By Byrne Harrison
Most of the New York theatre community knows the big festivals - FringeNYC, NYMF, MITF, Samuel French.
There are many smaller festivals, however, most of which get larger every year. One of my favorites among these is FRIGID New York. Part of this is because of the time of year - winter. It's one of the only festivals in the city at this time of year, a fact that no doubt helps them stand out. The second reason is that FRIGID New York brings in a diverse and interesting group of plays.
Founded by Horse Trade Theater Group in association with San Francisco's EXIT Theatre in 2007, FRIGID New York takes place in three venues (two of which are housed in the same building - the Kraine Theater and the Red Room - with the third, UNDER St. Marks, being a short walk away. The venues are rather small, and the audience has grown by 20% each year since its inception, so it pays to get tickets early.
Drawing on the Canadian Association of Fringe Festival's principle “to provide all artists, emerging and established, with the opportunity to produce their play no matter the content, form or style and to make the event as affordable and accessible as possible for the members of the community,” FRIGID New York is a mix of styles from traditional theatre to dance to improv to readings. While the phrase "something for everyone" gets bandied about a little too much, it is safe to say that the downtown theatre crowd will find plenty to see at this festival.
Here are a few of the shows that sound intriguing (descriptions provided by FRIGID New York). To see a full list, visit the FRIGID New York website.
The shows with the best titles:
Bonne Nuit Poo Poo - Max, Maxi and the Operator fight for their survival in this action-packed comic-erotic end times fantasy featuring live video stream, text, dance and spectacle. Created by Theatre Reverb with script, video and sound by Kristin Arnesen and Radoslaw Konopka.
Ramblings of a Gentleman Scumbag - Lucky Chengs Balloon man, delusional comic, and man of no God tries to justify 34 years of poor life choices and degeneracy. Profiled in Playgirl, FHM Magazine, Time-Out NY Magazine, John Murdock is not your Father’s balloon man. A straight man in a gay world, a feminist in the sex industry, a ridiculous man in a ridiculous world.
Uncorseted - Destinies of a European countess and a humble American chambermaid collide at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Swords of steel penetrate gender norms, true identities are freely explored, and one man discovers it is better to receive than to give.
Green Man - Gavin, a wounded and delirious soldier is taken in by a mysterious stranger. Nursed by the three women of the household–mother, wife and daughter–Gavin becomes entangled in ancient and deadly game of seduction, transgression and vengeance.
Onomatopoeia! - Onomatopoeia! presents clowning and juggling in a brand new light. Three characters present a collection of short scenes, which explore a single idea through physical theater and object manipulation. As the title suggests the only spoken words in the piece will be onomatopoeias!
Fishbowl - Mark Shyzer’s Fishbowl slyly reveals the connections between five outrageously hilarious characters: a nerdy schoolgirl obsessed with physics, a nihilistic teenage hipster, a gin-soaked divorcee, a perky aerobics instructor and an octogenarian with an odd sense of humour… all played by Shyzer.
It or Her - Somewhere between "Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," this provocative dark comedy explores the basement of a suburban home where Andrew has devoted himself unconditionally to his incredible collection of figurines. Suffering the loss of The Red One, he seeks to uncover The Ultimate Arrangement before his hideout is invaded, and his dark secret is revealed.
No Traveler - In a narcissistic attempt to win her family’s attention, Abigail decides to perform the greatest stunt of all- attempted suicide. When her childish venture turns into unexpected reality, Abigail finds herself trapped in purgatory – a warped version of her apartment with two exits. Heaven or Hell. As a result of her foolish mistake, there is atonement and penance to be paid… and time is running out.
Kill the Band - Kill the Band is the original, comedy rock and roll, anti-cabaret! Coinciding with the release of their first concept album, Kill the Band takes you on a cleverly comedic, musically theatrical trip through the band’s breakdowns and breakthrough.
Medea - Medea, suddenly abandoned by her husband Jason, plots her bloody revenge. A beautiful and heartbreaking staging of Euripides’ 2,400-year-old play about love, broken expectations, passion, violence and what happens when we want too much. An original score and puppetry add an artistic twist to this vibrant translation.
Aurelia and Imago - Bombarded by striking images of outer-space, floating petals, racing cars, and many more; Stark takes us on a journey of birth, life and beyond through her signature movement language combining the genuine with the forced. High energy music sets the tone.
Artists we already like:
LATE NIGHTS WITH THE BOYS: confessions of a leather bar chanteuse - With delightful and poignant tales of a Southern Songstress and her gay family, Alex Bond and David Carson read selections from Ms. Bond’s novel and transport you to Dallas 1977, a magical time before HIV/AIDS, but not before ignorance and prejudice. Read the StageBuzz.com interview with Alex Bond here.
tenderpits - tenderpits tells the part-autobiographical, part-fictionalized story of a young man’s immigration from Canada to New York City- and of his realization that he is, in fact, a wizard. From the creators of ART’S HEART (Winner, Outstanding Solo Show FringeNYC 2009) comes a sick new show about identity, magic and armpits.
And don't forget to check out the latenight Canuck Cabaret hosted by Paul Hutcheson. With a tagline like "Canadians Are Warm, Canadians Are Great Guests, Canadians Are F*%#ing Entertaining," how can it not be good?