IndyFringe: Class Dismissed, Figuring Out What the Hell We’re Going to Do With Our Lives

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Your Senior year of High School, we’ve all been there and remember what it was like for us. However, the current Millennium presents a whole new mountain of concerns over planning for the future. Aside from the stress of just getting into college, there’s the concern about the crippling debt paying for it, if you are not lucky enough to find or receive a scholarship. Plus, is not actually attending college a guarantee that you will fail?

This is the quandary ensconcing the players in this energetic production from the Sugar Creek Players Youth Troupe (from Crawfordsville).

We are sped through the senior cycle with a look at some of the wacky clubs you can join to improve your application, SATs, Various classes, as well as Prom and Graduation. Since the ultimate answer of what to do is unique to us all, the characters here are boiled down to basic stereotypes.

Austin Coon dominates the cast in his role as he “Crazy Teacher” demanding that everyone MUST get into college or you are doomed to work a “McJob” the rest of your life.

Liberty Owens portrays the “Juul Kid” (those are the e-cigarettes that the kids are vaping with these days) as stealthy, cynical, and appalled that people actually pee in the Juul room (even though it’s actually the bathroom). She is certain that she can become a successful online personality and that will get her through life.

Isabella de Assis-Wilson’s turn as the “Poor Kid” highlights the desperation felt by those who don’t have the means to shoulder the expenses of college and are overwhelmed by the scarceness of financial aid to help.

Sara Adams shines as the incredibly vapidly self-centered “Rich Kid” who just buys her way out of any and all situations. She even has a butler to feel emotion for her.

However, it is Cameron Tyo as the “Middle Kid” who truly catches out attention. He just wants to go to cooking school and then open a bakery after High School. While his dream is discouraged at every turn, he starts selling his cookies around school and makes enough to convince his detractors that his dream is a valid choice.

The final members of our cast, Terran McCarty & Evan Baldwin as “Keynote Speaker” and “Freshman” do a good job but are barely seen on stage.

So come out and support these youngsters in their quest for answers, and encourage them that their efforts here are worthwhile. Remaining performances are 9 p.m. Thursday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 22-25) at ComedySportz, 721 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: ‘Beneath the Surface’

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

When you first see what is going on — kids barely out of middle school coming on stage to present a show they developed about difficult issues they think about and face — I couldn’t help but mentally lower the bar and pray this wasn’t like that bad SNL skit of naive kids presenting awkward “awareness” scenes.

Now I must apologize to them, and ask that you, too, give this show a chance. Beneath the Surface of “Beneath the Surface,” by Sugar Creek Players Youth Troupe, is earnest searching for understanding, and expression of what the world is like when you are 14 or 15, no longer child but not quite adult — you remember, right? What we see is bravery beyond the tamping down of stage fright.

Budding comic Liberty Owens is “Conscious,” the narrator and facilitator of our look into four archetypal characters: Veronica the young activist, Alex the “jerk,” Jasper the poet (who is on the Autism spectrum) and Juana the Mexican immigrant. Drawing conclusions about them yet? Please note the title of the play — yes, these kids have layers.

I ask you cooperate with Conscious — she’s a little silly, and prone to telling groaner-jokes (could you do better at her age?) — but she is only helping us understand our subjects as they strive to understand themselves, and each other. So when she asks which person’s story you want to see continue, speak up and suggest someone; they are all intriguing, and sharply presented with earnest emotion.

Just as the film “Eighth Grade” is now bringing this crucial point in our lives to the national conversation, you get to see something of this in person, developed and performed by local teens. Note some hard issues are addressed, and it doesn’t have an artificially happy end — in fact, as in the real world, struggles continue. But if you came to see a Fringe show, here’s a doggone Fringe show. My troubled teen self of years past salutes them.

Isabella de Assis-Wilson as Juana is joined by Sara Adams (Veronica), Terran McCarty (Alex) and Evan Baldwin (Jasper) for the Tuesday, Aug. 21, performance. Remaining performances feature Sonora Kay (Veronica), Sara Adams (Alex) and Austin Coon (Jasper). All are on the main stage of the District Theatre (formerly Theatre on the Square), 627 Mass Ave.