And on the Fringe…

If you’re in the Rochester area, you probably heard the news last week that Rochester is joining the growing number of cities to host a fringe festival, celebrating the performing and visual arts. A quick glance at www.rochesterfringe.com provided a fascinating bit of history about fringe festivals:

“In 1947, eight theatre groups turned up – uninvited – to perform at the newly established Edinburgh International Festival. The groups performed at venues they arranged themselves. The following year, Scottish journalist Robert Kemp coined the term “fringe festival” to describe these renegade performers. Today, there are more than 200 fringe festivals worldwide, with approximately 20 existing within the United States. Each fringe festival is a creative and economic engine for its host communities. For example, last year the Edinburgh Fringe saw 41,689 performances of 2,542 shows in 258 venues lasting the entire month of August. It grosses over $100 million annually for the Scottish economy.”

Geva Theatre is proud to participate in the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival, which will run from September 19-23. Artistic Director Mark Cuddy, Executive Director Tom Parrish, Communications Director Dawn Kellogg and I attended the Fringe Festival’s first press conference, which highlighted some of the companies which will perform throughout the Fringe weekend. Mrs. Kasha Davis, International Celebrity Housewife, got things started in a sequinned number which you can just barely see here…(apologies – I don’t have the fanciest phone/camera gadget)

From September 19-23, Geva will host performances by 9 companies in the Nextstage, and tickets are already onsale. These companies epitomize the variety you would hope to see in a fringe festival (there’s comedy, movement, and just a little absurdity…). Check them out, as well as over 100 other shows performing in the Fringe at rochesterfringe.com. (personally, I CANNOT WAIT to see Project Bandaloop dance off of the side of the HSBC building…)

44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS
Sat, Sept 22, 8-10pm; Sun, Sept 23, 3-5pm
Geva Theatre Center presents the Geva Theatre Conservatory production of 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, in association with “Rock the Vote.” Written by the Neo-Futurists of Chicago, this is a smart, hilarious and irreverent look at whom our country chooses as its President…and why. Each President gets a two-minute play in a surprisingly informative yet moving view of American History, with a 2012 Presidential vote by the audience at the end of each performance. Middle school and up.

THE BICYCLE MEN
Wed, Sept 19, 8:30-9:30pm; Thur, Sept 20, 6-7pm
Fri, Sept 21, 7:30-8:30pm; Sat, Sept 22, 1:30-2:30pm
The Bicycle Men is a sublimely silly musical comedy about a hapless American tourist whose bike breaks down in a quaint French village. Mayhem ensues as he steps into a surreal world of depraved marionettes, creepy bicycle repairmen, and off-the-wall cabaret performers. “Nothing could possibly lift your spirits as quickly as The Bicycle Men.” –NY Times; “Absolutely not to be missed…delicious…intensely funny.” –Chicago Tribune. Award-winning show features Dave Lewman, Joe Liss, Mark Nutter and John Rubano. Ages 16+

CHARLIE BETHEL’S GILGAMESH
Sat, Sept 22, 3pm & Sun, Sept 23, 8pm
Friendship and enmity. Joy and lament. Sex and violence. Gods and Men. Life and death. Huge antitheticals of the human experience come together in this 3,000-year-old tale from ancient Mesopotamia. Cross into the underworld with the king who did not want to die and learn the Big Secret of the Gods. 13+

THE EVENT
Wed, Sept 19, 7- 8:00pm; Fri, Sept 21, 6- 7:05pm
A man stands in a pool of light and attempts the ultimate magic trick: disappearing while remaining in plain sight. John Clancy’s “extraordinary tour de force” (Scotsman), comes to Rochester via Amsterdam, Australia, Belfast, Berlin, Edinburgh, London and New York. “Performed with a conjurer’s élan” (Guardian, London) by Edinburgh & Adelaide Fringe Best Actor Winner, David Calvitto, “one of the funniest and cleverest performers around” (Herald, Scotland), “a single performer gifted enough to rivet any audience” (London Times) 14+

GCI’s ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
Sat, Sept 22, 10:30pm-12:00am
Geva Comedy Improv’s live-action, improvised Zombie gore-fest returns with even more rotten flesh, grisly dismemberment and hilarious, undead ultra-violence. Pack up your chainsaw, gas up the flamethrower, and rummage through your purse for shotgun shells. GCI is waking the dead and we want you there – for bait! **Strong language, violence and adult content – viewer discretion is advised** 18+

GEVA COMEDY IMPROV PRESENTS FACE-OFF!
Thur, Sept 20, 10:30pm-12:00am; Fri, Sept 21, 10:30pm-12:00am
A nail-biting comedic competition based upon suggestions from the audience. Two teams of improvisers go head-to-head in a contest of quick thinking, bold action, and wanton humiliation. It’s hilarious improvised theatre featuring songs, scenes and an unforgettable evening of custom made, on-the-spot entertainment. 18+

MATT GRIFFO
Thur, Sept 20, 9-10 pm; Fri, Sept 21, 9-10pm
Matt Griffo is a Chicago musical comedian, combining serious piano and ukulele chops with hilarious lyrics. The composer of the smash Chicago production, Jersey Shore: The Musical, Matt has opened for Reggie Watts; plays regularly at the Laugh Factory; and has performed for Chicago Sketchfest, LA Comedy Festival, Black Box Comedy Festival Atlanta, Big Little Comedy Festival Michigan, and the Milwaukee Comedy Festival. 16+

SPECTION – INTRO/RETRO
Sat, Sept 22, 4:30-5:30pm; Sun, Sept 23, 6-7pm
Spection – Intro/Retro is a presentation of choreography by Rochester’s Heather Roffe. Set to a range of music from Aretha Franklin to Tango to Meredith Monk, the dance works are inspired by observations of humanity. Celebrating irony, vulnerability, and topics of gender, technology, love and loss, the works span the past five years. A new piece will be premiered: ʺHier,ʺ an abstract reflection on the societal constructs that divide and distance us from others and ourselves. All ages

TRAVELING WITH A BROKEN COMPASS
Sat, Sept 22, 6:30-7:30pm; Sun, Sept 23, 1:30-2:30pm
It’s 2012 – the year it’s all supposed to change. The world’s a mess, we all seem to have lost our way, and the maps they gave us are out of date. So, we had better pay attention to the road signs. Traveling With a Broken Compass is a ʺhow toʺ for navigating this new world. With humor, political satire, memoir and a dose of performance art, Linda Starkweather offers some crazy ideas for finding a path out of the madness. 16+

WE WERE THERE
Fri, Sept 21, 4-5pm; Sat, Sept 22, 11:30am-12:30pm
We Were There, an original work by Rochester’s Geriactors, dramatizes true stories from personal and ancestral experiences of company members during the Napoleonic wars to WWII. These are not war stories per se, but stories of what happens to ordinary people in extraordinary times: a Jewish merchant following Napoleon’s armies, a Polish youth after WWI, an American second lieutenant in North Africa and more. The stories are light — you will laugh — and complemented with appropriate song. All ages

Hope to see you at one of the shows here or around town – and that there are more opportunities to talk about each of these shows as the time approaches!

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