Fringe POP [Performance over Projection] :: A Conversation with Playwright Mark Scharf

Written on September 28, 2016

Next 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 recently chatted with Mark Scharf, a Baltimore based playwright and actor. His play Our Place is one of the eight 10-minute plays in the series.

How do you make a distinction between private and public space?

The distinction for me comes from who has access and who has control. When I am in private space, then I have some control of who I am sharing it with. Sometimes private acts occur in public, such as people withdrawing from an argument happening in a public space, drawing into their personal space. At home I have an office with a door, if my significant other comes in, less private but still in control.

I do question how much the control we think we have of privacy in public is an illusion. It seems there is a sense of familiarity and comfort; in your mind it can be very private and intimate, but when push comes to shove then you can be rudely reminded that someone else has priority over what goes on.

What is your involvement in Fringe POP? Tell us something interesting about your component of the event.

I am the playwright of Our Place, one of the four 10-minute plays featured in the Private event.

This play is wholly created through my imagination, not modeled on any real people. Though there are facets of putting myself into that situation, it is not based on a real experience. Instead, the play is based on personal emotion and the fear that arises when putting oneself into this situation.

In writing this play I wanted to explore how durable the connections are between people, as well as the fragility of our connections to each other and to ourselves. What happens to a person after a physical change? I believe there is a kernel of truth that survives, that connection still exists on some basic, primal level. This may be optimistic but I’m going to hold on to that belief.

What is the most interesting thing that you have discovered in exploring public/private space?

It is refreshing to see that my own personal view is not so idiosyncratic, that others could recognize my experience. It may even be accessible and familiar to others, though I’m sure for others it is not their experience.

When one is writing details are important, but what is the overall importance that is the story, that is central or universal.

I am excited about the combination of the media of film and live theater. Film doesn’t change, as the body of the art itself is fixed. Live performance is the opposite and I think it’s a wonderful combination, this mix of fixed and flexible to explore and see what happens.

What do you want the audience to take with them or experience from your performance?

My ultimate goal is for the audience to experience a recognition of themselves and for them to have hope, as corny as it sounds. I want them to recognize that there is resiliency in the human spirit that exists in themselves and I want them to identify and find comfort in that resiliency. Bad stuff is going to happen and there are going to be changes we’d rather not experience but they are an inevitable part of being human and aging. The real question is how you deal with it?

Choosing grace is the higher road, and it’s the best road. Despair is easy and it doesn’t help you – it makes things worse. The better choice is making the best of whatever we are dealt by finding comfort in holding onto the best part of ourselves because that can transcend pain and loss. You can only choose how to keep moving. Choosing to live with grace provides comfort, so in some sense it is selfish too. But selfish in a good way.

Are you a more private or public person? How would your friends describe you in this category?

I’m more public. I think that my friends would also say I’m public. Especially when they are in front of me, like in an audience. I think the private moments are more times of retreat, like to lick one’s wounds, or needing to rest and recover.

I think I’m extroverted, which I think is public in nature. There are things that I wish to be private about, yet it’s not hard for me to share my thoughts and feelings. Maybe it should be harder, but its just not. Maybe that feeds into being a writer; something gets stuck in my brain and then I am transported into something else brand new.

Our Place - 10 minute play by Mark Scharf, directed by Quill Nebeker
Featuring: Cam Magee and Nick Torres
Christine and Vince’s visit their favorite restaurant in hopes of finding more than just familiarity and good food.

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!!!

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Fringe POP [Performance over Projection] :: A Conversation with Paul Moon
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Fringe POP [Performance over Projection] :: A Conversation with Actors Alani Kravitz and Frank Britton
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