Word Ninjas: Fringe Preview Showcase

Once again, I was a performer in this: as I opened the second act, I didn’t really have the opportunity to focus on the preceding previews. I’m happy to offer my observations on the five that followed mine, however.

(A quick caveat: I am one of the regular hosts of the Word Ninjas open mic event, although I did not serve in that capacity tonight.)

History Camp by Zombie High School

I was still coming down from my set at this point, so my thoughts are a bit fuzzy: they were doing the same or similar material as I discussed in my last review, so I don’t know that I have much further to add. Except to note that they adapted to the space — the very small space, with their very large cast — rather adeptly, weaving through the audience tables as they entered, so, y’know, kudos.

The Magnificent Story of St. Marlene’s Marvelous Moonshine (Made by Monks) by Christie Marie Kent

I’ve been a participant in the local open-mic scene for over ten years now, but I’ve only had the pleasure of occasionally hosting one for the past three. One thing that fascinates me is the way these events attract people (with very little marketing energy), and how they rapidly seem to become almost self-organizing communities: there’s regulars, there’s anxious first-timers who never show up again (and a precious few who do), there’s professionals who swing by once every couple of months to work new material, there’s acts where you’re squirming in your chair fishing for something polite to say because by God you’re committed to creating a welcoming environment — and then there’s amateur performers that seem to come out of nowhere and blindside you with their level of skill, enthusiasm, and polish.

Christie Marie Kent falls into the latter category. She’s been a regular at the open mic for about a year now, and is consistently one of the performers I look forward to. She’s already begun to make a name for herself in the local storytelling scene — she was a performer at last year’s Tellabration!, and is working on the committee to organize the upcoming one in November.

She’s sharp, funny, hardworking, and didn’t disappoint tonight. She’s someone I’m looking eagerly forward to watching others discover, because she’s exactly the right combination of what I think people are looking for at Fringe: a relative unknown and a sure thing. Watch her.

Xmas Fireworks by Tales From Another Stage

Here, I wince, and report that I found the venue ill-suited for the amount of activity the event generated; I was towards the back at this point, with doors swinging and dishes clattering and voices from the other room, and found myself frequently distracted, falling in and out of the narrative and struggling to regain my place each time. He seemed a competent storyteller, and the room was attentive; alas, I missed the greater part of his performance.

Entwined by Awkward Moment Productions

Two quick caveats: I’m part of a local storytelling group with Amy Salloway (and Curt Lund, the performer of the final preview). I have no unique knowledge of their individual shows, however.

The second caveat is that this show is a rewrite and remount of a show that I reviewed last year. In fact, here’s a link to the review, since my observations remain largely consistent. She’s a seasoned, funny storyteller who knows how to work her crowd (although she loses a few no-points for running over time, due to a largely unnecessary explanation: the story speaks for itself!).

I’ll probably not be in the audience this time around, since I feel the need to prioritize new work at Fringe; if you somehow missed it last year, though, don’t let it slip by again.

This is Where Your Free-time Goes to Die by Screaming Mutes Production

This is a show that consists of readings from the often-thoughtful blog of a recently deceased local playwright. The marketing material seems to be downplaying the latter fact, which seems a bit odd to me — surely it’s one of the more compelling aspects of the production? Although I suppose — and I emphasize that I’m purely speculating — that they want the event to be an upbeat one, rather than morose.

In response to the portion of the readership that rolled their eyes at the first part of the previous paragraph — I am fascinated by (and this should come as no surprise, since you’re reading this on a blog) blog culture. I’m a late comer to the party but a rapid convert, believing it to be a wholly unique form of expression: a strange hybrid of journaling, open-mics, panel discussions, and pamphleteering. I could write (and, er, have written blog entries) about the subject at length, but in short: I firmly believe that future generations will regard those blogs that are both thoughtfully composed and properly preserved as as valuable a historical source as we regard the correspondences of those who lived generations before us.

Ahem. So, my point being that the prospect of trying to weave blog entries into something resembling coherent narrative is a really interesting problem to me.

It’s certainly well-served by a trio of skilled performers. I’ve seen vast amounts of Curt’s performances over the past several years, and it’s truly interesting to watch his delivery of another’s material. He is (mercifully) not slavishly respectful, but speaks in his own voice, with his own cadence, trusting his own instincts and his own ear. Knowing that this singular voice is split between three sets of vocal cords? That’s something I’m inclined to hear.

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