In correlation with the 14th annual New York International Fringe Festival being held in New York City, the Salt Lake Acting Company presents the 1st annual Fearless Fringe Festival, Aug. 27–29. Fringe theatre describes alternative or non-mainstream forms and declarations of art. SLAC, a Utah staple of non-traditional performance art, showcases three different works in various stages of production in this festival, which will be held at SLAC’s Chapel Theatre, 168 W. 500 North.
“Stephen Brown and Sam Wessels approached us (nearly at the same time) with their latest works in progress, needing a space and help in developing their plays,” says SLAC Executive Producer Keven Myhre. “This need from our artistic community inspired us to present a festival of new work, thus the Fearless Fringe Festival was born. SLAC has had a long history of developing new work; this festival allows us to synergize and collaborate with other arts organizations and individual artists even more.”
Stephen Brown is the director of SB Dance Company, and his managerial philosophy is: “If you hire really good people and exhaust them with bad ideas, they’ll eventually do great work just to get you out of their hair.” Brown also has been a yoga instructor for nearly 10 years, which prompted his entry, Yoga Confidential, into the Fearless Fringe Festival. Confidential is a “glorified monologue” about yoga. “It has a pleasant mix of high-brow and low-brow humor,” says Brown. “Scato-philosophical might be a good description.”The performance features Brown, Daniel Beecher — of The Vapid Lovelies fame — and Tracie Merrill. Performances of Confidential will be Aug. 27–28, 7 p.m.
Local gay actor/playwright Sam Wessels introduces sam i was, a musical memoir about his diagnosis of leukemia and his subsequent treatment. “Sam is a 21-year-old gay actor on the cusp of adulthood [who is diagnosed with leukemia],” explains Wessels. “Sam’s Hand, Death, and Greg — the Big Gay Lounge Singer — are unfortunate side effects of the chemotherapy.” While in treatment Sam ponders the meaning of life with the help of Donny and Marie, his parents and his ex-boyfriend. “In the end, Sam learns that there is no one answer when it comes to life, and, really, we just have to make it up as we go along,” said Wessels.
The show is a work in progress. “The performances [during the festival] will give me the feedback and time I need to craft a script and score that are ready for a full production,” said Wessels. Scenes from sam i was will be performed Aug. 27, 9 p.m. and Aug. 28, 2 p.m.
In a Reading of openly lesbian Julie Jensen’s play The Harvey Girls, Jensen gives a topsy-turvy look into the lives of the women who “civilized the west.” “It’s a play about the women who were recruited from the east to work in a chain of upscale restaurants along the Santa Fe railroad during the late 19th century,” explains Jensen. “The Harvey Organization gave women jobs, in exchange for their obedient behavior and long hours of work.”
Jensen asks the question, “How do a group of attractive young women handle a situation like this one?” With humor, poignancy, oddities, provocativeness? “Come and see.” A Reading of The Harvey Girls is scheduled for Aug. 29, 1 p.m.
Tickets to the Fearless Fringe Festival are $12 per show or $24 for all three, call 801-363-7522 or visit saltlakeactingcompany.org.