FringeNYC + FringeBYOV Returns 2018

After a one year hiatus, the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) returns with a new look.  It also returns with an additional moniker called FringeBYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) which opens the festival and audience members to theatre beyond the borough of Manhattan. Unfortunately, the Bronx wasn’t included but kudos to Staten Island for being creative in their presentation of The Ferry Play as a podplay.

So I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t some trepidation around the new format. August in NYC for theatre-makers and audience members comes with an acceptance. There will be 200 shows to read in the program guide (in addition to the other festivals and shows); you’ll only be able to get to maybe ten (2 if you are in the Fringe); and you’ll have to run from venue to venue in 100 degree weather. Honestly, as much as I complained about it, I LOVED it. Even if some of the shows were hit or miss.

This leads me to figuring out my Fringe schedule in October. The days are getting shorter, there are some serious plays being produced at our non-profit institutions, and now there’s the Fringe Hub where we all meet to be taken to our venue. How to see it all?! Yes, a luxury problem, but in today’s climate, the theatrical platform, soapbox, medium, choose your noun, is essential. So when Onaje is the play that kicks off my Fringe viewing, I am intrigued. The show is already sold out in the days prior to its opening.

Onaje uses the Cambridge riots of 1967 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as a backdrop for a group of people who are neighbors turned enemies due to the race relations. An ensemble of nine tell the story of an astrological hobo, an ex-CIA operative, a stripper, a drunk, an angry cop, a family living a simple life, and hitchhiker as they intersect on the highway (literal and metaphorical). We learn soon that this is the first layer of the onion. Wrong place at the wrong time. Running away from the truth. Money solves all problems. The grass is always greener on the other side. Leaving the world better than we found it. All of these are reflected in each actor as in their insightful and careful expression of Robert Bowie, Jr.’s words.

It took me some time to unpack the 145 minutes of intensity. There were many aspects of the show that left me in thought. The cast was talented, Pat Golden’s direction tight in telling the story within the allotted time (though it felt long at spots), and the writing significant.

My next stop was Jamaica Center for the Arts & Learning (JCal) as part of the fringeBYOV/fringeQNS. On the way to see The Public and Private Deaths of Carol O’Grady, I listened to a new feature of the Fringe called the podplay. I listened to Subway Plays which was simply a pretty cool thing to experience as I rode the 7 train. The good thing about the series is that you don’t HAVE to be on that line if you’re already familiar with the subway. I listened to Damper Felts: N on the bus and had the same experience. If you are a tourist, though, it’s a great companion piece for taking the train. All the conversations you have, don’t have, avoid, overhear, and imagine are in one place. Jenny Lyn Bader, Jessie Bear and Colin Waitt capture those moments. As a native New Yorker, I laughed aloud many times and didn’t care about the reactions of others.

As for The Public and Private Deaths of Carol O’Grady, Frank Murdocco’s solo show was a breath of fresh air on a cool night in Jamaica, Queens. The experience began as soon as I arrived and was treated with a tour of the venue which boasts two artists’ gallery. That prepared me for another surprise – a beautiful state-of-the-art 120 seat theatre. It’s Christmas and something terrible has happened to Carol O’Grady! Murdocco’s tells the story through three characters in the style of Sarah Jones, Anna Deveare Smith and Eric Bogosian. He flawlessly and smoothly transforms into these characters. The only indication of a character change is a click of the lamp (which I loved) which added to the layer of the insanity created by Jessica DiPaola and Lindsey Smith.

My trip to the Fringe is coming to a close due to scheduling but definitely support the artists. We need their voices and their stories. And we need yours too. Start creating!


The NEW York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC + FringeBYOV)

www.fringenyc.org

October 1st – 31st, 2018

OCT 12th – 28th

OCT 5th – 28th

OCT 1st – 31st

GRAND OPENING OF THE FLEA THEATER

GRAND OPENING OF THE FLEA THEATER
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Opening Performances
Thursday, September 28, 2017

On Thursday, September 28, 2017, The Flea Theater, the 21 year old off-off-Broadway theater known for “raising a joyful hell in a small space”, will joyfully unveil its new home at 20 Thomas Street.  The new performing arts center was designed by ARO, Architectural Research Office and built by Westerman Construction Company, and features three small theaters under one roof, each space with a unique design and multiple uses.

Activities will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, featuring Flea founders, Sigourney Weaver and Jim Simpson.  Also speaking will be government officials including Comptroller Scott Stringer, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl, Majority Leader of the City Council James G. Van Bramer and First District City Council Member Margaret Chin, all of whom were instrumental in getting this tiny off-off-Broadway theater a permanent home.  Also taking part in the official ceremony will be Flea Board Chair Linda Schupack and The Flea’s Artistic and Producing Directors, Niegel Smith and Carol Ostrow.

Says Ostrow, “The Flea has been working diligently for the past seven years to secure and build a permanent home for our company of artists.  Without the support of our city, state and yes even our federal government, as well as the generous contributions of many individuals, this dream would not have been possible.”

The morning ceremony is free of charge and the day’s celebration will continue with tours of the new space and light snacks until noon.

That evening, all three theaters in The Flea’s new home will be in action.  Starting at 5:30 in The Pete, the indoor/outdoor performance space named for the late seminal playwright, A.R. “Pete” Gurney, will be a new performance called Flea Fridays.   This interactive monthly happy hour cabaret series will feature new visions, solo performance and alternative performance artists, all exploring a single question.  For our inaugural Flea Friday, we tackle, “What does HOME mean to you?”

Following at 7:00 p.m. in The Sam, The Flea’s flexible black box theater named for legendary agent Sam Cohn, will be a preview performance of NSangou Njikam’s Syncing Ink, directed by Niegel Smith.  This coming of age hip hop musical explores the roots of hip hop and what it really takes to freestyle. And at 7:30 in The Siggy, The Flea’s basement theater named for Sigourney Weaver, will be the New York Time’s Critic’s Pick Inanimate, a play about a girl, a guy and a Dairy Queen sign.

Tickets to the evening’s portion may be purchased at http://www.theflea.org or by calling Charlie Madison at 212-226-0051, ext. 110.

 

Martin Denton: A Conversation

mddbwJust in case you haven’t heard the news,  Martin Denton is closing up shop. He announced on August 31st that he and Rochelle are retiring from the business of theatre. Our community was in shock and sad but grateful and supportive. The Dentons have been an integral part of the independent theatre community for the last 20 years giving us the voice we so desperately needed and now definitely need.

Thank you for all you have done for our indie community for 20 years which is how long I have known of you! You and Rochelle have always been kind when we saw each other at shows. I also thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

I love everything about this statement: 1996 October – Martin Denton takes an Internet class and builds his first website, dedicated to his number one passion, the theatre. What was going on in the indie scene that sparked an interest in writing about the community?

Discovering the indie community actually came later for me. When I started nytheatre.com I was very much focused, like most people, on Broadway and off-Broadway. But I started getting invitations from smaller indie companies to review their work, and I learned that this was the work I preferred, because of the passion and risk-taking that seemed to always be inherent in it. So I made the indie community my niche, which I think was a great decision!

Where did the ideas of creating a small press and a media outlet come from?

In 1999 we saw a play called “Are We There Yet?” by Garth Wingfield at Synchronicity Space in SoHo. After the play I said to Rochelle, “That was a great play—it’s too bad that after it ends its 16-performance showcase that it will probably be forgotten. Someone ought to publish it.” And then, a few months later, we decided that WE would publish it, along with other excellent new plays from the indie theater world. We did it because it needed to be done, like so much of what we did along the way.

When and how did you connect with Elena and The NY International Fringe Festival? And how did you and your team manage to review every show?

I went to the very first FringeNYC in 1997 and loved it. The following year we reviewed it pretty extensively. In 1999, we decided to bring our first volunteer reviewers on staff and made an effort to review as much as we could (perhaps 40 or 50 shows all told). I don’t remember how we made the connection with the FringeNYC folks, but I do remember that I met John Clancy for the first time a few days before the ’99 festival, when we sat down for a few hours at the Present Company Theatorium and he went through the Program Guide with me. We just clicked with the FringeNYC folks; they became our theatrical home base. We got involved in many aspects of the festival over the years: did you know that I was the master of ceremonies of the Opening Ceremonies more times than anyone else?

As for doing the reviews of every show in the festival, as we did every year from 2002 through 2014: we did it because we had dozens of dedicated volunteers to make it happen. Each of them saw and wrote about a few shows and together we got the whole festival covered. I think they all did it because they believed in the underlying idea, that all of the shows deserved some feedback.

“Martin Denton, Martin Denton” written by Chris Harcum is a wonderful tribute to you and Rochelle. How did this charming story make it to the page then to the stage especially at the Kraine with Horse Trade?

We had dinner with Chris and his wife Aimee (who directed the play) about a year ago. At some point Chris remarked that the various anecdotes I was relating about earlier days of indie theater might make a good play, and he asked if he could create one. By about January he had a first draft, and then we were involved in fact-checking and so forth. The whole effort was entirely Chris and Aimee’s. They booked it at the Kraine, which I thought was a splendid and appropriate choice.

So what was the moment that made you say to yourself, “it’s time”.

It was when I realized there was something I wanted to do more than what I had been doing. For nearly 20 years, the NYC theater scene was the focus of almost all my energy and resources and love. But people change, and now I have discovered that I want to spend my days exercising parts of my brain that I didn’t engage with as much in the past. I am becoming a maker, particularly of Lego creations. I am writing about what I am discovering on my new blog, Second Childhood. And we’re starting a little online Lego business as well.

What are your thoughts on the future of the indie scene in New York City?

I think that there are always going to be amazing, ambitious, talented artists coming onto the scene, who will morph and evolve it as their needs and desires see fit. It’s a much tougher place to work in than it used to be, mostly because, as someone famously said, the rent is too damn high. But that won’t stop these folks from making art, and I wish them well. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote in Cinderella: “Because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening every day.” He was right.

Do you know how much you will be missed?

That’s a sweet question. The people we worked with over the years have actually done a pretty wonderful job of making that kind of clear, in emails and Facebook posts.

Any words of wisdom?

Do what you care about. Do what matters to you. Don’t wish that things were different, just make each moment be as close to how you want the world to be as you can. And, quoting Yoda: Either do or do not; there is no try.

One more question! I am sure you observed the ebbs and flows of the scene. What were some high points and low points in your observation?

A low point: that too many wonderful artists spend their time on social media posting about what they’re feeling rather than creating art (for example, a play) about what they’re feeling.

Too many high points to name, but a couple come to mind. One was how the community came together in a meaningful, tangible way to help each other after 9/11. Another was how the community organically evolved in the early 2000s to embrace diversity (in terms of gender identity, sexual identity, race, religion, ethnicity, etc.). There is more to do, but I loved how it just seemed to spring forth without any organizing or lobbying right after 9/11.

Meet Joe Kelly & Aliens Coming The Musical

Name: Joe Kelly

What is your current project? Aliens Coming

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?

Aliens Coming is returning to the PIT’s Striker Mainstage Theater, where we held our premier back in April. The PIT has produced a lot of talented performers like Ellie Kemper, Kristen Schaal, and Hannibal Buress. We’re extremely excited to call the PIT our home and to share a common starting place with these talented performers. The PIT is known for it’s hilarious improv and is a perfect fit for our fast-paced, campy show.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently developing a new play that revolves around a very bloody week leading up to the Westminster dog show.

What is the name of the last show you saw?

James, Jonathan, and I all went to see the Play That Goes Wrong together. We’ve been knocking on wood ever since.
  
Any advice for your peers?

I would say that if you’re someone who’s aspiring to produce a play in New York then the first step is to surround yourself with motivated and like-minded people. Theater is an intensely collaborative art, and you’d be surprised what you can will into existence with a good group of creative and dedicated people.

Want More?

Website: http://www.joekelly.space/alienscoming

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alienscomingthemusical/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeyJKelly/

Joe Kelly is a New York based playwright who wrote the book and lyrics for ‘Aliens Coming’. Joe is a senior at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU where he is majoring in Dramatic Writing and studying playwriting. Joe’s previous credits include writing ‘She’s Totally Dead’ and appearing in a radio commercial for Tyson chicken when he was thirteen.


Show Information: 

WHERE: The People’s Improv Theater’s Striker Mainstage – 123 E. 24th St. NY, NY

TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased here for only $10

WHEN: 

  • Thursday, 8/17 at 8pm
  • Friday, 8/18 at 9:30pm
  • Saturday, 8/19 at 9:30pm
  • Thursday, 8/24 at 8:00pm
  • Saturday, 8/26 at 9:30pm
  • Thursday, 8/31 at 9:30pm
  • Tuesday, 9/5 at 8pm
  • Saturday, 9/9 at 9:30pm
  • Tuesday, 9/12 at 8pm
  • Monday, 9/18 at 8pm

Meet Griffin Osborne & Aliens Coming The Musical

pasted image 0Name: Griffin Osborne
What is your current project? Aliens Coming: The Musical
Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?
 
We’re thrilled to be taking Aliens Coming back to the People’s Improv Theater and to join the ranks of the hilarious programming that has gone on there for so long. Since it’s a theater built for stand up and improv, finding out how to bring a large musical (that includes an alien invasion no less) to that space and make it feel large was the artistic challenge that I think pushed us to think about the show and its staging in a deeper way.
What’s next for you?
I will be finishing up my last semester at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and working on my second full length play ‘Here There Be Dragons’ which I will be workshopping in the coming year.
What is the name of the last show you saw?
Anatomy of a Suicide.
Any advice for your peers?
 
Make something. I read recently that ideas mean very little in this world. Everyone has ideas. It’s human nature to think about the world and what, if anything, new can be brought to it. It is the ability to take that idea and make something out of it – pursue what others won’t – that defines someone as a working artist. This feels obvious but I think holds true for all, including myself. 
Want More?
Instagram: @griffin.osborne
Griffin Osborne is a New York based actor, writer, and director as well as founder of Theater/Film production company Old Fellow. Recent directorial credits include Bare: a Pop Opera (Tisch School of the Arts), unfinished (Experimental Theater Wing), and Assistant Direction on Happy Days (Sledgehammer_, dir. Scott Feldsher). As an actor, he was seen last summer in 600 Highwaymen’s The Fever (The Public Theater) as well as starring in Constellations (Playwrights Horizons Theater School) and Leader Day (Shoreham Films). Short plays from his published anthology Writer’s Block have been performed in high schools and colleges across the United States, and his new work The Executioner can be seen on the New York stage this coming year (Madcap Repertory). Fourth year student at Tisch School of the Arts, currently training at Stonestreet Studios. He would like to dedicate his work on this production to his brother.

WHERE: The People’s Improv Theater’s Striker Mainstage – 123 E. 24th St. NY, NY

TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased here for only $10

WHEN: 

  • Thursday, 8/17 at 8pm
  • Friday, 8/18 at 9:30pm
  • Saturday, 8/19 at 9:30pm
  • Thursday, 8/24 at 8:00pm
  • Saturday, 8/26 at 9:30pm
  • Thursday, 8/31 at 9:30pm
  • Tuesday, 9/5 at 8pm
  • Saturday, 9/9 at 9:30pm
  • Tuesday, 9/12 at 8pm
  • Monday, 9/18 at 8pm

Meet Jonathan Evans & Aliens Coming The Musical

pasted image 0Name: Jonathan Evans
What is your current project? Aliens Coming: The Musical
Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?
 
The PIT is a very unique venue in that it is primarily an improv theatre. This gives us a lot of ‘play’ room even with a pre-written script. The music and actors can have fun on stage and really enjoy themselves, creating a unique performance every night.
What’s next for you?
I am working on my own musical with my writing partner, very different in tone and far more ‘contemporary’. Other then that – grad school!
What is the name of the last show you saw?
‘The Great Comet.’ It was incredible.
Any advice for your peers?
 
Do everything! Never pass up on an opportunity no matter how out of your comfort zone it is. You never know where it might lead.
Want More?
Instagram:  @jdapevans
Jonathan Evans is a recent NYU graduate and the Music Director of ‘Aliens Coming’, as well as one of the show’s composers and a producer. His previous credits include Producing and Music Directing ‘She’s Totally Dead’ at the 13th Street Theatre and extensive work as a Creative Producer and Music Supervisor in New York.

Show Information: 

 

WHERE: The People’s Improv Theater’s Striker Mainstage – 123 E. 24th St. NY, NY

TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased here for only $10

WHEN: 

  • Thursday, 8/17 at 8pm
  • Friday, 8/18 at 9:30pm
  • Saturday, 8/19 at 9:30pm
  • Thursday, 8/24 at 8:00pm
  • Saturday, 8/26 at 9:30pm
  • Thursday, 8/31 at 9:30pm
  • Tuesday, 9/5 at 8pm
  • Saturday, 9/9 at 9:30pm
  • Tuesday, 9/12 at 8pm
  • Monday, 9/18 at 8pm

Meet Katie Braden & A Real Boy

Name: Katie Braden

What is your current project? A Real Boy by Stephen Kaplan

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?

59E59 Street Theaters; this is an amazing fit for our show, because they present such innovative, thought-provoking work from all over the world! I’m thrilled that we’re included in this season!

What’s next for you?

I’m taking classes for a graduate degree, so I start my next course 3 days after closing!

What is the name of the last show you saw?

A Brimful of Asha, part of the Soulpepper festival at The Signaure Theatre

Any advice for your peers?

I’ve found that I’m a better actor when I have balance in my life of work, fun, and family. I think it’s important to find the right ratio on an individual level, so don’t feel like you have to fit into someone else’s timeline or expectations. There are lots of ways to be happy in the theatre, and it may not be the way you expect!

Want More?

Website: http://www.KatieBraden.com

Facebook: Katie Braden

Twitter: @bradenkatie

Instagram: @bradenkatieactor

Katie Braden is a co-founder of Ivy Theatre Company and a proud member of WorkShop Theater. Ivy Theatre: Mill Fire, Reach, Outside/Inside, Incongruence, Black Ice, Like Poetry, and The Perfect Wife. Other NYC:  Romeo and Juliet,  The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mrs. Warren’s Profession.


Show Information:

WHERE: 59E59 Theaters, 59 E59th Street, NYC

WHEN: AUG 2, 2017 – AUG 27, 2017/Tue, Wed, Thu at 7:30, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 2:30 & 7:30, Sun at 3:30

TICKET INFO: $25.00 (59E59 MEMBERS $20.00)
For groups of 10+ please contact: GINGER DZERK, Director of Ticketing Services P 646.892.7986 | GD@59e59.org
http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=293

Meet Eric Wright & A Real Boy

Name: Eric Wright

What is your current project? A Real Boy

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?

59E59 is a great venue for showcasing new and innovative forms of theater, as well as very traditional forms, like the marionettes in our show, in exciting ways.

What’s next for you?

At my company, Puppet Kitchen Productions, we’re always working on projects that connect people to puppetry. From live shows to film and TV, we blend style and engineering to bring characters to life.

What is the name of the last show you saw?

The Play That Goes Wrong

Any advice for your peers?

Strive toward Shameless Enthusiasm. Take your work seriously, but never take yourself too seriously.

Want More?

Website: http://www.puppetkitchen.com

Facebook: @puppetkitchen

Twitter: @puppetkitchen

Instagram: @thepuppetkitchen

You Tube: @puppetkitchen

Puppet Kitchen Productions has been designing, building, performing, directing, and teaching puppetry since 2008. Recent projects include: The Little Mermaid (MUNY), The San Diego Zoo’s Centennial Celebration, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (AUS, NYC, UK) The King and I and The Wiz (Maltz Jupiter Theater), and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (TWUSA). PKP has workshops for the public, and creates original programming for all ages.


Show Information:

WHERE: 59E59 Theaters, 59 E59th Street, NYC
WHEN: AUG 2, 2017 – AUG 27, 2017/Tue, Wed, Thu at 7:30, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 2:30 & 7:30, Sun at 3:30
TICKET INFO: $25.00 (59E59 MEMBERS $20.00)
For groups of 10+ please contact: GINGER DZERK, Director of Ticketing Services P 646.892.7986 | GD@59e59.org
http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=293

 

Meet Sean Tecson & Poor Boys’ Chorus (Broadway Bound Theatre Festival)

Poor Boys

Name: Sean Tecson

What is your current project?  Poor Boys’ Chorus

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?

Poor Boys’ Chorus is one of twenty plays selected from more than 200 submissions for Broadway Bound Theatre Festival’s inaugural season at the 14th Street Y Theater. The play reimagines the traditional Greek chorus as a trio of orphans telling the tragically romantic story about the town’s richest girl and an orphan boy falling in love through movement, light, and a little bit of magic. The chorus of orphans act as a traveling troupe of performers who are telling this story to different audiences in different venues every night, giving the play a pop-up performance feel that is perfect for a festival setting.

What’s next for you?

At the end of 2016 I accepted the A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fellowship and have been working at the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York supporting their development department and fundraising for the organization’s various programs that serve over 370 nonprofit theatre companies in New York City. I will be entering the second and final half of my fellowship where I will be delving into institutional fundraising and a re-branding project for our department.

What is the name of the last show you saw?

Miss Saigon

Any advice for your peers?

Don’t forget that it’s just theatre. We’re not curing cancer or conducting brain surgery. At the end of the day, we’re working on something that we love and we should never forget that. It’s a lot of work, but no one is going to die if a small mistake is made here or there. Do your best and remember that we’re all humans doing this weird theatre thing.

Want More?

Website: about.me/seantecson
Twitter: twitter.com/seanohfour
Instagram: instagram.com/seanohfour

Sean Tecson is a NYC-based director and arts administrator. He has worked with several nonprofit theatres in NYC including Ma-Yi Theatre Company and the National Asian American Theater Company and was the assistant producer for a FringeFAVE production in the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival. He is currently the Development Fellow at the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York and helps fundraise for the organization’s various programs that serve over 370 nonprofit theatre companies in New York City. He received a B.A. in Theatre & Dance from The University of Texas at Austin.


Show Information:

Poor Boys
TUE AUG 15 @ 4:00PM
FRI AUG 18 @ 7:30PM
SUN AUG 20 @ 3:00PM

14TH STREET Y THEATRE
344 EAST 14TH STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10003

 

https://14streety.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S36000004CDmXEAW

Luck Be A Lady…This Lady

There was a moment during my end of year vacation when I realized that I really threw myself into creating theatre in different ways and didn’t even realize I was doing that. I worked on various projects that touched on commercial theatre, independent theatre and community theatre. I worked on cabarets, readings, festivals. All unique in their structures but with the same passion.

I was asked “why theatre?” in an interview with Theater in the Now. I answered that I ask myself this all the time because I do wonder. How did I get lucky to fall in love with this art form? How did I lucky to meet so many wonderful artists creating around the world? How did I get lucky to be able to do this as a career? Well, here’s an interesting thing about me. I don’t actually believe in luck. Luck to me is preparation plus opportunity. As it is for the many artists out in the world sharing their stories. It looks easy but the level of hard work, sweat and tears to put on a show is often not known.

I know. I enjoy interviewing the artists for this column. I know what they’ve done to get to where they are. So as we kick off 2017, let’s continue to create and share and support.

If you would like to share your current project being produced beyond Broadway, comment below or tweet me.

See you at the show!
Malini