Delve into the local performing arts scene this month with 134 live and uncensored productions in the District. The Capital Fringe Festival will celebrate original material from self-producing artists July 12-29 at a handful of DC locations. “We offer a unique atmosphere in DC,” said Julianne Brienza, the executive director of the festival. “We let the patrons be the judge and enjoy new works in the performing arts at a low cost.”
Single tickets cost $17 for rapid-fire performances in theater, dance, puppetry, spoken word, film, and visual arts. Now in its seventh year, the open-access festival has become the second largest fringe festival in the nation. More than 80,000 DC-area residents have watched festival performances in the past six years with $1.2 million dollars in revenue generated for participating artists.
This year’s festival features 2,128 performers, 83 percent of which are from the Washington metropolitan area. Brienza said patrons should enjoy the same freedom as the artists by being open-minded and finding performances that speak to them.
“We do not make judgments,” she said. “We put the power in the artists. The good rise to the top. It is best for each patron to explore on their own.”
Here’s a sneak peek of five unique performances at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival.
Domino’s Pizza Saved My Life
July 12-22, times vary
Goethe Institut: 812 7th St. NW; 202-289-1200
The only time Dylan Fresco performed in DC was at 16 years old in a homeless shelter on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with an international troupe of teenagers sharing a play they had written about world peace. The Minneapolis-based actor and writer brings his third solo show to the Capital Fringe Festival after a sold-out run and an encore slot at last year’s Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Domino’s Pizza Saved My Life was inspired by true tales from Fresco’s life about people getting swept up in historical events. Stories of Soviet teens, Cold War summer camps, a grandfather’s journey from Constantinople to New York, and Fresco’s experiences at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul pepper the show.
“I’ll be sharing myself through story and song, with a personal take on global events,” he said. “From Russia to riot police, young love to the fall of [an] empire and other momentous moments in history.”
Wayne Nicolosi presents his directorial interpretation of playwright Peter Swet’s The Interview, a 45-minute journey through the vast psychological landscape of two men grappling with their demons in the early 1970s.
“The play is as fast-paced and entertaining as it is thought-provoking,” Nicolosi said. “In our version, we play up the main character’s sense of humor as the key to his survival. This makes the play surprisingly witty considering the very serious subject matter. We think the overall affect is chilling.”
Nicolosi teamed up with actors Larry Levinson and Jeff Mocho for The Interview after the trio performed in last year’s Glengarry Glen Ross to full and sold-out houses at Capital Fringe.
“We have all worked as a team before,” he said. “It is fun for us and we hope that our connection to each other will extend to our audience.”
The Last Flapper
July 12-28, times vary
The Shop at Fort Fringe: 607 New York Ave. NW; 866-811-4111
Actress Kate Erin Gibson is convinced that after seeing The Last Flapper, you will never be able to read F. Scott Fitzgerald in the same way again. Gibson stars as the Jazz Age novelist’s wife Zelda in this play focused on her extraordinary life as told through the filtered lens of an insane asylum on the last day of her life.
Director Carmela Lanza-Weil brings her own spin to playwright William Luce’s cautionary tale about the dangerous decision to deny or repress what fulfills your soul. She encourages theatergoers who enjoy entertainment that also engages your intellect to see the play and ignite debate about the role of the artist and the true roots of her madness.
“Zelda was an artist and a woman who happened to fall in love with someone who did not value nor encourage her creativity and talent,” Lanza-Weil said. “The play explores her life, her multifaceted personality and her confusion about how she became the woman she is in the present time of the play. Her negotiation of this terrain and her eventual break with reality is a fascinating and non-linear ride.”
Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s a Midsummer Night’s Dream
July 13-28, times vary
Warehouse Theater: 645 New York Ave. NW; 202-783-3933
Beat on the Bard Theatre Company’s cheeky interpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes common themes and motives from the Elizabethan period and adapts them to the punk genre. Each character has been contemporized: the fairies replaced by punk rock devotees and the magical forest with the seedy backrooms and dilapidated venues into which the young lovers escape. The strong sense of magic and spectacle that characterize many of Shakespeare’s works remain intact.
Director Patrick Denney came up with the idea for his new theater company as a tool for producing Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s a Midsummer Night’s Dream. His goal was to meld the classic with the modern while showing how truly timeless the Bard’s play is.
“That’s one of the things that I really enjoy about Shakespeare – his works can be adapted to almost any period in history and still resonate with an audience,” Denney said.
L.A.’s most celebrated superhero is sent to drug rehab in this tongue-in-cheek musical about celebrities hitting rock bottom. Director Brian Sutow thinks the idea of larger-than-life personalities going to rehab, whether they’re superheroes or real celebrities, piques everyone’s interest.
“There are qualities to these people that are stupendous and hyperbolized, but this show mines a ton of humor out of the fallout that comes from being special and the pressure that comes from having such a high-stress job,” Sutow said.
He described the play as a mash-up of genres that is more Parks and Recreation than Batman.
“We glimpse these extraordinary characters in a very quirky, smart, day-to-day sort of way, rather than trying to get a lot of laughs out of people running around in tights,” explains Sutow.
For more information and a full list of performances, visit www.capitalfringe.org.