Illusion: The Magic of Jared Sherlock
Fringe Theater, loosely defined, is everything The New York Times forgot about.
Coming from the outskirts of theater communities around the world, IndyFringe proudly boasts a line -up of bizarre, unique and fresh theatrical performances, with none comparable to their fellow headliners. Fringe Theater festivals occur across the country and beyond, and now, starting this week, IndyFringe is next on the circuit.
The two-week event runs Aug. 19-28. This year's venues are Cook Theater, ComedySportz, Theater on the Square (main stage and stage two), Basile Theater, Phoenix Main, and IndyFringe Theater. Backer Buttons ($5) must be purchased in conjunction with a ticket for admission into any show. Tickets can be purchased at www.indyfringe.org or at the box office prior to the show (box office opens 30 minutes prior to start time).
A particularly amazing aspect of the Fringe is that 100 percent of ticket sales are returned to the Fringe performers.
Showtimes and venue vary, but all performances' seating begins 30 minutes prior to start time and IndyFringe insists that absolutely no late admittance is permitted.
With over 50 shows to choose from, even the most diverse of theatrical palettes can be satisfied. From the outright ridiculous comedy/musical to the heavily laden with social commentary, IndyFringe's 2011 line up has it all.
Comedy, musical, one-man, improvisation, dance, magic, interpretive, new-age, variety — even Dada. The various faces of theater are well-represented at this year's IndyFringe, as are local (Three Dollar Bill Comedy takes a bite into "School House Rock" with their musical/comedy School House Wrong!), national (New York's Rupert Wates and Friends weave a story of America in Joe's Cafe), and international theater (Australian David Quirk brings us a one-man comedy in his solo act The Day I Ate Wombat).
Beyond the stage, IndyFringe brings its patrons ClubFringe, a free outdoor stage that is open Friday and Saturday nights of the festival's run. Sponsored by Flat 12 Bierwerks, World Class Beverages, Barefoot, and NUVO, ClubFringe promises food, drink, music and fun. Individuals with an IndyFringe Backer Button enjoy free admission to ClubFringe; otherwise the cost is a $1 wristband.
For those who think they can enjoy a real theater party is the After Dark Performers Gig, starting at 11 p.m. and lasting until late. $10 admission gets you in for a night with the Fringe performers at the IndyFringe Theater, 719 E. St. Clair St. It will be hosted Friday-Sunday nights of the festival's run. There will be a cash bar at the event.
Putting an emphasis on street theater, IndyFringe will expand into the streets, sponsoring street performers up and down Mass Ave. Fire twirlers, jugglers, and various Fringe performers, called buskers, are there for entertainment outside the IndyFringe schedule.
Mini-Fringers Make Play is a family-friendly activity sponsored by Young Actors Theatre School that takes place at the intersection of Mass Ave and College Ave. This is a one-hour activity from 4-5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Saturday, Aug. 27.
Since theater is not limited to just bipedal thespians, IndyFringe will host Tails on the Trail Saturday, Aug. 27, beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. There will be prizes for biggest, smallest and most fringy pet, as well as the most artsy pet carrier.
Some must-see shows
Truth is, IndyFringe is an adventure. Get out there and go see some stuff. Ask a stranger what they saw, try out something you didn't plan to see. But also check out our must-see list — folks we've been watching over the years, and we can nigh-on guarantee you'll have an enjoyable, even challenging, time. So here's a half-dozen picks for you; as we do each year, check out our Fringe coverage in next week's issue as we attempt to attend every single show and review.
Beer Can Raft and other plays
Lou Harry is one of the funniest guys in town, is a journalist — and he's a helluva playwright, too. So when we learned he was teaming up with juggernaut director Karen Irwin and a bunch of great actors — Georgeanna Smith, Julie Marie Mauro, Spencer Elliott and Matthew Goodrich — we would have been there even if we hadn't heard the premise: Three college students, a late-night float on a raft made of beer cans, no sign of land and a chance for the world to be seen a little differently.
We're excited about this because Gabe Globen is a hilarious actor who regularly does IndyFringe with the Bloomington Playwrights Project. This year, he developed his own play at BPP (that's what the BPP does: develop new plays), and it focuses on a socially awkward introvert who figures out a perfect therapeutic approach to heal his crippling anxiety: kill people. In his mind, of course.
The Magic of Jared Sherlock
This Indianapolis magician pretty much grew up at IndyFringe, starting his performances at the tender age of 16. Now he's 22, graduated from college and doing magic full time. He fuses magic with comedy, and dancing with storytelling in a modern-day variety show.
Red Riding Hood
This theater group emerged from the experimental cauldron of the Butler Theatre Department a couple years ago, and has regaled the arts community with a number of compelling, provocative performances, such as Thom Pain (based on nothing), 4.48 Psychosis and their own take on Antigone. Here, they'll adapt the legendary story of Little Red Riding Home to their own particular patois. Who knows? The entire play might take place inside a wolf's stomach.
After having seen performances by this local group — The Lives of Cut Flowers, Medea — we can predict this is going to be compelling. Michael Burke directs and Tommy Lewey choreographs a show that explores ... romance. They've borrowed the term "twitterpated" from Bambi, the "funny awkwardness" that comes from having someone "like" you.
Welcome to Zanland
Greetings from ZanLand, home to the hilarious, poignant and raw adolescence of Indy-native Zan Aufderheide. Using her acting acumen to break your cathartic little heart and her comedy know-how to patch it right back up, Aufderheide spins the coming-of-age tale as no one has before. Welcome to Zanland has tears, laughs, gasps, pregnant pauses and applause, all strung together by the unavoidable pain of growing up.
Want more options? We've got a complete listing of this year's Fringe performances in our IndyFringe Calendar of Events.