre company is getting married during that time slot, and I need to be at the wedding.
So... While I am not likely to see these two shows, I can share with you a little about them because they were two of the previews that didn't get a chance to be written.
Let me start with Brilliant Traces. This play is produced by Theatre Unbound (the feminist theatre group run by Stacey Poirier) and TMJ Productions (the film company run by Stacey's husband, Edward Linder). Here's a chunk of the interview I did with them:
Q: What inspired this work? Why the Fringe?
EL: Stacey brought me the script Brilliant Traces a year ago
and she thought this would be a good show for us to do. I read it and loved it. Stacey and I are both character actors and this show has two amazing characters in it. Since we have never acted opposite of each other in 20 years of being together that was also a driving force to do this play. The Fringe was a perfect venue because it's a two person show and since Theatre Unbound would never do Brilliant Traces in their regular season it just made sense.
SP: I've been intrigued by this show since I saw a monologue performed in an acting class in college. But, Brilliant Traces wasn't a perfect fit for Theatre Unbound to produce alone. Although it was written by a woman, it focuses pretty equally on both the female and male characters. The shows we choose for our regular season generally focus on the female characters. Plus, Ed and I wanted to do the show together. We have never acted opposite each other in the 20-some years we've been together and acting. Also, coincidentally, two of our favorite actors were in the original production; Kevin Anderson and Joan Cusack. Two person shows are difficult to promote as is, but when the two actors come from the same circle of friends and family, that makes it even harder. Fringe was the perfect solution, because some of the promotion is done for you.
Q: What's your favorite thing about Fringe thus far?
EL: The fact I do get to work opposite of Stacey. She is probably one of the best actresses in the Twin Cities that no one has discovered yet. She is such a giving actress and her performance is something to see.
SP: Getting a new wedding dress.
Q: What are you reading this summer?
EL: I am currently reading "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn about world of carnival freaks described by narrator Olympia Binewski and the new 4th edition of "Dungeons and Dragons" PHB.
SP: My lines for the show. If only I had time to read!
The other show I mentioned had a slightly different interview process. Momoko Tanno is one of the stars of Dipped in Love. She and I have known each other since we both performed in Carmen at the now defunct Theatre de la Jeune Lune. She's a very talented singer, and a relatively new parent. She visited my home with he daughter Audrey to talk about doing a show in the Fringe and the challenges for her of doing a dramatic work that doesn't include music (she's an awesome opera singer, in case you didn't know). So, I didn't give her the standard questions that I e-mailed to most folks. Instead we just chatted and watched Audrey play with a box of baby toys that I still have from my daughter's toddler years (and even a few toys from my own pre-3 days).
This is a different cast and a slightly different imagining of the play than was done last year outside of the Fringe. "[Mu Performing Arts] wanted to do it in the Fringe, but they didn't get in the lottery, so they just produced it anyway...for just one weekend," Momoko explained.
That production featured Maria Kelly, Katie Leo, and Carolyn Pool. Maria has returned, but Momoko has replaced Katie, and Jen Rives now plays the part originated by Carolyn.
"It's based three women that [the playwright Martha Johnson] had interviewed, and it is based on their real stories," said Tanno.
Momoko plays a woman from Japan. She, incidentally, is actually from Japan. And while she does have a Japanese accent, she doesn't speak English incorrectly. Her character does, however. Momoko related that "at first is was hard for me to do it, because she has a much heavier accent than I do. She doesn't say the articles. So when I was first practicing it was really hard because I was trying to do it in my own voice. But actually, when I tried it like that, with the much heavier accent, it made the character much funnier."
Finding the humor in the script has been one of the goals of this production. This remount has been directed by the same person as last time, Jennifer Weir, who has found a new way to look at the script. It is refreshing to see a director tackle the same work a second time and not just rest back on what she did the last time.
Re-envisioning was not the only challenge, though. At least not for Momoko who is used to music being a major part of the plays she's been a part of. Dipped in Love is not a musical or opera. "I feel like the music says so much, and I depend on the music to tell the story," Momoko explained. "And the role is really challenging because she's really funny, she's really out there, and then she goes through this horrible experience."
From what I've gathered in discussions with other Fringers, Momoko has met the challenges quite well. Especially in the eyes of her director who loudly declared "I have the best cast EVER!" at Fringe Central on Monday night.
I hope that you will get the chance to catch one of these two shows, if not both. It saddens me that I can't see all of the shows that I did interviews with. I've already missed many of them. A few might fall my way in the last few days of the Festival. These two aren't as likely as the others for me, but if you haven't chosen to go completely randomly to shows as I have, you can control your Fringe destiny and add Dipped in Love and Brilliant Traces to your remaining schedule.