My Writings. My Thoughts.

I Love A Parade

// August 27th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog

Even when it’s a tiny one.

Today at 11:30 we gathered with some fellow Fringers (paperStrangers, Ben Egerman, Justin Brady, Kurt Fitzpatrick, Shanna Shrum, the folks from the “Screw You Revue,” and the clown from “Unbearable” as well as the folks at “Gilgamesh”) to march on down en masse to Monument Circle for a Fringe flash-mob/demonstration/spectacle.

Except, er, the Colts were having a rally. And had cordoned off half of the Circle. And had food tents, cheerleaders, a huge stage, really loud music, a hundred people, and cops.

But we in the theatre are nothing if not flexible! We danced to the music of the Colts. We handed out postcards to Colts fans. We got the cops to tell us it was illegal for us to be there and that we had to be on the other side of the barricades. We sang for passersby. And we ended up having promoted ourselves better than we’d thought we would. Plus it was a lot of fun. Don’t believe me? Trust Twitter:

(from @jfbrady on Twitter)

Our line-through this afternoon confirmed that we do indeed still remember this show, and we found the spare key to our billeter’s apartment (it was inside, not floating around where someone could get into her place) so four of us can sleep in a real house tonight! All in all, it’s been a pretty successful return to Indianapolis.

Our show is at 9PM tonight. Get there early–it’ll be crowded!

Oh, and there’s a surprise happening tomorrow. We’ll tell you about it after the 6PM show tomorrow night, but get excited.

-Laura

Chicago Recon

// August 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog

We visited Pilsen today to do some advance advertising for “Grind,” and also put up posters about an hour away in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square, where lots of theatre-types live. The Chicago Fringe fell a bit short of their advertising budget, and it’s the first year of the festival, so attendance is anyone’s guess. We’ll do all we can to get the word out about this big, glorious thing called the Fringe!

Tonight the cast reunites in Indianapolis, and tomorrow we join the rest of the Fringe at noon to create a scene at “The Circle” (no, I don’t have any idea what it is either) at noon. If you’re in Indy and you know what this is, come check us out! Next performance is at 9PM tomorrow, and I can tell it will be a good one.

In sum: Whether you’re in Indy or Chicago, tell your friends about the Fringe! Then, when they’re fluttering with excitement, tell them about “Grind: The Musical” and watch their heads explode from joy.

-Laura

Some More Reviews

// August 25th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

This one is from Bravo Indianapolis (here):

Minnesota based Theatre Undeclared offers musical talents on Theatre on the Square’s main stage. Always in awe of those with talents I do not possess, I commend the creators of Grind: The Musical for their exploration of various musical genres throughout their show. Though the writing was a bit hokey and only a few of the singers really shone, creativity abounds as shadow puppets further the setting. This slice of life musical from the RENT generation pays homage to the rock musical concept, yet remains unaware of itself. Biting off a bit more than they could chew, writers Alex Higgen-Houser, Laura Stratford David Kornfeld attempt to tackle eviction notices, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the death of parents and the search for artistic fulfilment. They simply had too many loose ends to tie up in fifty-five minutes. Musical theatre fans will appreciate the hard work these novices put in to this production and even recognize their success, which equally balance their failures.

Worth Seeing at Theatre on the Square’s Main Stage:
Monday, August 23 at 6:00 pm
Friday, August 27 at 9:00 pm
Saturday, August 28 at 6:00 pm
Sunday, August 29 at 9:00 pm

Thanks for coming out, Katelyn!

And Dori Kay wrote this on the IndyFringe website (here):

The Grind Cast was spotted doing a street performance in Indy yesterday – performing their hearts out with overflowing talent, fun, and humor. It made me want to rush out and buy a ticket to every one of their performances in Indy before they sell out, and then follow them to Chicago for more. After seeing them in Minneapolis, I can honestly say this energetic, talented, brave, strong, collaborative group is not to be missed. Go see Grind to experience connection – you’ll be better off for it! Grind Cast – do keep your public informed of your future endeavors – you have a following <3

Right now we’re all taking a couple of days off, and Alex, Cari and I are scouting out Chicago, but never fear, Indianapolis–we’ll be back and ready to rock in time for our next show on Friday at 9PM!

-Laura

Street Theatre Video!

// August 24th, 2010 // No Comments » // Video

We ran into the visitors videographer (uh, video guy?) for the city of Indy when we were singing on Mass Ave today, and here’s what came from it:

Grind: The Indy Street Preview

Indy Theatre Habit Review

// August 23rd, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog, Media

“Grind: the Musical” – Theatre on the Square

The Act – A coffee shop called “The Rush” in Minneapolis, Minnesota is emotional home to several people.  Only the owner, a young woman named Coco who is trying to fund her brother’s college degree in music, knows that their building is scheduled for demolition.  Each of the characters has his or her own concerns.  Their stories, and the overall story arc, are conveyed through spoken interactions, dance, beat poetry, shadow puppetry, web comics, and live instrumental music sampling a variety of musical styles from rap to gospel.

The Art – The plot is a cliché but the execution of it is not.  The fact that the show is a portfolio of the company members’ many talents could be overwhelming but somehow it is delightful instead.  Somehow, the overflowing artistic smorgasbord is also a neatly packaged homage to the wide variety of creativity and human interaction that (forgive the expression) percolates daily in coffee shops around the world.  Also, from the dinging of the bell over the invisible shop door to the funny coffee references in the script to the hand-lettered “practice encouraged” sign taped to the electric piano to the paint-spattered barista aprons to the dramatic red and blue lighting design to the exaggerated Minnesotan accent of one of the cameo characters, the show is filled with pleasures for fans of theatre craft.  Also, my first down-my-face tears at the 2010 IndyFringe came during a song in this show when Coco and her brother, Dylan, remember their parent’s deaths and re-affirm their gratitude and support for each other.

The Appeal – This is a fully-staged theatrical production with live music and a gazillion props and set pieces.  It has an 8-member cast and a 3-member traveling crew.  All of this is rare (perhaps nuts) for a Fringe production, especially one from out of town.  If you don’t usually go to the Fringe because you think it is all solo shows, this IndyFringe show is worth going downtown for.  Also, the piece itself is an original piece and its presence at the 2010 Indy Fringe Festival is an Indiana premiere.  Beyond all that, this piece, although it has different content and structure, has a heart that reminded me of “Edges,”  “bare: the musical,” and “Songs for a New World.”

The Audience – I don’t remember any language or content that would make parents of elementary school children cringe but its main audience is probably teens, college students, people in their 20s, older adults who are still young and idealistic in their hearts, and any solo artist of any age that has ever found the human interaction they needed in a coffee shop.” –Indy Theatre Habit

Thanks so much for coming to the show! We’ve got another at 6PM tonight. Today, we’re putting up posters and street performing…for real this time.

Also, a two-line review from East of Indy:

Grind: The Musical – a warming and comfortable show that I would really like to see fully fleshed out. A real pick-me-up! –East of Indy

Happy Monday, everyone!

-Laura

Another Point for Audiences

// August 23rd, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog

From the “Audience Comments” section of the IndyFringe website (here):

“Grind: The Musical is a show out of Minneapolis that received great reviews in two other fringes, based on the posters I saw, and I decided to check it out to see if they were well deserved. The show lived up to its praise in every aspect, excluding some technical difficulties, and the Grind cast came out onto the stage every time with energy and purpose that kept me and other audience members, who were pretty vocal with their enjoyment of the show, on the edge of their seats to see what was going to happen to Coco. Coco, played by Maia Rodriguez, is in a predicament: the coffee shop she worked hard to keep together is being demolished by an evil Mr. Bosch, and she must try to get a loan despite her wrecked credit. The musical score is beautifully orchestrated and, most of the time, actually played by David Kornfeld who is also the character Dylan in the show. He pulled off being an actor, accompanist, and writer without missing a beat. If you plan on seeing anything in the Indy fringe this year, and enjoy good music, shadow puppetry, some rap, street preaching, and just an all-round wonderful cast, then Grind is the show for you.

-Posted by: Stanford Perkins at Sun Aug 22 10:33 AM”

Thanks so much for coming to see the show, Stanford!

Updating the website

// August 23rd, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Hey folks!  If things look wonky, they’ll be fixed soon.  We’re putting in a new design 🙂

–A

First Indy Review

// August 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

Our billeter, Amy, warned us that while the IndyFringe audiences are great, many Indianapolis reviewers are jerks. So far we agree with the statement about audiences; we’ve yet to garner enough reviews to form an opinion of reviewers. Here’s the first review. You be the judge:

IndyStar Review

As our friend Max Herzl-Betz wrote in his MN Fringe review, “But I LIKE Minneapolis…”

Anyway, our morning was a sleepy one, but Christa, the friendly barista at Henry’s Coffee and Sandwich Shop, taught us a lesson in remaining cheerful and finding energy. Henry’s is our default hang-out spot now. At one point, two people came in and said, “Oh look! “Grind!” We’re almost like B-list celebrities!

“Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots” was funnier last night than I remember it being the first time (to be fair, I went to the drinking-encouraged show the first time), and Ben got all the heckling he asked for and more. Definitely check it out at The Phoenix.

Our matinee was fun–a small but responsive crowd and a lot of cast members trying little new things. My favorite was when Daisuke (as George, an older man whose character we cut, in crossing the streets for Daniel’s Sermon) had a coughing fit and sat down while Alec aggressively preached to him.

We’re actually going to do street theatre to promote the show tonight. We promise. We’re also hoping to catch “The Tale of Mephisto,” a retelling of the Faust story from the devil’s perspective, at 6PM and Tim Mooney’s “Lot O’ Shakespeare” at 10:30. See you on the street!

-Laura

More Love and Frustration

// August 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

It’s been a day.

We showed up for our second tech this morning, given the fact that we had only an hour and a half during our “official” tech time, but there were some crossed wires apparently and our technician didn’t show up (or answer his phone). We still got to ninja-spike our props (with black gaff tape, since someone had pulled up our yellow tape) and rehearse the toughest numbers in the space, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

After talking to the Technical Director and our venue tech (once he made it to the theater), we agreed to come early before our 6PM show so they could help us load in and so we could quickly run some cues. Unfortunately, it started to sprinkle while we were unloading our sound equipment into the alley behind the theater, and we had to stash anything that couldn’t afford to get wet back in the van. I covered the costume pieces with my comforter; thank God it didn’t actually rain very hard. We managed to get all set up and ready in the allotted time despite all of our challenges.

The show went wonderfully well–the audience was louder than some of our fullest houses, and they laughed at practically every other word. There was some improvisation, too. Daisuke did “The Worm” during the Finale, for one. Next time we’ll have him do it further downstage so everyone can see.

Maia’s mom and sisters got into town yesterday and have astonished us all, because they all look exactly like Maia. You can stand them in a line and it’s like The Evolution of Maia. So many blonde women!

We also very much enjoyed the one show we’ve seen so far: “They Touch In Flood” by paperStrangers. It was a sexy, gorgeous dance and spoken word/poetry piece exploring how humans “make love” instead of just mating for procreation. I could not believe what some of those dancers could do, and the choreography was remarkably inventive for its subject matter. We did wish there was a bit more representation of queer relationships, but they had at least one lovely piece with a gay (male) couple. Definitely worth seeing–it’s in the smaller space at the Theatre on the Square.

Tonight will be a reprise of “Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots” at the Phoenix, because Ben’s added some new material. You probably shouldn’t miss it.

Oh, and a couple of things:

-We’ve got on interview on behindthefringe.com (it says it’s with me, but it was actually an email interview with me, Alex, and David):  Behind the Fringe with Grind

-Our first baby Indy review, via @IndyTheatre on Twitter:

IndyTheatre

“Grind: the Musical” is a LOT of show. Big cast, big set, big variety of performance art forms. Fun & charming. #indyfringe #Indy #theatre

Aw, thanks, Indianapolis! We might just warm up to you yet. Especially if you see our 1:30PM matinee tomorrow.

-Laura

Indianapolis, City of Opposites

// August 20th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog

Well, against all odds, we made it.

The journey involved four cars, a 4AM wake-up, a panic about tollbooths and a James Bond-style highway dash to make it to our preview with seven minutes to spare. You see, we’d forgotten than Indianapolis time is an hour later than Minneapolis time, and my car got lost on a couple of detours and so Alex had us stop the car on the road, get out, and give him the keys so he could park while we got ready to go right onstage.

The preview went well, although an old lady’s hand flew involuntarily to her face when Max sang, “I’m freezing off my ass.” Oh, hello, Indianapolis. Are you actually ready for the Fringe?

We like Mass Ave, the Fringe hub, very much. There’s the Flying Cupcake, with all the sugar you’d ever need; YATS, a delicious and inexpensive Cajun restaurant; Henry’s, a coffee-and-sandwich shop with the best freshly squeezed orange juice I’ve ever had; and of course, our theatre, Theatre on the Square. The “Club Fringe” area is pretty cool, too–street performers dressed as monsters chase over-long performers off the stage, there’s food and tents and there were water balloons and some steam-punkers and John the Baptist’s animated head on a platter…

We met the people at PaperStrangers, a young and hip theatre company made up of a lot of Butler grads, and instantly made friends. We’re hoping to see their show, “They Touch In Flood,” tonight at 10:30PM in the Theatre on the Square (tickets here).

I interrupt this paragraph to make an announcement: Everyone in Indianapolis should see Ben Egerman’s show, “Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots” at IndyFringe (the Phoenix Theatre). He’s had some bad luck with the festival so far, so let’s make it up to him. The show is a whole lot of fun–it’s worth your $10. Tickets here.

Our living circumstances have been bohemian, to say the least. Last night six cast members slept in an abandoned office that was trashed by its previous resident, a Republican candidate for office who lost and left all his garbage inside. It’s a huge space, but the bathroom is down the hall, there’s no shower or kitchen, and there are mysterious blood-like stains on the floor. The four remaining folks got a beautiful house with a dog and one bed/one egg crate floor mattress, but it took us about an hour to find it and by that point we’d been awake for far too many hours of the day.

We’ve decided that Indianapolis is a city where everything is either wonderful or horrible. Club Fringe: pretty great. Racist show preview (just one we noticed): Not great. Apartment location: Basically above our theater, awesome. Apartment condition: Almost unlivable. House condition: Gorgeous. House location: Frustrating. It goes on and on.

Our tech got moved from 10 AM to 3 PM, which was great for sleeping in, but we only had 1.5 hours to tech and we don’t have storage there, which means everything has to go back in the van after every show. However, it’s a very professional, large, beautiful space, with A/C and wings and so many seats. We’re so excited to try to fill it up. Also, we get to come in early on Saturday morning to get in extra time, so we should do well enough.

Right now, the office people are moving to a house that has a shower and a kitchen, Siri and I just had massive cupcakes, we have our free performer passes, and we’re getting ready for a night of some promotion and some shows.

There’s still time, Indianapolis. Win our hearts.

-Laura

(PS: Dear “Gilgamesh”–we’re very excited to see your show, but given an inside joke among the cast, we may insist on calling you “Agamemnon.” No offense meant.)

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