Boulder International Fringe Festival

A List of Linky Linkishness

It’s been a while since one of these, eh lovely lurkers?

A Critical Praising of Sex in the City

As the S.O. said, isn’t this story begging for a movie?

Boulder Fringe Fest Artist Lineup 2017

A History of the C-word

Denver Comic Con 2017 (yes, I’ll be presenting there with Page 23)

Seriously, Should a Woman Play Hamlet?

And, finally, an image and a video clip of Boulder Burlesque’s pre-show performance from the Allen Ginsberg birthday bash the other day. Please to enjoy.

ginsbergbitches

How surreal is this? The ol’ perv would’ve approved, methinks…

 

Not that I’m on a break now or anything…

…but the peeps that are finished with their semesters, I have finished as well. Finally. As I said, lots and lots and lots (and lots) of research papers. I just might (might, mind you) have a half a handle on the new 8th edition of MLA format at this point. Might.

18582290_10155432990898028_6479972419694655595_nWhat else is on my plate? Well, I presented at the Teaching and Learning With Technology conference over at Front Range yesterday, which was pretty fun. Had a good, inquisitive audience that had more questions afterwards and cornered me at other sessions and stuff too. It was called “Video Killed the Paper Star” and covered a few innovative ways that assigning videos to students in lieu of papers can be a fruitful endeavor. I may do a little mini-article about it here, so stay tuned. Anyway, got to share a bunch of those grammar videos you’ve seen here, and some old reading responses in video form, especially Nate’s old ones from Advanced Stage Combat back in the day. His were so creative and thoughtful and it made me miss all you Stage Combat Club guys: Nate and Scott and Nick and Chris, Paul, and Geri, and the others that came in and out…(sniff)…

I also went to the opera recently with The S.O. and I was amused to find that I knew exactly where all those swords were from, and mused that they all needed a little coaching as far as handling them went (fight scenes though there were none). I also was shocked at the rust that has somehow coated my Schmooze Nozzle, which I guess goes to show that if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’m polishing my charisma these days. If you run into me, force me to give you an  elevator pitch or something, would ya? Help me get back in shape.

Writing wise, I’m still doing stuff for YourBoulder.com, mainly their weekend round up thingies. It’s a fun gig, and a paid one, so I’m happy about that. The other blog I’m writing with The S.O. is also a very fulfilling project–it’s a style of personal writing I’m not super familiar with, but the pieces there are really, really good. It’s nice to have a quasi-journalling habit again, and him being such a good writer himself, it’s also nice to have a high bar to have to live up to. Write up to. You know what I mean…

Now I do have one breath before the new wave of stuff begins. During that deep breath, I will still be working closely with DU folks on their Capstones, and also working with a new batch of Regis peeps too: Children’s Lit, Editing Fiction, and Editing Non-Fiction is on my platter there.

After I take the breath, it’ll be time for summer at FRCC (two Comp 1 courses) and at Boulder_FringeMetro (an online Staging Cultures class). It’ll also be time for the first summer theatrical gigs to begin: early June I’ll be dancing with Boulder Burlesque, mid-June I may be dancing with Bronze Fox Burlesque, and late June is Denver Comic Con, where I will be presenting The Fight is the Story again, but I’ll keep you up on those things when we get closer to time. After that, I’ve got stage combat at the LDT and burlesque at the Fringe Fest to look forward to, amidst who knows indeed what else will pop up.

So there you go: the update on the workload. Now back to it.

5 5ths of Labyrinth:reflection

The Boulder Fringe Fest posted the video of this summer’s 5 5ths production: Labyrinth. I appear in the 4th and 5th 5th of this crazy piece. Have fun, and remember how low quality filming a live show can be. And how costume malfunctions can make for comedy, if one is well trained enough not to lose one’s cool when things mess up…

BIFF Review #4: Mysto the Magi

Fringe Fest Review #4: Mysto the Magi

Review by Jenn Zuko

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Ta-daaa……or ta-don’t.

Those of you that know me personally know that I love watching Columbo. You know, that fantastic police procedural featuring the rumple-coated detective who disarms his 1970s murderers with low status strategy? Well, my favorite episode has got to be “Now You See Him,” wherein Jack Cassidy plays a suave stage magician who kills his blackmailer while in the middle of a grand illusion. This ep is so fun largely because of the cheesiness of the magic tricks they show. Obviously Cassidy is an actor and not a magician so when we clearly see The Great Santini place a scarf in Columbo’s pocket before “magically” pulling it out, we can be a forgiving audience. And when we might roll our eyes at the cheesiness of the thimble trick, or him pulling playing cards out of Columbo’s suit, we can suspend our disbelief.

When I am told via postcard and website, however, that I have never had more fun than at this magic show, and that the magician in question has been in professional practice for 30+ years, won awards, and etc., I am not likely to be such a forgiving audience when I witness clumsily performed tricks clearly taken from magic kits. When the person I attended the Mysto Mysto show with could clearly see the playing cards clipped inside Mysto’s jacket, when Mysto dropped props to the floor left and right, stumbled over awkward patter, and when it’s like pulling teeth to get anyone from the tiny audience (in the hot, stuffy room) to join him onstage, and finally, when objects are clearly visible palmed in his hands, I find myself surreptitiously looking at my watch to see if the show is over yet.

That sounds, harsh, yes I’ll admit it. What I also noticed about Mysto’s show, though,  is that a good number of people in the audience were enjoying themselves hugely. They were having a fantastic time, and were delighted by what they saw. So, you can chalk this review up to a jaded audience member if you so choose. However, this reviewer can’t recommend the Mysto show based on what I experienced. Sorry.

RATING: 2 stars out of 5

BIFF Review #3: EllieIda

Fringe Fest Review #3: EllieIdaReview by Jenn Zuko

Wow!! 

Okay, so, if I had been teaching my Stage Movement class at this time, I would have demanded, nay, required all my students to witness EllieIda. Why? Because this show, and especially these two actors’ performing this show, epitomize the concept of physical characterization. Let me explain:

Two women perform eight roles in this show. And of those eight, two of them span ages in a way that Ian McKellen’s Sherlock Holmes barely rivals. And the show does not take place in chronological order, oh no. The plot jumps back and forth in time from flashback to silent film slapstick to the two central characters at age 100, drinking and fighting over the remote in a physical way that only very highly trained clowning skill can achieve. What makes this show even more astonishing is the fact that, as an audience, you know each character immediately and thoroughly, not because the two actors change costume and makeup and hair in the blink of an eye, no. Because they both embody each character completely using posture, gesture, facial expression, and voice. In some scenes, each woman plays both the central characters and a third character, switching back and forth in a way that anyone less physically well trained would render confusing as all get out. This audience isn’t confused, though, because the physical characterization is so spot on, we know exactly who we’re looking at, even though the other actor was just playing her literally seconds ago.

image from the Boulder Fringe Fest website.


I’m trying my best, in each show review, to find something that could use improvement. You know, just to be totally honest and not be *that* reviewer that does nothing but glow and rave. I’m having trouble finding something less than positive to say about EllieIda though. Oh wait, I know!: as a stage combat professional and fight director, I do have issue with the use of the full-contact slap to the face. Even in a teensy, intimate space such as the CDC, I never think that the “authenticity” of contact slaps are worth the risk. And yet, having said that, I could see very clearly that neither woman was at all being unsafe, and the slaps did not a) stop the action with being too discombobulating, or b) look fake, with flinches, too-quiet sounds, etc. So. Maybe this is the exception to my slap rule? Naw, I’ll never succumb…..

Bottom line? As you may guess, I absolutely highly recommend EllieIda. If you have to be selective, or miss any of the shows at the Fringe, do not let yourself miss out on this one.

RATING: 5 stars out of 5.

For more of these (and other) performances, go to Boulder Fringe.

BIFF Review #2: Love and Loss

Fringe Fest Review #2: Love and Loss

Review by Jenn Zuko


The audience files in, quietly, taking in the beauty of the church sanctuary, admiring the peaked, mullioned windows and the propensity of warm wooden surfaces everywhere: floors, wall sconces, pews. The audience spaces itself out in said wooden pews, knees resting inches from Bibles, hymn books moved aside to have room to sit. After a brief pause, as the congregation admires the near-sunset sunshine, streaming in from the translucent windows, a lean, lacy-legged woman strides out onstage in impossibly high heels that tie up her leg, and awkwardly cracks a whip down center. Smiling easily, she tries another couple of times before getting a really satisfying crakk! sound, and the audience shows its approval with startled but delighted applause. She greets us, and remarks that it always takes a few tries with those things…

The woman is Madame Merci, the emcee of Boulder Burlesque’s evening called Love and Loss. She serves as an anchor of sorts throughout the hour of sexy dance pieces, and though she does perform a couple of times herself, is more the travel guide for us through the journey of powerful sexuality, sensuality, beauty, and exploration. A strip club this is not, as the evening as a whole stays under the theme of the title, Mme. Merci narrates for us in between each piece (between autobiographical anecdotes, brief performer bios, philosophical ruminations on the burlesque arts, and more), and the dancers are both less nude and more sexual than you’ll find at a strip joint. 

Things that stand out about this group include Merci herself, as she opens the evening discussing the fact that we are in a church, that in some countries doing such a thing would be punishable by death. To be reminded of privilege is a very good thing, and Merci proceeded to give the audience permission, for many things, throughout the evening. The performances were lovely, with ladies and gentlemen of various body types and shades, which again was nice to see: a much wider spectrum of real sexy beauty than one would normally find in a strip club. What was missing a little for me was the high level of dance ability I (for some reason) came expecting. Sexy and fun, lovely and creative they all were, but technical excellence in dance I didn’t find. Thing is, that’s really not the point of this show. At all. 

And there was audience participation. Not only the catcalls and applause, which were much whip-encouraged by Merci, but in one group dance, any audience members that felt the impulse were allowed up on stage in whatever state of undress they felt comfortable in, to join the dancers in one very tribal piece. 

Overall, I recommend Love and Loss wholeheartedly. It’s a lovely, sexy, fun, heckuva time. 

RATING: 4.5 stars out of 5

For more performances and tickets, visit the Boulder Fringe Festival website.

P.S. You may be asking yourselves, lovely lurkers, if I went up onstage myself in that group/audience piece. Do you need to ask, really? 

BIFF Review #1: Grimm’s Tales

Fringe Fest Review #1: Grimm Tales

Review by Jenn Zuko



Storytelling is one of those theatrical forms that is not as well known or certainly as commonly practiced as others today. I’m not sure why that is, unless it’s a matter of the general public misunderstanding the art as something only old lady librarians or tribal shamans do. Truth be told, the art of storytelling is one of the richest practices one can experience, on either side of the stage (and I’ve been both places, readers, so I should know). Stories With Spirit is the first Fringe group I was able to enjoy at this year’s festival, and I couldn’t have been happier with what I saw.

Rachel Ann and Cooper are not reciting text verbatim from a script. They’re not acting out scenes and dialogue together. Nope, they are telling the story, in their words, not because they know their lines, but because they know their stories, and this makes all the difference in good storytelling. They have chosen a variety of tales from the Brothers Grimm that span from the bizarre (a bird, a mouse, and a bratwurst living together?) to the dark (innocently murderous children, or are they?) to the familiar but not so familiar (a delightful run on commentary on an old version of Cinderella). Cooper, in particular, has a near-perfect blend of the comfortably natural and the powerful actor in his delivery, and to see him walk downstage as the angry, fooled-thrice Devil himself is enough to send delightful goosebumps up the arms.

One little thing that I did wish: I had hoped they would treat at least one of their longer stories the way they did their 5th of the Princess Bride last year: telling the story together, as a pair. This show consists of them trading off stories back and forth, which was great, don’t get me wrong, I just would have liked…maybe the last one, about the hunchback and the Princess, to be done together, instead of one at a time. Totally not a criticism, however, they’re both compelling to listen to, and it’s easy to become transported to these strange varied worlds. Though you may have told some versions of Grimm’s tales to your children, I wouldn’t bring very young ones to this show–another common misconception of storytelling is that it’s just for kids. This well-curated collection of gruesome, compelling tales well told is not. 


RATING: 5 stars out of 5

Find the rest of these performances at Boulder Fringe

A Link a Day Keeps the Brain…Happy…

…eh I’m not up for the rhyming cliches today, lovely lurkers. I do have a Very Special Link List ™ for you today, though. Happy reading!

Ten hand-to-hand combat myths writers need to stop using. Because it’s rare to find an article like this focused on the writing, not necessarily the direction or acting.

My Mom’s new blog.

Behind the Scenes of Daredevil’s Stunts–this show just continues to excel in the action sequence area.

One of the performances I’m gearing up for: my presentation The Fight is the Story over at Denver Comic Con.

The silliness that is the Walking Dead’s Red Nose Day sketch. “If only we cold do something…lighter…”

The very soon upcoming event, The Five 5ths of Labyrinth, benefiting the Boulder Fringe Fest. Gotta go to rehearsal for this right about now, actually…

Jareth-the-Goblin-King

Look what I’m offering you. Your dreams….

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