The Fringe Festival is a multi-arts event focusing on performance. In this, its eighth year, it will feature almost 200 acts from around the world in 20 different venues throughout the city.
Participants hope to benefit from the increased exposure that being part of a festival offers. Approximately 900 submissions were received for this year's festival, the largest of its kind in North America.
'Not for the faint of heart'
Kerry Logston, a bartender at Baja in Hoboken, is part of the all female comedy troupe Bitches Funny, who are debuting their show Cows Gone Wild at the Greenwich Street Theater. The show consists of 25 sketches of "Pure comedic gold," as actress Eileen O'Connell humbly describes it.
Mel Salvatore and Missy Pyle were working as actresses in Los Angeles when they founded Bitches Funny in 1999.
"We were unsatisfied with the art scene in L.A.," said Salvatore. "We didn't feel like we had a form of expression, so we pulled together the prettiest and most talented actresses that we knew."
The group performed regularly at the Comedy Store on Sunset and Second City in Los Angeles before moving to New York City in 2003, where they pulled together the current cast.
The sketches cover such topics as the sexual objectification of farm animals, racism, gender identity, the Bush Presidency, the mistreatment of the physically challenged, Islam, and coffee.
"The name is obviously a play on 'Girls Gone Wild,'" said Salvatore. "There is music, singing and dancing. It touches on social issues, but the most important thing is that women can be smart and funny."
The girls practice in Logston's Weehawken apartment and in rehearsal space in Carnegie Hall. They are working on a pilot and hope to attend the Aspen Comedy Festival.
"The most important thing is to make people laugh," said member Michelle Haun. "It's not for the faint of heart."
James Christie Jr. of Jersey City will debut his first full length play, Never Tell, at the Access Theater. An editor at healthy living website, www.miavita.com, Christie has written several short plays over the last four years, including Creep, which won the Heideman Award from the Actors Theater of Louisville, Ky., one of the more prominent regional theaters outside of the tri-state area.
Never Tell is an ensemble drama involving five characters and centering on two creations. One is a controversial video filmed by an art dealer that includes realistic documentary footage of a young girl being raped. The second is a business application written by his best friend, a computer programmer, that has large moneymaking potential in his office.
"It's about these two creations and how they affect the friendship of these two people and their relationships with others," said Christie. "These were things I had been thinking about for a while in terms of art and technology. It deals with some personal details in terms of art and technology and what they say about a person internally." The play is directed by Christie's father, James Christie Sr., who is a theater professor out of Villanova University, and professional director in Philadelphia.
One woman show
Actress Christine Goodman, of Jersey City, will be performing her one woman show, Sleeping with Management, at the Spotlight Lounge.
Goodman said that she wrote the play based on her own experiences on an 18-month long road show of Charlotte's Web, where she played Charlotte the spider.
"The show is about an actress who lands a job with a low-budget children's theater tour," said Goodman. "So she goes on the road with her boyfriend who also becomes her road manager. It's a way to tie in my experiences as an actress for those of us trying to make a living in a non-Hollywood way. The reality of being a struggling actor."
Goodman is also a spoken word artist, so the show started as a series of poems that grew into monologues. As the show evolved, Goodman decided to incorporate video into the production.
"The video sets the mood and is sort of an emotional reflection of what's happening to my character and it serves as a tool to create the reality of being on the road," Goodman said.
Goodman has been involved with the Fringe Festival for years, performing in Last Call and Muse of Fire, and has volunteered as a festival staff member.
"The Fringe Festival is one of my favorite things about New York," said Goodman.
A boxing match, mind readings, and spooky angels
The Union City-based Hudson Exploited Theatre Company, in its fifth year at the New York International Fringe Festival, presents its latest production The Knowledge and Conversation of My Holy Guardian Angel or An Old Fashioned Love Story, written by award-winning and nationally recognized poet Tom Sleigh, at The Black Box at 440 Studios.
This is Sleigh's second collaboration with the Hudson Exploited Theatre Company.
"I was walking through an airport and saw a guy who looked like a missioner, holding a bond sales book entitled The Knowledge and Conversation of My Holy Guardian Angel, and I thought, What an eccentric title," said Sleigh, 49, remembering what inspired the original conception of the play. "I decided that's what my next play will be called."
Building on the title he had chosen for his next piece, Sleigh continued with the emergence of his characters and the plot line.
The one-act, two character play revolves around Eddie, a filmmaker intent on making a movie about actress Mina. The roles are played by John C. Cunningham of Weehawken and Mikaela Kafka of Hoboken.
As Eddie digs deeper into Mina's past, a torrid game of cat-and-mouse ensues between the two of them. An emerging romance also seems to spark between the two, as they continue to manipulate each other in this murder mystery set to the backdrop of a boxing match, mind readings, and spooky angels.
"It turns into a murder mystery, romantic attraction, and then spirals out of control," said Sleigh. "It's a crazy, interesting, funny, dark story," said Sleigh.
Staff writer Jessica Rosario contributed to this story.