Front seat at the Woodstock Fringe Festival
It’s definitely not like “Hello Dolly” or anything you’ve ever witnessed before.
That’s how Wallace Norman tends to characterize the performance experience at the Woodstock Fringe, which is celebrating its 10-year mark. The festival got underway Aug. 10 and runs through Sept. 1.
Norman says those who attend what’s left of the one-of-a-kind festival should not expect familiar, feel-good theater or music.
Instead, they should expect to see powerful, hard-hitting and thought-provoking work by artists who are serious about their craft.
What’s more, the work is emerging, and, in some cases, unexpected, Norman said.
“Those who come out will get exposed to something that will enrich their experience in a new way, “ he said. “I think people will be entertained and challenged, and their ears will be made happy by good music.”
Each year, the Woodstock Fringe offers diverse performances of professional theater, music, cabaret and poetry.
What’s more, the performance lineup and those in it are top-notch, said Norman, the producing artistic director of the Woodstock Fringe Festival.
“We’re a professional performing arts organization. These are people who spend their lives in pursuit of artistic excellence,” Norman said.
“If you share those values, if you want to see work emerging by professionals who have made theater their life’s passion, then you really ought to come out for it.” Continued...
True to its mission of producing new work, the Fringe is premiering Norman’s own play, “It Can’t Happen Here,” which opened Thursday evening.
The play takes place at a high school in Wyoming, where a Columbine-style shooting occurs.
“Like a great tragedy, the events of the play unfold in an inevitable way,” Norman said. “Unfortunately, it’s very topical.”
The performance—on Aug. 19 at 2 p.m.; Aug. 23 at 8 p.m.; Aug. 24 at 5 p.m.; and Aug. 26 at 2 p.m.—will be followed by a discussion, which Wallace said is extraordinarily valuable on many levels.
“Some people will shy away from a subject like this—a shooting—but others want to be moved. They want to be stirred up. They want their ideas to be challenged. The play asks a lot more questions than it answers,” he said.
Of course, there’s so much more to the Fringe festival, including obscene comedy.
Making their third appearance at the Fringe, Mikhail Horowitz and Gilles Malkine are back with what Norman labels “inspired insanity” in their new show, “Poor, Obscure and Pushing 64” today at 5 p.m.
Wallace and other organizers of the Fringe are also pleased to have Rain Pryor, the daughter of comedy legend Richard Pryor, in their lineup.
She will be bringing her award-winning and critically acclaimed solo show, “Fried Chicken and Latkes” to the Bearsville Theater on Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 at 8 p.m.
Pryor’s NAACP award-winning, one-person play is based on Rain’s life. It is both a poignant and irreverent look at racism in the late 60s early 70s. Continued...
Pryor wrote and created the show, including some of her own music and lyrics.
Her work has been lauded by the Los Angeles Times, and her voice and sense of timing have been recognized as “rare gifts.”
There is also a terrific lineup of music in the days ahead, Wallace said.
It includes “Cocktails With Coward” about the life and career of Sir Noel; “The Music of Bill Lewis,” featuring Lewis, the acclaimed singer and pianist; and “Songs of the Theatre: A Concert Cabaret,” performed by Vicky Devany and Norman, with Lewis on the piano.
There will also be staged readings of new works in a program called “First Looks At The Fringe,” Norman said.
“These are all works people could not know about, so these are absolutely the first times these works are heard by anyone,” Norman said.
All the performances will take place at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Theater on Upper Byrdcliffe Road.
Norman called it an extraordinary place for the participants and the spectators.
“It’s a fabulous theater. It’s an intimate house, and it’s much more comfortable than sitting in a Broadway theater,” he said.
Norman is convinced that those who come out for any of the performances will have their eyes opened or their souls stirred, but he admits it’s a difficult time of year to entice people. Continued...
“It’s always a challenge to get people to leave their swimming pool in the middle of the summertime, but those who do will get to see a whole smorgasbord and will get exposed to something that will enrich their experience in a new way,” he said.
Tickets for a festival pass are $85, which includes admission to all events. For box office and other information, call (845) 810-0123 or go to www.woodstockfringe.org.
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