Thursday, August 31, 2017

Meatball Seance

This Fringe show was, um, unique. The festival description says that "John Michael needs your help with his mom's meatball recipe to raise her from the dead so she can meet his new boyfriend. Join JM, as he learns how to have relationships with the living and the dead." Well, that and more. Cooking meatballs on stage, throwing fennel at the audience, drawing people out of the audience "to be my boyfriend," and swizzling beer. Fringe executive director Matthew Kerns made a cameo appearance at the end. You had to be there.

Afterwards, I told John Michael that his enormous smile and the plasticity of his face reminded me of Jerry Lewis. He said that pleased him.    

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Compass Improv


Sorry no post yesterday. **%#@$ work is getting in the way of my photo editing. Anyway, back through the individual Fringe shows. Next up is Compass Improv. These people can do amazing things with their faces and remind us how much of communication is non-verbal. The group is having an improv festival in October. I may have to show up.

I took an improv course years ago. Not fast enough. Photography suits me better.     

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fringe Family Day

Back to the beginning. I'm working my way through the performances at the St. Lou Fringe that still need photos edited. This is from Saturday, August 19, when things were getting rolling. The festival sponsored a Family Day in Strauss Park, the central square of the Grand Center district. Kids hanging out, kids and teens performing, plus top spinner extraordinaire Hiroshi Tada and the Fringe's own Tracy Busalacchi Bono.      

Sunday, August 27, 2017


The St. Lou Fringe Festival ended last night after another great season. I think I'll have enough material to last me until Mrs. C and I get to Moab, Utah in eight days. The show depicted here is Inconceivable, Danielle Marl's one-woman show about the struggles of a woman and her husband with infertility. Even a Wonder Woman shirt didn't help. It included sock puppets of pink, sort of tubular squishy things. Use your imagination.       

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Friday Night Fringe Samples

Out late and home exhausted after Friday night's Fringe shows. And I have to get right back out for today's performances. Briefly:

First three - The Buzzer. A mysterious spirit gives a woman the chance to change three events in her life by pressing a buzzer. The only exception is that death cannot be affected. As always, it wins in the end.

Next three - Time For A Change. It is a drama covering decades of the civil rights struggle, full of violence, justified anger and hope.

Last two: Power and Self with young stand-up comic Stryker Spurlock. Raw, hillarious and full of the unexpected.

Lots more to come.   

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Song For Vanya 2

There was a song written in 1930 by George and Ira Gershwin called But Not For Me. You might have heard it. Ella Fitzgerald won a Grammy in 1960 for her performance of it. It's a sad tune. The opening line goes, They're writing songs of love, but not for me. The verse continues:
With love to lead the way
I've found more clouds of gray
Than any Russian play could guarantee.
And hence Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. If you don't know it, read the plot summary. These people are severely bummed out (except, perhaps, during the song in this production in praise of vodka. But we know where that gets you.) The Fringe's A Song For Vanya exquisitely portrays the rural bleakness but you don't leave the theater whistling any of its tunes. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Best Teacher Ever

I went through 19 years of formal education plus innumerable classes, programs and seminars in later years. Over all that time, one teacher stands out as the best I've ever had, Bobbi Lane. She is a professional photographer and educator based near Boston. Ten years ago, I took her intensive week-long course in portrait photography at the Maine Media Workshops, where  I've received most of my training. She blew me away. I learned more than I can describe. To use a common expression, the program took my photography to a new level and, in some ways, changed my life.

She was in St. Louis last night doing a program on portrait lighting sponsored by Fujifilm cameras. It was such a delight to see her again. If you are serious about photography and ever have a chance to take one of her workshops, you owe it to yourself to go.      

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Song For Vanya 1

Lights are on again. Back to The Fringe.

One of the festival's major works is a new play with music, A Song For Vanya,  based on Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. It was directed by none other than Matthew Kerns, the Fringe's head guy (like he needs something else to do). 

You can read a plot summary by clicking the link. It is bleak, with flashes of humor. The songs, accompanied by a keyboard, cello and woodwinds, add to the ennui. Like Snow White, the show was performed in the newly remodeled Grandel Theater, a 650-seat gem. The lighting is fabulous, perfect for photography. It made my job a lot easier.     

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Eclipse

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Fringe programming for the following special report:

The weather forecast was dicey: partly cloudy, a chance of showers. Some friends who have a country house between St. Clair and Sullivan hosted a big viewing party. It was an ideal location. Clouds started to pass by before the eclipse began, creating anxiety. Then it cleared, leaving nearly perfect conditions. The experience was mystical.

The pink-purple spots at about 1 and 4 o'clock in the first photo are Bailey beads, sunlight refracted around mountains and valleys at the moon's edge. The color shows the presence of helium when run through a spectrograph and proved the existence of that element in the sun.

We heard that you could use a kitchen colander like a multi-eyed pinhole camera. It works.

Monday, August 21, 2017

On The Exhale

Elizabeth Ann Townsend was the sensation of the 2016 Fringe in her one-woman play, Count Time. She is back this year in On The Exhale, playing the role of the mother of a second grader murdered in a Sandy Hook-type massacre. In her grief, she is drawn to the awful weapon that killed her son and actually buys one. The semi-automatic weapon, which has a fierce recoil, is best fired on the exhale. She comes to suspect that when it comes to gun violence, we're all part of the problem. Powerful stuff.              

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Snow White

I took pictures at four shows yesterday plus the outdoor family day activities and kinda went overboard. The big event was ERA Theatre's Snow White, which was quite a spin on the Disney and Brothers Grimm versions. Snow White herself dresses in passionate red. There is an evil stepsister who doesn't have a good bone in her body and a bubble-blowing prince charming. Oh, and seven very tall dwarves. And a gigantic fruit salad. And a plot twist at the end.

It was a visual candy store. So many more good shots I could edit. But it's back to work at the festival for me shortly.