One of the greatest things about Fringe Festivals is their ability to bring together artists in order to become known or recognized by others in the field. I was fortunate enough to attend The Working Theater’s The Lights Are Off and Harrison Bergeron Productions & Geniuspills Entertainment’s Before the Red Trees Come. These shows were established by peers with similar interests aspiring for the same goal, to entertain and challenge. Both, broadcasting the color red as a symbol of death, dazzled my creative side and sparked my desire to submit a fringe show next year.
Being in university right now, this play was very relevant and pretty accurate according the characters that you might find in a college kid’s dorm. The audience wrestled with these two roommates, one of whom dealt drugs in order to pay off school loans, and the other a reformed Christian. The intensity and honesty of each actor was spot on. Each character found themselves in the room either for love, energy, drugs, redemption or peer recognition. These students, struggling to find their identity, find that their lives revolve completely around each other, thriving off of the dealers satisfaction with each of them. The message of this play was surreal and bold. Apart from rules, religious regulations, and peer pressure, in the end doing what is right will pay off in the end. I really enjoyed how the space was used. This intimate space made us feel like we were in the dorm-room with these students, complete with loud music and banging from the upstairs neighbors. Great dedication and a creative design team put this show together in a familiar and yet mysterious place. Unfortunately due to the content, this play could never be produced at APU, but it’s message is relevant in any sphere and the realism of each character challenges the audience to think about what they would have done or did in similar situations. Overall this piece was a great start for The Working Theater and I cannot wait to see more.
Before the Red Trees Come had a completely different feel-more quiet and peaceful. This silent show (accompanied by piano music) followed a young man from his first existence through his journey into becoming a man and the reality of death. I really appreciated the attention the detail in this show. Each actor look care in demonstrating the natural progression of life. The plot was not extreme in depth, but its simplicity helped focus the show and the patterns replicated the patterns of life. I loved each of the male actors’ interpretation of the three generations. As the main character grew up, the other two men progressed and filled in the gaps of the child and elder. Each had their own spin on the age in which they played which was enjoyable to watch. I particularly loved the female member who played a flower seller, who brought in parts of her commedia ‘dell arte experiences into the character. This type of physical comedy is something that I have come to love and have hoped to see more in the United States. I was excited to see a piece that introduced it’s audience to something unique. This sweet story challenged the audience to see the impact of the smallest movement of each character. We were able to embrace the story without the use of spoken word.
These two plays, although quite different from each other, grappled with life and death in very relatable ways to the audiences. I applaud each of the artists for getting a show up and being vulnerable enough to put it on stage for critics and peers to review it. They used what they knew and found others with similar passions- that is what inspires me. These artists have established their talents thus far and I am sure they can only grow from here.
Anna Hodgson is the 2012 Communication Intern. When not communicating, she is either managing the stage, dreaming up fabulous direction, organizing dusty props or making messes in her kitchen baking delicious goodies.