Week Forty-One

So Fringe festival is over and I really enjoyed being an active watcher instead of an over active performer.

Things that I really loved seeing:

Expiration Date by Sunset Gun Productions

This received a standing ovation at the end of the show and it was well deserved. Candy’s piece is a delicate, intricately woven, spider web which dissects a terminal illness with honesty, passion and humour. She embodies every character with ease and if you are not glassy eyed by the end there’s something wrong with you. It could have been morbid and maudlin, it could have fallen so far from the mark but thankfully it didn’t. It felt uplifting. It felt like being part of a collective epiphany. There was a swell of feeling in the audience, people sniffing back their emotions, a silence at the end of the show when the lights came up and people really thought about what they’d just seen. My friend and I had both cried, in fact most of the people around us had cried but I left the theatre filled with a passion about “stuff & things”. In some ways I’m quite passive. Sure I take chances and risks but there are a lot of things I don’t do….that I really ought to and perhaps now I will.

The show needs a wider audience and if the Theatre Gods are willing it will have it. If it comes to your neck of the woods I suggest you go see it. If it doesn’t come to your neck of the woods I suggest you organise for it to get there.

Lolita by Four Humors

This was brilliantly crafted and expertly performed. The three men from the Four Humors company (plus two chairs) fill the stage and kept me entertained at breakneck speed. This show should be a masterclass in how to handle sensitive material with ease. While watching the show I was thinking about how they were going to handle the fact that it was a story about two pedophiles, and they were presenting it as a comedy. They handled it beautifully and it was pitch perfect. In fact I couldn’t have predicted a better ending for the show.

I had never seen any productions by the Four Humors Company but I’d always heard lots about them. I will make it a point at the next fringe, or my next visit to MN (which ever comes first) to put a show of theirs (any show) on my schedule.

Ain’t True and Uncle False by Paul Strickland

This was more than a little bit wow! It was well crafted, with stories, songs and characters interwoven so beautifully. Everything was quirky and off the wall but slotted together to create a really enjoyable show. I loved the overall message of the piece (well the message I took anyway): Live Life/Be You/Be Weird/ Find Your Story, and Live it Hard.
I also may have fallen a teeny tiny bit in love with Paul Strickland as a performer. #justsayin’

Fashion Risk or The Accidental Nudist by Natalie Rae Wass

This was sweet, smart and funny. Sure there were a lot of naked people on the stage, doing ordinary everyday things with their bits and pieces just dangling about but this is not the overall impression you’re left with. What you’re left with is the sense that young girls need to see the show so they can become comfortable in their own skin. Too often they are bombarded with magazine photos that are tweeked and photoshopped to a ridiculous extent. No one can relax under those standards. Who can thrive with unrealistic expectations that are so damaging to young girls self esteem. When they see this show the thing they should come away with is that you are more than just what skin you’re living in.

I’ve enjoyed my time in Minneapolis. As usual it was never long enough to catch up with all the people I wanted to see. Every time I come here I find a new place I want to visit, or shows happening three weeks from now that I must see and it’s always so hard to leave. I guess some day I’ll have to work on being able to be here long term.

Reading info this week: Fringe blurbs & Reviews

Minnesota Fringe Festival – Reviews:

Category: Writing and Poetry

“Do Not Miss This One!” by poetess extrarordinaire:
Five talented Irish poets have brought us an amazing spoken word performance. If you are a citizen of the world and have even one political bone in your body, you will love this.

“Fighting poetry” by Marvin Joel Rubin:
The show is poetry, and just as much theater. We are taken on a journey, by a cast whose words, come from their life’s experience. They know what a terrorist bomb can do to people’s lifes, from more than just reading. They take on war, racism, and problems between sexes, with not only strong politics, humor as well. The cast is very approachable. In addition they have poetry books for sale. It is I believe, the most underrated show in The Fringe. Even with the heavy topics, it’s fun. Run, don’t walk to the next show.

“See this see this see this” by Brian O’Neal:
YES. This was wonderful. Great poems. Great poets. Passionate. Articulate. Unflinching. They got under my skin, then caressed it. Shamed me and shored me up. A wonderful opportunity to see some really fantastic work.

“All I need now is a hug.” by Paula Nancarrow:
Here’s what I like about the Fringe Festival. Well, one of the things. I met two of these poets with some friends after seeing “1967” on Sunday; we went to get a beer between shows; we talked about the race riots here, and the start of the Troubles in Belfast, and whether the timing was similar. We talked about poverty, and immigration, and the limitations of the slam format. When we were done, my neighborhood was larger and I had another show I needed to see. And this is something you must see, and hear, to appreciate. Just a few highlights. Both “Play for Now” and “Saving Souls for Leopold” make stunning use of the screen; the full horror of colonial brutality in the Congo overwhelmed me. No one taught me this in school; I did not see these pictures in my World History textbook, which only gave me one chapter out of twenty-seven on Africa. All of Africa. “Vladimir’s Oranges” moved me deeply, and the duet pieces “He Loves Poetry” and “Arrogant, Late or Drunk” are as beautiful in performance as they are unreadable on the page. My favorite: “Not Thinking Tantrically,” which contained a hermetically sealed, secret message, intended Just for Me. Thanks, guys.

“Pure Poetry” by Tim Voss:
This production is a cool soaking rain in a drought. Well crafted poems with vivid messages and images. Delivery is simple and direct from one heart to another. These folks understand lanaguage and know how to use it. I hope they can come back next year. Many thanks.

Loved this show!” by Susan Roberts:
But then I’m always taken by the Irish brogue and poetry. This covers both and more. Words are powerful and when spoken by this talented group, you’re swept up into the web of the private and not-so-private world of these people. I loved it so much that I purchased the book offered at the end of the show (all the poetry from the show). One line (quote word-for-word) has already been used in conversation – “Oh, he still looks like Brando, but just before he died.” Classic and quote worthy. Check out this group!

“Love words? See this show.” by Yvonne Healy:
Belfast? I rarely get to see performing art from there, so it was 1st on my go-see list. Clear, humorous, and insightful with the rhythm and themes of another world: kin to our Midwest with images of bad boyfriends, racism, yards of heavy drinking – oh, yeah, and war. Music in the spoken word. Audience response is encouraged: they often perform in bars.

“Bravo!” by M. Spicker:
Highly recommended. Profound, moving, humane. Extraordinary artists. The emotional impact/intensity I experienced with the performance of these five gifted poets, (Monday-8/6/7-10 pm), was similar to that experienced with a great symphonic or operatic work. Bravo!

“Riveting! Don’t miss it!!!” by Amy Hubbard:
Even if you don’t think you are a poetry lover you must see this. Beautifully written and presented this kaleidoscope of media, duets and solos will at turns make you laugh and leave you stunned.

“Powerful Word Portraits” by Rick Nielsen:
The power of the spoken word retains the ability the fascinate and engage. From various subject matter ranging from area codes to insensitive boyfriends to war, these extremely talented 5 young poetic wordsmiths from Belfast practice their virtuoso craft. If the idea of traveling poets seems improbable here, this is what Fringe Festivals should do best-inspire people to renew feelings of excitement and discovery. These people deserve a wider audience-please give it to them!

“An amazing, wonderful show!” by Eric Herr:
Slam poetry meets Ireland? What could go wrong. This show is truly mesmerizing. I truly enjoyed listening to the lyrical words of the poets. A highlight is the duo poems (you’ll have to see it!) This show tells us about the war and the presence of the military, the peace process in Nortern Ireland, the hotness of Orlando Bloom and the hope for peace. This show will move you and you will not stop talking about it! Definitely in my top 5 Fringe shows of all time! Do not miss this show!

“!!***” by karl Cooper:
Bam, Bam! The Belfast poets take you around the world of war, bigotry and love, with zest. This show hops into your brain and lingers, I saw it on Saturday and it is still ruminating. Impressive stuff – a must see for wordsmiths and the rest of us.

“the universal and the specific” by Loren Niemi:
I’m a spoken word guy and these are my people – Northern Ireland outpost. This is good strong material, well crafted, well spoken, with robust language not shackled in hip-hop cadence, strong images, universal and specific themes of war, peace, love and dickhead boyfriends. If I have any complaint it of wanting more of the specific; more of the ideosyncratic gritty lilting images and turns of phrase that give a sense of Belfast and Derry, invoking time, place. culture that these talented poets have provided with the helpful glossary that comes with the program. Good stuff! Go see it!!!

“poets invade mpls” by steve legas:
I think you must be blocked if you`ve not seen this show. Poets from Belfast with souls of hip-hop and truth. Do not be afraid of poetry folks. They dont back down from the truth and that makes em great to hear. Grab your muckers and head to the Red Eye for this show.