IndyFringe: ‘Aphrodite’s Refugees’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

It’s hard to not hear the word “refugees” in the news today. It’s bandied about on an almost daily basis. This tends to numb us to the meaning and situations that cause people to succumb to this status.

When show creator Monica Dionysiou witnessed an exhibit by Doctors Without Borders in her hometown of Boulder, Col., she felt inspired to revisit her family’s stories of their own struggles during the many battles for dominance on their home island of Cypress, and how they came to America in the first place.

You can now witness the beauty, tragedy, and resilience of these people in her stunning offering, “Aphrodite’s Refugees.”

She artfully weaves the history of the island as well as its struggles for independence from the various countries warring over it. (Cypress is located in the Mediterranean near Greece and Turkey, which both have claims.) The stories begin with recordings of her family in their own words which are then interpreted by her and her partner to show the changes in the landscape of the island throughout the years.

Dionysiou’s partner, Aaron Young, literally illustrates the struggle by painting the backdrop of the ever-changing landscape of her homeland. He also illuminates important points of the story with further drawings and animations to enhance the drama. Plus, the finished landscape is available for sale at the end of each performance so you can acquire a spectacular original piece of artwork to help you remember these bittersweet tales for long afterward.

We also find out the connection to the Greek goddess of the title. She is the deity of love — but, alas, her brother is Aries, God of War, and in their immortal games he’s holding the cards.

Performances are today and tomorrow (Aug. 25-26) at 6 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, at the Indyfringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 St. Clair St. (just east of the College and Mass Ave intersection).

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IndyFringe: ‘Haunted – Tales Told and True’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Fringe audiences should be familiar with Loren Niemi, as he has been to past festivals telling stories with a political bent. This year, joined by fellow master storyteller Laura Packer, they choose not to frighten us with the occupant of the White House, but with more traditional forms of Ghost Stories.

Including tales some have sworn are true!

The pair take turns narrating their chillers, with different stories at each show. One is so original, in fact, that with suggestions from the audience, it is made up right on the spot — or is it? Niemi is so good, the story he improvised at the performance I saw sounded like it had been told for generations.

Packer likes to research local ghost lore in every town she visits, and I — a haunted Irvington resident — had not heard the one she told about a little store on North Meridian near Crown Hill. She also spoke about living in haunted houses — no doubt she’ll have something just as fascinating for you.

No campfire to sit around — it is the Firehouse union hall after all — but a nice time for those who don’t mind braving the bumps in the night.

IndyFringe: ‘The Supersonic Suffrage Story You Never Heard in School’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Can you name just five women who were part of the American Suffrage movement? Probably not. Sally Perkins couldn’t do it either.

However, rather than memorizing a few names for herself, she decided to do something to remedy this situation: Welcome to a whirlwind lesson on the history of the Suffrage movement, complete with all of the modern technology you can think of.

Incorporating anachronistic references to texting and Twitter and other tech is not only amusing, but also helps you appreciate today’s instantaneous communication options as we identify with the plight of these women in their struggles to gain basic human rights.

While she presents us with an intimidating amount of data, it is presented in a cheery light and it is not until the end of the show that you realize how much you have actually just learned.

So, what do Sherlock Holmes, Lady Gaga, Melissa McCarthy, and Julie Andrews have to do with the Suffrage movement — and why did it take almost 100 years for women to finally win the right to vote?

You will have to come see this delightful show to learn these answers and more. Performances are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Firehouse union hall, third floor, 748 Mass Ave.

IndyFringe: ‘Why Be Normal?’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Elizabeth Young Collins has lived a very interesting life. She shares some of its highlights with us, punctuated by snippets of songs.

She grew up in a large non-Catholic family (which was so quirky that it was featured in a copy of Life magazine shortly before she was born).

She was an exchange student in France, attended a prestigious Finishing School and had a nervous breakdown in her teens. She even competes in a Junior Miss pageant, but loses out because she is considered to be too fat.

After earning a college degree in French, she moves to New York and becomes a school teacher. After a while she ends up as a financial analyst with Merrill Lynch. However, she quits that job to pursue her dream of performing on Broadway. She got a role or two, but it didn’t work out.

A few years later she is on a vacation with her girlfriends when they enter her in a singing competition. Not only does she end up winning it, she gets a singing job with the resort band. A good deal of networking later, she is, at the age of 40, a legitimate singer. At 47, she ends up marrying the handsome guy who’s been carrying her equipment around. Women’s World then does an article on her about never giving up on your dreams.

This offering is quirky and sweetly sentimental. While it is suitable for all ages, it will more strongly appeal to the Baby Boomer generation.

Elizabeth presents her story at ComedySportz, 721 Mass Ave.

 

 

Indyfringe: ‘Too Old to be This Young’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Laura Hedli recounts for us the year she lost her virginity – at age 26.

She hadn’t intended to wait so long. She just wanted the big moment to mean something, and other aspects of her life took up her time. Her writing career, for instance, which with a full-time part-time gig finally made her a ghost writer – to a ghost writer – to her boss. But behold, this job also comes with a hot coworker, and he is very interested in her. Though he seems like a bit of a tool to us listening to Laura’s story, he is just the thing to fix her undamaged virtue.

And the book that she is ghost-ghost writing? It’s on “age management medicine” for middle-aged and older men, especially testosterone therapy. This, naturally, leads to necessary research (including interviews) and writing on sex – you know, that thing she finally got to experience two days ago.

She also notes that the stable of writers she’s in hires young, and that as she approaches 30, she could “age out” of the age management business.

All this makes what could have been a mildly interesting workplace anecdote into an engaging hour of storytelling, with Laura slipping into a couple of characters including her boss, a randy Swedish man, and her beau, the man she calls “Broken.” It makes for a unique perspective on aging and how we confront and defy it. Come listen and see how well she expresses herself under her own name, as we explore whether a year of one’s life is worth reaching a significant personal milestone – and six words in a book’s Acknowledgements.

Laura relates her story one more time for us, 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the IndyFringe Indy Eleven Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair, just off Mass Ave. and College.

IndyFringe: ‘Mary and Her Monsters’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

You know that Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein,” but do you know who she actually was — and what her life was like — to inspire her to give us this story?

Lou Ann Homan stretches her storytelling chops to give us the naïve innocence that led Mary to her destiny.

Mary was far too innocent and star-struck by Percy Shelley to realize how he was manipulating her. She honestly believed he loved her but overlooked the multiple instances of his infidelity and cruelty to her and her children. Even though she strove to be a writer, and fought to learn more of science, medicine and other things considered “not for girls,” she was constantly foiled by her circumstances.

Still, she persevered — that really is the message here. She fought and kept trying until she finally made a success. While the publishing of her novel did not change her circumstance in any way, it still made her feel complete.

Come hear the story behind the legend and discover the truth of what is wrapped in that silk cloth lovingly placed on her desk.

“Mary and Her Monsters” is presented by Homan at the Firehouse union hall, 748 Mass Ave.

 

IndyFringe: Journey from Johannesburg

By Wendy Carson

For a white child growing up in South Africa, the word Apartheid was never spoken about. Even so, it was ever present. While the privilege of his race afforded him much that others lacked, Toby Tobias still felt a deep love and connection to his homeland and only begrudgingly left it rather than serve the mandatory two-year term in the army enforcing its hateful policies.

Being the son of a Polish Jew, Tobias migrated to Jerusalem. During his time there, his life was again, idyllic. Even though tensions were rising among the Muslims and Jews, it was never evident in the daily life most of the country. He fell in love with the country as well as his future wife and felt he had found his homeland paradise. However, the Arab uprising of 1987 changed the country forever and he was forced to once again leave the land he loved, and this time move to America.

His life here has been challenging on many levels, but still satisfying. He still struggles to promote racial harmony and coherence as a society in order that we may all live together in peace.

His story is punctuated by hauntingly beautiful songs he has written to help convey his message. These pieces not only echo the political messages of singers such as Sting, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, his voice sounds so much like them you will feel that you are actually listening the them perform.

So, if “Graceland” is among your favorite albums, do not miss this poignant tribute to love, understanding, and true harmony amongst all peoples.

Also, CDs of his music will be available for sale after the show.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Sunday, Aug. 26 and 28, in the Phoenix Theatre underground stage. Info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.