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Of Dancing Words and Black Light: 2014 Minnesota Fringe Reviews

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August 9, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

PrintThis is my first vacation from performing in the Minnesota Fringe Festival in awhile.

That was deliberate; I didn’t even enter the lottery. As my About This Blog page states, this blog began because I needed a quick web site for my first solo performance at the Minnesota Fringe Festival in 2011. I wanted to blog regularly, but there were years when Fringe festival reviews in August were the main traffic on the site.  Fringe Festivals are a great creative experience, for artist and audience alike. These days you can find Fringe Festivals all over the world, though the prototype, and still the ultimate destination for many, is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. You can read about the history of Fringe Festivals here.

But this year I needed a break.

I don’t have an Artist’s Pass as in past years. This allows free entry ten minutes before the show to any but sold out shows. That, and the reviews you are encouraged to post on the site, and Fringe Central at the end of the day, give that festival feel of a community of artists celebrating each other. OK, except for the occasional bad review.

I was at a family reunion last weekend, and my daughter is arriving on the bus from Chicago Sunday morning. So I’ve had little time to Fringe. But I thought I could still convey the flavor of things here for people who have never been to a Fringe Festival by reproducing the reviews I posted on the Fringe site.

You can find the original reviews, at least this year, here.

I have added links to artists and context occasionally where appropriate.  And I have – aargh – corrected the spelling of Kirsten Stephens’ name. (Sorry, Kirsten. Working too fast with too little coffee.) I hope to get to a few more shows today, but it depends on how long it takes to perform the rudimentary acts of cleaning necessary for hospitality to guests. Even guests who are daughters.

Here, however, are three shows I had both personal and performance reasons to love.

Louder than Words: Tales of Extreme Action

LouderThe words are loud enough…

To convey the extreme actions here. I was impressed by all these performers. Alex Cleberg, whose story ducks and weaves like the boxing his father taught him; Hannah Cheese, who distinguishes between different ways of saying the “N” word in a way that I can finally relate to; Javier Morillo, who I’ve been fortunate enough to perform with at the Moth Grand Slam, and whose longer material is superb and compelling; and Richard Rousseau, who is both consummate professional and eminently accessible. Make the opportunity to see this show. You deserve to hear good stories, well told. [Produced by Story Arts of Minnesota.]

Jumpin’ Jack Kerouac

Jumpin JackBackwards and in Heels

They say Fred Astaire’s partner, Ginger Rogers did all the same moves he did…just backwards and in heels. Kudos to Windy Bowlsby for choreographing these writers’ inner Ginger. Though I wish there were some things I could unsee – PABL [phillip andrew bennett low] in belly dance drag will be seared in my memory long after I forget the names of my children – there was also the charming dance he did with Cole Sarar, founder of Ring Ring Poetry. All grace and smiles, with just a soupcon of angst-ridden mortality. My last show with Cole was all verbal dance; it was lovely to see her in motion.  Katherine Glover, if I’d known you could do MN burlesque I wouldn’t have needed the Happy Light these last two winters. Put some thumb tacks into the soles of Tim Uren‘s shoes, hand him a hat. It’s enough Gene Kelly for me.

Daylight’s Nightfall

DaylightsNightfall
The Day Girl and the Night Boy


A beautiful retelling of George MacDonald’s 1882 faery tale Photogen and Nycteris, one I think he would have been charmed and delighted by. [Note: I have personal connections to this author.] You don’t need to have read the original to enjoy this performance. In fact the unanswered questions in it – what was feeding the witch Watho’s obsessive experiment in child rearing – can be distracting. In graduate school, we got all academic about such things, referencing Victorian views on the Faustian quest for knowledge and Rousseau’s views on child development. [Not Richard’s. The OTHER Rousseau.] But it is typical of faery tales to recognize evil intent and abuse of power without explaining it away. This production takes the same approach. The black light effects and puppetry were amazing. Kirsten Stephens makes a truly witchy Watho. Go. Or at least watch the video.

One thought on “Of Dancing Words and Black Light: 2014 Minnesota Fringe Reviews

  1. […] Cole in the video for Jumpin’ Jack Kerouac, somewhat outside her own element, in my recent Fringe review […]

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