Saturday, August 20, 2016

Frantic Binge at The NYC Fringe Festival: Favorites so far - Jack Fry's Einstein and Richard III

King for a half hour
I love the quirkiness of the Fringe where you find all kinds of performances and types of shows ---- shows like Seeger, Zuccotti Park -see the full list here.

'Emily Carding’s portrayal of the king who murders his way to the English throne is in a league of its own.' ***** (
I was lucky to fall into this show. Wednesday night, after seeing a 7PM show and having a late night 9PM slot to fill I saw Richard III (A One Woman Show) at a theater on East 4th St.  I could get to it with a short walk from Suffolk and Rivington. This is Shakespeare in an hour so I knew I could handle it. There were about 25 people on line and we were told to wait until Richard III himself (who is a herself) personally escorted each of us to our seats and then would assign you a role in the play. When it was my turn, Richard took me to my seat, put a crown on my head and dubbed me King Edward VI, his brother. I don't know my Shakespeare but have read enough about Richard III to knew I didn't have long to stay alive. On the way in I did comment to Richard, who had his hunchback on and was limping, that he (she) looked marvelous after spending 700 years under a parking lot.

There were 2 rows of white chairs facing each other and every member of the audience was a character in some manner. A delightful hour spent and I would see this again. You can see it too at it's final performance today at 5.

Every year for most of the past decade I've volunteered at the NYC Fringe Festival which takes place over 17 days in the heat of August - 200 shows (each performed 5 times) at 16 venues, all below 14th street at some pretty funky theaters. By volunteering, for each shift, most lasting only 15 minutes, you get a voucher to see a show for free as long as there is room.

Some of my experiences in my 3 days in the city at the Fringe Festival last week, broken up by the 6-hour MORE retreat on Wednesday (which I'll report on separately. I got to interact with so many people from all over the world -- which is one of the major reasons to do the Fringe. I'm going back  Wed through Friday this week. We have tiks with old friends for Murder at the Food Coop on Thursday and another show followed by dinner.

Over the years I would have spent most of the 2 weeks in the city but over time the traveling back and forth from Rockaway every day in the heat of summer became a bit too much. I mean leaving Rockaway in the summer is practically a crime. So the past 2 years I rarely went to Fringe. Besides, over the years I had developed loyalty to the volunteer director, the amazing Tati Sena, and since she had her baby she hasn't been as active so I lost a personal connection.

But now with a place in the city to stay I decided to jump back in. The major problem is that last weekend and this I have to be here in Rockaway for La Cage.

So after missing the opening weekend last week I went in on Monday before returning to Rockaway Thursday afternoon. I took the endless A train which because I need to take the shuttle first and walked to 116th St from my house, was almost a 2 hour trip each way. But who's in a hurry?

I bought tickets to see an old pal's show -- Jack Fry who did the teacher-based show "They Call Me Mr. Fry" years ago which I helped promote - even inviting Jack to come to the Delegate Assembly and stand downstairs to promote his show.

Jack is back with a new show, "Einstein" which he was performing Monday night at "Under St. Marks" performing space at 8:45. My wife was supposed to go but she is feeling the heat and decided to pass.

I really liked Jack's show where he comes back as Einstein and interacts with the modern audience in so many creative ways. Jack is a great performer (he still has his LA teacher license) and outside after the show I met some people who are filmakers and performers themselves who loved the show. Jack thought he might come out to Rockaway to see our show this weekend but he needed to promote his final 2 performances, VENUE #7: Under St. Marks  MON 22 @ 2:30  ||  FRI 26 @ 5.

Definitely worth seeing.

I signed up Monday to work 3 shifts before Jack's show - one at a theater on E. 4th St - where there a whole bunch of venues and 2 at Under St.Marks. Basically that involves handing out a program to people going in (ticketing is basically online now so there are no real will-call tiks to give out like in the past.)

Tuesday I signed up for a 2PM shift at the venues on Suffolk and Rivington where there are 4 theaters. It can be difficult to sift through which shows to see so I figured with 4 venues and 3 or 4 shows at each up to 9PM I could just hang out there for the day and use my vouchers. But a couple of shows I wanted to see were sold out -- The Company Incorporated looked right up my ally.

I began to meet people who were involved in the shows.

I met a South Korean actress named Ji-Young Choi, WHILE OPHELIA'S KOREAN DRUM WEEPS , looking to fill the seats, she handed me a ticket and asked me to come - so I did. She was captivating. Read a good review here. The last performance is today at 1PM.
She is a Columbia grad who speaks perfect English and was looking to fill the theater for her one woman show where she was doing a riff as Hamlet's Ophelia communicating through a drum - a unique perspective -

Another performer I met was a woman named Shyam Bhatt from London who is of Indian descent and was also doing a one-woman show called "Treya's Last Dance" - see review. I went the next day after the MORE retreat and found her enchanting. So interesting to chat with someone one day and then see them transformed when on stage.

Tuesday evening when I got shut out of a show I had wanted to see I was sitting around the Fringe lounge near a couple at the next table when a young woman came over all excited over a 4 star review her show had gotten at Time Out NY.  Her show was The Box Show. The couple were parents of
her friend and we began to talk. They had extra tickets and gave me one. Soon we were joined by 2 ladies who were mothers of some guys involved in the show and I felt part of the family. The show by Dominique Salerno where she does the entire show in a box with different vignettes is so creatively done.

I enjoyed the serendipitous nature of not making too many plans at the Fringe and being willing to go to shows where I meet people.

(Get tickets at Einstein! Einstein!
Sew and Sew Productions
Writer: Jack Fry
Director: Tom Blomquist
War-torn Berlin, 1914, ambitious young scientist Albert Einstein awaits news from a solar eclipse that will finally prove his controversial Theory of General Relativity. Instead, Einstein is sent sideways in a spiral vortex due to professional and personal life disintegration.
1h 20m   Local   Los Angeles, CA
Solo Show   Drama   


VENUE #7: Under St. Marks

War-torn Berlin, 1914, ambitious young scientist Albert Einstein awaits news from a solar eclipse that will finally prove his controversial Theory of General Relativity. Instead, Einstein is sent sideways in a spiral vortex due to professional and personal life disintegration.

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