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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for May, 2010

Not the Fringe of Nature, or How I didn’t go camping with Brian Feldman

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Not the Fringe of Nature, or How I didn’t go camping with Brian Feldman

I didn’t go camping with Brian Feldman. He asked, I considered, but ultimately decided “no.” Like many life decisions, it grew easier as time passed, and I’m completely comfortable with missing what was considered the most exclusive event of the 2010 Orlando Fringe. If you missed the media hype, Feldman rounded up a giant Mini Cooper and took three art lovers camping in Wikiwa Springs State Park. The campground wasn’t one of those KOA places with showers and sewer hookups; it was a patch of Florida scrub, not that different from what greeted Ponce De Leon when he went searching for the Fountain of Youth.

Camping has always been one of my biggest fears. It’s not lack of internet access or Lyme disease; it’s not the idea of eating burnt weenie sandwiches and Smores and having to think up a ghost story. It’s not even having to pee in the poison Ivey. It revolves around the idea that’s we’ve spent thousands of years inventing fire and electricity and insulation, and I see no reason to give that up, not even for novelty’s sake. And I’ll admit the following: I dislike and distrust nature. Keep your roaming buffaloes and tumbling tumble weeds, and give me Park Avenue. Sure, I’ve driven the Blue Ridge parkway and I even spent two weeks with my in-laws in Maine, but that’s about my limit. When my choices are a big party and easy access to beer and fried foods, versus staring at whatever wondrous heavens peek thought the sky glow of Orlando, I’ll take the party. If you want to see stars, that’s why we built the Hubble.

So I spent Friday night watching Canadian monologists and transgendered glitter boys and some sort of crack pot literary theory told in Iambic pentameter. I didn’t have to buy a sleeping bag or a working GPS, my ghost story will remain untold for another year, and I had the kabobs and an ESB for dinner. I’ll catch Feldman’s next local event (He’s in New York right now trying to outstare anther Performance Artist) but if you want a report on what really went on that fateful Friday, click here. I was told there were hardly any zombie cannibal rednecks.

Reincarnation Soup

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Reincarnation Soup
Viet Nguyen
Red Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

In this scary and confusing narration Viet Nguyen follows the story of his family’s life in Viet Nam after the communist takeover in 1975 and its subsequent journey to America. They stories are personal and gruesome, and culminate with his character thrown into jail with a large, hostile black man, and Viet telling yelling “I’m not afraid of you – I dug up land mines with my bare hands!” Scary stuff indeed. Narration switched between several viewpoints, and their relation is not always clear, but the overall effect is alternately chilling and heartwarming. It’s an immigrant’s tale, and one you’d like to explore further.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Goblin Party Interactive

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Goblin Party Interactive
IBEX Puppetry
Orange Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

Puppets and kites fill the Orange Venue, threatening to entangle the lights high up in the ceiling. The IBEX cast hands out goodie bags with a candy necklace, glowing Koosh Balls and foam rocks, and up on the big screen the 1986 “Muppets meet David Bowie” film Labyrinth plays. On the floor, puppeteers perform a shadow play of the film, encouraging us to shoot darts at pointy toothed fairies and hurl rocks at nasty Goblins. Teenaged Sarah foolishly wished her baby brother gone, and Goblin King Jareth (Bowie) is all too happy to accommodate. When Sarah repents, she has 13 hours to solve the Labyrinth to retrieve her brother, and along the way she meets lots of felt and google eyed creatures.

While the puppet action was continuous and delighted the small children in the audience, my eye was often drawn to the film itself rather than the performance, and this is always a weakness of Shadow Plays. Another thing that struck me was the dreadful quality of the music in Labyrinth. One might expect better from the Thin White Duke although at the time he sported a then-fashionable mullet. On the floor the shadow Bowie wore matching hair and one of the largest cod pieces ever to grace this normally Shakespearean stage. The Ibex puppets were cool, but the cinematic distraction kept me from fully enjoying them.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Luminex

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Luminex
By Voci Dance and Doug Rhodehamel
On the lawn south of the Beer Tent, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

It’s been hot and dry this week, but it rained hard today and a ring of glowing green and blue mushrooms has sprung up, just at sunset. A group of fairies, the sort with wings and magic powers and sharp teeth appear, dancing among the sacred oak groves and sidewalks of Lock Haven Park. DJ Nigel mixes music, some of it electronic and chattering, some of it dreamy and regular, and the fairly move with glowing wings and a small phalanx of helpers with flashlights. As the dancers traverse the grounds, the crowd moves with them and small children have mock sword fights with luminous necklaces. Cars drive by slowly their headlights glaring on the proceedings, but occasionally illuminating a particular move or clench. After the exercise, the fairy return to the ring, take bows, and invite everyone to take home some glowing mushrooms. The Rites of Spring have been completed for another year.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Pla

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Pla
By Jeff Wirth
Blue Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

Improv typically relies on the audience for two things, random triggers to steer the performance, and laughs at the end. In Pla (there should eb a “long A” there, but it doesn’t work on my browser) Mr. Wirth warms up the audience by giving us balloons to bat around, then he settles into working the show. If you wish to participate, you hold up a balloon and he taps you on the head, and you’re on stage. Unlike most “drag the audience on stage” bits, you’re not there for humiliation or embarrassment, but to act out a scene with him. He starts, you have no clear idea of the situation, but after a few lines the guy or gal on stage is playing right along. I even think we had a few ringers, one woman help create an entire adulterous affair then Mr. Wirth hadn’t anticipated. With a half dozen small scenes, all incredibly effective, this was a unique and unexpected performance.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Lucky 9

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Lucky 9
T. J. Dawe
Big Sandwich Productions
Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

Long form monologist T. J. Dawe returns with a digression on personality types and how they influence out relations. Actually, the show is twenty times more interesting than that sounds, he has a knack for spinning engaging tales out of moonbeams and ether and motivational who-ha. In his wanderings, he comes upon a book about Enneagrams; an ancient personality typing methods dates back to the 1970’s. Everyone fits into one of 9 types, including The Reformer, The Helper, The Artist, and so on. It’s simpler than that old standard Meyers-Briggs, more accurate than astrology, and still beridden with the issue of one person fitting into multiple categories. I took the on-line test and seem to fit into about three of them. Anyway, reading the book may not have changed Dawes life, but it gave him enough common ground to reunite and reconcile with his sister and mother. But what’s most important is it put Dawe on stage where he could connect with his audience, and were always happy to have him come through town, even if he tends to the sullen, reclusive artist type.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Procrastination: An Electronic Operetta

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Procrastination: An Electronic Operetta
Written, produced and choreographed by Sunny Raskin
SUNNYSIDE UP Productions
Orange Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

Loved the dancing, hated the music. This set-heavy collection of dance numbers felt like the Sunny Raskin show for the first half hour, she does most of the principle dancing in the beginning before yielding the spot light to her Procrastinettes. These are all skilled if not mind blowing dancers, and the choreography is well suited to their skills. Some favorites are “On Your Knees” with Raskin in an enormous dress with 7 other dancers under her skirt. They advance on the audience like a giant octopus while and waving cardboards signs with block print words. It’s pretty cool. The later number “Glitter Bird” features Kristen Joe on an Acrobat’s hoop suspended from the most flimsy structure I’ve ever seen on a professional stage. Dancers shouldn’t do carpentry, and while I enjoyed the dance, four dancers barely stabilized a structure that would scare OSHA. Most interestingly, the penultimate number “TIME” was my first experience with a motivational time management program presented as modern dance. I may not be flexible enough to organize my life this efficiently.

Musically, most of the songs sounded the same. A cello player and a blond violinist traded arpeggios from the balcony with a guitar and trumpet helping out occasionally. Vocalist ALEX (it’s all caps in the program, I’m sure his mother didn’t make that choice) provided a near constant ululation which combined with the rambling sting music became annoying by the second dance. Fortunately local guitar master Joseph Martens provided relief, his medley of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “I Will Always Love You” soared, as did Alex more soulful “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” The program calls the number “My Bunny”, but I vote “typo.” It’s an interesting show, but more variation and structure in the music would help keep the focus on the dancers.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Fruitcake

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Fruitcake
By Rob Gee
Green Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

Yes, your job sucks, and yes, everyone you work with is crazy, but do you get to give them Thorazine and put them in restraint holds? I’ll bet you wish you could. That describes Rob Gee’s professional life until he took up poetry and storytelling and the wander troubadour lifestyle. He’s a professional Psychiatric Nurse by trade, and he fills an hour with the true stories of the psychiatrically challenged. The stories range from pranks he and his patience played on new employees to gruesome self mutilation by otherwise same folks. If you can slice thought the thick accent, he’s one of the funniest guys around this year. He’s not in the school of “The full moon makes people weird” or the “Genius and insanity are nearly identical” but he does believe that just because you’ve lost enough of our common reality to need some specialized care, you are still human being in need of calm attention and dignity. He even gives a few tips on restraining patience, and that what I like most about this show: it’s not just funny, but it has some practical advice and you never know when it will come in handy.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

Creative Mind Experiment

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Creative Mind Experiment
Jessica Mariko and Linda Eve Elchak Present
Green Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

This show may well contain the best three minutes of entertainment in this year’s festival. Local artists received a 3 minute long song by The Books, and electro folk combo that tends towards excessive use of cellos and odd samples of speech. Each night, six of them presented a work inspired by the music for inspiration, creating whatever they wish so long as it has a 3:33 run time. We open with Bob Kodzis and the interactive “What Do You Stand For?” Video projection puts about 40 little clips on a screen, each stating a uniting or dividing thought: “I own a gun” or “I’m Liberal”. If you agreed with the statement, you stand, if not stay seated. It was a work out. Brandon Roberts took the song and mixed it with other audio and acted out some of the little annoyances in life. Two dancers appeared performing modern dance, one making up the moves on the fly. Jeremy Seghers sang along with the orginal music, and a then two actors showed Post Secret like images and encouraged you to talk about your secrets. All nice, all arty and clever, but then the coolest thing ever happened. Evan Miga and his crew set up a card board box city, and blue robot with a small dog embedded his chest stomped out as a woman sang “Robot Powered Dog” while he stomped the city flat. It was spectacular, unexpected, and utterly hysterical. It’s not clear you could make a full 60 minutes of this robot, but for three minutes and 33 seconds, it was sheer surreal brilliance.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org

The Blood Feather

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The Blood Feather
By Sarai Goley
Uncarved Block Productions
Pink Venue, 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival

The methods of abuse are simple – call her a slut, slap her around, and then make a gooey, remorseful apology in front of all her friends. In no time at all she’ll be slathering on the Mary Kay to hide the welts and telling people how clumsy she is. You have her in your pocket and you can play sick power games at will. That’s the story of Ms. Goley, she tells it in a straightforward manner with lots of lighting changes. It appears to be true down to the details; perhaps her abusive boyfriend was even named Stan. There are elements of high drama (jumping out of a moving car) and petty cruelty (no parakeet for YOU, Sarai) and tons of self reflection, none of which adequately answers the question “What did you see in him, anyway?” and “How many times will you let him beat you before you come to your senses?” Eventually, some understanding enters and she retreats to her parent’s house, and perhaps she learns to take more care in who she dates. Outside of an overly long cocaine fueled dance number (nothing people ever do on coke makes sense) “The Blood Feather” is an intriguing journey into a young woman’s life.

This event is part of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For schedule and ticket information, please visit http://OrlandoFringe.org