The first weekend of Fringe Festival is behind us, and unlike last year, when I got to roam around and see show after show and write about everything, this year I was in “Dashboard Dramas III”, the wildly popular and hilariously unconventional show that takes place in cars parked inside the Spiegelgarden.
Less writing time, but way more fun.
It works like this: there are four cars, and each car is the “stage” for a ten minute play. All four plays are happening simultaneously. Two audience members are inside each car, and they rotate from car to car until they’ve seen all four plays in about 50 minutes.
That means that for every show, the cast performs their plays four times. Two shows a day = eight performances. Three shows a day = twelve performances. The show kicked off last Thursday with two shows. Two more on Friday, three each on Saturday and Sunday. When opening weekend was over, we’d all performed our ten minute plays 30 times.
Thirty times a boy band had a meltdown on tour. Thirty times a neurotic woman encountered a homeless woman who convinced her to let go of her fears. Thirty times an Uber driver and a cabbie almost came to blows. Thirty times two aliens made contact under the noses of clueless scientists.
In the heat. In the humidity. In the rain, complete a bit of thunder and lightning for added effect.
It was awesome. Awesome, I tell you!
My role as clueless scientist has me and my cast mate Sara Zavacki Moore walking around the parking lot for four or five minutes, interacting with the people standing around watching from the sidelines, while the other half of our team interacts with the audience inside the car. Sara and I did get drenched, but not half as bad as Adam Petzold and Andy Head who, while dressed in spandex body suits, spent their time crawling acrobatically on and a round our car, or other actors who were dancing outside or rolling around in puddles on the pavement.
The plays are written by the extremely talented Kerry Young, Abby DeVuyst, and Jeff Andrews. Kerry and Abby are in the improv troupe Unleashed Improv!, and Jeff is with sketch comedy troupe Canary in a Coal Mine. “Dashboard Dramas III” is directed by Patricia Lewis Browne, who is also in Unleashed Improv. (And they’re all involved in many other theater productions; like I said, extremely talented.)
Abby and Kerry are also the masterminds behind the hilarious Fringe show “Bushwhacked In Bed”, the new “The Oboe Show”, and last year’s “Hot Tub: The Musical”. Last year at Fringe I told Abby and Kerry that my dream was to someday work with them.
Dream come true.
The cast of Dashboard Dramas III – Eddie Coomber; Kiefer Schenk; Cody Hunt; Ged Owen; Jeff Andrews; Kate Osher; Danny K; Stephanie Siuda; Kristy Angevine-Funderburk; Adam Petzold; Andy Head; Sara Zavacki Moore – is an amazing group of actors from the Rochester area, all of whom have experience in lots of other productions, and many of them are also performing in other Fringe shows. Our stage manager (and resident meteorologist, or, as I call her, the weather witch) is AnneMarie Giannandrea. They’re all very talented, gracious, and friendly. I couldn’t have asked for better people to share my first Fringe experience as an actor.
There are two more days of shows left, on Thursday and Saturday. Even though the show is sold out – with only eight tickets available per show, it was the first show to sell out – if you hang around near the “stage” area you can catch some fun stuff that happens outside of the cars.
Rochester Fringe Festival is about half over, and there’s still lots more to see! Visit the festival website and make sure you sign up for the email list. You’ll get a daily list of everything happening – and a lot of the events are free!
I’ll write more later about the shows I’ve seen. You can read all of the posts from the 2016 Fringe Festival here.