As I walk into the building from Oak Grove Street I see a sign that tells me that the theater is on the first floor. I have, somehow, entered on the fourth floor. Oh Minneapolis.
The place appears deserted, at least on the fourth floor, but as I descend I come closer and closer to the sound of raucous voices, like something out of a very friendly very crowded bar. I imagine the lobby packed with eager theater-goers. In fact it’s only about 11 people in the small lobby. With its bare hard floors and unadorned walls, the room makes the small gathering sound much larger. It’s an echo chamber of Fringe bonhomie.
Opening night of the festival at 9:45pm and the message is that the Fringe is going to be a good time. A quick glance shows me 3 men in polos and Bermuda shorts, a quartet of senior citizens, and a woman taking notes like I am. Also a young woman with a tall thin green vase full of red carnations. This is who the Fringe is for tonight.
I see Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw putting out postcards for hubby Joseph’s show. I have long held the belief that Joe Scrimshaw is the King of the Fringe. Among other things. Sara asks if I have a show in the Fringe. I say not this year, and she says, I could swear I saw your face on some show somewhere. I tell her I’m doing this blog, and she says that’s it. The circles get smaller.
I take a postcard for Joe’s show (and here I have to say I did a show once with Joe and I think someone told me he prefers to be called Jospeh but I’m not sure and so now I feel triply weird writing Joe; I apologize to everyone) and think maybe I’ll only see shows that people actually hand me postcards for. It’s my lazy way to claim I’m letting serendipity choose.
I sit about ¾ of the way back to get a good perspective on who shows up. Also it allows me to be a bit separate from the crowd which is something that feels right for me. As an observer/blogger/whatever this is a comfortable position. In the crowd but not of the crowd. And a fair size crowd it is for a first night at an out of the way venue at 10. Onstage two music stands and two bottles of water. A talking fest, just my speed. I am optimistic and excited. And I hope the feeling lasts. Ok this feels too far back and I’m being ridiculous. There are two empty rows between me and any other people. I’m being weird. I’m moving.
First show of the Fringe has me seated at the The Woman's Club of Minneapolis and the thought nags at me: why the Woman’s Club and not the Women’s Club? It sounds like it’s just for one Woman and not all Women. At any rate, it’s open to all members of all genders for the festival.
In the audience before the show I hear a man say, This is my first show of the day, I had rehearsal tonight. Which underlines a great point: the Fringe is for people in the Fringe. Just because the snake eats its own tail doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good.
The audience beforehand is really talky. I wonder if they’re from Minnesota. I imagine that the Fringe does this too. Gets people together in small rooms and makes them feel like they can talk to each other. It’s our indoor artsy version of Mardi Gras. I consider flashing my chest then quickly reject the idea.
The show Bidgood to BidGREAT: Bumps and Blunders on the Boulevard to Brilliance is a sweet collection of stories from one of the famed Rockstar Storytellers. Laura Bidgood mentions her identical twin in a few of the stories and I realize after the show that the woman with the red carnations is that twin.
I couldn’t ask for a better start to the Fringe. It’s a charming show with a warm friendly audience. I walk out feeling part of something.