Minge of the Fringe: Goin’ up


Google it. You won’t regret it.

Over at the solid storytelling standby Bryant-Lake Bowl, we have Mumble Mumble Productions presenting Pants on Fire! Featuring performances by the Slam Masters of Minneapolis, Allison Broeren and Wonder Dave, plus a rotating guest spot of awesome: on any given night, you could get Khary Jackson, Les Kurkendaal, or Courtney McLean. (No word on who’s performing if they get the Encore slot.) Premise is solid: each storyteller tells two truths and a lie, and you get to try to determine which is which.

Meanwhile, there’s a couple of shows that have caught my eye over at Intermedia Arts. Condoleeza’s Rites is actually a remount of a show that impressed the hell out of me when it presented a few years back — and didn’t get anything resembling the audience it deserved. The story of a shock-jock conservative reflecting on the choices that brought her to her profession, it stood out as rising above the material — rather than a shrill condemnation of conservatism, an examination of the forces that shape things like the Tea Party movement. And this was written, like, years before anyone had dreamed up that nonsense. I’m eager to check it out again, to see how the play has changed — how I’ve changed — and, well, how the audience has changed. Here’s hoping it gets a better shot this time around.

There’s absolutely no-one who can convincingly feign shock that I’m awaiting the Inferno with bated breath, right? I love the poem deeply — enough so that it’s one of the few texts I collect multiple translations of — and I’ve been chipping away at notes for my own adaptation for years. (2012, maybe? …maybe?) Plus, it’s in freakin’ Italian, which is just insanely fucking ballsy. I predict a turnout in the single digits, and fervently pray to be proven wrong.

And, in continuing to be completely predictable in my predilections, I am once again championing Kirsten Stephens and Dean Hatton, joined this time by Renee Howard, presenting Waiting for Biffy at the Jungle Theater. These guys have consistently been among my most anticipated performers every time they mount something, and I have endeavored to never miss a show for pretty much the past eight years. This means that I’ve memorized most of their material — so it also means that I’m ecstatic when I hear that they’re doing a combination of either all-new material or material that hasn’t been mounted by them in years. As they’ve been getting more and more performance opportunities, it’s been enabling them to push themselves further and further down the road of formal experimentation, and I can’t wait to see where they end up next.

At the Minneapolis Theatre Garage, we have another returning favorite — the Shelby Company, which mounted what could arguably have been my single favorite show of last year’s Fringe, Winnemucca (three days in the belly), a compelling and at times profound exploration of faith, doubt, and cheap motels. That alone is pretty much a guarantee that I’m on the edge of my seat for anything they do next — in this case, Uncle Shelby’s Traveling Treasure Trunk. This is another case where I think their show description speaks abundantly for itself:

Through a rotating collection of monologues and scenes, Uncle Shelby’s Traveling Treasure Trunk creates a fractured suburban landscape populated by depressed magicians, two-timing closet monsters and the world’s hottest chili pepper. A rapid-fire picture of a world that is at once quotidian and utterly bizarre and the oddballs and outcasts who, for a brief moment, just might have the chance to shine. No two shows are the same!

Dude, they used the word “quotidian.” Sold!

Finally — in another nod to BYOV boldness — I surely must give a mention to Ringtone, taking place at the Fallout Arts Initiative. Alan Berks is probably best known these days as the editor of Minnesota Playlist, but he’s a hell of a writer, too. Plus, it looks like they’re planning on doing some pretty bold stuff with the BYOV concept:

“#ringtone” is a site-specific event in a real art gallery that combines dialogue, dance, video, music, phone calls, text messages, and visual art as six everyday people hunt for authenticity, compassion, and an uninterrupted connection.

Y’know, like every other show in the Fringe. Way to upstage us, Alan.

Ever inwards…