Whaaaaat? It’s almost over. I’ve been overloaded with the Fringe, but this is a little bittersweet. There is something akin to despair in seeing the final performance of a show. I anticipate seeing that on the faces of all the audiences today and tomorrow. It is one last chance to catch your favorite show again. Or to see what people called the best show ever. Either way it all comes down tomorrow night. With the end in sight I’ve been thinking about my time at the Fringe. I must admit it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe that just had to do with the shows I saw. Or the revelation I had after my first night Fringing. But I’ve enjoyed myself so far. I'm excitedly sinking myself into the Fringe today and tomorrow and will be soaking up the last dregs of artistic expression. Because that is what we’re talking about when we’re talking Fringe. Artistic Expression. I had a great conversation with Shanan Custer who is knocking socks of in Nightmare Without Pants. She felt that the Fringe was a valuable and viable way for an artist to be seen. To do work that had meaning and purpose, whether to enlighten or humor. Fringe provides a chance to express something under an umbrella that says all our welcome.
ALL our welcome. But who comes? Who shows up at the gates? 165 shows. 20%(33) of those are labeled with the “includes artists of color” tag line. It should be noted that I have seen artists of color in shows without that tag line. But for my first Fringe I’ve attempted to split my time between a show from that page and a show outside of it that speaks to me. Because that’s why I went to the Fringe this year, I went looking for community, for something that I knew. Folks who have read my blog find themselves looking for color at the Fringe. They’ve found themselves observing themselves observing others observing them (Laurie Carlos anyone?). I've received recommendations for shows based on the talent of “what you might call the only speck of pepper”. I must say I enjoy it. I believe that our ability to differentiate is a valuable and integral part of our humanity. It is how we learn. How we protect ourselves. How we get to know the world. Good, Bad. Tall, Short. Rich, Poor. Black, White. Gay, Straight. We create problems for ourselves when we assign value to these differences such as Black is better than White or Straight is superior to Gay. Once we devalue, we dehumanize. And once we dehumanize, we destroy. But we always see difference. We may not want to, but we do. I went looking for difference at the Fringe; well actually I went looking for similarities. Something or someone that spoke to me, the me in this body. I found them, they are there, no one is telling them that they can’t be. Do I wish there were more? Yes. Can there be more? I don’t know.
So many (life imposed) factors go into who can be in a show or see a show at the Fringe. Maybe they can’t get off work for all the slots, can’t find a baby-sitter, can’t afford a ticket, etc. While it is wonderful to see all the possible discounts on tickets, Mixed Blood has got me thinking. If they can show some Radical Hospitality could we have a Radical Fringe? Remembering Shanan's words I still think we should keep it viable. But maybe one show from each of the 165 shows is radically free? The very first show? Maybe that has been tried before? Failed? I don’t know. I’m just thinking…radically. Speaking of that....
Don’t miss casual encounters'(maybe)last show at 10pm tonight. If you haven’t filled that slot or are not sure about it. Here is the suggestion. Make the drive to Gremlin. See a well done, hilarious, and gleeful show. Two ladies, strangers to each other, in very different positions meet on common ground to take back control of their life. Watching Georgia Hallman get there is like watching a baby take its first steps. You are always curious as you watch Nora Montanez struggle to break free of some invisible bonds. It is such a pleasure to see both of them break free of their own Petrificus Totalus curse. And yes, I did say Petrificus Totalus, cause along with James Baldwin, August Wilson, and Amiri Baraka, I love me some J.K Rowling! Anyway, in casual encounters there is one gorgeous moment of first contact and then…combat! And when they get down and dirty you are on the edge of your seat. At one blow I found myself fist-pumping the air along with some other audience members. I love this play because I believe that the characters are real people. Honesty is the best comedy and Georgia & Nora bring it by the bucket full! So happy I got to see it.
I’ll see you out at the Fringe tonight. I’ll also be at Fringe Central for the audience picks announcement. See you there!