The 14th Annual New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC XIV), August 13 – August 29, 2010, is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days, with afternoon, evening and late-night shows, in 18 venues in the East and West Village. FringeNYC boasts of impressive playwrights, talented actors, great dancers, daring directors, heroic volunteers and a dizzying array of live action and multi-media productions.
FringeNYC XIV kicked off on Friday the 13th of August, an inauspicious day for the superstitious, and a perfect day for the highly entertaining near lunacy of the festival to begin! This past weekend, something akin to a feeding frenzy seemed to befall some FringeNYC fans. In the subway, on the N-train, a group of tourists began pointing and exclaiming, “She’s got one, she’s got one!” The cause of the excitement was a commuter looking at a FringeNYC map. The tourists confessed that they were from Miami and travel to New York each year to see FringeNYC. This year they came a week early and so also took in a few Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and were rushing about marshaling their group of 20 or so from venue to venue, and were trying to strategically map out their schedules while shouting back and forth to one another on the crowded train. They were in search of a FringeNYC map to aid them in their quest.
Another group of FringeNYC attendees raced up to the First Floor Theatre at La Mama, trying to get into the 3:15pm Sunday performance of “BAGABONES.” Unfortunately, the show had just begun and FringeNYC has a no latecomer seating policy. The intrepid volunteer at the door had to turn the latecomers away. So, with a bit of grumbling, the group headed back to FringeCENTRAL to see if they could exchange their tickets for another show.
FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street, just off 5th Avenue, is the central box office and nerve center of FringeNYC. Frazzled festival-goers can go there to collect themselves before launching into the daunting task of sorting through the staggering array of options. So many choices! So little time! How to decide?
At FringeCENTRAL there’s a riot of brightly colored postcards and posters beckoning; plus a chance to meet a performer or producer promoting a show; and a host of volunteers helping festival-goers navigate through the almost overwhelming variety of choices. Festival-goers are encouraged to buy tickets in person at the FringeCENTRAL box office. Tickets are $15 at the box office and $18 at the venue door. There are also a variety of passes available, $70 for a Fiver Pass to any 5 shows, $120 for a Flex Pass to any 10 shows, and a Lunatic Pass for $500 for anyone who wants to attempt seeing every show!
Also, there are program guides at FringeCENTRAL, so there’s no need to work one’s self up into a frenzy, have a seat and calmly plan what FringeNYC calls New York’s Best Staycation. FringeNYC has plenty of buzz words to help festival-goers wrap their mind around the concept of almost non-stop entertainment and a seemingly endless variety of choices. There’s FringeJR for youngsters, and FringeHIGH for high school kids, and on Saturday from 10am to shortly after 12 noon, there’s FringeAL FRESCO performances at Summer Streets. Then there’s the FringeCLUB – VARIETY POWER HOUR, cabaret-style variety shows on Friday and Saturday for the late-night crowd, with Fringe passes, from 11pm to 1am.
Plus, there is also an online search engine at FringeNYC.org called the FringeNYC Slice-O-Matic to help festival-goers cut through the mass of information and narrow down their entertainment choices by categories including: genre, culture, and FringeNYC Staycation choice.
Some of the most unusual, edgy and inventive performances offered at FringeNYC can be found in the genres of improv/sketch/stand-up; multi-media; performance art; solo show; and vaudeville/sideshow/magic/burlesque.
There’s no way to mention all the shows now playing, but here’s a quick peek at a variety:
“Interfaith Understanding with the Rev. Bill & Betty”
By Martin D. Hill, Director Leonard Jacobs. America’s most outrageous preachers invite audience members to be a part of their ‘studio audience’ for their one-hour TV show from fictional Tungsten, Tennessee. As seen on “Last Comic Standing” Rev. Bill & Betty are performed by FringeNYC Outstanding Performance Award Winner Jen Ryan and Rik Sansone. TVSquad.com says they are “Like old time-y Southern Baptists on acid.” “They’ll smite you with uncontrollable laugher” dampfang.com
Opening Thurs. 8/19 @ 9pm at the Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette Street.
Playing for 5 show dates Thurs 8/19 @ 9pm, Mon 8/23 @ 3:15pm, Thurs 8/26 @ 7pm, Fri 8/27 @ 2pm, Sun 8/29 @ 1:45pm
Genre: Comedy Sketch/Stand-up
FringeNYC Staycation category: Down South & Out West Through Heaven & Hell
“A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People”
Bryan E. Glover in association with P4:13, Inc. Writer Kevin R. Free, Director Christopher Burris. What happens to a dream that’s stirred (not shaken)? The answer lies in these revealing sketches, drawn with a pointy pencil. A dangerous comedy created for US, by US . . . and all about YOU (and us).
Comedy Performance Art
Staycation: Political Junket Fantasy Island Excursion
“Driving the Saudis”
A one-woman show based on writer/performer Jayne Larson’s real life experiences as a chauffeur for Saudi Royalty visiting Beverly Hills for 7 weeks of shopping and plastic surgery! A hilarious ride inside one of the most closely guarded private monarchies in the world. This multi-media piece includes original film footage and found stills which illuminate the story and challenge American perceptions of beauty, culture, religion, and the subjugation of women, through the curious eyes of the actress-turned-chauffeur. Opened Sun, 8/15. SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street.
Plays 5 show dates: Sun 8/15 @ 9:30pm, Thurs 8/19 @ 3pm, Sat 8/21 at 12pm, Sun 8/22 @ 9:15pm, Fri. 8/27 @ 3:45pm
multi-media solo show
Staycation: Through Heaven & Hell In Someone Else’s Shoes
“BAGABONES” written and performed by Jonathan Nosanthan Nosan.
A contortionist’s charming nightmare sets the trip from primal spaces to final spaces and spaces in between. Changing perspectives on the same form brings states of confinement, release, heaven and hell with an ultimately smashing end. “BAGABONES” presents the multiple deaths and reincarnations of a man through a single life journey. Lives include: the strained business man, the joyous seeker, the academic and his empty lectures (presented in Japanese with scrolling subtitles), the unconstrained street performer, and the captain who commands his own funeral–ultimately destroying the confines of the urn to continue creation.
Solo Show Performance Art
Staycation: Through Heaven & Hell Absurdly Surrealist Dream
The First Floor Theatre @ LA MAMA
Fri 13 @ 8:45 Sun 15 @ 3:15 Thu 19 @ 7 Sun 22 @ 6 Thu 26 @ 6
“the means” presented by Plaid Wall, written by Kirk White. Darkly funny. “Selling suicide to the sick is easy; pain closes! If I could get a church to go along . . . we’re talking a literal DEATH BOOM!”–Unidentified Executive, Peach Grove Insurance Company. A (not so) sardonic look at the future of healthcare. Staycation Down South & Out West Political Junket www.letuskillyou.com
The SoHo Playhouse Sat 14 @ NOON Tue 17 @ 8 Sun 22 @ 2:15 Thu 26 @ 5 Sat 28 @ 10:15
MagicMouth Theatre Company; Writer Ben Whiting; Director, Two-Time Emmy Award Winner, Alexander “Sandy” Marshall. How do you build connection in an art-form based on deception? Theatre unites with sleight-of-hand magic as the greatest magician nobody’s ever heard of clashes with his teacher over the significance of a life on the street.
Staycation: Fantasy Island Excursion In Someone Else’s Shoes
The Kraine Theater
Sun 22 @ 6:45 Tue 24 @ 5* Thu 26 @ 11 Fri 27 @ 7 Sun 29 @ NOON
Check out a full listing of FringeNYC XIV show offerings at FringeNYC.org.
Enjoy yourselves and try not to go too crazy!
The 14th Annual New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC XIV), August 13 – August 29, 2010