Of Chateau Chalets and Butterfly Bombs

Last year Minneapolis got a taste of the dynamic duo hailing from Bellingham, WA, known as The Cody Rivers Show.  They were a hit then, and even though I missed it (I contended that Kate Hoff saw it enough for both of us *coughcoughthreetimescough*), I knew they weren’t to be missed again. Lo and behold Andrew Connor and Mike Mathieu have returned. Not only with an entirely new Cody Rivers Show, but also with Boom, a solo effort of Andrew Connor, the shorter, but not lesser (neither is lesser – they’re equal), of the two Codys. I saw both Cody Rivers and Boom and got the artistic equivalent of a slap in the face – one of those where your subconscious puts its hands on both your shoulders and gives you a good shake, screaming, “What the hell are you doing with yourself?! You call what you’re doing ART? Look at those guys! THAT is art! Now go make something worthwhile!”

Of course that kind of reaction made me seek them out for an interview – I had to know how they do it. We began talking about The Cody Rivers Show Presents: Stick to Glue:

First and foremost – you're what we local Fringers refer to as the Out-of-Towners (don't worry – we don't tar and feather people here – if we don't like you, we just smile with vacant gazes and tell you your show was "interesting." And besides – you're safe because your show was astounding. ANYWAY…) We're thrilled that you're joining us from Bellingham, WA. Wikipedia, in all its dubious glory, purports that Bellingham is the "City of Subdued Excitement." True or False? Explain.

Andrew Connor: True. Bellingham is a funky somewhat-bohemian small town in the Pacific Northwest on the water, near the mountains, surrounded with beauty, ergo it is infused with a definite mellowness. It is a very vibrant place, however, and Bellinghamsters are a passionate and energetic lot, so there is a surplus of excitement as well. Mix that in with a dose of Northwest modest politesse, and you end up with: Subdued Excitement.

And just to give you some sense of the local quirk factor: The guy who claims to have coined the phrase "The City of Subdued Excitement" on a public mural in town, occasionally walks around town dressed in a full body Mr. Peanut costume and also regularly threatens to sue people who use the phrase in violation of his copyright.

Mike Mathieu: The Mr. Peanut guy also runs a junk/novelty store and with a sign in the window that says "Open Certain Hours," which as far as I can tell means never.

What made you choose to apply to the Minneapolis last year? Why did you choose to return?

AC: We chose to apply last year because Minneapolis was on our short-list of places that we wanted to integrate into our tour schedule, and festivals like the Fringe are usually the best way to begin to build audiences in a new place.

The return was a no-brainer. We had a wonderful time last year.

What do you do here when you're not on stage?

AC: Eat at Ecopolitan. Mike has been lake-swimming a few times.

MM: I like Cedar Lake, I like the #2 bus, I like the light rail, I like the Wedge and the Seward Co-op (and I miss the North Country Co-op like hell - it was located so perfectly! why why why?), I like Midwest Mountaineering's free climbing cave, and today I took a wicked nap. Went bowling later.

Your work is a hilarious, dance-infused, spastic-yet-high-precision love-letter to the oddities of this world, and a keyhole view into universes previously beyond our notice. Your mode of presentation is, as far as I know, without peer. That being said, how do you get yourselves from a blank page/stage to these dense, multi-layered final products?

AC: A long and sometimes grueling process of writing and re-writing and wall-staring and navel-gazing and rehearsal and confusion. All of the pieces travel very different routes from origin to presentation, but no matter what the path we are constantly scrutinizing them for ways they can be tightened, improved, densified, etc.

MM: Also, you might say we often create from the outside in, dreaming up a concept or gimmick of performance/staging first and then developing a story and content to match.

I'm guessing you come from the "yes, and…" school of improv. Is there anything that you will always say, "no" to? Artistically speaking, of course.

AC: We do try to be open-minded and to affirm ideas (of our own and of each other), and take chances with stuff that may not seem to have much potential at first, so in that respect we try to cast a very wide net and be very inclusive. We want to give all ideas a fair shake, and nothing is off-limits, strictly speaking.

That said there are lots of common comedy choices that we steer clear of because of their glut and overuse in the comedy landscape. Certain kinds of choices (usually regarding sex, violence, bodily functions, conflict, etc.) have to clear a much higher bar of value and worthiness if we are going to include them.

MM: I will always say no to content that degrades someone. I will do stuff that criticizes or challenges or even parodies someone, but I hope I would never do it out of mere mean-spiritedness and malice.

Do you have a director to help shape and refine your work or final stage-picture? Do you rehearse in a dance studio – or someplace lined with mirrors – so that you can see what your final product looks like, or rely on trust? Who makes the final, executive decisions on any given piece?

AC: We don't work with a director. We just keep an eye on each other.

Every once in a while we end up in front of a mirror (like, if we rehearse in the Jazzercise room at the Bellingham YMCA), but that is a rarity.

There is some deference in decision-making to the person who originated the piece in question (if that is clear), so as to allow for the fulfillment of certain visions, but both of us have full license to tinker with anything. There is no territoriality.

Based on your relatively extensive tour history, do you find your work resonates differently with different audiences around the U.S. and Canada?

AC: Every single place is different, and every audience is different, so it can be a little difficult to typify audiences by region. You can make some generalizations, though, such as: Minneapolis has the best audiences anywhere.

Some pieces or moments play consistently well in one place and bomb elsewhere, and it is a complete mystery as to why.

MM: My God, Andrew, what would Bellingham say? You're either pandering to the local folks or turning your back on our home and roots! Do mine eyes deceive me?

Is there anything else you'd like to share (besides show pimpage)?

AC: Have I mentioned that Minneapolis has the best audiences anywhere?

MM: Andrew!

And then we moved on to Boom:

Boom centers around a relatively normal guy who happens to be a genius at making unconventional bombs. Yet in addition to this normal guy, you also play at least nine additional characters – all in various moments of interaction with one another. What inspired this particular story, and which of the characters do you most personally relate to?

AC: The story came about as a synthesis of a whole mess of ideas that I was thinking about while I wrote it. I didn't go into it with a clear plan or agenda. It was the product of trying to find the story that tied together all the little fragments that I had assembled.

I relate most to the protagonist, Louis. He is the character most like me, and I think I navigate the situation vicariously through him.

Is this show entirely self-conceived and directed, or do you collaborate with a host of production-side talent to help refine your work?

AC: I wrote it and directed it. I had a little bit of valuable feedback on the first draft of the script, but I haven't worked with anyone else on it...perhaps foolishly...but it needed to happen.

If you could ask theater-goers to do/believe/expect/be one thing above all else when sitting in your audience, and it would be miraculously come to fruition, what would you ask?

AC: To accept the small mutations of reality that are central to the story, and to allow their imaginations to embrace a world that functions by slightly different rules than the one they know.

Was the creative process for getting this show on its feet similar to your approach with The Cody Rivers Show? How much time from opening ideas to opening night?

AC: The process was fundamentally different because I had only myself to depend on, which was a stark contrast to having Mike (my partner in The Cody Rivers Show) to work with. That was very difficult at times, because my normal way of dealing with dead-ends in my writing process is to let Mike fix them. That was not an option this time, so there was a lot of excruciating time spent plowing through confusion.

I brainstormed for a few weeks, and then spent a month writing the script and rehearsing it for its first performance, so probably a grand total of six or seven weeks from start to finish.

Is Boom set in stone, or are your pieces often/always works-in-progress?

AC: Works-in-progress. The severity of edits and changes has definitely tapered off over Boom's lifespan to this point, but nothing is safe.

Boom backstage: thrilling? Lonely?

AC: Both? Most of the time before the show is spent thinking: Jesus, do I really remember all of this?!

Do you wish for people to leave your audiences action-oriented, or do you wish simply for people to leave your audiences entertained?

AC: Tough question. I don't have an explicit agenda. I am a believer that the most important thing to do is to tell the story with the highest integrity possible, to help it be whatever it needs to be (whatever that may be), and that a story told fully and correctly will provide a viewer with exactly what they need.

So, if I succeeded than people may be inspired to some action, or they may just be entertained, depending on what they needed to take away.

Any words of advice for anyone wishing to create a solo show of their own?

AC: Do it, and know that it can be extremely hard, but it is eminently doable. Look around at all of the other solo shows and do something completely different. The solo show form is vastly underexplored, and novelty and innovation in that realm is a rare treat. Think about whether or not we need another solo show that looks like ______ and is about ______.

Anything else you'd like to share (besides show pimpage)?

AC: I heart Minneapolis.

Modern, Major GENERAL

Earlier this year I performed in a parody of Chekhov’s The Seagull, opposite Jason Bohon, Artistic Director of 3 Sticks. Jason was a blast to work with - one of those types where you can sometimes barely look at him ‘cause he’ll crack you up onstage. With that history, and with remembrances of Mythed, 3 Sticks’ MN debut three years ago, catching The Gypsy and the General was a no-brainer. And it was simple and breathtaking, with rich, gorgeous soundcapes. It was, to put it plainly, wonderful. Being the swashbuckling darling that he is, Jason agreed to subject himself to my Green Room questions. Behold:

3 Sticks has established itself as one of the finest physical theater companies in the Twin Cities, yet there are still relatively few local theater companies that place such an emphasis on physicality; and relatively few local dance companies that place such an emphasis on narrative. Do you feel a certain responsibility to fill this niche (and subsequent pressure to do it well), or do you find your uniqueness freeing? JB: I don't think that we feel a responsibility to fill a niche, BUT I do think we challenge ourselves to do it well. Even when we get positive feedback, we are constantly looking for criticism that will help us make the work better. It's part of the LISPA training that will haunt us until the day we die. No matter how well received the work might be, there is always room for improvement. That's also interesting that you mentioned physicality and narrative in your question, because our 3 Sticks' cornerstones are: narrative, physicality, and music. In each production, we look for new ways to use these 3 cornerstone when creating a piece of theatre.

What is your favorite element of creating new work? What is the most challenging? JB: My favorite part of creating new work is reaching out and working with new artists in the Twin Cities. While we have core company members who usually work on all of the projects, we also feel it's important to throw new faces and talents into the mix. It allows us to be challenged in new ways as well as add new perspectives to the work we do. In hindsight, that is also what is the most challenging, because every group of artists collaborates in a different way. So the challenge is to figure out how you can be most productive and creative with this new group of artists. Sometimes artists just don't see eye to eye and that's where auditions are crucial. Most of the time, it's not about talent, but about how well the person gets along with the group. Can the artist make proposals? Can they accept proposals? Can they work with a group or do they always try to stand out as the star?

You trained at the London International School of Performing Arts with a focus on the teachings of Jacques Lecoq – besides developing new works, how do you keep your education in practice? JB: The training at LISPA was all about finding new ways to create work, so each and every time we develop a show, we are keeping our education in practice. But, the pedagogy is also about learning to shake things up and throw things off balance, so I think we do this by involving new artists in the work we do. Bringing people with different perspectives, not just their particular training, but cultural perspectives, artistic, social, political, blah blah blah adds the right seasonings to the pot. If you always use salt and pepper, then the food will always taste the same. Wow! That was kind of profound...

Why Minneapolis? JB: Why not? Minneapolis rocks!

In The Gypsy and the General, it seems like your props/set was compiled via a trip to the Ax-Man – a surplus store where they themselves describe it as a "delightful haven" of excess goods. Often on the cheap. And often totally unpredictable. Because your props are so artfully integrated into the story, yet absolutely essential to the stage-picture, it begs the question: what came first - the story, or the props? JB: I wish I had kept a journal about this process, because it was all happening at the same time. As we were improvising and discovering where this story was taking us, it became clear that we would need some props and objects to help us out. We knew we would need objects that would help us create images with different levels. The barrel became one of the first proposals, with the idea that everything could fit inside the barrel for traveling. We also had access to these long pieces of fabric that we acquired back in 2006 for the St Paul Winter Carnival production of F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE ICE PALACE. For that production, they were individual long strips dyed in blues and thrown over the balconies of the Landmark Center to create the images of the classic ice palaces of the 1920's. We dyed these white and sewed them together to create the fabric used in the production. We also needed some poles for height (ship mast, mountain, tent poles, walking sticks) and the pvc pipe came along. The projector was a later addition to add to the atmosphere and help us create the hot air balloon. Since the show would be touring to the Kansas City Fringe Festival and the Edmonton Fringe Festival, we would need minimal props and costumes to fit in a minivan with 5 performers, but these "touring restrictions" actually benefited the production in the long run, because we had to be very creative and really specific with the objects that were chosen.

How does music make its way into your productions? Does the Musical Director join in the discovery/creation/rehearsal process from the start – or does he join in later, after the show arc is relatively established? And where did you find this guy – he's excellent! JB: In the formative years of 3 Sticks theatre company, back in London, we knew that music would always play an integral part in all of our productions. Many of the founders of the company have a background in music, as composers, musicians, or singers, and we wanted to make music a priority in our work. We were amazed to discover Andrew Lynch when we came to Minneapolis in 2005. Our first production after MYTHED in 2005 was F.Scott Fitzgerald's THE ICE PALACE and we wanted to adapt it with five 1920's jazz musicians as story tellers. We put out an ad looking for jazz musicians and Andrew Lynch answered. In addition to putting out a few solo albums, Andrew has studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston and runs his own band- Andrew Lynch Band. Since that discovery, Andrew Lynch has served as Music Director on every 3 Sticks production since. He's a musical genius who can play just about every instrument known to man. If he doesn't play it, he learns it! Last fall we did MELANCHOLY PLAY, by Sarah Ruhl, at the Bryant Lake Bowl, which calls for a live cellist on stage. As an amazing guitarist, Lynch found a cello and learned to play for our production. There is no musical obstacle the Andrew Lynch can't overcome.

We integrate the music into the production almost immediately. Lynch improvises with various instruments during the acting improvisations. Sometimes the music inspires the work, sometimes the work inspires the music. He is also incredibly flexible, which is crucial when you work in this way, because as the story changes and evolves, sometimes you have to eliminate beautiful songs and compositions that simply don't fit the piece. Our favorite GYPSY AND THE GENERAL song, "I Can See The Road Ahead" was cut from the show simply because it no longer served the story.

If you could have your work presented anywhere, without question, where would it be? JB: Funny you should ask. We have always been passionate about the performance space at Theatre de la Jeune Lune. It is beautiful, classic, epic, and full of such powerful creative energy. We were astounded to get the Jeune Lune space, especially since it wasn't even one of our venue choices. Originally, our 2008 production was going to be a one-man show (because core company members would be performing away for the summer), but when we discovered that our assigned performance space would be Theatre de la Jeune Lune, we knew we'd need to do something large, epic, and full of the same imaginative, creative, and magical energy that infuses the productions of the Jeune Lune company. As a result, core company members changed their summer plans for the opportunity to perform in the amazing space of Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

We are also passionate about the space at The Southern Theater. We have done a number of Fringe showcases and fundraisers (Five Fifths of Oz) at the Southern Theater and find the space to be full of the same abundantly creative energy. We hope to one day present at The Southern Theater.

What are your hopes for the future of 3 Sticks? JB: Originally founded in London in 2005, we had members from Japan, Switzerland, Wales, Ireland, England, and the United States. 3 Sticks eventually planted it's roots in Minneapolis, where 2 of the 3 founders, Jason Bohon and Katie Melby, chose to make their home. In the past, company members living abroad have traveled to the States to create work. It made the most sense since Minneapolis is a relatively easy and cheap place to produce, create, and rehearse work. However, we are interested in continuing those international collaborations by traveling abroad to work with those colleagues. We are currently planning some traveling in the 2009 to collaborate with European, Asian, and New York-based colleagues. Hopefully we will have a chance to present our work in the Twin Cities, and we are already planning to return to the 2009 Minnesota Fringe Festival. My hope is that 3 Sticks will reunite with some of it's founding company members to create newly inspired work.

Anything else you'd like to share (besides show pimpage)? JB: Not that I can think of right now because I want to get this email finished and sent to you before I lose my pirated internet connection from Sebastian Joes!

Inside the Director's Studio

American Sexy, opening today at the U of M Rarig Center Arena, was directed by Brian Balcom and produced by The New Theatre Group. Brian recently took some time to chat with me about the Fringe, directing, The New Theatre Group’s process, local playwrights, and his dishwasher: Two Fringe Fests ago you directed Alan Berks' How to Cheat, last Fringe you directed Steve Moulds' Killer Smile, and this year you've got your paws on Trista Baldwin's American Sexy. Aside from the theme of new works by Minneapolis-based playwrights, the only common denominator in these productions is you... so are YOU The New Theatre Group? If not - who is, exactly? BB: I am, indeed, The New Theatre Group. I opened a small business checking account before I thought of the name so I was suddenly pressured into making one up, but I think it's pretty appropriate. There is no core artistic 'group', but everything we do is created for and inspired by the particular group of artists working on that show. How is The New Theatre Group different from the Workhaus Collective? BB: The main difference between NTG and Workhaus is the process by which the plays are written. Often, playwrights will have a specific actor in mind when developing a character; it can help them to see and hear (in their mind) how things will play out. But rarely will that actor be a part of the actual development process or in the first production. We cast our shows before the playwright begins and the play is then tailored to/inspired by the actors involved. It begins with an early meeting when we talk about the play. The playwright tells us what they want to write about and we talk about it; what it means, how we relate, what about it is important to each of us. We share stories, we argue, we listen, we build. THEN the playwright begins to write.

What draws you to the work of local playwrights? BB: We're especially lucky that organizations like The Playwrights' Center, The Jerome Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, and others are so committed to new plays and to Minnesota. The Jerome Fellowships bring in 5 outstanding young playwrights each year and many have stayed in Minneapolis. This allows us to build relationships and make plans in a way that would be impossible if we lived across the country.

Do you specifically seek out their work, or do playwrights specifically seek out your direction? BB: All of the above. Alan and I decided to do How To Cheat together, Steve approached me for Killer Smile, and I hounded Trista for American Sexy. But these are all people I knew personally as well as artistically. Someone recently asked me if we accept submissions. We would never produce a play that already exists, but more than that, creating and developing a play is a very personal and intimate experience and requires a strong relationship between director and playwright. I don't think I could go through this particular process with a playwright I don't know.

You've assistant directed at The Guthrie, and also regularly work with smaller companies - such as Walking Shadow. What do you prefer about the larger setting? What do you prefer about the smaller? BB: Companies like the Guthrie provide a phenomenal amount of resources to support their productions - and I don't just mean money. It's really incredible to get nearly everything you ask for. Even though I was just and assistant director - and back in 2003 - I felt artistically safe.

When you work for a smaller company, nothing feels safe. A lot of factors contribute to that (edgier plays, rougher talent, less money, etc.), but it adds elements of risk, danger, fear, and excitement. And I love it.

If an audience member were to tell you, "I can't tell what was the actor's choice, and what was the director's direction," how would you respond? Any tips for helping audiences differentiate the two? BB: Why does it matter? Enjoy the show. (read: it was OUR choice)

What show have you always wanted to direct? Which company would you want to produce it? BB: I feel like I should have an answer to this, but I don't. I have a short list of playwrights I'd like to work with, but no list of plays. I guess this is what happens when you focus on new works.

Honestly, the play isn't the most important thing to me. What really drives me is the process: working together to create something out of nothing. It's about relationships and problem solving and frustration and sweat and love and hate. But in the end, it's all about hearing the playwright's voice and giving them the opportunity to tell us something and making sure they feel like we've done that as best we can.

What rocks your Fringe? What's the bane of your Fringe? BB: I love the atmosphere of the whole thing. Fourteen thousand artists and patrons coming together to live and breathe theater is really amazing. The excitement of rushing across town to get to another show, the anticipation of standing in line, hoping to get a ticket to a hot show, hearing strangers talk about theater and share their Fringe experience... It's just great. It feels great to be in it.

I hate hearing people complain about the lottery and its resulting artistic variety.

Anything else, in general, besides show pimpage, you'd like to spill? BB: I'm concerned about the shrinking number of mid-sized companies. I'm tired of hearing people complain about Joe Dowling and the Guthrie's mainstage product. I'm excited The Cody Rivers Show is in a venue that seats 450. I'm sad that Nathan Keepers is moving to New York. I'm thrilled that my dishwasher works again.

There have been times that American Sexy has made me scared, empowered, embarrassed, nervous, elated, and proud. I'm hopeful that we can share it with you.


There’s something truly incredible about an annual performance festival that one can attend and enjoy the company of hundreds of people one knows, amongst thousands of attendees, multiple times a day, every day, for 11 days straight. While in the audience of The Cody Rivers Show Presents: Stick to Glue at the U of M Rarig Center Thrust yesterday, I caught myself having the perfect Fringe moment: I was sitting directly in front of friends Leah Cooper and Dean Seal, both former MN Fringe Fest Executive Directors; sitting next to Matt Sciple, who I’ve never worked with but will be directing me in Wellstone! starting the day after Fringe closes; across the aisle from two gents who performed a fantastic Fringe show at Intermedia Arts in 2005, in town from Madison not to perform – just to see shows; and in the audience of The Cody Rivers Show, one of the tightest, most hilarious and impressive pieces of art I’ve seen in a long time. If “Fringe” can be used as a verb; this is why I Fringe.

Now, because I can’t throw a stone without hitting someone I know, I find myself in constant conversation about what we’ve seen and loved or loathed. Unfortunately, 13 shows in a weekend makes one’s brain liquefy a little, and I have a hard time remembering shows unless they’ve made some kind of very, very strong impression – so here’s the list of attendance (or attendance attempts) thus far:

Thursday, July 31: 8 pm – The Mistress Cycle @ the Bryant Lake Bowl (Sold out/turned away)

Friday, August 1: 5:30 pm – How Does a Drug Deal Become a Decent 3rd Date @ U of M Thrust 7 pm – An Inconvenient Squirrel @ U of M Thrust 8:30 pm – Boom @ U of M Arena

Saturday, August 2: 1 pm – Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead @ U of M Thrust 2:30 pm – The Pumpkin Pie Show @U of M Thrust 4 pm – One Night Only with Mike Mahoney @ U of M Thrust (Last-minute, unplanned addition to fill a blank spot) 5:30 pm – The Cody Rivers Show Presents: Stick to Glue @ U of M Thrust 7 pm – Leaving Normal @ U of M Xperimental 10 pm - Fringe Opening Party @ Bedlam (Went home to eat and freshen-up; went home, ate, and fell asleep, so missed entirely – oopies.)

As for shows I have seen and heartily, heartily recommend – Boom. For the love of all things sweet and wonderful, go see Boom. And The Cody Rivers Show – see it, see it, see it. And Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead. And The Pumpkin Pie Show. And An Inconvenient Squirrel. For the rest, Thumper’s Rule applies.  Well, in writing anyway.


Indoctrination of the Young

Somehow between 9:13 pm Wednesday night and 12:07 am Thursday morning Dylan Frederick, the 16-year-old writer, director, and producer of Audish, was able to round up answers to my group-interview questions from three of his similarly-aged cast-mates. It’s instances like this that make me waffle between appreciation and wondering where one’s parents are. I fretted a bit over my questions – wanting to respect their talent, training, and experience, yet at the same time making it clear that they’re a young collective. Turns out there was no need to fret – these peeps did juuuust fine. Without further ado, the unedited transcript:

How old are you? DYLAN: 16 years old. MEGAN: 15 years old. KIANA: 15 years old. ANDERS: 17 years old.

Despite your youth, none of you are newbies to the stage... what has been your favorite role so far? Why? DYLAN: Talking roles, I would say Mr. Antrobus in Skin of Our Teeth...totally the most fun...Peter in Company and several roles in The Laramie Project... MEGAN: My favorite role, is probably the role i am playing i a show called YOUR HAPPY PLACE, its a collaboration with Stages teen artists and Jon Ferguson, who seems to be famous at the fringe. Its playing now, around different places such as Bedlam Theatre and the Soap Factory. It is my favorite because it is so free, and fun, and a challenge every time we perform, because it is a street theatre show. Its thrilling and exciting! KIANA: Sally, in 'You're a Good Man Charlie Brown', because it is my biggest role and because of the energy it takes to play her. I love using lots of energy onstage so it makes this role really fun. ANDERS: My role in audish...I have had so much freedom (seeing as I wrote it, with the lovely Dylan Frederick) instant improvs go unqestioned.

Do you hope to see any other Fringe shows? If yes, which ones? DYLAN: Well, I am really looking forward to Reefer Madness...as well as Meet the Macbeths... MEGAN: I do hope to see others, I am quite swamped time wise, but i am hoping to see many. A few, The Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary, Hey! I am Talking Murder Here, Musical! The Musical, and others! KIANA: Yes, I hope to see Musical the Musical, Reefer Madness and Spring Awakening. ANDERS: DANCE OF THE WHISKEY FAIRY! I really would love to see Dance of the whiskey fairy, as well as Great American Horror Movie Musical

In your school, was/is being involved in theater something to be proud of, or something to hide? DYLAN: I go to an art's school so it is for sure something to be proud of... MEGAN: I would not say its the coolest thing you could possibly do at a stereotypical high school! But there are only a few of us at my school who really take theatre seriously, and do shows outside of the school musicals. I have never gotten made fun of for doing theatre, that i can remember! KIANA: Definitely something to be proud of! ANDERS: As of this fall I am going to be attending an arts school, so I'm assuming it will be something that everyone has in common. At my old school it was certainly something I was proud of. People always seemed interested by it, whether they were faking it or not I don't know, but I've never been/felt the need to be ashamed of my involvement in theatre.

If you got famous and could tell the school jocks to suck it, would you? DYLAN: we have no jocks. and fame is scary. and sometimes icky! i'm to scared to answer this question. MEGAN: i probably wouldn't care what they would think! i mean i am ready having a lot more fun than them so i don't really care if they want to weight lift all day! KIANA: Hell yes! ANDERS: Not really...well maybe the coaches, for their pressuring me to join EVERY GOD KNOWN SPORT...but even I (with my lack of involvement) can say I appreciate sports. Everyone has their own niche, whether thats in visual arts, performing arts, engineering, sports, etc. it is good to harness those abilities/talents. If me being involved in theatre isn't an issue for them, why should their sporting adventure's irritate me?

Do you want your show to be reviewed by the major press publications? Why/why not? DYLAN: Yes, yes, yes. I think it's a really great piece and I would hate to miss any opportunity to reach out to new audiences with it. MEGAN: GO FOR IT! if someone wants to review Audish, go for it! i won't stop them, i am confident that there will be a positive response to this show. ANDERS: Yes! I guess I don't really have a reason other than, I really enjoy this show an I would love for the word to get out there.

What's your favorite play? DYLAN: Death of a Salesman...never gets old... MEGAN: My favorite plat i have ever seen, hmmm well thats tough! i guess picking a favorite is tough. I have had the oppurtunity to see tons of musicals, not as many plays. I really liked pen at the Guthrie, you're my favorite kind of pretty at the southern...TONS!

What's your favorite YouTube viral video? DYLAN: Derrick Comedy's "Jerry" MEGAN: I have absolutley no clue! haha! ANDERS: Smosh videos are always great. Usually I use youtube to watch tv shows or comedians, but I always appreciate a good clever home made vid.

Do you think theater is a dying art form? If so, do you think anything can be done to save it - any way to get audiences hooked at a young age? DYLAN: In Minneapolis? It's the opposite in my opinion. Maybe it's because I spend so much time in an arts infused atmosphere, but I believe theatre is growing especially among young people. Many theatres are really learning how to reach out to teens with new programs and new genres. Theatre will stay alive as long as theatre artists keep it that way...and as long as audiences and artists people keep taking chances... MEGAN: I don't think its a dying art form. I do think its sad that it has to compete with films, and tv shows, but i think that it is special enough that it will never die. There are many places young children can go to see theatre, Stages Theatre, Childrens Theatre, Stepping Stone Theatre, Youth Performance Co...and i think if parents introduce theatre to their kids, they will keep it alive and be affected by it! ANDERS: No way! Theatre excites and entertains right before your eyes. For the same reason an on demand concert won't put the music industry out of business. Experiencing live theatre is so unlike going to a cinema and watching a story. Long live theatre!

Twitter: "yes," "no," or "huh?" DYLAN: What is twitter? I feel stupid!! MEGAN: ....... ANDERS: The appropriate answer for me would probably be huh? seeing as I don't know what this means...but I'll just say yes.

Anything else you think I should know, or wish I would have asked? Except for show pimping - we already have that info. DYLAN: Fringe is a great experience for any youth who are ready for more in their art form. If you want to get the most out of it, it can be a lot of work at sometimes...but a very good experience... MEGAN: Thanks for your interest! its fun being in the fringe! :) ANDERS: Not really, these questions were pretty fun. I can't think of a question that would be more/equally exciting to answer.

I have to admit, my favorite response wasn’t even in formal interview – it was a caveat for one of their answers: “We answered most of the questions...but none of us know what twitter is...and i dont know if I even WANT to know...or do I?”

Verrrry interesting. Welcome to the dark side, my children.

Thwarted! The Musical!

I decided to start my fringe off on a strong note (pun absolutely intended) by attending The Mistress Cycle, a musical offering at the Bryant Lake Bowl, after seeing a snippet of it at the second Fringe-for-All showcase. That girl could SING. To add to my high hopes and overall Fringe delight, I ran into my two favorite Johns (NO! Mind out of the gutter! Now!), John Trones and John Mikkelsen, and was able to “interview” them in line:


Much to my chagrin, I wasn’t the only one with the identical plan of seeing a promising show first thing, and I hadn’t made reservations. Therefore, I, and 30 of my closest line-standers were turned away after the venue reached capacity. Except the Johns. They got in. Lucky bastards. Stupidly, I neglected to bring my schedule, and decided to walk back home:


I was planning to spend the next 15 blocks wallowing in my dejection, but instead made a sweet little discovery at Bryant Square:


So, tonight was a bust for Fringeing, but a win nonetheless for Minneapolis.

And, my promise to you for future audio ventures: I’ll try to do better with the microphone – tonight provided some pretty obnoxious audio, and even worse external monologue. But, I guess that’s what the Fringe is for – experimentation. I can’t always sound like I’m going to sell the hell out of a computer.

(Did you follow that last link? See what I did there? - it's called "redemption." Shut up. It's my blog.)

Greenroom on the Fringe

Grab your Vitamin Water and Cliff Bars and tough up your butt bones - the Fringe Festival is nigh! The 11 glorious, sweaty days of performance presented in 60-minute nibblets starts *gasp* tomorrow! It's like band-camp for theater geeks. Except it’s inclusive…all the way down to those who harbor only a little geekitude way down deep inside. And if you find yourself making-out with one of said theater geeks, the plus side is that you're unlikely to get your lip snagged on any headgear. Everybody wins! I am, sadly, not performing this year (damn you, evil democratic lottery) – but will still be screaming "watch me!" in print, right on this here blog. It’s true! In keeping with the theme of The Greenroom as it stands, yet emerging from my narcissism-disguised-as-shoptalk, I will spend the next ten days seeing a wheelbarrow's worth of shows and writing about everything in between the successes and failures of productions. I am not a reviewer, nor do I plan to act like one for the next ten days. My goal is to set judgment aside, observe, engage, and then publish it for all the world to see.

In all seriousness, I'm going to do everything in my power to unearth the driving force behind the audiences and actors and techies and volunteers who participate in this controlled chaos. I want to ask, and try to answer, larger questions about the role this festival plays in the Twin Cities and the U.S. as a whole. Mostly, I want to offer insight to folks who might attend the Ordway, but fear the dirty, unwashed, small-theater masses. Because we may be dirty, and we may be unwashed; but no sir, we are not small.

Let the wild rumpus begin!