Capital Fringe Festival Comes to Georgetown Park   


Whoever says you can’t have it all, has yet to go to the Capital Fringe Festival. For the first time, the annual theater event highlighting local, new, and “fringe” playwrights will be held at Georgetown Park, located at 3222 M St. NW. Performance venues will be set up in the former retail spaces of the old mall. This year’s Fringe Fest promises a theatrical smorgasbord. 

With 31 productions showcasing over 250 theater artists, starting Thursday, July 14, at 5:30 p.m. to Sunday July 17, and continuing a second weekend, Thursday, July 21, to Sunday night, July 24, get ready to select generous helpings of live theater. One can choose fresh daily from a menu of 11 comedies, 16 dramas and 4 musicals. Many Fringe shows are first-run, never-before-seen or reviewed, created and performed by one actor.  All provide food for thought. Beware, however, some are spicy and labeled “Adults Only.” 

How to pick from so many choices? Here are a few clues starting with the comedies.  

“A Temporal,” created/performed by Sianna Joslin delves into her experience with epilepsy, before and after being misdiagnosed for ten years.   

 ”Climate, Cancer, and 7 Celibate Men: A Queer Comedy” are Caroline Howe’s stories of battling climate, surviving cancer, and unsuccessfully wooing seven celibate men.  

“EGO/DEATH ” is Natalie Parks’ one-person supernatural dark comedy about a recent college graduate who returns from the grave after a year.  

“I’m Just Doing My Job: One Woman Show,” by Diane Veig, is her story of a strip club waitress, side chick, personal assistant, best friend and how she got the job(s) done!  

“Interrupted” is a one-person stand-up show about a woman’s experiences with a series of life crises, including grief over the death of her father, breast cancer, and fertility challenges. 

“Let’s Take This Offline,” written/performed by Catherine Wigginton Greene and Colleen Laughlin, is about what it would look life if we talked in person as we do on social media,   

In “The Body Show,” local storytellers tell true stories from their lives about body image, body changes, finding peace in their bodies, and the tricky business of the physical self.   

“What They Said About Sex” is award-winning performer Steve Budd’s wondering about what other people knew about sex that he didn’t as he meets a variety of people.  

Comedies recommended for Children 13-plus include:  

  • “Mike Lane: Mixed Race Sweetie” is one man’s journey to find a racial identity of his own. Lane is half-Chinese, half-Irish.  
  • “Motherload ” is an autobiographical dark comedy about the wounds that accompany complicated mother-daughter relationships, written and performed by Jenna Hall and Justine Hipsky.  
  • “Untitled,” Elle Pike’s one-woman show tackles questions of legacy, identity and belonging in a fictional town’s competition to rename the town square.  

For many theater goers, drama is like the meat and potatoes, the main course.   

“A Number,” by Caryl Churchill, explores the complicated issues of cloning, identity and what makes us human when a father reconnects with his estranged sons.  

“Etched Glass Decanter,” by Evening Crane Theatre,is a dark fantasy drama following a pair of astronomers in a time of strife across multifarious strange worlds. It’s been compared to works by Beckett, Kafka, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Edgar Allan Poe and was recipient of the ‘Best New Writing Award’ from the 2020 Paris Fringe.  

“Sheboygan” is the maiden play by novelist Louis Baynard, inspired by recent news events in which a grieving academic learns that his late husband was hiding a secret.  

Wayne L. Firestone’s “Higher ” is a journey of magical realism inspired by folklore as  its characters  explore liberation, race, immigration and family secrets in the times of epidemics.  

“Mary” is a comedic drama written and performed by Jo Williamson that explores a teacher’s romantic journey as she faces questions about her religious beliefs.  

In “Green Machine,” a Black realtor, a White stoner and an aging hippie open a weed shop in gentrifying D.C.  

Through poetry and mixed media, “The OREO Complex” chronicles the experience of OREO Girl. Playwright/performer Lillian Brown, a Black female, navigates predominately White institutions, in a celebration of resilience, rigorous patience, and veneration of ancestors.  

Adult-only dramas include:  

  • “Meatballs and Music” is a one-man show by Tom Swelzer about resilience, forgiveness and love growing up in small town Pennsylvania with a dying mom and Schizophrenic father.  
  • “Sobriety of Fear,” a 2018 selection for “Best of the Fest,” is Shaun Michael Johnson’s one-man show with a revised script which will hopefully take all the characters to a deeper level with a fresh take on an old story by director Mediombo Singo Fofana.  

What starts as a casual encounter in an anonymous hookup on Craigslist turns into an intimate journey in Shadia A. Hafiz’s ”SWB – Strangers with Benefits.” 

Written by award-winning Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe and performed by Madeleine Burke Pitt, “The Approach” explores “Three women – Three encounters – Three conversations. Between what is said – What is not said – What is the truth.”  

While there are Fringe Festivals all over the world, The Capital Fringe Festival brings to the stages in Georgetown plays that are set all over the world.  

“My Father, My Martyr, and Me,” Fargo Nissim Tbakhi’s interactive solo performance in poetry, invites the audience into a process of unlearning the criminality layered onto Palestinians.   

“The Gate” is playwright/performer Robbie Gringrass’s story set in a small kibbutz in northern Israel where a debate rages: Should the gate facing the local Palestinian village remain open? A 15-minute talkback is provided after the show.  

“Sadec 1965: A Love Story” is about Flora Le’s 6-week solo motorcycle trip through her estranged father’s homeland of Vietnam after she finds out he has cancer.  

“September 11, 1973: The Day Salvador Allende Died”concerns the day a U.S.-backed coup led by General Augusto Pinochet ousted Chile’s democratically elected president.  

“Tacones (Rhymes with Cojones),” by playwright M. Cristina Garcia, could be anywhere and everywhere there’s a local dive. Blanca meets a mysterious stranger desperately searching for his missing lover. A raid by La Migra, the ensuing chaos, a trail of loss and pain, and a search for redemption that spans generations and countries.  

My favorite choices in any Fringe Festival are the musicals, the very desserts of theater!   

This year’s festival features two cabarets: “All the Feels: An Uplifting Cabaret” (Pinky Swear Productions), appropriate for adults only. “This is Cabaret” (DC Cabaret Network) is dedicated to the memory of George Fulginiti-Shakar and showcases the wide range of the cabaret art form for ages 13-plus.  

Musicals recommended for children over 13 include “Pretty Messy Love,”Mary Leaphart’s story that follows a woman to find her own happy-ever-after beyond fairy tale stories.     

Playwright Tess Rowan, at 17-years-old, is the youngest of the playwrights. Her original detective adventure “Static: Noise of a New Musical” about a family in the Pennsylvania woods, searching for a father lost on the Appalachian Trail is a blend of musical theater, rock, and folk with immersive Morse Code clues.  

These are only tastings. The shows are short (60 to 80 minutes) and located close by so that you can have your fill. For more details on each show go to capitalfringe.org.  

And it’s not over when it’s over!  For the after-show, sample the Fringe Cocktail at the “festival bar” at The Sandlot Georgetown, 2715 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Live music and community open mic are on the menu.  

 

 

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