Speed performing

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July 14, 2003 // UPDATED 10:58 am - April 30, 2007
By: Julie Swensen
Julie Swensen

A columnist does a star turn -- well, as much as anyone can be a star at the sprawling Fringe Festival

Today I'm writing to invite you, dear reader, to come see the Spoken Word Fringe. It's the kid sister to the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Did you know that our Fringe is the largest fringe festival in the U.S.? And that it's been around for the last 10 years? The Spoken Word Fringe has been around for three years now, and it's a great way to sample some of the gritty fun that is the Fringe for free.

A few of you may remember me from the first Fringe when I was the Fortune Telling Barbie in Barbie's Ballroom Blitz. Tickets sold furiously at 85 cents each, and both Ken and I had a ball pretending to tell everyone's fortunes based on how they danced with us. I just dug up my blonde wig from my Barbie days, and since it's too musty to wear again, I decided that this time I'd try the Spoken Word Fringe sans wig, costume or Ken.

Now, my grandma in Richfield didn't really know what I meant by Spoken Word -- so for you Granny O, and the rest of the world outside the circle of my black-turtleneck-wearing, heavy-smoking, finger-snapping, Ginsberg-wannabe friends, here's a quickie overview of what to expect at the Spoken Word Fringe.

First, it's fun, free and you don't need a ticket. That's the best part. Second, it's at the air-conditioned Loring Park Dunn Bros (329 W. 15th St. on the south side of Loring Park) every day of the Fringe, from Friday, Aug. 1 to Sunday, Aug. 10.

Monday-Friday performances start at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays performances are at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. All performances last for 60 minutes. You don't need to make reservations; all you need to do to be in the audience is show up.

Once you get to Dunn Bros, buy an iced tea and get settled in your cabaret-type seat, you'll see a wide variety of performers jump on stage and perform their writing. The Spoken Word Fringe is a sampling of all things spoken: poets, novelists, storytellers, playwrights, actors, slam champions and inevitably those who defy categorization. Performers are on for less than 10 minutes each, so if you don't like one person's work, don't worry, they will be done soon.

Each 60-minute showcase has a theme -- everything from blends of jazz and poetry, crummy day jobs, the nature of faith and, my favorite, dating.

I'll be performing excerpts from my columns that have appeared here over the last year or so on Monday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m., when the theme is comedy. Along with local writers Tom Cassidy, Lisa Perez, Mike Edlavitch and John Schailder, I'll try and say something funny. Amy Salloway will host the evening and do CPR on those of us who are extra nervous.

I want to extend a special invitation to the guys I met that night Speed Dating to my Spoken Word Fringe performance on Thursday, Aug. 7, 9 p.m., when Erin Harney, Laurie McKiernan, Curt Lund, David Crady and I all dish on dating. Amy Salloway hosts again, and if you are single, this could be a good place to meet someone. It's got to be better than meeting someone online, and it's definitely better than using that lady in LA who charges $10,000 to set you up on a date. So I will hope to see you there.

Aside from explaining Spoken Word to grandma, Julie Swenson (julie@abbaspr.com) is also owner of Abbas Public Relations.