Fringe Festival Will Be Pure Theater
By Jesús Aguado
The only bilingual Fringe Festival in Latin America returns this year and will present 22 works of alternative theater with musicians, actors, actresses, and dancers from seven countries. The festival will be impressive. It is targeted to diverse audiences with interests in alternative theater that can be performed even in spaces where the entire family is having a good time during a picnic. The Fringe Festival will take place from February 20 through February 28.
This theater festival emerged in 2013 on the fringe (edge) of the Cervantino Festival and presented 28 plays in conventional, as well as completely unexpected, venues. It also registered attendance of more than 1,300 people who enjoyed plays, cabaret, puppet shows, and improvisation. In 2014 the organizers decided to take a break to consolidate the structure and prepare a more mature festival with well-known performers who will have the challenge of making it stronger, not just in the country (it is the only Fringe Festival in Mexico), but in the world. This year, the organizers are working in co-productions, incubating plays that will be performed during the festival.
Kate Lowenstein, director of the Fringe San Miguel, commented that the festival is directed by an independent organization and does not receive public funds. It is also the first project of the San Miguel Center for Contemporary Arts. “We want to be an artistic organization, important in and for the city for developing scenic arts,” highlighted Lowenstein, who also said that this is the reason why they are working with Fringe Laboratory, a project that happens during the nine days of the festival, offering acting, dancing, and cabaret workshops. The organization also works in co-production to create new plays that are later presented in the festival. In 2014, through this project they ended up with El Año de Ricardo, a play that was successfully presented in San Miguel, Querétaro, and México City in 2014. This year, the play will be presented again.
Theater and more theater
On February 20 at 8:30pm the Fringe Festival will open with the play Desde el Callejón (From the Narrow Street) at El Sindicato. This is a co-production with playwright Erando González, who is also an actor in the play. The dazzling musical comedy has a cast of three actors and five musicians, done with a Latin rhythm. The comedy is inspired by the celebrated The Beggar’s Opera, with inspiration from Bertold Brecht, José Caballero, and Raymond Chandler. Instead of being situated in the underworld in 19th century London, it is located in the current popular barrio of Tepito (México City). The play is hilarious and thought-provoking. It is in Spanish and will also be presented the next day at the same time.
El Año de Ricardo (Ricardo’s Year) will be performed on February 24 and 28 at 8:30pm at the Teatro Santa Ana. After its premiere in October 2014, it went on to a season in Querétaro and México City. The authors are looking for an international tour in the United States, but in the meantime the play will return to the city.
El Año de Ricardo is an adaptation of the script written by Spaniard Angélica Liddel, whose works are considered the most significant dramatic plays on the modern stage. In the protagonist of this performance, the audience recognizes the portrait painted by Shakespeare in the original version: the manipulator, the monster, the unrepentant murderer crazed for power. However, 400 years later, in Mexico, this new villain does not succumb to his destiny nor to the consequences of his actions. This Ricardo acts with impunity, empowered by money, corporate, corruption, genocide, and demagoguery.
Fringe SMA and Players Workshop have partnered to bring a very special theatrical treat, Murder, Margaret and Me, by Phillip Meeks. Starring the award winning Janet Prince, the show won the 2014 Overall Excellence Award at Fringe NYC. It played to a sold-out run at the world renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was reviewed as “a gem of a production.”
Margaret Rutherford became a legend of the screen through her portrayal of the classic Agatha Christie character, Miss Marple. But Marple was a role Rutherford was frightened to take on, and Christie believed Miss Marple should not be on screen at all, let alone played by Rutherford, “the funniest woman alive.”
Prince’s Rutherford is formidable and funny, yet also curiously childlike and vulnerable, with her stuffed toys and her loving yet eccentric descriptions of life with her husband, Stringer. Janet Prince epitomizes Rutherford’s jolly boisterous personality and embodies the icon we all know and love so well. She dives into the most exciting and intimate moments of Rutherford’s career, taking the audience with her as she investigates the role of Miss Jane Marple, and we witness Rutherford’s growing friendship with the crime writer Agatha Christie, eventually revealing the poignant truths of Rutherford’s past. This work will be performed on Wednesday, February 25, and Thursday, February 26 at 7:30pm, at the San Miguel Play House on Independencia 82. Tickets 150 pesos.
Juana la Larga is a play based on a true story from 19th century Guatemala of a hermaphrodite woman who abuses another woman. Actresses Jesusa Rodríguez and Liliana Felipe are in charge of investigating the crime. It will be performed at the Auditorio Miguel Malo of the Bellas Artes on February 27 at 8:30pm. The Fringe information states, “The use of humor in this show is the vehicle through which the audience can face subjects that are hard to confront, such as sexual discrimination, the trafficking of women and children, or historic violence against women.”
In White Rabbit Red Rabbit, there is no director or rehearsal, and each day it is performed by a different actor or actress. This script was written by Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour, a man who, due to political problems, cannot get out of his country. He decided to write a piece that could travel the world without him. The script will be acted by Mexican popular actors Damian Alcázar and Vicki Araico in Spanish, and in English by actress Dorothy Lyman. Check the program of the Fringe in Festivals and Events of Qué Pasa, or go to www.fringefestival.com
The organizers of the festival also want to give a present to Sanmiguelenses and visitors. They will hold Free Fringe on Sunday, February 22, all day long in the gardens of Centro Cultural Allende on calle Ancha de San Antonio. On this day, the entire family will be able to hare a picnic in the gardens, enjoying food, beverages, and five performances. Two of the plays will be Híbrido, a scenic composition featuring music, dance, and voice from members of Danza Viral, and Cúcara Mácara, which tells the story of two women who are busy with their lives as housewives and suddenly realize that their children are lost. While they are looking for their children, they are secretly competing to demonstrate who is the best mother in the neighborhood. Another presentation for families is El mar más bonito de todos (The Most Beautiful Sea), which tells the story of Marina, a poor girl who works to support her family and has the dream of knowing the sea. She does not want to go to just any sea, so she saves money to visit the most beautiful one. The actor plays a storyteller, animator, clown, and dancer. The entrance to the Free Fringe will be free, and there will be an arts and crafts market, food trucks, and drinks for sale.
The Fringe Festival, which started in Edinburgh in 1947, offers theater, dance, music, and performances for children, many of them free or at reasonable prices. For 60 years the festival has continued to grow and spread to countries around the world. In Edinburgh in 2012, it included more than 2,000 shows in 200 venues.
In 2012, the Encuentro de Teatro (Theater Encounter) was held in El Sindicato, produced by John Morrow. This event, according to executive producer Kate Lowenstein, was so successful that they were motivated to organize a bigger project, the Fringe Festival, which is being described as original, provocative, imaginative, and intrepid. Fringe is theater, dance, puppets, and more. It is a festival with no censure, in which it is easy to participate as a spectator or performer. This event follows the tradition of presenting the untraditional, experimental, and unexpected.