Friday, August 1, 2014

Fringe 2014 Begins!

OK readers, this next week and a half is where most of your usual scheduled beer-centric programming goes down the tubes and is taken over by ART! 

Sj ready to Fringe!

The Minnesota Fringe Festival started Thursday the 31st and runs until 8/10/14.  For those unaware of this amazing performing arts resource right in our backyard here is a quick primer!  Fringe festivals take place all over the country (and even other countries) but Minnesota's is one of the largest, hosting 169 different shows across 19 different theater venues scattered across the Twin Cities.  Each of these 169 shows gets 5 different performances spread randomly over the week and a half of Fringe, with an extra bonus show on the final Sunday for the highest attended show at each different venue.  This is an unjuried festival and entrants are chosen randomly: this results in more variety (and less nepotism) but also can lead to some questionable shows.  Many actors and theater troupes return from year to year and it is fun to search out shows by folks you have liked in the past.  It is also fun to see random shows and take a chance! 

To gain access to any Fringe show you need to by a Fringe button (usable for the whole festival, and often used for discounts on other theater events later in the year.)  After that each 60 minute show is purchased at the individual theater box office (opening 30 minutes before each show) for $12.  Discounts for students!  After seeing an increasing number of shows each year Sj and I have taken the plunge in the last few years and bought the all-access Ultra Pass.  This allows you to get to as many shows as you can manage (we did 42 last year!) but you still have to wait in line and get your tickets with the rest of the folks. 

Some shows are popular and have big lines--get there early if possible!  30 minutes in between shows doesn't leave a lot of time for transport--schedule your shows with as little travel as possible!  Read reviews on the website as often you can pick up on good ones (or ones to avoid) by checking that out.  Talk to other people in line and get recommendations.  Sj and I actually have friends that we only see once a year during Fringe and look forward to catching up each year!

I'm writing these for local folks to check out, but also adding these reviews to the Fringe website.  Seriously check some of these out: get yourself some CULTURE!

Moody shadow shot from the nearly deserted office building after hours...

Thursday we stayed at the New Century Theater in Downtown Minneapolis, fighting traffic and struggling to find parking.  We saw three shows there, taking a brief break for a bite to eat and a Surly Furious across the street at Lyon's Pub.

1) A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant

This was a somewhat strange show with an all child and teen cast, set as a pageant exploring the life and times of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.  The cast did a good job with this, though being child actors and also the first show the fringe they had a few slightly missed cues.  All of the actors were very earnest and the subject matter was frankly a little creepy and weird (more so than usual) coming from this cast!  Entertaining for sure.

2) Fiddlestick Conundrum

This performance was a straight stand-up comedy act by the very Midwestern Ben San Del, who is a favorite local comic.  He did a great job handling stand-offish Minnesotan crowds and managed to tie his whole show together in an interesting way by the end of the set.  Well worth a visit if you like stand-up!

3) Four Humors Does Every Show in the Fringe

Four Humors is an amazing theater group that is one of the more sought after in the Fringe over the past few years.  Their version of Lolita last year was possibly the funniest thing I've seen in years! This year they got into the lottery very late (someone canceled about a week ago) so they had to throw together something fast.  Masters of Improv, they centered their show around having an audience member draw a ball from a Bingo container and performed the corresponding show from the 2014 Fringe program based purely on the name, picture and brief description there.  Our performance was Cursed!  The group did an amazing job of physical comedy, on the fly puns and wacked out humor.  I think I might have to see the show again since every one will be a different experience!

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