Pre-Fringe Profile: The Clock That Fell Off The Mantle

20160773SHOW TITLE: The Clock That Fell Off The Mantle
PRODUCER: Morally Ambiguous
SHOW DESCRIPTION: Time is running out and there is a race to place value on the years past. In the struggle to capture time, time is lost with preoccupations. All that is left to do is allow time to take its inevitable course.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: These guys also appeared at the Not-So-Silent Planet Fringe Preview on July 5th, and impressed with their ability to adapt a sprawling show to a very limited space.
INTERVIEWEE: Taylor Fischer (director)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

My name is Taylor Fischer, I am seventeen years old and will be a senior in high school this fall. After high school, I plan on attending college and getting a BFA in theatre directing or majoring in film directing. I have been performing since I was five years old, but in the last few years I have uncovered my passion for directing and performance creation. In my free time, I love making short films and writing. The Clock That Fell Off The Mantle is the first show that I’ve ever produced. It’s also the first show that I’ve ever directed completely on my own. In the past, I have assistant directed several times and performed in many shows. However, I had never gotten the chance to make my own show and I am so thrilled to be putting a show up in the Minnesota Fringe Festival!

So what’s the big idea?

The Clock That Fell Off The Mantle is a collaborative piece, most of the ideas in the show were created by the ensemble . It is about people who live in a dystopian society where they are born with timers on their wrist that state the amount of time left in their life. All people are born with a random time and there is absolutely nothing they can do to change their fate. The show surrounds a group of people trying to escape the inevitability of death and how they spend their last hour of life. The individuals are crippled at the thought of death because no matter how much time people have it never feels like enough. The idea for this show came from many late night existential crises. I was interested in how much the world would change if it had different social constructs, like life-inspiring timers. I think people often except the world for how it is because they don’t believe they have the power to change anything. Throughout the show the characters attempt to fix the broken system in their society, but as many people have found when trying to change an unjust system, their opposition is immovable.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

I am doing this show because it tackles a lot of ideas that are relevant to our modern day society. The show deals with the impact that social class has on overall life quality, even though social class is often determined by family background rather than the work of the individual. It becomes impossible for people to have any benefit on society when they are forced into a system of oppression where citizens with the longest lifespans have the most value to society.The show explores how time impacts a person’s life and how we spend our entire existence obsessing over what is left. It also touches on no matter what you do in your life or how long you live in the grand scheme of things people are just specks on the universe. I am also doing this show because I think there is a lack of opportunities for young artists to create their own work and make a show that they really want to be a part of. Often the only opportunities for teenagers are roles in “classic” shows that young people can’t relate to, and that don’t pique their artistry. This show was created collaboratively and the entire cast and crew are people from the ages 16 to 18.

Why should I care?

People should see The Clock That Fell Off The Mantle because it addresses many issues that are very prevalent in the 21st century. Issues of social classes, fearing death, and trying to repair an unjust system. The show is not a musical, but it does combine elements of theatre, dance, and music. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. If that wasn’t enough, people should see this show because so much hard work was put into it by many talented, young artists. Seeing it encourages and supports local upcoming artists creating original work.

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Our lives are a speck
A minute glimpse only
Of what life could be

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

Pre-Fringe Profile: A Study in Emerald

20160715SHOW TITLE: A Study in Emerald
PRODUCER: Conundrum Collective
SHOW DESCRIPTION: The worlds of Sherlock Holmes & HP Lovecraft collide, as an ensemble cast brings Neil Gaiman?s award winning story to life with music, live sound FX, and projections. Solve a mystery, engage your imagination.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I’m a fan of the original story, and actually own a copy of the collection it first appeared in (Shadows Over Baker Street).
INTERVIEWEE: Derek Dirlam (director/performer)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

We are the Conundrum Collective, a group of artists with various backgrounds including theater, music, graphic art, and sound design. We started unofficially back in 2013, performing as the ‘in-house company’ of the Historic Mounds Theatre in St. Paul. One of our focuses has been producing shows in the style of Live Radio Theater, and have performed shows such as ‘War of the Worlds’ (both the classic Orson welles version, and our own adaptation), ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and numerous one-act live radio plays including ‘Nightfall’ from Isaac Asimov, ‘Zero Hour’ from Ray Bradbury, and ‘Three Skeleton Key’ from Escape Radio. Our other focus is to produce theater that fits into more of the Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mystery, and Horror genres. Because, well, we are huge fans! And there are a lot of great, imaginative, and sometimes terrifying, stories available that can be adapted/performed as live theater.

So what’s the big idea?

We are performing an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s award winning short story ‘A Study in Emerald.’ The story takes the famous Sherlock Holmes of Arthur Conan Doyle, and places him in an H.P. Lovecraft inspired 1880s London. The result is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, that has a darker, more terrifying mystery beneath. We are staging the show in a ‘story-telling theater’ style, with a Narrator to help set the scene (and often stepping into it), and an ensemble of actors performing multiple roles, who help to populate our ‘Victorian-Noir’ world. To add to the story-telling, we have a team of Foley artists providing live sound effects that accompany the action, graphic projections from a local artist, and music composed for the show.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

Several members of our group are huge fans of Neil Gaiman, Sherlock Holmes, and H.P. Lovecraft. (Actually I think Everyone in the group is at least a huge fan of one of those three.) After discovering that Neil Gaiman wrote a story combining both H.P. Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes, it seemed like a perfect fit. The original story itself felt about the right length for Fringe, so that made it easier to preserve most of the original text. And it is personally one of my favorite texts of Neil Gaiman.

Why should I care?

If you are a fan of Sherlock, Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, (or all three!!), or if you like a good mystery (even a mystery within a mystery), or something that engages your imagination, I think you’ll enjoy ‘A Study in Emerald.’ We preserve a lot of the original text, so even those who are familiar with the story, I think will be very pleased to see it come to life in front of them.

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

See if Sherlock Holmes
Can stay sane after meeting
Our Lord Cthulhu

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

Pre-Fringe Profile: Hostil Watching

20160860SHOW TITLE: Hostil Watching
PRODUCER: The Drollery
SHOW DESCRIPTION: A couple in an Amsterdam Hostel. This is a true story. Out of respect for some involved things have been changed, for everyone else it has been told exactly as it occurred. 10×10. Matt Alto & Amanda Chial
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I’ve spent enough time in hostels over the years to find them ideally creepy settings.
INTERVIEWEE: Matthew Alto (writer/performer)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

I’m a Minnesota native, a Kindergarten Cop and a Secret Agent (Though not so secret anymore.)  With weapons more powerful than guns or swords.  I shoot with a camera lens and wield a mighty pen.  I received my B.A. in Theatre at the U of M-Twin Cities, and an M.F.A. in Directing from the East 15 Acting School-University of Essex in London.  This is my third time producing with The Drollery at the Fringe Festival.

So what’s the big idea?

A couple in a long distance relationship tries to reconnect in an Amsterdam Hostel while on a European trip.  Though initially a typical relationship dramedy, it darkens and becomes more insidious than that.  Will their relationship survive the night?  Will they?

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

It’s Honest.  10 x 10 is a saga that cannot be silenced.  An international secret that has spread through the streets of the Twin Cities.  This is the origins of 10 x 10, however sordid and absurd that may seem.  Many of the people who already know of 10 x 10 have things like Non-Disclosure Agreements or Omertas that prohibits them from talking publicly.  It’s my duty to exercise my first amendment rights. 

Why should I care?

It’s a relationship drama & comedy.  But beyond that it’s also historical, political, mysterious and horrific.  It’s not really science fiction other than being a parallel of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Star Wars.  There’s no reference to Star Wars, but at the beginning the guy is studying to be a Master, youthful and reckless, like Anakin.  By the end, protecting love has turned him to the dark side on the search for vengeance, like Darth Vader. 

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Hostel, deception
Girl and Boy caught in the fray
What is 10 x 10? 

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

Pre-Fringe Profile: Writer’s Block.

20160619SHOW TITLE: Writer’s Block.
PRODUCER: The World Crime League
SHOW DESCRIPTION: An author finds herself held prisoner in an undisclosed location by unknown captors, forced to write a book by an unspecified deadline or else be shot. As time ticks by, her grip on reality starts to slip away.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: These kinds of metafictional premises can be really hit-or-miss, but boy, do I love ’em when they hit.
INTERVIEWEE: Andrew Rosdail (playwright)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

My name is Andrew Rosdail and I am an actor, writer, occasional director, and first time Fringe producer. I’m originally from Iowa, but I have lived in Minneapolis for the last four years. During that time, I have acted in several productions around the Twin Cities and have had a couple of my plays produced here, too; Uncle Walt in 2014 (Brazen Theatre) and my one-act Belong Dead in 2015 (Gadfly Theatre). I have also had plays produced in Milwaukee and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

So what’s the big idea?

Ali “Alvin” Miller is the best-selling author of the wildly successful Incredible Adventures of Don Juan Casanova series of books, but has not written anything in several years. She finds herself held captive by an unknown party, in an unspecified location, and given an undesignated period of time to write a new novel. If she is unable to finish this novel before this time runs out, she will be shot. As the clock ticks down the indefinite minutes, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur as she comes face to face with Don Juan Casanova himself.

Writer’s Block. features Sarah Parker as Ali “Alvin” Miller, Varghese Alexander as Boris Callahan, Andy Rakerd as Don Juan Casanova, and Avery Breyne-Cartwright as Martin Colton.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

I wrote the original draft of Writer’s Block. back in 2011, late one night at grad school when I was procrastinating work on projects that probably needed my more immediate attention. Deadlines were looming, but I was stuck and decided to write a one-act play instead. After I wrote my first draft, I put it away for a couple of years, because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it, frankly. I didn’t hate it, so I didn’t throw it out, but I put it away.

A few later, I took it out again, inspired by the frustrations I felt authors like George RR Martin must feel; while it must be reassuring and gratifying to have such devout fans loving your creations and wanting more of it, it must also be grating to be pestered to hurry up work you’d rather take your time with. It made me wonder if there were days were Martin lost his passion for his projects, due to these demanding fans. After revisiting and revising the script, I put it aside once again.

During my last revisiting of the script, I took inspiration from the current connection between fan and artist. Thanks to the internet and social media, it is easier for fans to reach out to their favorite authors, musicians, and other entertainers. While they can heap praise unto them, more often than not they dole out their discontent if a story takes a turn they don’t agree with or they try to pitch their own ideas for what the artist should have done or what they should do. Lately, we’ve seen how ugly this can get and how much of a double-edged sword social media can be. When so-called fans threaten their favorite artists or wish death or injury upon them…well, it’s fair to say that it’s gone a little too far.

So yeah…all these things were on my mind when I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote again.

Why should I care?

Writer’s Block is a dark comedy that takes an unflinching look at the creative process and its perils, as well as how that process is further hampered when well-meaning but impossible-to- please fanbases become truly fanatic. Writer’s Block. also addresses the pitfall of creating work one isn’t truly passionate about and shows dire circumstances manifest as deadlines approach quickly and with no apology .

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Writing words is hard
And now her mind is going
Things could be better…

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

Pre-Fringe Profile: Itch

CAVEAT: One of the actors (Jay Kistler) has previously acted in one of my scripts for political theatre festival.

20161103SHOW TITLE: Itch
PRODUCER: Three Knives
SHOW DESCRIPTION: Nine people tear themselves apart as they try to survive against an uncontrollable enemy. A bloody nightmare story of fear and betrayal, ITCH will crawl under your skin and stay there for a long, long time.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: Tyler Olsen is an unusually inventive local horror director — everything I’ve seen from him is blood-spattered gold.
INTERVIEWEE: Tyler Olsen (writer)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

You know, just your average, run of the mill group of artists who enjoy eviscerating each other and scaring the crap out of people onstage. We’ve been doing it for four years now, and aside from hands that are perpetually stained pink, we have a great time doing it, and audiences have a great time watching it- even the ones who claim “not to like horror”.

So what’s the big idea?

Imagine being locked in an apartment complex with all of your coworkers, one of whom has a disease that makes you itch yourself to death, in a very bloody way. You don’t know who has it, and you don’t know who you can trust. That’s ITCH in a nutshell.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

One of the cast members found an article about mass psychogenic illnesses (where people all exhibit e same symptoms, without any identifiable cause) and we said- “That’s creepy as hell.” We love digging into the human psyche to find nightmare fuel.

Why should I care?

Horror theater is very rarely done, but is one of the most exciting theatrical forms to watch! Being in a room with a group of people, all of you getting scared to death by a group of actors who are very real- it’s great fun.

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Eyes watching in dark
Blood hits the stage, together
We all Scream, scream, scream.

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

Pre-Fringe Profile: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls

CAVEAT: I have collaborated *extensively* with Tim Uren in the past.

20161175SHOW TITLE: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls
PRODUCER: Ghoulish Delights
SHOW DESCRIPTION: The last heir to a cursed lineage returns to his ancestral home and discovers horrors hidden within. This critically acclaimed show returns to mark the tenth anniversary of its premiere to sold out houses.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: Tim is one of the local masters of horror, and I bear a fondness all out of measure for Lovecraft’s slow-burning madness.
INTERVIEWEE: Tim Uren (writer/performer)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

I am Tim Uren, the Chief Ghoul of Ghoulish Delights, a Minneapolis-based theater company dedicated to bringing original and classic tales of horror and suspense to the stage. I’ve been an actor, director, and playwright in the Twin Cities for over twenty years. I also write and design for board games and card games.

So what’s the big idea?

The Rats in the Walls is a one-man staging of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale about the last heir to a cursed lineage. In the story, an American named Delapore moves to England in 1921 to claim Exham Priory, the ancient home of his family. The great stone building was abandoned three centuries earlier after a distant ancestor was accused of butchering his family. Once Delapore restores Exham Priory, he begins hearing the mysterious sound of vermin beckoning him to the terrible truth about himself and his family.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

Ten years ago I had the bright idea to pair the industrial ruin aesthetic of Mill City Museum with the dark secrets of Exham Priory. The concept was to simply use the verbatim text of the story as a script, changed only slightly due to some heinous racial slurs. (Lovecraft, man. That guy could really suck sometimes.) I’d wanted to produce a staged version of the story for a long time and when the opportunity presented itself, the results were fantastic. My strange little experiment managed to sell out houses and earn critical acclaim. It really helped to shape my whole career from that point forward. And now I’m bringing it back to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary!

Why should I care?

Aside from the sheer pleasure of hearing Lovecraft’s mastery of language aloud, the story contains a powerful message about the hubris of thinking that we are somehow immune to our own history. The abhorrent elitism of Delapore’s ancestors is chilling because it is so persistent. It survived generation after generation, and it takes only a little observation to see it in Delapore’s own life. Until he was seven, he grew up on a slave plantation. Throughout the story, he makes several dismissive comments about servants and peasants. To our modern eyes, he may at first seem a very contemporary person but when the truth is revealed, he is shown to be much like his barbrous forefathers. I think of the story every time I hear a discussion of how far our culture has come in regard to racial politics. We haven’t come that far. And our history isn’t that far in the past.

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Eldritch scurrying
Through layers of history
The Rats in the Walls

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

Pre-Fringe Profile: Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope

CAVEAT: I have previously directed one of the actors (Andrea Tonsfeldt) in one of my scripts.

20161052

SHOW TITLE: Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope
PRODUCER: Wayward Theatre Company
SHOW DESCRIPTION: A meteor has shattered your rocket leaving your final tie to humanity as the radio signals you send and receive while falling through space. What would you remember? What would you say? Would it be enough?
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I read the Martian Chronicles until my eyes bled when I was fourteen. And this is a solid gold dark/funny/sad/thoughtful premise.
INTERVIEWEE: Sarah Nargang (director)

Just who do you think you are, anyway?

My name is Sarah Nargang and I am a co-founder of Wayward Theatre Company. We are a local company including Tim McVean, Michael Kelley and the recent edition of Ellen DeYoung. We have been working together theatrically for the past 15 years and love making dark, daring work in often unconventional spaces. We also have a storytelling show called Mixtape:True Tales Told which performs 3 times a year at Honey in NE. I am a director and actress that has been working in and around the cities since graduating from Augsburg College in 2004. This is Wayward’s second time producing at Fringe and my fourth time participating in Fringe. I am very excited to bring Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope this year!

So what’s the big idea?

I am a huge Bradbury fan and my copy of The Illustrated Man is practically falling apart. I fell down the Kaleidoscope rabbit hole years ago when I was asked to direct a one-act for a local high school. I thought about converting a short story of Bradbury’s and found he had created a radio play for the BBC of Kaleidoscope that was later converted to a one act. We have been so lucky to assemble such a rockstar cast of actors who love to play and try and fail and try again. It has been a ton of fun and a humbling challenge staging this epic play on a small stage. The story is haunting and vast and we use simplicity to create the complicated. It’s been a blast!

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

The reason I love Bradbury and adore this piece in particular is because he has an uncanny knack to turn technology and make it a mirror of our humanity. He is absolutely a sci-fi writer, but through the robots and space ships and suits of metal and plastic, we are able to see ourselves in the machinery we’ve created. It is terrifying and hilarious and human.

Why should I care?

No one is going to walk away from Kaleidoscope feeling nothing. If we have done anything, we will have forced you to feel something. We are creating an atmosphere of high technology and immense space with mostly just our bodies and voices on a stage the size of a mini van, what’s not to love?!

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

Space is deep and dark.
What’s left when you are alone?
Billy Joel and stars.

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!