Sunday was the first day that I’ve been able to hit the pavement with a day full of Fringe. I began the day with the opening 1PM performance of ‘Dear Madde’ at The Red Eye; stayed for the next show in the same space - ‘Get Ready for the Vagina Fairy'. Then I headed to uptown for ‘It’s an Egg’ at Huge and finished off the night at The Playwrights’ Center to sit in on my show ‘They Called her Captain.’
Overall, after a day of watching these talented and brave solo artists stride on stage and lay themselves bare (in various ways) I feel compelled - nay obligated - to confess something.
It was ME!!! I was the coward in your first show who refused to acknowledge her note for advice.
For you who weren’t there, here’s what happened: Inside the program for ‘Dear Madde’ is a blank, lined sheet of paper for the audience to write questions or requests for advice from Madde Gibba - the solo performer. As she sings scripted songs and letters, she occasionally dips into the audience's submissions for in-the-moment-improv genius.
She picked mine. She read it. And then called for the houselights to come up to find the person it belonged to.
“Who wrote this?”
“What coward wrote this,” she demanded when no one came clean. “Raise your goddamn hand...”
I actually looked around the room - perfecting my look of innocence - unable and totally unwilling to draw attention to myself.
She went on - brilliantly, of course - improvising a song and killin’ it.
In the next show, ‘Get Ready fir the Vagina Fairy’, performer Rebecca Kling, literally bared it all - allowing us to see her nakedness; acknowledging the ways it may intrigue and repulse us.
And then Jerry Martin in ‘It’s an Egg’ opens with a story about his childhood and the ways in which he felt slight and overlooked...
AND THEN there was my own show, where Maggie Bearmon Pistner has taken on the unique challenge of playing her own mother... with her own mother watching her from the audience...
In light of all this bravery - these bold performers who bared it all, both literally and figuratively - I am all-the-more ashamed of my cowardice in Madde’s show.
My note said: “Dear Madde. I’m in love. How do I keep the relationship fun and fearless; even though I know I'm here to stay.”
I don’t know why I was so afraid to raise my hand when you asked. Maybe because it seemed like such a stupid, adolescent question once I heard it out loud. Maybe it was because I didn’t have a friend with me. I was solo too - and having been in the comfort of anonymity and dim house lights I was unable to break it.
Maybe it was because it was a real question that made me feel silly and vulnerable and would ‘out’ me as an insecure girl in front of all these strangers...
Which is, I think, at least in part what Fringe is about.
So now we’re all a little more naked. And better for it.