Fringe of the Fringe: The outer limits


Hey, everyone. Back.

Whoa…what’s with all the new formatting options? Man, it really has been a while since I posted anything here.

Sorry. I’ll try to exercise some restraint.

So, as usual I haven’t really been able to take part in the pre-Fringe Festivities. Partly because I’m currently on the road with one of my old storytelling shows, and partly because I’ve been in pretty much non-stop rehearsal for the other two-and-a-half shows I’m part of at the Minnesota Fringe this year. (And, while I have enough professionalism not to mention them by name in this space — so, happy hunting — I apparently don’t have quite enough professionalism to refrain from mentioning that the Fringe site now allows you to search shows by cast. I am a blogger, after all.)

What this means is that, since I haven’t had the opportunity to witness many previews this year, I’ve been compiling my list the old-fashioned — caveman-like hunting and pecking through the online Fringe schedule. I usually make a conscious effort to include a portion of shows by companies I know nothing about, to avoid that kind of incestuous nepotism that can take over (that’s what mainstream theatre criticism is for — HEY-o!), I haven’t had to make nearly as much of an effort this year — there’s a huge influx of new companies, and I couldn’t be more delighted.

I have, for no adequately explored reason, decided to group the groups that caught my eye via *location* this time around. So, beginning with those venues that are further out:

The Fringe of the Fringe: The Outer Limits

Let’s start with Match Game Minnesota, taking place at the Gremlin Theater. A quick glance at the Cast + Crew tab reveals why: this is definitely the Fringe all-stars entry of the year, with a rotating cast of some of the Twin Cities top comedians and improvisers. This one’s a clear no-brainer.

Meanwhile, over at the Ritz Theater Studio, we have a new show by one of my old favorites Tim Mooney (he’s done Criteria, Moliere Than Thou, and Karaoke Knights, my love for all of which continues unabated). This one? Dancing Nude, an auto-erotic deconstruction told through storytelling, poetry, and, well, dancing nude. I actually saw the first half of this on my tour in Kansas City last year, but had to leave in time to perform my own show across town, so, yeah, I missed the, er, money shot — but what struck me about what I saw was a rare thoughtfulness and detachment with which the subject of sex was discussed.

Also in that space, we have Melting in Madras, one of those mystery shows I know nothing about beyond its premise:

A wide-eyed 23-year-old goes to India to explore meditation, yoga, and music. After three months, his quest for spiritual clarity takes a detour when he becomes seriously ill.

A glance at his website reveals that, yes, this is based on a true story. I’m a sucker for these kind of travelogues — hell, I’ve performed a few of them myself — and I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to catch this one.

Never to leave out a BYOV — at the Sacred Paths Center (one block from the Gremlin), we have The Quest, which seems to be an attempt to use Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth as a basis for improvisation. The mythology aspect caught my interest, though I’ll confess to a long and active dislike of all things Campbell — his methodology seems to exemplify everything that was ridiculed by authors like Tolkien and Lewis, particularly that a focus on recurring story patterns dismisses the fundamental importance of the trappings of the individual stories. This is something that I’ve been exploring pretty heavily in my own scripts for a while, and I’m nowhere close to having resolved all of my thoughts about it.

And, what the hell. I’m probably overthinking this. It looks primarily like a backdrop for a compelling theatre exercise. And Scrimshaw did a similar thing, to great effect, in last year’s The Tragedy of You. Still, when you’re juggling those kinds of elements, it’s got to be interesting to see what resonances emerge, and this is definitely another one I’d like to take a swing at checking out.

Moving inwards…