One hundred and seventy-one different events have been selected for The First New York International Fringe Festival Festival, a two-week series of innovative multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural theatre.
Emerging theatre companies and performing artists galore will descend on downtown Manhattan for 12 days, in more than a dozen of NY's most prominent venues. From Aug. 13-24, shows will be presented noon to 2 AM daily.
Countries represented include Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, Czech Republic and the UK. Among the U.S. Cities: Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Panels, workshops and conferences will be part of the mix, as will 17 free events will take place at 17 Lower East Side locales.
Some of the more highly anticipated participants from among the dozens of notable performers and troupes are: * Chicago's neo-futurists', K. an original adaptation of Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial.
* Brian Parks' solo, Americana Absurdum, about "growing up weird in America.
* Jeffrey Jones' The Crazy Plays by Clubbed Thumb theatre.
* Baby Redboots Revenge, with Canadian Sean Sullivan performing a play by the brother of performance artist Diamanda Galas, Phlip-Dimitri Galas.
* Philadelphia's Eye-95, "a multi-media white trash extravaganza."
* NeoLabos dancetheatre [sic] offering two works, Threshold and The Flight.
* UK stand-up, Nick Wilty.
*Tony Tanner's Diaghilev bio, Charlatan.
* Rob Nash's comedy, 12 Steps To A More Dysfunctional Family.
The avant-garde Canadian comedy, White/Noise/Jump.
*Omar Sangare, a black performer from Poland, in the solo, True Theatre Critic.
*Three young Chicago monologists offering, The Hick, The Spic And The Chick.
* Masks, puppetry and mime tell the story of a grieving Pueblo woman and a magical stranger in NM's Old Man Kokopeli.
* The Czech Republic's Misery Loves Company company playing Dumb.
* MN's Reggae Theatre Ensemble in Kolorada...A Western Tale.
* The London Underground offers Jean Binnie's offbeat take on Lady Macbeth.
* Cyndi Freeman presents `a one woman "Valley Of The Dolls" in Greetings From Hollywood.
* The Pumpkin Pie Show -- macabre tales by Virginian Clay MacLeod Chapman & friends.
* Kirkwood Bromley and Aaron Beall have embarked on a 40-year collaboration(!), of which Icarus And Aria will be the second installment.
* Born Again Killer, by expatriate Iranian director/playwright, Assurbanipal Babilla.
* Best of NY's Womenkind Festival selections (see Playbill On-Line story on Womenkind).
* The Czech Republic's Misery Loves Company presents Dumb, A surreal puppet play involving music, alchemy and the question of what is "truth".
* From the Netherlands: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Jet Lag.
* NJ playwright Ed Malin's piece, Dog Spelled Backwards Is Krishna.
* From a Brooklyn, NY troupe: A Clown, A Hammer, A Bomb, And God.
* Also from Brooklyn: La Vie Braindead.
* From three separate New York companies: Mistress Elsa's Bondage Burlesque; Sex Toys And Subway Stories; and Sex...Death...Tequila!.
Kicking off the festival will be "The Community Show," with Lower East Siders joining professional actors in a dreamlike show "inspired by Tennessee Williams' Camino Real. Not only is it free, cops will block off Stanton Street between Ludlow and Orchard for the event.
Workshops and conferences at the Fringe Fest include "Coaching Shakespeare" (Aug. 18), "Conveying Myth Through Ensemble" (Aug. 20) and "Intro To Improv" (Aug. 14).
As a way to raise money and consciousness of the Festival, the creators held a "Night Of 100 Stars" Feb. 17. Hosted by Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara and Estelle Parsons (Grace & Gloria), William H. Macy (Off Broadway's Oleanna and the film Fargo) and Elaine Paige (Sunset Boulevard), the benefit featured music, dancing, free food, and non-stop performances.
Unlike other Fringe Festivals, applications for The New York International Fringe Festival were judged and selected (rather than "first come, first served"), a process the festival hopes will allow it to present "the best and brightest work available."
According to spokesperson Ron Lasko of the Zeisler Group, organizers of some other fringe festivals aren't crazy about this arrangement, since they feel the whole initial spirit of fringe festivals came from everyone getting a chance to participate. Then again, said Lasko, "In New York City, with so much going on, it would be almost impossible to do a typical Festival and then make it multi-cultural and representative of the city."
The Festival is the brainchild of Jonathan Harris, founder of The League of Fringe Theaters and co-founder of the first U.S. Fringe Festival in Seattle; and John Clancy, artistic director of The Present Company; and Aaron Beall, artistic director of Todo Con Nada, Inc. The Festival's concept is "to unite the next generation of theatre artists, to provide an active forum for producers and artists to meet, and to increase the public's awareness of the vitality and diversity of live performance." The Fringe's producers also hope to see a nationwide festival circuit that will afford artists an opportunity to tour from March (Seattle) to September (San Francisco).
Harris, Clancy and Beall, along with Managing Director Elena K. Holy, also currently seek corporate sponsorship for the burgeoning festival.
First initiated by a small group of thespians in Edinburgh, Scotland, 50 years ago, Fringe Festivals are built upon a tradition of presenting cutting-edge work and emerging artists.
Michael Olich, who heads the Seattle Fringe Festival, told the Utne Reader, "The fringe theatre movement is a balancing act to the institutionalized theatre movement. "Self-producing artists find audiences who may never have enjoyed live performance before. And because fringe theatre is so accessible and spontaneous, it really appeals to me as a new model for creating the future of live performance in America.
For tickets ($11) per show and more information on The New York International Fringe Festival call 1(888) FRINGENYC or visit www.fringenyc.org .