Written on October 4, 2016
This week we are launching a new yearly series called Fringe POP [Performance over Projection]. We are pairing short films with 10-Minute plays for a dynamic experience mixing live and still projections, theatre and film. We are using projections of local spots (like the BP next-door) as a moving panorama for each 10-Minute play with inserted live-feed from an on-stage cameraman.
This years focus is on how do we experience public vs. private space? With a world of knowledge and connectivity in everyone’s pocket, does privacy even exist? What happens when what we perceive as private is also perceived as public? Short films are paired thematically with 10-minute plays to create two distinctive presentations: Public and Private.
Lee Cromwell, who works as Fringe’s Admin Assistant during the day, has taken on the role of Producer/Curator of all eight 10-Minute plays in the series. Lee sat down with Fringe CEO Julianne Brienza for a few minutes to discuss the origin and intent for FringePOP.
How did the idea for FringePOP emerge? What inspired this year’s exploration of PUBLIC and PRIVATE space?
For the past three years Capital Fringe has done a lot of curated music programs, which is different from what we are best know for the Fringe Festival. A model where outside producers bring in their events (pay a participation fee and receive a ticket split). I have wanted to start a curated theatre program for awhile. However, it needed to be unique - not replicating something else already done in the area. Using the structure of hiring local actors, local playwrights and presenting and developing it as a creative team.
I get a lot of requests to do film, and I hadn’t yet found a way to execute a film program outside of what is already being done in the area. I came up with the idea for short plays paired with short films, thinking this would be a good energy for an audience, and be something that we could execute relatively well. In talking with Lee, as we were creating the program, I came up with the title Fringe POP, because I thought it sounded fun! Lee suggested that POP be an acronym for Performance Over Projection and we had a breakthrough in our program development! I went home that night and read about Descartes ocular vision theory the mechanics of vision and it’s limits. Pairing live theatre, film and projections allows the audience to use their eyes in different ways.
The most recent addition was adding a cameraman on stage, dressed as a puppeteer. His puppet is the camera, and he will shoot live feed shots of action on stage as it happens. These live feeds will weave in and out from panoramas that were filmed of local spots. The idea came from a trip to Amsterdam to see Toneelgroep Amsterdam that adds cinematic elements to their productions. I think it is an interesting thing for an actor to be both acting for the camera versus acting on stage. We have given the directors guidance to craft these live feed moments, to explore action on stage that the audience members may not be drawn to or even have the ability to see from where they sit in the house.
I really don’t know how this will turn out, and I’m looking forward to hearing from the audience and the participants. I really want feedback on what works and what doesn’t; this feedback is critical if we decide to repeat this process yearly.
How do you make a distinction between private and public space?
I don’t know that I do. I think that’s why this has been interesting theme to explore. I do think we are all discovering what is Public and Private today, and that is very different from what we would have perceived ten years ago. I’m fascinated that quiet people I know can be so vocal and open on social media, but then in person they display a completely different personality.
I’m trying to figure out what private and public really is, and how it plays into the human condition. I think this is a very nuanced topic, and more tied to happiness, and how we go after happiness today.
What do you want the audience to take with them and experience from FringePOP?
I really want the audience to have a comfortable awesome time! I want them to show up early, get some popcorn/beer and chat with friends or new people at the bar that evening. I want them hang out afterwards and do the same thing, connecting with the actors and creative team, talking about what we mashed together. Giving our audience time and space to share their opinions is very important to me.
I’m really curious to hear from audience members if something in Public or Private track is relatable. Did one of these films or plays make them see a preconceived notion in a different way, or to see if their mind changed? If they run out of the theater immediately afterwards, that will also tell me something too. I really want to know what the audience experience is jumping back and forth between films and plays.
In addition to your leadership role at Capital Fringe, you are providing art direction for both events. What has been the most surprising/enjoyable aspect of working in this capacity?
I always wanted to be a props person. I love the details of in working on that level and it has been fun to jump back into this world. The props in both tracks are simple, but I’m enjoying getting back into that sort of theatre thing.
In leading up to opening in a few days, I think both Lee and I have been pleasantly surprised as everything comes together. There are lots of pieces to put together in these events and it feels like the team is headed in a good direction.
I have been reminded why I did not choose to work in regional theatre and traditional theatre model. I love doing things where everyone is working together in a truer collaborative atmosphere. It has been really nice working with the team of designers, playwrights, actors, directors and filmmakers to craft those moments that we are creating together.
Are you a more private or public person? How would your friends describe you in this category?
I think my friends would totally say I am public, because I am very direct. However, I think working on this series has led me to be more confused about what is private and public, as I look at others or myself. I think we are all just trying to back to a place or discover happiness. Maybe thinking about public and private space gives us the tools to communicate with those near and far, to see if we can get to that place of happiness.
With only one weekend of performances we encourage you to snag your tickets early. October 6-9, Logan Fringe Arts Space 1358 Florida Ave NE. Be sure to come over before the show! Fringe Arts Bar opens one hour before each scheduled show time or stay after! FRESH POP Popcorn and drink specials for all! See you soon!!!
photo by Joe Flood