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Count on zany Fringe acts Jan. 25-28; free preview is Saturday

Jacqueline Dugal dances toward Brett Copeland as he plays tuba, in “Redux” two years ago. She returns to Fringe this month. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

By Pete Zamplas- (orignally in print version Jan 18th)  The Asheville Fringe Arts Festival has a free preview this Saturday, ahead of its main run Jan. 25-28.

The free Fringe Preview Party will be in the Sly Grog Lounge, 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 with impromptu preview performances and “Random Acts of Fringe.” The lounge is at 271 Haywood Street, by Pack Library, and is a new Fringe venue.

This is a chance to “meet Fringe artists, and catch at least a couple of impromptu acts,” Co-Artistic Directors Jocelyn Reese said.

The preview will include and coincide with the Pipsissewa Movement Project’s dance drama film by Amy Hamilton entitled “Attempt to Move a Building 2018.” Plans are to show it 7-9 p.m.

Also at the preview in Grog is Mystery Meat’s Audio Dioramas. These are boxes with holes in the bottom for a person to rise into. They will be at such sites as ZaPow Gallery at 150 Coxe Ave., during the actual Fringe Festival.

Earlier this Satuday, 3-3:30 p.m., Heather Taylor leads the pre-Fringe workshop “The Other Side of Her Fear” in Colourfield at 54 Ravenscroft Dr. It is billed as a “transformative” experience with live music, for females and “women-identifying” people.

“Fierce and fearless” is how its Co-Artistic Directors Jim Julien and Reese describe the eccentric, innovative and experimental acts of AFAF since they launched it in 2002. The couple previews the local and out-of-state acts, and said many “push the boundaries of art in our community.”

Julien, a zany puppeteer on the side, promised a “wide variety of genres from artists who are experimenting with their art form, and creating work that seems to be in response to today’s political climate. We are excited to host brave and strong performances by new and returning artists.”

FringePre2GraysonMorris_Mime_orig_cropped SM

Grayson Morris silently expresses anguish, miming in Fringe 2017. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

There are over 30 ticketed performances at various venues in Downtown Asheville. Each one typically is performed on two different days, lasting an hour. Main venues normally have a show 7-8 p.m, and a different one 9-10 p.m. for the first three nights, and earlier Sunday starts of 4 and 6 p.m.

There are twice as many free Fringe random acts as before. Many acts cross over in the basic categories of comedy, dance, puppetry, “unique voices” and “wildly weird.”

Very intriguing is “The Experiment,” which is now on Broadway. It is performed at Fringe by the six-person Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble from Manhattan. The actors put together on the go a B-movie, sci-fi comic thriller from audience suggestions such as bizarre creatures.

It is Thursday, Jan. 25 then that Saturday, both at 7-8 p.m. in Sly Grog. The doubleheader in Grog concludes at 9-10 p.m. with Poetry Cabaret, with Aaron Price again backing on piano.

Dance routines include Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater in “Open Hearts Art Center Presents: The Color of Dance,” depicting themes of distinction and diversity, “love, acceptance and courage.” Other dancing includes Emily Thomas’ “the dark room,” and Ashlee Ramsey in exploratory “Finding Our Footing.”

The Mothlight triple feature late show Jan. 25 has Elizabeth Huntley’s “Meeting the Edge” about pushing limits, Meredith Uyhas’ dancing “Experiments in Connection,” then Matthew Marcum’s multi-sensory “Pollock: A Frequency Parable.”

The Moth early show Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. starts with Jacqueline Dugal’s dance duet. There is push-and-pull morphing from conflict to balance, between a couple in “Cognitive Dissonance.”

West Palm Beach, Fla. native Dugal is pursuing her dancing dream in New York City. In in “Redux” at Fringe 2016, she deftly gravitated toward a still tuba player amidst random sampling of taped talk radio. At times, she pranced about as a child amidst destruction. Dugal said then that she felt the tuba’s earthy “vibe.” That Fringe carried on, despite a severe ice storm.

Dugal’s dance is followed by “After Party” dance by Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen, about the dilemma of contrast in one’s public and private personas.

The third act has a different twist on that theme, with the linkage between an actor’s role and real life in “Old Tricks” about a scandal-doomed TV sitcom. The Cardboard Sea is the troupe. Hendersonville High drama director Todd Weakley directs Jeff Donnelly’s script. The five actors are HHS alums Hannah Eicholtz and Olivia Stuller; also Kirstin Daniel, Charles Holt, and dance choreographer and Warren Wilson College instructor Kristi DeVille. Eicholtz acted in Fringe two years ago.

Oratory performances abound, such as with poetry. Kevin Patrick Murphy directs “Top Load” in Sly Grog, with four connected “crazy dark tales” (i.e. bondage) about Florida life. The local female Literary Circus trio of Jennifer Fulford, Randi Janelle and Alli Marshall performs “Flying Clothes and Prose” vignettes. Magician Jason Smith joins the act.

Timely cultural and political topics emerge. For instance, a shy bookseller discovers a family of immigrants hiding in his store in Mark Suggs’ “In/Visible Theatre’s Ox.” It will aptly be performed in Downtown Books and News at 67 N. Lexington Ave. “Marx in Soho” is Howard Zinn’s one-man show on Marxism, performed on tour by Bob Weick in over 300 shows nationwide including this Fringe.

Puppeteers in this Fringe are daffy Keith Shubert of Toybox dramatizing a Chaos Wizard wannabe troll in politically-charged “Total WTF,” and Edwin Acosta Salas “The Falling Love.”

Random Fringe is site-specific such as “Hangry” by McKinley Hughes at Realta Salon. That is at 12 1/2 Wall St., suite H. Robert Ladislas Derr’s “Escaping Altamont” is a video project in progress with public participation. It will be filmed on the spot, in the Refinery Creator Space of the Asheville Area Arts Council at 207 Coxe Ave.

Another interactive attraction is Kathy Meyers Leiner’ dance routine entitled “open-handed” about overcoming barriers and resolving conflict. The multi-media performance is ongoing upstairs in Henco Reprographics at 54 Broadway St., Jan. 26-28 from noon to 5 p.m.

Leiner was resourceful in the Fringe dance routine “…Especially in Dim Light” two years ago, by adapting various fabrics into outfit changes while dancing.

Fringe venues include BeBe Theatre at 34 E. Walnut St. (the alley behind Patton Avenue), Crow & Quill at 106 N. Lexington, Habitat Taverrn & Commons at 174 Broadway St., at Magnetic 375 at 375 Depot St., The Mothlight at Mr. Fred’s at 701 Haywood Rd. in West Asheville, and Trade and Lore Coffee at 37 Wall St.

The whacky LaZoom Fringe Tour includes comedy, improv dance, and an audience interactive spy thriller. Its station is the LaZoom Room at 76 Biltmore Ave., which also houses Fringe Central for mingling and buying Fringe tickets noon to 6 p.m. during Fringe Week Jan. 22-27.

The festival-long Fringe Freak Pass is $50, and generally enables one to see eight shows. Individual show prices are $13 to $16. Tickets are at the venue about an hour ahead of showtime, for last-minute purchase. Check to buy tickets at least 24 hours in advance, and for full lists and descriptions of performances and events.

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