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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Saturday, May 18, 2019 6 months ago

28th Orlando Fringe Festival to showcase local performers and venues

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The annual theatre festival runs through May 27.
by: Harry Sayer Black Tie Reporter

The Orlando Fringe Festival is a staple of the local arts community — and this year is no exception. From May 14 to 27, the 28th annual festival will have dozens of plays, shows and other productions at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre area and other venues. Here are just a few of the productions that have ties to the Winter Park and Maitland area from local and international creative minds. 

TRINITY PREP PLAYERS

The Trinity Prep Players, Trinity Preparatory School’s signature thespian troupe, has been performing “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” since last October. In that time, the 15-person production has won awards at theater festivals and conferences across the country for its story of a boy with autism solving the mystery of his neighbor’s murdered dog.

Now, the students will have a new challenge: performing in a much smaller, unfamiliar venue at the Fringe Festival. 

“All of our staging had to be adjusted for the smaller space,” said Janine Papin, director of the show and fine arts deparment chair at the school. “The amount of space the kids are now working in is greatly smaller. We’re in a 20-foot-by-13-foot acting area. … This is the first time any of (most) of the students have been involved with Fringe. It’s a whole new world.”

The Fringe Festival’s Brown Venue has a thrust stage that extends into the audience area on three sides, to which the students have had to adjust. But the different dynamic has presented new opportunities, Papin said. 

“It’s been freeing in a way; the kids can move more,” Papin said. “In a thrust, you can actually turn your back on the audience, and they’re seeing an angle. … A lot of the movement has become a lot more natural.”

Papin, who is also the theatre teacher, has been with Trinity 

Prep for nearly 20 years and first was introduced to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” in 2012. She said this year’s students in particular have the talent and acting ability to bring the story to life at the festival. After nearly a complete school year of performing the show, she said the students have been able to dig deeper and be more honest with the characters they’re portraying.

“The students have had to put on much more of a professional hat,” Papin said. “Typically with academic theater, you do it for a couple of times, and you leave it behind. This is a professional show that can run for however long you can have an audience for. The kids have embraced the longevity of it but also have fought to be in the moment and stay true to the story that they’re telling.”

ELAINE PERSON

Elaine Person, a prolific poet in the Central Florida community, is presenting an evening of spoken word at the Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park starting Friday, May 17. 

Person, a member of the Florida Writer’s Association, said although she’s been performing this type of show since 1993 in different venues, this will be her first show at Fringe. But like every one of her spoken-word shows, it will begin with a story, a quiz and a game. 

She also touches on her last name, Person, and how people often try to change it. Audiences will hear one of her signature humor pieces, “Ode to a Red Light.” 

She likes for most of her material to be tongue-in-cheek with a humorous bent that still includes a lesson or something to learn. Many of her stories and poetry pieces reflect the hectic world she sees around her. 

“I want audiences to be happy and to laugh and feel good about life and themselves,” Person said. “My philosophy is that the world is very stressed so I write material that makes people laugh and is upliftings.”

Person, who hosts writing workshops at the Winter Park Library and the Maitland Public Library, has written poetry, prose and music since she was a young girl.

“Things just come into my head; it’s nonstop,” she said. “It’s almost like I have to turn it off to do real life. I could probably write three poems in an hour. … It makes me happy in this stressed world.”

KEITH ALESSI

It’s been a long road for Keith Alessi. The dual Canada-U.S. citizen performer spent much of his life as a corporate CEO and entrepreneur before being stricken with a form of cancer from, of all things, acid reflux from tomatoes. 

These days, Alessi is an artist — at least he said that’s what others call him. He’s chronicled his life’s journey into the “Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me but Banjos Saved My Life” one-man production. Alessi is bringing that show to Orlando Fringe through Monday, May 20.

The artist tells his story using a number of banjos — he has a world-class collection of more than 50 of the instruments — with a mix of funny storytelling and music. Much of the runtime is dedicated to his love of the banjo, which he said helped him get through his sickness.

Alessi said a large part of “Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me” is about learning to reject the parts of life that can damage you and embracing what can nurture and benefit you — the metaphorical tomatoes and banjos, respectively. He touches on his dual-citizenship status on how he’s worked through his abusive father and upbringing. 

“The tomatoes are a metaphor for the life I led, the household I grew up in,” Alessi said. “The banjos are more literal. They saved my life, they gave me a focus. But they are a metaphor for the lives we choose as opposed to the life we’re born into.”

Alessi has been a staple at several northern Fringe shows — he’s won a few awards at this point — but this will be the first time he has performed at the Florida festival.

IF YOU GO

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night Time’

WHEN: 5:30 p.m Friday, May 17; 8:45 p.m. Saturday, May 25; 1:15 p.m. Sunday, May 26

WHERE: Brown Venue 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando

TICKETS: $6; available at bit.ly/2LIBIvq

 

An Evening of Spoken Word with Elaine Person

WHEN: 6:50 p.m. 

Friday, May 17; 6:50 p.m. Monday, May 20; 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 21; 6:10 p.m. Sunday, May 26

WHERE: Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park, 419 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park

 

‘Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me but Banjos Saved My Life’

WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday, May 17; 11:35 p.m. Saturday, May 18; 4:35 p.m. Sunday, May 19, 8:45 p.m. Monday, May 20

WHERE: Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park, 419 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park

TICKETS: $10; available at bit.ly/2w7qHJP

Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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