I once participated in a Chicago Fringe Festival and the Chicago Sun-Times described Fringe Festivals as "too insignificant to be front page news, too big to be ignored."
There have been Fringe Festivals all over the world since Edinburgh started it all in 1947. By comparison, the Maui Fringe Festival can barely claim to be a distantly removed cousin. Next month, some 900 theatrical production companies will present round-the-clock theater all over Edinburgh. Maui will offer eleven theatrical pieces, stand-up comedy, burlesque and live music over three days.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have served as the festival coordinator for the past two years. For those of you that read this column every week, you're probably well aware of my other life working on shows.
JACK GRACE photo
Photo courtesy Maui OnStage
Last year's festival expectations were extremely low. In a sense, Maui OnStage was rolling the dice to see if Maui would support theater on the edge. Attendance exceeded all expectations and Maui OnStage decided to bring back the Fringe for another year. This year's eclectic festival will feature three California-based productions as well as several Maui performance troupes.
Fringe Fests rarely seek a theme, but an inevitable one surfaces organically. The 2011 Fringe evolved into a cathartic look at life, or what does not kill me makes me stronger. The 2012 line up looks to be a quirky comedic performance festival.
If you purchased a VIP pass to attend every performance, the party starts tonight at the Historic Iao Theater with an Asian themed and vegetarian-friendly catered buffet provided by Whole Foods Market and performance by Rachel Deboer and the Ultraviolets. If you haven't seen them before the best way to describe it is glow-in-the-dark burlesque. The talented troupe will be accepting donations to help fund their trip to Austria where they will be competing in an international body-painting competition.
Three days of 'theater on the edge'
Friday May 25
7 p.m. Pride and Joy by Paul Rudnick
8 p.m. Payday At Pukalani by Margery Kreitman
8:45 p.m. Reflections by Joel Agnew
9:30 p.m. Last of Eleven by Jaene Leonard
Saturday, May 26
3 p.m. Poet, Jor-El Elkin
3:15 p.m. Reflections
4 p.m. "Fighting For My Self" - the King Kekaulike Dramaaticans (excerpt)
4:15 p.m. Payday At Pukalani
5 to 6 p.m. BREAK
6:15 p.m. The Seven Deadly Sins (excerpt)
6:30 p.m. Pride and Joy
7:15 p.m. "Beyond Therapy"- Vinnie Linares (excerpt)
7:30 p.m. Last of Eleven
8:30 p.m. Power Up Comedy
9:30 p.m. Maui Underground
Sunday, May 27
3 p.m. My Mama Monologues (excerpts)
3:15 p.m. Pride and Joy
4 p.m. My Mama Monologues (excerpts)
4:15 p.m. Payday At Pukalani
5 to - 6 p.m. BREAK
6:15 p.m. "Beyond Therapy" - Vinnie Linares (excerpt)
6:30 p.m. Last of Eleven
7:15 p.m. Reflections
The VIP party allows audiences a chance to learn more about each show and meet all the writers, producers, directors and actors. J. Marc Mance will also perform an original parody of "The Raven" with live music to follow.
The festival officially opens to the general public tomorrow night. First up at 7 p.m. is "Pride and Joy" by Paul Rudnick. This East Bay based production was first presented at the Tribeca Theater Festival and stars Bay Area actors Anne Hallinan and Carlos R. Hailey.
"Pride and Joy" is the tale of Helene, the self proclaimed "most loving mother of all time." Helene is the mother of three LGBT children whom she speaks about at the Massapequa chapter of "Parents of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, the Transgendered, the Questioning, the Curious, the Creatively Concerned and Others." This comedic piece is a wild ride chock full of foot-in-mouth political incorrectness.
"Payday at Pukalani" goes on at 8 p.m., a one woman show written and performed by Margery Kreitman who brings the production from San Francisco.
"Payday" is the tale of Laura and Jill, longtime lovers on Maui who head upcountry to watch and wait for the tsunami that never came. A comical couple's argument ensues over their disaster preparedness.
At 8:45 p.m., Maui radio personality and playwright Joel Agnew presents "Reflections," adapted by Jackie Shea. "Reflections" is a surreal mid-life crisis tale of a man who begins talking to his reflection and crosses through the mirror.
At 9:30 p.m., California-based actress and playwright Jaene Leonard presents "Last of Eleven," a story about being the last of eleven children. Leonard considers herself lucky that she even made it to the planet. "Last of Eleven" is an homage to the challenges and the blessings of growing up in big families, as she guides the audience through family ghost stories, holiday parties and deals with a particular unwanted guest.
Those four shows will have encore performances on both Saturday and Sunday where they are joined by local vignettes from poet Jor-El Elkin, the King Kekaulike drama department will present an excerpt from "Fighting For My Self" on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday evening Brian Connolly and Jason Strain will present "The Seven Deadly Sins" from "The Two Blagards," by Frank & Malachy McCourt. Vinnie Linares will perform a monologue from Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy," and at 9:30 p.m. the Power Up Comedy all-stars will perform a set of original stand-up comedy. Following Power Up Comedy will be a late night set from Didgeridoo Acid Rock band Maui Underground performing all original music written by Greg diPiazza and featuring Master Didgeridoo player Alana Cini.
On Sunday afternoon Pat Masumoto's "My Mama Monologues" will showcase four of their most popular stories including this year's winning story "Diet Pepsi," and "Coffee Filter Crafting" by Lee Cataluna, featuring Masumoto, Marissa Godoniz, and Luana Mitchell.
The festival concludes with Agnew's "Reflections" which will be followed by an awards presentation and after party for the casts, sponsors and VIP pass holders. Serving as judges for this years Festival are last year's winning playwright Sharyn Stone, and writers Paul Janes Brown, Sarah Ruppenthal and Anu Yagi.
* The "Maui Fringe Festival 2012," sponsored by Whole Foods Maui, is open to the general public from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday; from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. Sandwiches and salads will be available on site by Whole Foods Maui. Tickets for individual performances are available at the door only for $10. For inquiries about last minute VIP passes or more information, call 242-6969. For a complete Fringe Festival schedule visit mauionstage.com.