September 13, 2007

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Free range
First New England Fringe Festival held in Nashua and Roxbury
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

That’s right, Nashua, N.H., and Roxbury, Mass.: 16 groups have registered to take part in this, hopefully the first of many, New England Fringe Festival, said Kimberly Davis Basso. Basso is the founder and artistic director for Atlantis Playmakers, based in Billerica, Mass.

A fringe festival is nonjuried and open to groups or individuals on a first come, first served basis, for any type or level of performance, Basso said.

In Nashua six different productions, 40 minutes long each, will each run three times. You pay $10 per show, and your ticket becomes your ballot. Festival favorites will be announced at Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall at a closing ceremony for the performers. Registration fees become the awards. The top favorite wins about $1,200 from those fees. Ticket income pays for venue and production costs.

“I was actually really excited, it’s a really diverse group of performers, a really diverse group of companies,” Basso said. There will be storytellers, dance, theater, improv and a musical. This is an independent festival produced by Atlantis, although Basso has performed at a San Fransisco Fringe Festival. NEFF is the “same style, the same ideal,” Basso said.

“A fringe festival is an opportunity for anyone to really get up and show what they’ve got,” she said.

Basso looked at several venues before booking the 14 Court St. Theater in Nashua. She wanted a place with between 100 and 150 seats. Court Street is the right size, and there are plenty of theater groups in the area, Basso said. The mission of the Roxbury Center for the Arts is to make theater accessible and bring a diverse range of performance to the public, which fit with Fringe, Basso said.

Atlantis hopes to expand to four venues next year, and to all six New England states by 2010, Basso said.

“We actually had interest in the festival from all over the world,” Basso said. The group is planning to add an international component.

Atlantis has run a short play festival annually for ten years. They produce new and classic plays, and are entering Fight in Roxbury at the Fringe.

Concord’s Stranger Than Fiction improv group is sending two of their performers, “BP and the Buj,” to NEFF. Brian Paul and Chris Bujold bring a bucket of plays they’ve never read and perform one selected by the audience using the back cover info and character descriptions.

Ghostlight Theatre Company, also based in New Hampshire, is running an adaptation of Cannibal! The Musical. Co-directors Ozan Haksever and Chrissy Coates also co-directed Ghostlight’s production of Zombies last fall. Cannibal is a stage version of a movie Trey Parker made before he created South Park. Parker gives permission and an adapter’s guide for groups who want to perform the movie on stage. Cannibal started as a trailer, a class assignment in film school. The response was so good, people told Parker to make the whole movie.

“This idea came up and it just sounded fun to be part of this festival,” Haksever said about looking for a venue for Cannibal.

In Nashua, you can also see 45 in 40, in which Bill Spera performs a one-man autobiographical show in monologues and songs. The Bawdy Ladies bring Be Careful, in which two female singers perform scripted and improvised songs about “bawdy things,” Basso said. Michael Molineaux, a Massachusetts playwright, is debuting his new work, Cynthia’s Big Dream, in which a former circus clown, heads to Hollywood. Immersion Dance Company (immersiondance.com) out of New York is presenting Conversations, which depicts the familiar and not so familiar encounters with those around us.


Fringe away

The first New England Fringe Festival runs at 14 Court St. Theater in Nashua. Tickets cost $10; see NEFringeFestival.com. Tuesday, Sept. 25: BP and the Buj; Cynthia’s Big Dream; 45 in 40.

Wednesday, Sept. 26: Be Careful; BP and the Buj; Conversations; 45 in 40; Cannibal.

Thursday, Sept. 27: 45 in 40; Conversations; Cannibal; Be Careful; Cynthia’s Big Dream.

Friday, Sept. 28: Cynthia’s Big Dream; BP and the Buj; Be Careful; Cannibal; Conversations.

For the Roxbury schedule, see NEFringeFestival.com or call (978) 667-0550.