Sunday, May 9, 2004

Plan to divide Fringe Festival by five

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Doing the Fringe demands a strategy. Deciding where to start depends on who you are. Mainstream or on the edge? Early bird or late owl? Do bad words make your ears turn black and fall off?

Here, in order of opening, are five Worth Its that should have something for everyone:

• Visual Fringe. The Fringe officially begins Tuesday with an arty street party from 7 to 10 p.m., which will feature almost 40 artists, many of them coming out of regional university programs, represented at five "galleries" (mostly fringy empty storefronts) near the Fringe route.

Curator Laura Hollis had five themes in mind: Figurative; socio-political; installation; sculpture; and performance art. She is excited that Cincinnati's up-and-coming artists might attract an "emerging audience" to downtown.

Hollis recommends checking out the intense color in paintings by Gustavo Actis, which are filled with conflict between man and nature, and the "delicate intertwining of metal mesh and dripping glass" in sculptural forms by Sandra Gross.

• The Best of the Best: Performance & Time Arts. Celebrate Cincinnati's longest established Fringe series, which has been presenting new work and work-in-progress since 1995, now administered solely by Contemporary Dance Theatre and performed at College Hill Town Hall.

Top local performance artists include Bill Donnelly, who will be re-visiting his wonderful and wrenching Water Catches Moon, which in large part is about "my relationship with a dog I grew to love. We sort of tamed each other in the hills of Eastern Kentucky."

Performances: 7 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. May 20, Contemporary Arts Center.

• Shopping and ... It's been a hit from London to Los Angeles, all about the search for financial stability and, oh yeah, love, in the morally ambiguous turn of the millennium. It's being presented by the new Hand-Dog Theatre Company from Columbus.

Artistic director Mike Holmes says, "It's about how people need each other. There's nudity and vulgarity and I'd be lying if I said it didn't appeal to do a show that's very out there in Cincinnati. We expect people to have a gut reaction."

Performances: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Saturday, 9 p.m. May 17, 8 p.m. May 19, Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.

• I Will Make You Orphans. Sean Christopher Lewis has created a hip-hop solo piece about an attitudinal white kid in a downhill-sliding small town who is desperately trying to assimilate hip-hop culture and while being cluelessly racist.

"It deals with identity," he says. "It has viewpoints some would think dangerous. I thought that would tie in with the race issues in Cincinnati."

Performances: 9:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. next Sunday, 9 p.m. May 19, 10 p.m. May 21, at 634 Sycamore St., downtown.

• The Pickled Brothers Sideshow. Fringe for kids! Take your offspring for a walk on the slightly wild side and let them witness some tricks they shouldn't try at home, like fire eating and sword-swallowing.

Between noon to 5 p.m. on May 22, there will be pass-the-hat street entertainment by Razzmatazz Marionettes and the Pickled Brothers, Northern Kentuckians Travis and "Frack" Fessler, who honed their skills by trial and error and touring with the circus.

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