As promised, the 9th annual Asheville Fringe Festival, a three-day showcase of zany, out-of-the-ordinary installation and performance art, offered a feast of wild, weird, eccentric and thought-provoking performances, staged at three Asheville venues. The festivities, which began on Friday, Jan. 21 and continued through Sunday, Jan. 23, took place at the BeBe Theatre (a.k.a. Fringe headquarters), at The Wedge, located in the River Arts District, and at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.
The festival’s mission, as stated on ashevillefringe.org, is to provide “artists with opportunities to explore the edges of their work, collaborate across genres and bring new and innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences.”
Indeed, the material presented at the BeBe Theatre pushed, provoked, challenged and delighted the audience that gathered to watch Sunday’s matinee performance. The crowd gasped, applauded and cooed throughout the show, which featured an abstract film by Taryn Packheiser, a light-projection puppetry piece by Lisa Sturz exploring the correlation between the decline of honeybee populations and the rise in breast cancer, a Butoh-dance piece inspiring intense feelings of fear and confinement by Megan Ransmeier and Andrew Braddock, and a hilarious video “The Thanksgiving Day Massacre,” created by the Feral Chihuahuas and presented in two parts), to describe a few of the program’s amazingly diverse works.
Here are a few excerpts from the scene, filmed by Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt on Sunday, Jan. 23, at the BeBe Theatre:
The performance opened with a modern-dance-meets-spoken-word-poetry piece, “questions and unfinished sentences,” by the Mari Meade Dance Collective, which explored “life questions, and the implied answers in unfinished sentences,” as stated in the program.
“Beesting,” a puppetry piece by Lisa Sturz with Red Herring Puppets, “was conceived while the author was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer,” as described in the program. “Her personal struggle becomes a metaphor for society and the environmental contamination of our planet.”
Lola York choreographed a creepy and delightfully funny piece of modern dance titled “Get Smarter.” Featured dancers: Jamie Scott McDowell, Karen George and Lola York.
The film “Stag Unassisted,” by Taryn Packheiser, featured stark and beautiful imagery — three swings rocking back and forth, a woman lounging on newspaper, a man walking through snow — and conjured a feeling of loneliness as the beautiful, simple scenes transformed and melted into each other.
“Movement,” a Butoh-dance piece by Megan Ransmeier and Andrew Braddock, was a dark and somewhat disturbing piece where both dancers seemed to be trapped in a torturous space.
“questions and unfinished sentences”