Theater is the core of the Classic City Fringe Festival. Just as chemistry is is often called the “central science,” because all other sciences draw from it, theater is the artistic form that connects to all others. Music, dance, acting, film, spoken word, sound sculpture, carpentry, painting, design, makeup, prop-making, lighting, writing, puppetry, special effects, acrobatics, and so many other art forms find a comfortable home in the realm of Theater.
Theater brings people together in ways that are much more personal than many of the other modern art forms. Yes, theater is a modern art form, always growing and evolving, keeping pace with social changes and technology. Many of us have heard people say that the theater is dead, and with the productions presented this year we can see this could not be further from the truth. The potency of looking into another human’s eyes and connecting will never become a thing of the past because it is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. We come to know ourselves and others more fully through these experiences, and so the need for these connections is intimately intertwined with the theatrical experience. So experience it for yourself. Connect to someone that is in the same room as you. Learn about your community and be entertained in the process!
This year we welcome four original plays, all written by local playwrights. We are especially excited that most of these shows are being produced for the very first time ever. In fact, much of this content is the result of the Athens Playwrights’ Workshop led by UGA professor John Patrick Bray, who is the writer of “Friendly’s Fire”. This special One-Night ONLY show from The Athens Playwrights’ Workshop and UGA Department of Theatre and Film Studies can be seen for the first time ever on opening night of the CCFF. The Athens Playwright’s Workshop is a writer-centered playwriting group that meets every other Monday evening during the academic year. They have developed plays that have been produced by student groups at UGA and beyond. Members include students, faculty, staff, and community members. This 90 minute play centers around “Guy Friendly, a Gulf War veteran and bee-herder, who has just had a tooth stolen during casual sex. His best friend Todd, a pawn-shop owner dressed as an astronaut, finds Friendly in a fevered state. Trapped by the snow in a cabin in Alaska, Todd has little choice but enter Friendly’s fevered dream, to unravel the events of the night before – and the events of the Gulf War that led Friendly to becoming a shut-in.” Did you see the reading of “Friendly’s Fire” at Flicker Theater recently? Well now you get the chance to see the actual play, so don’t miss this show.
The one man 35 minute performance entitled “Bo-Jangles” by Marlon Burnley, explores the African American experience. This performance, while comfortably falling into the category of Theater, actually involves many more art forms by incorporating “Dance/Movement, Performance Art, Comedy, and Multi-media” as well. “Through the use of masks, a man is able to embody and trace the steps of blacks from the slave era dating all the way to current day America. Through this experience he gains insight and understanding as to why frustrations have grown within the black community. This performance is not only meant to entertain, but also to educate audiences.”
“Casus Belli” by Steven A Grainger is a 25 minute production about “one man’s story of his experiences in a tragedy a whole nation felt. A first person account of living through a tragedy as one man tries to survive while the world around him falls apart.” This performance is a workshop production and the first staging of this play, so we are very excited to be debuting it at the CCFF 2016!
Yet another production being presented on opening night at the UGA Fine Arts Department theater, is the 75 minute piece entitled “From Burning” by Mariah Manoylov. In this play we see: “People are forests, people are fires.” But how does the 1988 Forest Fire of Yellowstone, one of the biggest natural fires in the world, relate to four people stranded in Yellowstone while it burned? To answer this the Narrator gives an ecology lecture, but to make things more interesting they use Marly, Vanessa, Steven, and Ezekiel to portray the ecological concept of succession, or how an ecosystem gains complexity. We see a forest grow between these four people. Their relationship deepens, secrets come out. Things get too deep. Then, Just like in Yellowstone, a devastation occurs, but just like with forests, regrowth is possible after destruction!