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Later tonight, your picks for top shows of the Fringe festival will be revealed — by me, at the Audience Awards ceremony. But Fringe is about so much more than shows. It’s about connections between performers, unexpected incidents, and the general riff-raff of the atmosphere. As our Fringeworthy coverage comes to a close, I wanted to spotlight the things that made the 10th year of this crazy festival so memorable.
Fringeworthy’s Best Stories
We published a lot of stuff over the last three weeks, and I’m enormously proud of everyone in my small Fringeworthy army. But certain pieces deserve a second look, and their links should be preserved for posterity. In case you missed them under our avalanche of content, here were some of Fringeworthy’s best moments:
- A cover story on the first decade of Fringe madness by Fringeworthy editor emeritus Chris Klimek.
- Rachel Kurzius answered the festival’s most burning question: How did hardware store W.S. Jenks & Son become a standout Fringe venue?
- Anne Larimer Hart recounted Brian Feldman‘s visit to her sink as part of his Dishwasher performance (hey Washington Post, we ran this story first!).
- Emma Dozier of Glade Dance Collective shared audience data gleaned from Mine/Field, their show about data privacy.
- Erik Harrison from the Coil Project gave his tips for how to make a Fringe show.
- Chris Klimek snagged an illuminating interview with Urinetown co-writer Greg Kotis to figure out a very pressing question: Just what does a “successful Fringe production” even look like?
- Amrita Khalid got the story on one of Fringe’s most unique productions: a family-friendly recounting of painful Japanese-American history, staged outside at a national memorial.
- Stephanie Steinberg interviewed former White House butler Alan DeValerio, and learned of his many brushes with fame and terror, on the occasion of his Fringe show (with video by Jake Serwer).
- Of course we had full coverage of Dance of the Cranes, that nutty construction-equipment boogie at the festival’s midway point: Dawn Michelle Morgan interviewed artist Brandon Vickerd, and Devon Thorsby recounted the “sense of danger” she felt gazing upwards at the performance.
But not everything could fit inside our interviews and Hip Shots. Here are a few of those seminal moments-on-the-margins, as recalled by Fringeworthy writers:
My Fire-Eating Idol
The high point of my #CapFringe15 experience came during Federal Theater Project’s It’s a Circus Out There. The majority of the cast spent the pre-show winning over the crowd with fun, dynamic clowning. I immediately recognized Casey Severn from many years of Fight School at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. He’s been there for over 25 years (literally my whole life, to a year), and I’ve been a fan for almost as long. A third of the way through the show, Severn took the stage as Vladimir Petrov and began eating freaking fire. For real. The exact high point came when he called me onstage to stand next to him and confirm, “It’s hot!”
I tried catching Severn after the show, but all I saw was his back as he left the building in a hurry. Dejected, I walked back to my car, only to see him getting into his own vehicle, missing him a second time in so few minutes. However, we did connect on Twitter, bringing the high point of my Fringe experience to a satisfying close. Capital Fringe, thank you for getting me two retweets and a favorite from a favorite of mine. — Marshall Bradshaw
You: A short-haired burlesque dancer who attended back-to-back performances of Barenaked Comedy and Burlesque Classique’s Vaudevillain Romp.
Me: A Fringeworthy reviewer who saw his first two burlesque shows in a single afternoon.
After seeing both shows, I chatted with your mother, who was also new to burlesque. Her opinions helped me form the backbone of my review. Shortly afterward, you traded places with her. You revealed D.C.’s secret society of burlesque dancers, the overlap of burlesque and clowning, and the trick to a perfect stocking pull. It was the most fun I had chatting at the Fringe bar this year.
I continue to be dating my lovely girlfriend, but a platonic coffee date would be a lot of fun. Find me @DMarshallB. — Marshall Bradshaw
The moment the power cut out on H Street on July 19 was my most memorable Fringe experience this summer (for better or worse). It was one of those LIVE THEATER! ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! moments. I was in the basement of The Argonaut, attending Pamela Meek‘s one-woman show How to Be a Good Mom … When You’ve Got a Schizophrenic Mother for a Role Model, and Meek — who is not a professional performer — valiantly completed her show by the window light and with no mic or air-conditioning. I was also impressed by how the stage manager handled the situation to enable the performance to continue. — Molly Simoneau
Front Row Hazards
Right at the end of an otherwise very good performance of Awake All Night, actor Garrett Matthews executed a bit of staging where he was meant to push a music stand downstage and then exit. He overdid it a bit and pushed the stand off the edge of the stage and nearly decked an elderly man seated in the front row (someone seated next to him jumped up and caught it just before it whacked the poor dude). You could briefly see the horror on Matthews’ face as he wasn’t sure whether to just let it go, or break character and grab it. I chalked the whole thing up to opening night jitters. — Molly Simoneau
Three Moments That Defined Fringe
The centipede scurrying across the floor at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Wandering around outside W.S. Jenks & Son thinking I had the wrong address for The Great Awkward Hope, not realizing I was supposed to venture inside the hardware store.
And in The Eulogy: Michael Burgos roasting marshmallows after setting the ashes of his former roommate on fire. — Gabi Dunkley
Don’t Come Late
If you’re one of those people who think the world can always wait a little longer, Fringe is not the place for you. Those volunteers aren’t kidding when they advise arriving early and booking tickets ahead of time, as evidenced by the irate man in his late 20s I witnessed being forcibly turned away from a performance of Ambien Date Night. Having committed the twin sins of arriving 10 minutes late to a sold-out show, he was nevertheless flummoxed by the volunteer’s refusal to allow him into the theater. “What is this, the Department of Motor Vehicles?” he complained loudly, going down the list of reasons why he should be allowed in — he’s worked in theater, he knows about fire codes, he has friends in the show, he left work early for this — but to no avail.
After the visitor finally stormed away, the Fringe volunteer who had stopped him turned to the crowd of people clustered in the Atlas lobby. “I’m not a bad guy,” she said. On the contrary, brave volunteer: You have brought order out of chaos. ‘Tis the noblest of deeds. — Andrew Lapin
Handout photo by Paul Gillis Photography