We're getting all jiggly with excitement for the unknown quantities that are the performances of PHX:fringe. Since sharing this preview, we've made plans to see and review a whole bunch of shows. And because we can't be everywhere at once, we're stopping by again to share what else we bet is gonna be interesting.
Not only are the venues a bit closer together this year, the March dates should make the festival just that much less sweaty and fatiguing. With those considerations in mind, Curtains is shooting for reviews of almost half the offerings -- and I almost can't wait.
The jam-packed Fringe schedule isn't just a timetable -- it briefly describes each company and the work they're presenting, including more details about the shows we highlighted last time. In addition, I'm recommending checking out the following artists, whom I might not get a chance to review:
Dulce Dance Company, presenting contemporary modern dance this weekend only, at Warehouse 1005. Because modern dance is not that easy to come by hereabouts.
D'yan Forest's I Married a Nun, Thursday, March 8, through Sunday, March 11, at Modified. Yes, it's a solo life story (see #2 below), but Forrest is a 77-year-old pansexual, ukulele-playing standup, and aren't you just a little curious about the title? Anyhow, she's kindly provided video clips so you can see ahead of time whether it's your cup of tea.
The Other Side of History, one show only, Saturday, March 10, at Phoenix Center for the Arts. Arizona's Soul Justice Project presents this choreopoem that "fuses poetry, dance, and music into an innovative piece of hip-hop theater." It's all urban and political and shit.
The Weekend Pilots' Musical Comedy Show. They claim to be influenced by The Mighty Boosh, Tenacious D, and Flight of the Conchords -- and there's just the one late-night performance on Friday, March 10, at Space 55. Again, you can get some previewin' at the link.
Maybe you want a little more guidance, especially if you're new to taking in performances in a marathon buffet. Here are a few tips, then:
1. If you're thinking, "This -- or that?", consider catching a performance by out-of-towners as opposed to one by locals. Maybe do some Googling and make sure you'll get to see the local company some other time -- because they might be doing something super-weird and festival-specific, and then you can throw this rule out the window.
2. Build in some downtime. If you're seeing two shows back-to-back in a single venue, maybe don't try to see three shows back-to-back-to-back. Even if they're the best ever, you'll start tripping out, and in any case, your mind and body will rebel.
Especially on Saturdays and Sundays, there's enough going on that you can knock off for an hour or two, get a snack, talk with people -- the meeting of strangers and exchanging of word of mouth is one of the best parts of Fringe. Offer to help a group that's loading in or out. Ask questions. Check out more of downtown when it's sunny, cheerful, and full of people. Consider moving downtown.
3. In the absence of other criteria, pick solo shows based on what the creator wrote in the promo materials. It may sound harsh, but if somebody claims their life has been a wild journey and they've learned a lot that's going to make you laugh your ass off, at least get a second opinion. On the other hand, if a performer has had specific fascinating experiences and/or has sold lots of tickets and/or books already, you might want to check it out.
It's no small achievement to be able to hold an audience by oneself. While it's brave and respectable to try, gauge how many times you want to be there for the likely failures. Because this is your "you" time. No one needs you to suffer for somebody else's art. (Although you should be open to having theater violate your mind and soul in its intended fashion.)
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4. Pay attention, but also chill. How great is it to live in 2012? You can either fly by the seat of your pants and happen upon great experiences or plan things down to the last detail. The Fringe website has heaps of information, and if you actually read it you'll be golden. (For example, some productions run only one of the two weekends, so check and double-check that schedule.)
You'll probably find that the festival is far more crisp and organized than you expect. Nevertheless, chill. Prepare for a mild adventure, with comfy shoes, sun protection, a phone, some pocket cash . . .
PHX:fringe runs from Friday, March 2, through Sunday, March 11.
Admission to each performance is $10. [Correction: Admission to many of the performances is $10; prices can and do vary.] Tickets are available at the door(s), or you can call 602-254-2151 or click here.