CityBeat’s theater guru Rick Pender is right when he pimps the Cincy Fringe Festival as an “Antidote to Uptight” — personally speaking, the annual smorgasbord of edgy indie theater is among the best 12 days the city has to offer. Even the productions that don’t work are at least unique in one way or another. (Check CityBeat’s extensive Fringe coverage for proof.)
Furthermore, as an Over-the-Rhine resident, it’s always heartening to see our city’s most historic and interesting neighborhood even more alive than usual during the fest’s run, a bohemian beehive of activity that celebrates creativity, passion and, as Fringe Producing Artistic Director Eric Vosmeier likes to say, weirdness over all else.
Since the 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Festival kicked off on June 1, a panel of three dedicated theater experts have been evaluating performances for recognition through the Acclaim Awards. These awards are in the process of being renamed, but for the sake of clarity and brevity, I’m going to call them by their soon-to-be-former name. The panelists are veterans of the Acclaims; neither Jackie Demaline of The Cincinnati Enquirer nor I are members of the panel or involved in this process.
Perusing the releases so far this summer reveals a divide that has been growing wider recent years. In fact, the gulf between big-budget Hollywood productions (most of which are sequels or recycled material) and smaller films (most of which are documentaries or foreign films being offered by a dwindling handful of specialty distributors — plus the ever-vital Sony Pictures Classics) has never been as wide as it is right now.
In the Association of Art Museum Curators' recent Annual Awards for Excellence (for the calendar year 2010), Benedict Leca — curator of European Painting and Sculpture at Cincinnati Art Museum — won first place in the Outstanding Article, Essay or Extended Catalogue Entry category for his "A Favorite Among the Demireps" article for the museum's Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman exhibition. He also organized the show.
There are more doors than usual this weekend, right in the middle of the eighth annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. If you're looking for a recommendation or two, I suggest you check out CityBeat's Fringe review website.
Reviews have been posted on CityBeat's Fringe microsite for eight of the nine shows that debuted yesterday on opening night of the 2011 Cincy Fringe Festival. Two are rated as "Critic's Picks," including Curriculum Vitae by Jimmy Hogg (pictured).
Listen up, fans of crafty, post-modern fiction: Local author/professor/all-around good guy Michael Griffith christens his freshly minted new book, Trophy, 7 p.m. tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.
OK, so it's Memorial Day weekend, and theater-going might not be what you have in mind. How about this? If you're heading downtown for the feeding frenzy at Taste of Cincinnati (and what true Cincinnatian isn't?), you can take a quick side trip to Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine to pick up some tickets or a pass for the eighth annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. It's the perfect time to find your way to Know Theatre (1120 Jackson, right next to the Gateway Garage), which is Fringe headquarters.
The Cincinnati literary scene suffered a loss last summer when Brock Clarke moved to Portland, Maine, to take a job teaching creative writing at Bowdoin College. Through his work as a writer (via two short-story collections and three novels, including 2007's well-received An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England) and educator (he taught creative writing at UC where he brought in such guest speakers/authors as Chris Bachelder, Sam Lipsyte, Heidi Julavits and Jonathan Lethem), Clarke was a one-man literary juggernaut who produced, nurtured and promoted the written word with unwavering commitment, creativity and good taste.
Lynn Meyers came to Ensemble Theatre more than 15 years ago for what she was told was an "interim" appointment as the Over-the-Rhine theater's artistic director. She's still at it and today she's known as one of Cincinnati's finest stage directors. If you need evidence, you can see two fine examples this weekend.