Catch the Downtown Fringe

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July 28, 2003 // UPDATED 11:00 am - April 30, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

When I was a kid, my six siblings and I rehearsed "PRAT & T News," a catchy act based on our last name. Welcome to Family Circus meets "Good Morning America" where microphones are cardboard toilet-paper rolls and tennis balls. We recounted local civil wars (involving recent thefts and booby-trapped treasures), cooking phenoms (like greasy pizzas) and a schedule of Mom's basement piano concerts. We were born fringe festers.

In the tradition of the cardboard box/lemonade stand of dramatic enterprise, the Minnesota Fringe Festival's homemade mischief and genuine poignancy come from creative grown-ups. Thrift is the password -- the challenge and inspiration that compels characteristic originality in fringe pieces.

Perhaps just as inspiring is the festival's spatial humps. The 10th annual Minnesota Fringe Festival, Aug. 1-10, features over 160 live shows -- theater, performance art, puppetry, spoken word, dance and visual art -- at 20 venues.

A list of hosting venues, their acts and exhibits sounds like a Biblical genealogy. Hey City Theater downstairs begat "Poly-Yesterdays," "Baseball, Dogs and Motorcycles," among others, while Hey City upstairs begets "City Girl!" and "Anthropology" (and still more). Minneapolis Community and Technical College features players in both their Mainstage and Studio.

Then there's the "embeds." These shows don't fabricate spectacle -- they use "live spaces" that already embody their stories' settings. The Neo-Futurists' gig "Writers and Drinking" is about writers drinking in a bar -- apropos for a place/live venue called Grumpy's. "Gwen Hairy Gwen Gloss" is about three beauticians whose story unfolds of course, in a salon -- the Jungle Red Salon. The actor/stylists even give haircuts. (Check the calendar below for show times.)

Bringing fiction to "true" places, these embedded actors mirror broadcast journalists whose stories are spotlighted "live," dressed with unique sound bytes with curtain-call immediacy. As theater moves closer to the truth, is news becoming more theatrical or is theater the new news?

The Downtown Fringe calendar Wih the exception of spoken-word sessions at Dunn Bros Loring Park, performances are $10, $8 for students and seniors and $5 for children under 12. Due to state arts cuts, the Fringe requires the purchase of a $3 button to maintain the festival. Buttons are available at the venues and UptownTix in Calhoun Square at 3001 Hennepin Ave. S. Kids can go button-free.

Most shows are limited to an hour, but you'll have five chances to catch them.

Extensive information is available online at www.fringefestival.org for listed performances and those beyond Downtown. Festival headquarters can be reached at 872-1212. -- compiled by Anna Pratt

Dunn Bros, 329 W. 15th St.

Spoken word, $3 The Loring Park Dunn Bros is home base for spoken word performances/ interactions. Some hours are designed to delve into the personal -- relationships, sexuality and body image -- while others focus on everything from politics to the ingredients of humor. The coffee shop hosts several spoken word events daily throughout the festival. Shows take place most days at 1, 3, 7 and 9 p.m.; but check fringefestival.org/pubVenues.cfm and click on the Dunn Bros link for exact times and topics.

Grumpy's Bar, 1111 Washington Ave. S.

'Drinking & Writing' The Neo-Futurists draw a parallel between writing and drinking -- what's the correlation? Find out over a few drinks at the bar. W 8/6, F 8/8, Sa 8/9 7 p.m.; Th 8/7 6 p.m.; Su 8/10 2 p.m.

Hey City Theater, downstairs, 824 Hennepin Ave. S.

'Baseball, Dogs and Motorcycles' Kevin Kling fringes again with hilarious tales of baseball, dogs and motorcycles. M 8/4 8:30 p.m.; T 8/5 5:30 p.m.; W 8/6 10 p.m.; F 8/8 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 5:30 p.m.

'James Berry: The Reluctant Hangman' What it means to sell out and how much fun it is. Sa 8/2 2:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 7 p.m.; M 8/4 7 p.m.; W 8/6 7 p.m.; F 8/8 10 p.m.

'Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf: The Kamikaze and the Chameleon' Find out what actress Marlene Dietrich and songbird Edith Piaf had in common. F 8/1 10 p.m.; Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; Su 8/3 5:30 p.m.; T 8/5 7 p.m.; F 8/8 4 p.m.

'Poly-Yesterdays' If your heart belongs to velveteen and platforms, join the club in this interactive comedy! F 8/1 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/2 10 p.m.; Su 8/3 8:30 p.m.; M 8/4 5:30 p.m.; T 8/5 10 p.m.

'Sabotage: In Fine Form' From Burning Cities New Works Co. Sa 8/2 7 p.m.; Su 8/3 2:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 10 p.m.; Sa 8/9 1 p.m.; Su 8/10 8:30 p.m.

'Semi-Autobiographical' An evening of self-indulgent theater with Chris Kelly. F 8/1 7 p.m.; Sa 8/2 5 p.m.; Su 8/3 4p.m.; M 8/4 10 p.m.; W 8/6 5 p.m.; Su 8/10 4 p.m.

'The Diner Variations' A slightly absurdist black comedy of friendship and death. Sa 8/2 8:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 1 p.m.; T 8/5 8:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9

4 p.m.

Hey City, upstairs, 824 Hennepin Ave. S.

'A Pure White Room' Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre shows us what it's like to be locked in a white room. Insanity! Sa 8/9 2 p.m.; Su 8/10 4 p.m.

'Anthropology' Quirkiness and idiosyncrasies are distilled by the Trained Human Club. Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; Su 8/3 8 p.m.; T 8/5 6 p.m.; F 8/8 10 p.m.; Su 8/10 2 p.m.

'Around the World in a Bad Mood' A flight attendant presents true stories of flighty moods the world over. F 8/1 6 p.m.; Sa 8/2 8 p.m.; Sa 8/2 10 p.m.; M 8/4 6 p.m.; W 8/6 4 p.m.; Su 8/10 8 p.m.

'Better Being Bad' Travel back in time to 1500s Florence when people knew how to have a good time. Sa 8/2 6 p.m.; Su 8/3 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; W 8/6 6p.m.; F Aug.8 8 p.m.; Sa 8/9 10 p.m.

'City Girl!' The Neo-Futurists first musical F 8/1 10 p.m.; Sa 8/2 12 p.m.; Su 8/3 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.; M 8/4 8 p.m.; T 8/5 8 p.m.

'Moonie and Broon: Foolish Mortals' A modern-day Laurel and Hardy. F 8/1 8 p.m.; W 8/6 8 and 10 p.m.; Th 8/7 10 p.m.; F 8/8 2 p.m.

'Zap! Kunst! Or Presto! It's Art!' These players' performance is so powerful, they'll bring down the Berlin Wall. Sa 8/2 2 p.m.; Th 8/7 8 p.m.; F 8/8 4 p.m.; Sa 8/9 noon

Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave. S.

'Buy Me a Mockingbird' Tod Peterson tells you everything you need to know about love. Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; Su 8/3 8:30 p.m.; F 8/8 4 p.m.; Sa 8/9 4 p.m.; Su 8/10 8:30 p.m.

'If You Don't Really Want To Know -- Then Don't Ask Me' Mae-Belle, a local psychic-visionary-elderly-Black woman, has been relocated from South Minneapolis to Maple Grove by her niece, and now her yard sale will keep her busy. F 8/1 7 p.m.; Sa 8/2 7 p.m.; Su 8/3 4 p.m.; Th 8/7 7 p.m.; F 8/8 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 7

'Six Steps by Brent Doyle' Superheroes disclose their quarter-life crises. F 8/1 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/2 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 5:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 8:30 p.m.; F 8/8 7 p.m.; Sa 8/9 8:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 4 p.m.

'Tell Me on a Sunday' A young English girl comes to New York to learn about America and herself. F 8/1 4p.m.; Su 8/3 7 p.m.; Sa 8/9 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 7 p.m.

Jungle Red Salon, 1362 LaSalle Ave

'Gwen Hairy Gwen Gloss' Who knew the salon was also a local armory? These women are armed with hair dryers and clippers.Danger! Sa 8/2 7 p.m.; 10 p.m.; Su 8/3 1p.m.; 4 p.m.; M 8/4 7 p.m.; T 8/5 8:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 8:30 p.m.; F 8 8/8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 7 and 10 p.m.

Loring Playhouse, 1635 Hennepin Ave.

'5 Women on a Hill in Spain' This dreamy ride through the lesbian imagination follows two sets of lovers -- one past, one present. Sa 8/2 7p.m.; W 8/6 5:30 p.m.; Th 8/7

10 p.m.; F 8/8 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 7 p.m.

'A Room of Angels' A homeless man and a doctor search for a cure for AIDS and find salvation. F 8/1 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 4 p.m.; F 8/8 4 p.m.; Sa 8/9 4 p.m.; Su 8/10 5:30 p.m.

'Ashes to Ashes by Harold Pinter' Rebecca struggles to find a voice in a world that has silenced her. F 8/1 7p.m.; Sa 8/2 8:30 p.m.; T 8/5 5:30 p.m.; F 8/8 7 p.m.; Sa 8/9 2:30 p.m.

'Climax - The Final Four Play' Gremlin returns with a hilarious sequel to last year's hit: four new 10 minute plays featuring local authors. F 8/1 10 p.m.; Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; M 8/4 10 p.m.; Sa 8/9 1 p.m.; Su 8/10 8:30 p.m.

'From Vietnam: Stories and War Memories' War stories from Noel LaBine. Su 8/3 1 p.m.; M 8/4 7 p.m.; W 8/6 4 p.m.; Th 8/7 8:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 4 p.m.

'Look Ma, No Pants: A Brief History of Comedy' The Scrimshaw Brothers, characteristically zany trip of comedy, song and dance, and social commentary. F-Su 11:20 p.m.

'Temptation of a Playwright' Will good or evil triumph over a playwright's perilous journey? Su 8/3 2:30 p.m.; M 8/4 8:30 p.m.; T 8/5 7 p.m.; W 8/6 2:30 p.m.; F 8/8 10 p.m.

'That's Mister Benchley to You, Mrs. Parker' Famous 1920s wits Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley are king and queen of the Alonquin Round Table. Sa 8/2 1 p.m.; Su 8/3 7 p.m.; W 8/6 8:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 5:30 p.m.

'The Farce of the Worthy Master Pierre Patelin' This 1400s-era French farce about an attorney is still relevant. Sa 8/2 5:30 p.m.; W 8/6 10 p.m.; F 8/8 2:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 10 p.m.; Su 8/10 2:30 p.m.

'The Love Talker' An eerie, sensual drama about curiosity, possession and a young woman's struggle for her sister's soul. Sa 8/2 10 p.m.; Su 8/3 5:30 p.m.; W 8/6

7 p.m.; F 8/8 8:30 p.m.

'Unleash the Hounds!' Lame Deer looks at Mt. Rushmore, David Letterman sends his love and Jerry Fallwell as a homophobic jackass. Music, slides. F 8/1 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/2 2:30 p.m.; T 8/5 10 p.m.; Th 8/7 7 p.m.; Sa 8/9 8:30 p.m.

'War Golems' A dark comedy about the harsh reality of one soldier's tour of duty in Vietnam. Su 8/3 8:30 p.m.; M 8/4 5:30 p.m.; T 8/5 8:30 p.m.; F 8/8 1 p.m.; Sa 8/9 5:30 p.m.

MCTC Whitney Mainstage, 1424 Yale Place

'A La Carte: In a Fool's Kitchen' A Faux French chef attempts culinary feats armed only with a poofy hat and a cookpot. Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; Su 8/3 2:30 p.m.; F 8/8 2:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 1 p.m.

'Levels & Lines' Performance art featuring dancers on stage and on high (three-foot stilts). F 8/1 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/2 8:30 p.m.; M 8/4 8:30 p.m.; F 8/8 1 p.m.; Su 8/10 8:30 p.m.

'Snow White' Vibrant music and 37 vivacious characters keep you laughing through the tears. Especially for kids. Sa 8/2 5:30 p.m.; W 8/6 8:30 p.m. F 8/8 4 p.m.; Sa 8/9 2:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 5:30 p.m.

'Steven John Koob - Things I Should Have Said' Steven John Koob is a New Age, classical, jazz fusion composer. F 8/1 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 8:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 7 p.m.; F 8/8 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 7 p.m.

'The Hobbit' A thrill-packed fantasy adventure to Middle Earth. Sa 8/2 2:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 7 p.m.; M 8/4 7 p.m.; T 8/5 7 p.m.; F 8/8 8:30 p.m.

'The Point by Harry Nilsson' A campy, colorful tale of round-headed Oblio and his dog, Arrow. Sa 8/2 1 p.m.; Su 8/3 1 p.m.; M 8/4 5:30 p.m.; W 8/6 7p.m.; Th 8/7 5:30 p.m.

'The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip'BR>A quirky, comedic tale with a message. Music, acting and puppetry. F 8/1 7 p.m.; Su 8/3 5:30 p.m.; F 8/8 7 p.m.; Sa 8/9 1 p.m.; Su 8/10 2:30 p.m.

'What Plotline? Where?' Half physical comedy, half cartoon, half imagination, zero math. Sa 8/2 7 p.m.; T 8/5 8:30 p.m.; W 8/6 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 8:30 p.m.; Su 8/10

4 p.m.

'Whoa!? A Jam-Packed Dance Experience' Includes Adams, Eves, guns and whatever's behind the pink curtain. Su 8/3 4 p.m.; T 8/5 5:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 4 p.m.; Su 8/10 7 p.m.

MCTC Whitney Studio, 1424 Yale Place

'Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Tiny Tim Story' The tale of the rise and fall of "tip-toe thru the tulips" ukulele-crooner Tiny Tim. Su 8/3 4 p.m.; T 8/5 7 p.m.; F 8/8 1 p.m.; Sa 8/9 8:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 5:30 p.m.

'Coya Comes Back' A humorous, dramatic look at the illustrious life and legislation of Minnesota's first Congresswoman, Coya Knutson. Sa 8/2 1 p.m.; Su 8/3 1 p.m. and

8:30 p.m.; M 8/4 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; W 8/6 7 p.m.; Th 8/7 7 p.m.

'Emma Goldman: Love, Anarchy and Other Affairs' A strikingly modern one-woman-show about political and romantic unrest. F 8/1 7 p.m.; Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; Su 8/3 2:30 p.m.; T 8/5 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 1 p.m.; Su 8/10 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

'Melodie's Meltdown' An interactive children's play where audience members break Razel's spells with her swords, magic rhymes and potions. F 8/1 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/2 2:30 p.m.; Th 8/7 8:30 p.m.; F 8/8 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sa 8/9 7 p.m.; Su 8/10 7 p.m.

'The Art of Ruth Draper' If you like Lily Tomlin and Julia Sweeney, don't miss this show. Sa 8/2 5:30 p.m.; M 8/4 8:30 p.m.; T 8/5 5:30 p.m.; W 8/6 5:30 p.m.; F 8/8 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 2 p.m.

'Voices From Spoon River Anthology' A one-woman show presenting 32 female characters from Edgar Lee Master's classic work. F 8/1 8:30 p.m.; Sa 8/2 8:30 p.m.; Su 8/3 7 p.m.; W 8/6 8:30 p.m.; F 8/8 5:30 p.m.; Sa 8/9 5:30 p.m.; Su 8/10 2:30 p.m.

Red Eye, 15 W. 14th St.

'Behind the Music: Rod Iron' A parody of VH1's greatest cover band of all time. Sa 8/2 12 p.m.; Su 8/3 6 p.m.; W 8/6 10 p.m.; F 8/8 6 p.m.; Su 8/10 8 p.m.

'Heretic' Banished to the moon, a woman must fill a tank with tears to repent. She rants, dances and bares all. Sa 8/2 4 p.m.; M 8/4 6 p.m.; F 8/8 8 p.m.; Sa 8/9 12 p.m.; Su 8/10 6 p.m.

'I Hate This' A gritty yet well-humored conversation with an honest account of a stillbirth. F 8/1 6 p.m.; Sa 8/2 8 p.m.; Th 8/7 10 p.m.; Sa 8/9 6 p.m.; Su 8/10 2 p.m.

'Nothing Matters When We're Dancing' A lip-synch musical inspired by The Magnetic Fields. Sa 8/2 6 p.m.; Su 8/3 8 p.m.; W 8/6 6 p.m.; F 8/8 4 p.m.; Sa 8/9 10 p.m.

'Splendor and Tribulation... Entwined' A concept-rich showcase of modern dance. Sa 8/2 2 p.m.; Su 8/3 4 p.m. W 8/6 8 p.m.; F 8/8 2 p.m.; Sa 8/9 4 p.m.

'Spring Awakening' A dark tale of masquerade, hypocrisy and repression. F 8/1 10 p.m.; Su 8/3 2 p.m.; T 8/5 6 p.m.; Th 8/7 8 p.m.; Su 8/10 4 p.m.

'The German Socialites' The story of a writer commissioned for the Nazi party. F 8/1 8 p.m.; Su 8/3 12 p.m.; T 8/5 8 p.m.; Th 8/7 6 p.m.; Sa 8/9 8 p.m.

'Vic Volare's Torchlight Parade' Vic Volare's musical variety show. Sa 8/2 10 p.m.; M 8/4 8 p.m.; F 8/8 10 p.m.; Sa 8/9 2 p.m.; Su 8/10 midnight.