Theater, dance, music, puppetry, aerial arts, juggling, circus arts, spoken word, poetry, performance art and more will feature in the Sideshow Fringe Festival that starts today and runs through Sunday.
Some of the eclectic offerings include the Aerial Fabricators presenting Think Air Collective; Wearing High Heels in a Flip-Flop World by Patricia Leonard; El Circo Cheapo Cabaret; Music City Improv; First Time Stories with Vali Forrister; David Barker’s Dodging Bullets; Little Stone Productions’ Gruesome Playground Injuries; Magic with Jason Michaels; and Jeffrey Ellis’ presentation of Love, Loss & What I Wore. Also among the schedule is the Aerial Dance Concert presented by FALL; Blue Lotus Comedy; Thandiwe Shiphrah presenting And then God Created Woman; Puppetry with the Wild Goose Chase Theatre; Shawn Knight presents Irvin Berlin: An American Creation; and Rachel Agee in Special Snowflake.
Tonight the festival kicks off its second year with a 6 PM sampling of Thursday of working title by Tia Pough (T’Ren), straining insistent heaving on the cusp of a Rainbow by Janelle Bonfour Mikes, an excerpt from The Sum of Some Parts by Matt Marcum and Nadeena Ray Whittaker Killed Her Husband by Sara Gaddis. That’s followed at 7:30 PM by the world premiere reading of Bill Feehely’s Outside Paradise. Both events will take place in Belmont University’s Black Box Theater (1575 Compton Ave.).
With so many options, it’s hard to focus on just one or two. But to give just two samples of what’s in store, let’s focus on a gender-neutral pop artist named GNIMN and a whirlwind production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet where cast doubling is not only preferred but essential.
MUSIC: GNIMN – Friday 7:30 PM and Saturday 7:30 PM, Bongo Java After Hours Theatre (2007 Belmont Blvd.)
GNIMN (pronounced “nim”) has Middle Tennessee roots but recently moved to Southern California. The cultural and social landscape there inspired the 20-year-old pop artist to write songs for today that draw upon such musical influences as The Eurythmics, Florence and the Machine, and Enya.
Gigs at such vaunted Los Angeles nightspots as the Whisky a Go Go, Genghis Cohen and the House of Blues soon followed. “It was really wonderful to go there and perform at those places and have people I didn’t know listen to the music,” the performer says. “…I thankfully got a good response. It was fun to do and I’m glad to be doing it again in Nashville.”
In January GNIMN put out a debut album called Indigo. “I switch around styles,” says GNIMN, who offers ballads one moment and dance/pop with a theatrical flair the next. “On the album there are two acoustic songs that are not pop at all, though most of the songs have a pop flavor.
“…I didn’t intend to write a pop album, but from the minute I came out here, it’s what came out…in my writing.”
For more GNIMN check out the video below and visit www.gnimn.com.
THEATER: HAMLET IN 90 MINUTES OR LESS – Saturday 2 PM Belmont Black Box Theater (1575 Compton Ave.) and Sunday 1:30 PM Belmont Little Theater (Belmont University Campus)
Amanda Card-McCoy has been a busy theater artist in recent years, appearing with Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Blackbird Theater, Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre and other regional companies. She also recently self-produced a staged reading of Sylvia Plath’s Three Women.
Now the multi-tasking performer directs and stars as Ophelia and Gertrude in a pared-down, bare-bones presentation of Shakespeare’s Melancholy Dane. Starring alongside her are Matthew Raich as Hamlet, Will Sevier as Claudius and The Ghost, Tyler Henry as Horatio and Laertes, and Phil Perry with the light workload (just kidding Phil) of playing Polonius, The Gravedigger, The Player King and Osric.
“I knew Phil was in (Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s) Much Ado About Nothing this summer, so I didn’t think at first we’d be able to have him do this,” Card-McCoy notes. “I’m so happy he can. He, and all of us, are having a great time working together.”
The so-called “eternity” version of Hamlet is longer than a pre-Super Bowl broadcast, so how do you get it down to 90 minutes. Well, it‘s goodbye to the politics – sorry Fortinbras – and those lovable scamps Rosencrantz and Guildenstern aren’t just dead, they’re absent.
“I hated to cut (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern), because I loved the idea of having one actor playing those two parts since the characters in the play confuse the two constantly, but because of time constraints and all the meaty sections of the play I couldn’t bear to live without they had to go,” Card-McCoy says.
The role assignments have created interesting opposites for the actors. Just look at Henry’s task – to present both Hamlet’s tranquil closest confidante and the turbulent childhood-chum-turned-rival who eventually takes his life. “Tyler’s doing an amazing job finding both of these complicated characters and giving each three dimensions while making clear what the differences are,” the director explains.
How about her two characters? “What I’ve found is that Ophelia and Gertrude are on opposite sides of what it means to be a woman,” she says. “Ophelia’s very much a child who’s guarded and protected, very sweet…Gertrude is mature, very sensual and she’s a ruler who can be quite mean.”
Preparation to present of theater’s greatest works has understandably been quite intense and pervasive. “This play isn’t just a play you can just shake off (when you leave the rehearsal space),” Card-McCoy says. “I think it’s taken over our lives in a way no other play I’ve ever worked on has. Hamlet demands your full attention. It’s an amazing thing.”
All Sideshow Fringe Festival tickets are $10 with the one-time only purchase of a required $5 Fringe button. The $5 Fringe Button allows guests to purchase tickets to any Fringe show over the 4-day festival as well as gain access to special events and discounts from local businesses. Proceeds from the fringe buttons go to cover festival expenses and to facilitate outdoor free programming and the festival’s workshop series. Fringe six packs are also available. Outdoor festival activities are free to the public. Information and tickets are available at www.sideshowfringe.com or at venues during the festival. For a full schedule that includes events, times and locations click here.
*Photos courtesy GNIMN and Amanda Card-McCoy.