Indy Fringe part 4

August 26, 2009
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Last night I only made it to one Indy Fringe show, due to my misreading of the program (my fault, not the designers). This led to the last minute pick of “The Stetson Manifesto,” presented by Lebenon, Indiana’s Happy Holler Productions. The story concerns Catfish, an aging cowboy fighting a system that now demands the replacement of his beloved Stetson with an equestrian helment. His efforts to keep things the same are resisted by a never-believable corporate type. Caught in between is a smarter-than-he-seems younger employee.

It’s encouraging to see a sincere, scripted play in the Fringe mix. But the old-school-cowboy-whose-time-has-past story is familiar to anyone who has seen a western in the past quarter century. Here, there’s an effort to freshen it up (excuse me) with some “American Pie” scatalogical action, but the result is neither revealing or compelling.

A part of the Indy Fringe that doesn’t get much attention is FringeNext, which runs concurrent to the main fest. Housed this year at IndyFringe’s own theater across College Ave, it offers teens a chance to Mickey and Judy their own shows. For a sampling, I sent critic Katherine Harry. Yes, she’s my daughter. And she’s also a journalist in training who edits Pike High School’s newspaper and recently landed a story on the national website JVibe (see it here). Here are her thoughts on a trio of FringeNext shows.

Young Actors Theater’s stereotypical “Check Please 2” played out like a long, drawn out, not funny ComedySportz sketch. The premise: a just-broken up couple goes on a series of dates. After several long, awful encounters with others, the pair declares the the dating pool just too “weird.”While the main characters were well-developed and seemingly well-researched, they were almost unbearable to watch. And while between-scene music blasted, what seemed like dozens of others danced awkwardly and moved about to fill time.

With minimal story and an obvious conclusion, “Check Please 2” left its audience members as confused and regretful as its characters.

“Mean Girls” met “Rugrats” in “The Secret Life of Girls” presented by the Second Story Playhouse Players. The multi-media mix of text and e-mail projections successfully made clear the overwhelming presence of technology in teenage lives, but the promising visuals couldn’t overcome the performance. Six teenage females screaming at the top of their lungs in a small theater is never a good idea. The less-than-fluid dialogue was stiff and unemotional, except when any character utilized a curse word.

Despite the loose ends (fringes perhaps?), “Every Story Has a Song” featured students from the International School expressing themselves boldly and deliberately. Leaving creative power to the students to choose their own monologues and songs, the result was passionate performances. The final song, a two-student rendition of “For Good” from “Wicked,” lit up the stage and the, unfortunately, almost empty room. The monologues didn’t quite connect, but that left interpretation up to the audience, a freedom so seldom achieved by high school performers. The only tragedy in “Every Story Has a Song” was the minimal audience.

Here’s hoping that more young artists participate in next year’s FringeNext. This is a great opportunity being offered to students in Indy and more should take advantage of it.

Your thoughts?

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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