Free Beer

Please. You’re adults, mostly, and by now you should realize there is no such thing as free beer. If anyone offers you some, they’re probably trying to sell you some of this, or this, though likely not this. But it seems as good a place as any to start talking about the Fringe Festival, where performers will do and say anything to get you into their show. And they should–the Fringe is theatrical capitalism at its best, and we could use more of that here. Sell me on your show, sell me til the curtain descends, or endure a fusillade of overripe tomatoes that give new meaning to the term organic.

FFOz Postcard, From Fringe FestivalWhy am I bringing this up now? Because the Fringe is hosting its annual fundraiser next Monday, April 16, at the Southern Theater. Called “Five Fifths of the Wizard of Oz,” it features some of the Fringe’s favorite performers (Ari Hoptman, Scrimshaw Brothers, Bedlam Theatre, No Refunds Theatre, Three Sticks Theatre) performing one fifth of a very deconstructed version of The Wizard of Oz. Unrehearsed ridic. Tickets are $30 (less for Fringe button-holders and MPR members), show starts at the witching hour of 8 p.m.

The Fringe has undergone some changes: Robin Gillette, a former production coordinator for the Lincoln Center Festival in New York (a $10 million affair involving theater, dance, etc.), has taken over the top job from Leah Cooper. And Chris Madsen, who spent many years at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, has taken over marketing duties. Both are interested in exploring the possibility of a year-round Fringe presence. I’d love to see it happen. Why? Because you can always tell a Fringe performer: they’re the ones who are still as excited about acting as the day they played a tree in kindergarten. They’re also usually bouncing. We could use more of them, perhaps as an alternative energy source.

What do you like/hate about the Fringe? What should change? What do you want more/less of?

Weekend picks: Tonight I’m going to Figaro, the Jeune Lune’s next opera revival, expecting great things. Also check out FridgeFest, a festival of five shows (and food shelf benefit), including last year’s Fringe hit Amnesiac Jack. It runs April 12 to May 6 at the Loring Playhouse; bring that box of Tang you’ve been hoarding. Also, it turns out the Sound in Art/Art in Sound show starting this weekend at the Minnesota Museum of American Art includes a piece from my favorite artist across the hall from my studio at the Northrup King Building, Jack Pavlik, who builds giant twanging, clanging sound sculptures. We’re not getting away from this sound art/music discussion.

Photo from FridgeFest