The festival, officially known as st lou fringe, was the dream of KDHX theater reviewer Emily Piro. I loved the format. 30 acts were scattered over 4 different venues in the Grand Center/Midtown Alley part of town. Fringe ran from Thursday—Sunday with most acts performing every day. There were ten groups from out of town and the rest were local. No show was longer than fifty minutes. Most of the money from the box office ticket sales went directly to the artist. The way to fully appreciate a thing like fringe is to see as many shows as possible, so I hope next year they sell passes for multiple shows so you can avoid the hassle of buying individual tickets for every show. Everywhere I looked I ran into great and unconventional theater. Here are my thoughts, jotted down in the heat of the moment, on 6 of the shows I saw. I can't wait to see what st lou fringe has to offer next year.
BlackPoet Ventures – “Cool Like That, A Tribute to Miles Davis”
Miles the man of blue comes back to my town, to my Kranzberg Black Box, that voice like no other. There was dance and slam and singing. A lot of miles covered by Miles. From STL to NYC to long walks along the Seine. The life of our horn-blower distilled to an entertaining 45 minutes.
(re)discover theatre – “Flesh and Bone”
Flesh is prevalent from the start. This two person multimedia show used poems from ee cummings and Walt Whitman along with images of body. Adonis flashed on the wall to explore body image. Wonderfully acted thoughtful vignettes are splattered through out. My favorite piece in the festival.
Eric Warner – “The Man Who Never Was, or the Man of your Choice”
Eric sat at a table on the bare black stage—the same black stage that occupies so many bars across America. Spaulding Gray's influence is all over this work. Eric sits and talks soft and low, so low I fight to hear him over the rattle of the air conditioning. He was worth hunching forward and listening to.
Easelmuse – “What's in My Dreams”
The most fringe I felt at Fringe. A surreal experience to say the least. I think it was the maroon carpet. we decorated various drawers (desk and dresser) while a man with huge hands played ragtime and another guy in shorts and black socks played the bones. People danced. No one called time, so after 45 minutes I exited on to deserted Locust St. with the bones still tapping behind me.
Midnight Theatre Co. – “All Ears”
The show starts with a universal truth about children not listening. The three actors on stage then reenact three Greek myths that show the hazard of not listening. Icarus, Theseus and Pandora all make an appearance with the actors playing multiple roles. Shadow puppets portray the more fantastical elements of each story. Cool red eyes on the minotaur puppet. Great children's theater.
St. Louis Osuwa Taiko
Those big as drums booming over the Sunday morning lull are infinity better than coffee for waking you up. We got a little bit of history, a lot of choreographed drumming and a lot of beautiful and powerful rhythms. One of my top two.