Indyfringe Theater Festival has been growing by a steady 2000 attendees every

year since its inception in 2006. Fifty-eight theater groups will perform

nearly 300 shows across ten days, starting Aug. 19. Now boasting new talent, a

new venue and a brand new office, Indiana's favorite performance art festival

is sure to make an even bigger impact on the Indianapolis theater community.


always, 100% of the box office proceeds go directly to the performers

themselves. The festival starts off with a bang on Thursday, Aug. 19from

6-10 p.m. at the Indyfringe Opening Night Carnival at the Indianapolis

Firefighters Museum at 748 Mass Ave (admission to the carnival is free).




Fringe organizers and performers have always been known for their eclectic

tastes in performance art — in the past spanning from cross-dressing

magic shows to physical comedy and dark drama — a few themes have emerged

from this year's selection.


enough, there's a lot of shows with Jesus in them this year," says Pauline

Moffat, Executive Director of the festival. Three shows, to be exact: Jesus,

Shakespeare, and Lincoln Walk into a Bar,

a comedic 'what if' of epic proportions; Hurry Up, Jesus!, a farcical examination of the world's need for

faith; and Teen Jesus, a humorous

projection of the prophet's awkward high schools years


structure of this year's Fringe is marked by a number of important changes in

both the organization of the event and its venues. One striking change is the

elimination, or more accurately the consolidation, of Fringe Next — the

festival's high school-produced section.


years ago it was brought about as Fringe for high school students, giving them

the foundations for their work," says Moffat. "Well, after four years they

asked not be identified as a part of Fringe Next. Now they're going

head-to-head [with all other Fringe performers.] I think it's fantastic because

some of them are really quite excellent."


support for the high school students has been strong in the past, both within

the Fringe community and audiences, a push to be taken more seriously has

dictated the change. The audiences will have no clue whether they're watching

students or professionals.


think it will add a lot of great dynamics," says Moffat. "It will show that

they'll be judged solely on their merit as opposed to whether or not they are



new theater space


ever-growing attendance in the festival has led to the addition of a brand new

theater space, the Marian Underground. "[The building is] a former school on

New Jersey, but most people remember it as Essential Edibles, a former

vegetarian restaurant. We've run out of theater space on Mass Ave and this is

within walking distance of the other theaters. It will seat 100 and be



expansion of the Fringe has been done out of necessity, growing to meet the

demands of larger audiences. "We have a rule of thumb that if the average

attendance of the shows drops below 40, there's no real point in trying to

expand the festival," says Moffat. "We've had between 48 and 53 people per show

for the last two years. I don't want to just grow for the sake of growing, but

we've been able to comfortably expand."


making its second appearance is the renovated Indyfringe building. "We had it

completely renovated a year ago," says Moffat. "We did it little bits at a

time, in between rehearsals and shows."


building is now completely revamped with sound and light systems and plenty of

seating. Some whimsical elements of the building's former interior still

remain, including part of a large painting of a nude man right behind the

stage. Only his head is still visible, adding an interesting, dated dimension

to an otherwise fresh-looking theater space.


been there for a while, but the previous owner painted over the good parts and

left the head," Moffat jokes. "But we like it in the background, just visible

over the curtain."


in the streets


addition to the new and revamped venues, street theater has been given a new

vitality this year. "Street theater is programmed this year. Know No Stranger

will be hitting it up along with some of our other street performers who have

been with us for years now. We try to ramp it up every year and we hope that

the city will embrace street theater as an art form," says Moffat.


of the push is to help the city's problem with panhandlers, in the hope that

more street talents can be discovered and implemented. "[The panhandlers] will

have to compete with people who are singing or dancing for their supper. Anyone

who wants to embrace their talent can contribute to the street theater."


addition, "Twilight Revelers," Lydia Burris' fantastical painting will not only

grace the posters and covers of Indyfringe guides, but will also be featured as

part of a lightbox installation on the corner of Mass Ave and St. Clair.


no description of Indyfringe would be complete without a mention of the outdoor

tent, featuring music and entertainment every night of the festival. "The

Fringe tent is going to be great this year," says Moffat. "We've partnered with

Indypride, who everyone knows can throw a real party. One of the things we realize

as we mature is that our partnerships are important to us and that we need to

do things better every year.


spawned a small, vibrant theater community in this city through the Fringe

because we want the performers to stay here," adds Moffat. "They're dedicated.

They know they can come here and take advantage of it. They know they can put

on a great show here."


rotting in the state of Denmark: "Ophelia's Revenge"


by Josefa Beyer


everyone dies by the end of Hamlet,

but that doesn't have to stop the fun. In a new, comic-horror play borrowing

Shakespeare's characters, the moody dead prince becomes the King of the



Indianapolis playwrights behind Ophelia's Revenge, premiering at the Fringe this week, are Kevin Burgun

and Maria Meschi. They first met as performers in Rosencrantz and

Guildenstern Are Dead, in which Tom

Stoppard re-imagines Hamlet through the eyes of two very minor characters.

Backstage, Burgun and Meschi spent down time with the actress playing Ophelia,

a role with little dialogue that ends with the character's suicide. The only

way to get Ophelia more lines, the cast mates joked, was to bring her back from

the dead.


evolved into how to make Ophelia a central character and a strong character,

not a weeping woman, pining over Hamlet," says Meschi, a first time playwright

and member of the Irvington theater troupe Q Artistry. The play she developed

with Burgun takes on a quasi-feminist bent as Ophelia enlists two other

Shakespearean heroines — Juliet and Lady MacBeth — to avenge her

father's death and defeat the zombies. Meschi hopes audiences will re-think the

way Shakespeare portrayed women and enjoy their re-working of his soliloquies,

which are repeatedly interrupted by zombies noshing on human necks.


Shakespeare and there are zombies," says Burgun, who also directs. "How can

that not be fun?" Although the play was inspired by Stoppard's work, the

writing team was emboldened by the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and

Zombies and Abraham Lincoln:

Vampire Hunter, recent novels that

pit classic heroes against the undead.


they wrote, an unintended superhero theme emerged. Burgun and Meschi wanted to

give their three leading ladies strengths that Shakespeare didn't. Rather than

making their mark on the theatrical world through relationships with men, here

Ophelia, Juliet, and "Beth" each have unique powers—one, for instance,

has a deadly sexuality-- to use against the dark forces. Costumed by Meschi,

the ladies start out in traditional medieval gowns that morph into

superhero-like costumes for battle scenes. One Fringe previewer dubbed the play

"a combination of Shakespeare and Marvel Comics."


Revenge, says Meschi, was a good fit

for Q Artistry, which formed in 2007 to produce original works, including

re-imagined classics. However, the troupe had dedicated this fall to the second

Halloween run of their gothic musical Cabaret Poe. In order to produce Ophelia's Revenge this year, Burgun and Meschi applied for a Fringe spot

as Plagued Productions. Burgun, a high school teacher, had previously directed

three teen productions in Fringe Next. This year, as youth productions merge

into the main Fringe line-up, he will have two productions in cycle: Ophelia's

Revenge, largely with Q Artistry

talent, and Hostage, with teen



a teacher, Burgun is well versed in interpreting the Bard for captive

audiences. He thinks Ophelia's Revenge has the right mix of Elizabethan wordplay and horror high jinx to hold

the attention of Shakespeare buffs and newbies alike.He would even recommend it for his students, as long as they

don't start their SAT essays with "When Ophelia rose from the dead..."

No playing

safe: Deborah Asante's first IndyFringe

Story by David



IndyFringe Festival includes a few firsts in terms of performers and programs.

Among the most eagerly anticipated firsts at this year's festival will be

hometown favorite Deborah Asante's one-woman show, Deep In Love.

For over 20

years, Asante has built a reputation as one of Indiana's most creative

storytellers. She is also embarking on her 21st season as founding

Artistic Director of the Asante Children's Theatre.


from the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, Asante has been awarded the Aesop Cup

For Tall Tales by the National Association of Black Storytellers and has been

named breakthrough Woman in the Arts and Culture by the National Coalition of

100 Black Women.

Despite her

involvement in children's theater, this next show will be a little bit

different. Deep In Love,

a show Asante says is for "adults only," got its start through a Frank Basile

Emerging Stories Fellowship she received from Storytelling Arts of Indiana. Her

original concept involved asking a group of women to share their love stories

as a source of inspiration in crafting a piece about self empowerment called Enough


"They were

telling stories to inspire me," says Asante. But the group process proved to be

more inhibiting than she anticipated. "The women were not as open as you would

think," she says. "The whole point for me is to tell with an abandonment.

That's the flavor I wanted to bring to the show. I wanted to bring it to you

like a gasp."


performing the piece, Asante realized she wanted to broaden her concept. "I

wanted more variety. My concept deepened."

Deep In

Love received its first

performance a year ago at the Indianapolis Art Center. Vincent Howard, the

pianist who accompanied Asante for that piece, will be back to lend his

blues-inflected interludes to her Fringe shows, which Asante promises will be

different each time out.

For Asante,

part of the appeal of playing the Fringe is the opportunity to perform before

an adult audience. "That's part of the excitement. It irks me when I tell

people I'm a storyteller and they automatically assume that I only tell to

children. I am not the birthday storyteller. That's why I put in my title, Love

Stories for Adults Only.

It is not new for me to tell sexy stories. I grew up telling them."

Asante recalls

that when she was in fourth grade, she found herself stuck in detention with

two boys. "I was in a situation where I felt in jeopardy. The teacher left the

room and those boys were bullying me. I started telling the stories and I

watched their reactions. I had to take it up a notch because they were not

trying to enjoy my story. So I got sexual with it, started telling stuff about

girls. That's when I thought, 'I have hit the jackpot!' I saw them freeze. They

were captivated. That's the first erotic story I told and those guys left me

alone because they were sitting there, listening to me."

For Asante,

storytelling constitutes a kind of power. "Storytelling has always been some

way of connecting myself or becoming the focal point by being able to speak at

a certain level that was not allowed to me at my age."

Asante looks

forward to expanding her boundaries at this year's Fringe. To that end, she's

been both adapting her repertoire and creating new work to possibly premier

during her run, including a sequence of short monologues "about being aware of

somebody being sexual, but it's not your experience," she says. "A neighbor,

the people next door...a little kid hearing their parents."

Asante views

her Fringe performances as an opportunity. "I've looked at this show as a

liberating force anyway. But then to be part of the Fringe! It's not that the

stories are vulgar, but they're adult concepts, and if I can feel the comfort

in the audience, I am going to do some erotica. That's part of the draw of an

adult audience for me. To be able to speak in terms of your adult experiences

and being who I am now: A woman who is confident, who's lived a varied


The character

of the audience for any given show will have a lot to do with what Asante

chooses to present. "You have an exchange – it's a conversation with the

audience. You never tell the same story twice. It all depends on who is

listening and how they respond. You go deeper one place if the audience yearns

for it. Or you skip over and go someplace else. You can feel them."

Asante looks

forward to being part of the community of artists participating in this year's

IndyFringe. "Being in that community of artists is very exciting to me. I'm

hoping that the energy drives me to stretch. That's what I'm trying to do, not

just play it safe."


[very] sexual content: Boy in the Basement

Story by Jeff Cox

The Wisdom Tooth Theatre

Project has been involved with Indyfringe in some form or another since the

festival's inception in 2006. This year, the Anderson University-based troupe

returns with Boy in the Basement, a darkly-comic

play by New York-based playwright Katharine Heller.

In it, four women discover a

man burglarizing their house and decide to keep him trapped in the basement

until they figure out what to do with him. Problems arise when each of the

women — a dominatrix, a hippie, a cynical sex pot, and a Christian pig

farmer's daughter — has a different take on how to pay the intruder back.

Plenty of raunchy surprises keep the dialogue fresh and interesting, while the

energetic performers set a quick pace.

Boy in the Basement was part of the New York City Fringe two years ago,

where it won several audience choice awards and was extended into the

festival's Encore series. Callie Burk, this production's director, was drawn to

the play initially through her friendship with the playwright.

"When I was asked to direct a

Fringe show I immediately thought of Katharine's play and asked if I could

bring a little more New York City here," she says. The show aims to appeal not

only to those who frequent the theater circuit, but fans of other kinds of

comedy as well.

"We really wanted to try to

market this play to different groups of people than just regular

theater-goers," says Burk, an instructor at Anderson University. "We want all

different kinds of people to come see it."

Its immediate appeal approaches

stand-up at times, but the play at its core offers the best elements of sketch

comedy. The scenes are repeated and polished during rehearsals, but no two

renditions are the same. The play performs like fixed-dialogue improvisation.

"There's some improv in there,

but it's mostly just physical improv," observes one of the actresses. "We

changed around a word or two here and there, but mostly it's just as written."

Much of the actors' physical

improvisation occurs when the play's narrator is speaking. As the narrator is

describing the scene's actions in detail — like the narration of a comic

book — the actors are free to tweak their actions as they see fit for the


"You have to go at it with your

own style," says Burk. "It's a play about sexuality and sexuality is something

that's very individual. Everyone responds to it differently. Everyone brings

their different talents to this show."

The slapstick sex in the play

certainly seems to be one of the major aspects of the show's marketing. "It's a

play that features sex slaves and unicorns," says one of the actresses. "Who

wouldn't want to come see that?"

The raunchiness comes with

caveats, of course. "I would say it's definitely a show for only the most mature

of children," warns Burk.

Parents should be aware it

features both adult language and [very] sexual content.


Outdoor Stage

Sponsored by

Reverie Estates, August 20 – 21 & 26 – 28;

Thursday/Friday/Saturday 6-11 p.m. Located at College & Mass Ave outside

the Indianapolis Historic Fire Museum and Memorial, 748 Mass Ave.

with festival Backer Button or $1 with wrist band.

ClubFringe will feature

live music, dancing, DJs, performance artists and more. The social hotspot will

be the place for all Fringe goers to stop by and get a drink with performers or

a bite to eat from Hoaglin Catering. Entertainment programmed by Indy Pride,

NUVO & IndyFringe.

Thurs Aug 19

- Opening Night Carnival


Come early to get your seat, drink and food


Fringe Festival Kickoff and Previews


10:00 Fringe Carnival Fun!


Open all night long!

Fri Aug 2


p.m. Tonos Triad


p.m. Walk the Moon


p.m. Mark Alexander


p.m. Brandon Whyde

Sat Aug 21



Thurs, Aug 26

- Sponsored by Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce


p.m. Back Action


p.m. The Last Domino


p.m. Fundamentalists


p.m. Neon Love Life

Fri, August



p.m. Night Jar


p.m. The Working Hour


p.m. DJ Logan


p.m. IndyPride Bag Ladies

Sat, August



& Indy Cog Night - Extra perks for bike riders!


p.m. Motus Dance Theatre


p.m. Foreal Art Breakdancers


p.m. DJ Kyle Long and Artur Silva


Graffiti Pit all night long!


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