by Nicholas Katzban / Special to 24700
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe's history stretches back to 1947. For the past nine of those years the CalArts School of Theater, in association with Venue 13, has been bringing their particular brand of experimental, hybrid and groundbreaking performances across the Atlantic to what has been called “the largest arts festival in the world.”
Venue 13 was initiated in 1996 by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to shine a light on emerging new talents. Finding a kindred spirit in CalArts, the two have been working together for nearly a decade.
The Edinburgh Fringe features five productions with CalArtians at the helm and runs today (Aug. 3) through Aug. 27.
Going Green The Wong Way is Kristina Wong’s eco-comedy about the trials and tribulation of living an environmentally sound life in a post-modern urban landscape. Going Green has been described as a “smart, brazen and raunchy parody of political correctness” and features a set made entirely from recycled materials by production designer Ian Garrett (Theater MFA 08).
Gods, adapted from the short story by Vladimir Nabakov, combines a poignant monologue with lavishly complex video projection. This marks a return to the festival for actors Matthew Bamberg-Johnson (Theater MFA 13) and Genevieve Gearhart (Theater MFA 13) who appeared last year in Ibsen’s Little Eyolf, and director Alexis McNab (Theater MFA 13) who wowed audiences with Hôtel de l’Avenir. Lighting for Gods is designed by Maura Reinhart (Theater MFA 14).
Into the Fog is the newest work by Samantha Shay (Theater BFA 12) and Sam Szabo. Loaded with CalArts performers Kaiso Hill (Theater BFA 14), Christine Wood (Theater BFA 14), Erin O'Brien (Dance BFA 14), Paula Robelo (Theater BFA 13) and lighting designed by Zach Moore (Theater BFA 12), who returns for his third year at Edinburgh, this hour-long piece focuses on a community that reconvenes once every 100 years to tell a single narrative.
Oddlie, written and performed by Alesha Harris (Theater MFA 14), plays off poetry’s potential to enliven and fortify one’s spirit. The titular character encounters a number of spoken word performers on her journey to understand “where she’s been and where she hopes to go.” Oddlie marks a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist, Ngaire, whose music brings another layer to Harris’ soulful tale.
Becoming Conocido is a story about the complex world of self-identity. The choice of marking her ethnicity on a school form sends Jennifer searching through her own personal history and family for the answer to who she is. Conocido has already won writer/director Isabel Salazar (Theater MFA 13) the Best of Fest award at Austin, Texas’s Frontera Fest Short Fringe.