What Makes DC Fringe Attractive to artists from around the country?
Talking with members of A Piece of Pi and thoughts on Who’s Your Baghdaddy?
Scene 1: Sitting under the stairs at Iron Horse Saloon having a post-rehearsal cocktail. Dark, with a vague sense that a frat boy might approach and dispense violence and/or banter with a lot of not-so-subtle homoerotic undertones. Then you see the actual fratboys and remember why you didn’t even sleep with them in college. They’re dirty. I’ll take the one in the suit. Oh…and I was also talking to people about stuff. Namely, Marshall Pailet, Kyle Mullins, and Nora Ives about why New York actors/dancers/directors would showcase their talents in our fair city’s Fringe Festival.
Scene 2: The brightly lit fringe tent. There’s always a slightly twisted carnival atmosphere under the almost canopy. I’m reminded of children at the circus; delighted and scared and loving it. Never knowing what to expect is part of the excitement, along with the constant anticipation of something you hadn’t yet dreamed of happening right before your eyes. Childhood seems to return in the tent as you spy costumed characters and dozens of ringleaders. And then we add alcohol.
And with the alcohol comes a furry blonde man in wrestlers attire and his stage partner (a slender brunette gentleman with a clown nose). They are Jon Deline of A Piece of Pi and his friend Sam. Coming to you all the way from San Fransisco with a sampling of physical comedy.
The scenes are now set. Let’s discover why actors from across the country participate in the Capital Fringe Festival….after we discuss the theater scenes in those towns. For instance…why come down to DC when doing a good job in the Fringe festival in NYC will get your play noticed immediately across the country? Is it the desire to start in a smaller market and work out the kinks? Strangely, according to the New Yorkers, it’s not. What about San Francisco? They maintain an incredible variety of Fringey theater all year long. Why go through the expense of travelling all the way across the country in a car to perform here?
Apparently, the crew of Who’s Your Baghdaddy? was contacted by local theatre producer Charlie Fink. Charlie has had ties to Fringe for years and has been using it as a place to stage new musicals in front of audiences that are smart enough to know the cream from the dregs. Tangent: This is something that I continually encounter when discussing theater in DC. Everyone talks about how intelligent the audiences are and what a treat it is to write and perform for them. End tangent. So after the success of Super Claudio Bros. last year Mr. Fink asked Marshall and A.D. Penedo to create a new musical for Fringe this year. How beautiful it is to know that in this process the audience is the focus. We too often, as artists, lose sight of the fact that our job is to tell the story to someone, not just to tell the story. It’s wonderful that artists from around the country want to tell their stories to our audiences. Apparently, we’ve trained them well.
The boys from San Francisco, on the other hand, came to Fringe because it was convenient, strangely enough. They had been accepted to the Berkshire Fringe Festival and wanted to make a tour of it. Capital Fringe became the starting point of this adventure and has opened their eyes to the wonders of the DC Theatre crowd. As with most theatrical visitors, these boys are impressed by the amount of theater that exists in our city. Apparently, it is still a well-kept secret that we have almost 100 theatre companies operating in this city and that its actors are very high-caliber. Soon the world will see! Soon they will understand! (insert evil laugh) Until then I’ll keep getting work, so I’m ok with this situation.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. There is an impressive amount of beauty in our city. As I’ve said since I moved back here after a 20 year absence: Washington DC is a living sculpture. It was made to rival the capitals of Europe in scope and grace. It continues to grow as a sculpture as the people of the city reshape it. And here is something I have realized recently: the part of the sculpture that keeps it alive is the artist. As artists we have taken the vitality, intelligence, and drive of the citizenry of this city and we have shaped it into a thriving and diverse theatre community that rivals almost any city in America. As actors on stage shape the energy that the audience gifts them, artists in this community have shaped the clay of the not-so-common men of this city into something L’enfant would be proud to display on the Mall as a tribute to the soul of our country.
I think that’s why they come. Or maybe it’s the happy hour. That’s really good, too.
A Piece of Pi (physical comedy)
Venue: The Apothecary
Jul 16th 4 pm
Jul 17th 2 pm
Jul 17th 8:30 pm
Who’s Your Baghdaddy?
Venue: Woolly Mammoth Theater Company
Jul 16th 8 pm
Jul 17th 2 pm
Jul 20th 8 pm
Jul 21st 8 pm
Jul 22nd 8 pm
Jul 23rd 8 pm
Jul 24th 2 pm
Check Out what Cyle’s doing next!
Love Me! (why everyone hates actors)
Directing as part of The Capital Fringe Festival
Located at The Shop at Fort Fringe
607 New York Ave NW 20001
July 8th at 9PM, July 14th at 6PM,
July 20th at 8PM, July 23rd at 3:45PM,
and July 24th at 1PM
Who’s Your Baghdaddy?
Performed as part of The Capital Fringe Festival
Located at Woolly Mammoth
621 D St NW 20004
July 14 – August 7 621 D St NW 20004
Tickets for both available at capitalfringe.org