Like Prometheus’s liver, I regenerate

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by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low • June 20, 2008 • Hey. My name’s phillip low, and I’ve written for enough blogs in the past two years that I suspect I could write these introductions in my sleep. That seems pretty dry, though, and we’ll be learning about each other soon enough. Since my primary function here is to write about the Minnesota Fringe Festival, however, a brief recap of my history with the organization may be fruitful.

2004: I mount my first show for the Fringe, titled Lokasenna, under the mistaken assumption that Minnesotans would be familiar with ancient Icelandic literature. I’m wrong, and it tanks. In the course of mounting the show, I inadvertently found a theatre troupe, called Maximum Verbosity. Wrapped in the chaos of all this, I barely get any use out of my artist pass.

Womb With a View is the blog of Phillip Andrew Bennett Low, one of four bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.

2005: I mount my second Fringe show, Camelot is Crumbling, having now graduated to titling plays in English, and thinking that I’ve learned from all of my mistakes the previous year. I’m wrong, and it tanks. But I realize that in my self-absorption of the previous year, I squandered my opportunity to be a part of something truly extraordinary, and I resolve to get the most out of my artist pass. I see shows in nearly every open slot, and write detailed reviews of all of them.

Since my primary interest in forcing myself to write about the things I see is a kind of self-education, these frequently degenerate into long, rambling tangents about the nature of theatre. As a huge Fringe geek, I read the site’s blogs religiously, and I’m delighted to see Matt Foster saying “Who the hell is phillip low, and if he contacts me I’ll give him a job.” I end up writing for the site. Since the blogs remain up year-round, and I see a ridiculous fuckload of theatre, I end up using mine to give a kind of year-round coverage of the Minneapolis theatre scene.

2006: My ball fails to get drawn (and wow if that doesn’t sound like a euphemism), and I’m out of the Fringe. Having already begun pre-production on my Fringe show, my options are to scrap the project or mount it outside of the Festival. I choose the latter, and Libertarian Rage goes up a few weeks before the Fringe opens, under my mistaken assumption that a politically-themed show will be a hit in a midterm election year. This plan completely fails to take into account that people don’t give a fuck about midterm election years, and it tanks. However, this enables me to give my complete focus to reviewing shows. I see forty-five in an eleven-day period, and review all of them.

Later that year, I embark on a trip to China to research my family history that dramatically changes my life, both personally and professionally, and in two key ways that directly affect my blogging career. The first is that I come back a more determined activist than I left, and start a new blog, also entitled Libertarian Rage.

2007: Noticing that I’ve shifted my cranky diatribe to a new topic, Matt Foster invites me to write as a kind of counterpoint for his other site, the left-wing soapbox Liberal Media Elite.

The major result of my trip to China is that it produces my company’s first — and thus far only — hit show, Descendant of Dragons, which tours to both the Iowa and Minnesota Fringe Festivals. By this point I’m also on the production staff of Holly Davis Productions; despite being a part of two shows, I still manage to match my record of the previous year, seeing forty-five shows in eleven days and reviewing all of them.

After the Festival, Allegra Lingo approaches me with the idea to form a supergroup of hit solo performers: we do so, and start a monthly cabaret called the Rockstar Storytellers.

2008: The Fringe blogs are dissolved, and I start a new blog called Womb with a View, to continue to archive my developing thoughts on the medium. I write coverage of both the Twin Cities Chekhov Festival and the Spirit in the House Festival, in which I also perform as part of three shows.

Then I get an e-mail from the Twin Cities Daily Planet, asking me if I’d like them to host my theatre blogging this year. I say yes, and after a few more shots of whiskey than may be strictly proper, I found myself here.

So, for those of you that jumped on board this blogging saga in its earlier chapters, welcome back. Here’s our new home, at least for a little while. Poke around the site a bit, and you might find our friend Matt Everett up to his old tricks again. For those of you I’m meeting for the first time, welcome. I hope we’ll meet at the Fringe, and that I can help guide you to some cool shit you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

A quick caveat: I’m a part of at least two shows myself this year, with the aforementioned Rockstar Storytellers and Maximum Verbosity. The latter group is rewriting and remounting our 2006 show, retitled All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage, under the assumption that a politically-themed show will be a hit in a Federal election year. Here’s hoping that I’m not wrong, and it won’t tank.

I won’t talk too much about those shows in this space, because I think that’s a bit obnoxious, and I’d like to reserve this as a place to talk about other people’s theatre. But if you’re interested in my artistic shenanigans, you can usually get details over at the Maximum Verbosity Production Blog, because, y’know, I just wasn’t doing enough writing.

All those blogs may seem like a lot to keep track of. Never fear: I’ve set up a livejournal feed at Blogorrhea, if you want to be kept abreast. If you feel the need to contact me directly about anything, I can be reached at the e-mail address on this page.

Otherwise, stick around. There’s a lot to see, a lot to talk about — and I’m looking forward to meeting you. Here’s to a stimulating conversation.

(And a pint of Guinness wouldn’t hurt, either.)

Phillip Andrew Bennett Low is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theatre critic and libertarian activist, who lurks ominously in the desert wilds of St. Louis Park, feasting upon the hygienically-prepared flesh of the once-living. His main claim to fame is probably as co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers, and as founder/producer of Maximum Verbosity, a garage-band-like theatre troupe that is in a state of constantly re-defining itself.