Anjee Emerson and CM Phillips, courtesy MN Fringe
Live theater is endless opportunities unfolding in real time. This is especially true for the Fringe Festival, now in its 22nd year, where Minnesota’s theater community shows off productions it's willed into existence over the last several months. They can’t be over an hour long, but the only limits on the content of the 173 shows are the reaches of the creators’ imaginations. With so many options spread all over Minneapolis, this list is a small taste of 10 of the most enticing titles—including two from each area and two from each genre—running over 11 packed days.
Breakneck Hamlet – Uptown, something different. There are some 30 fests officially recognized by the loose US Association of Fringe Festivals, and Shakespeare interpreter Timothy Mooney is traveling to a few. Minnesota Fringe associate director Ann B. Erickson is excited about the number of shows coming in from out of state this year, and this one from the Chicago area features Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre’s one-man one-hour breakdown of the Bard’s four-hour tragedy at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage.
Arrest Me – Uptown, musical theater. Minneapolis’s own World Tree Theatre brings its artistic expression of the Black Lives Matter movement to Minneapolis Theatre Garage. Slam poetry and monologue join with music and even scathing comedy to create a moving and open experience.
A Woman in Berlin – Northeast, drama. Some shows from out of town are from in state. Eva Barr comes from Wykoff, Minnesota, some two hours south of the Twin Cities and a half hour north of the Iowa border, to the Nimbus Theatre to put on this solo show about a woman’s personal experience of the 1945 Soviet invasion of Berlin.
Parent Observation Day – Northeast, dance. Sparkle Productions presents adult dancers portraying children at their last ballet class of the year. Bring the kids (the creators say you’re in the clear for ages seven and up) or your own inner child to the Ritz Theater Proscenium.
We Do Every Show in the Fringe – Downtown, comedy. There’s a show about how to write an online Fringe review, but "We Do Every Show" is perhaps the best distillation of the anything-goes spirit of the festival into one performance, down to its own version of the random lottery that Minnesota Fringe uses to select entrants. At New Century Theater, the ace improvisers of Fat Bottom Jones blindly draw a numbered ping-pong ball and then perform the corresponding 2015 Fringe show, going off of only its short description and picture from the guide (which is all the information that’s available about many of the productions).
To The Moon – Downtown, something different. There are five genres of shows in this year’s Fringe, with the ones defying the categories of comedy, drama, musical, and dance being labeled “something different.” One of the dreamier pictures from the guide accompanies Sunday Night Fold’s spacey modern fairy tale (ages 12+) about a couple who venture on an earthly journey toward the moon after a strange boy shows up on their doorstep. Illusion Theater.
Spicy Masala Chai – West Bank, dance. At the U of M’s Rarig Center Proscenium, Bollywood Dance Scene follows up their show last year (2014 Fringe’s top seller) with another Bollywood-style dance drama with a romantic story and choreography of their own creation.
Shelly Bachberg Presents: Orange is the New POTUS: The Musical – West Bank, musical theater. Shelly Bachberg, the Minnesota politician caricature from a 2013 Fringe hit who may or may not have been inspired by a real person of a similar name, is back. This time she’s campaigning to be president despite being in prison. Produced by the Catalysts at the U of M Rarig Center Thrust.
"Glorious Garbage, Good Grief": True Stories of the Notorious 'Lang House' in Dinkytown – Dinkytown, drama. Not all of the Fringe productions are housed in theaters. A church, a pub, a farmstead, and the Weisman Art Museum are all being taken over by Minnesota’s Theater Invasion. This show features a literal homecoming as California-based performer Damiian Lang of Sneak Up On Ya Productions returns to his childhood house to tell his and its turbulent story—right in the backyard. A cute hand-painted paper sign advertising the show adorns the quaint purple house.
So You Think You Know Minneapolis? Ha! – Bus tour, comedy. Perhaps the most unusual venue of a “site specific” show this year is a bus. Meet at Rarig Center and then hop on with the two ladies of Kabam! Comedy as they show you around the little-known wonders of downtown and Northeast