Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is In-Person and Impressive
The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is back once again to bring the art of theater performance from the fringes of society to the center of downtown Salt Lake City. Shianne Gray and Jay Perry, co-directors of the festival, put together 24 live performances to be enjoyed for two consecutive weekends at The Gateway.
Fear not! If you are reading this you still have time to get your tickets for this weekend’s showings that continue through until August 7th. Pack a mask with you, as the festival transitions back for the first time in two years to an all-in-person event they aim to keep all staff, actors, and audience members as safe as possible. You may need to tuck a tissue in your pocket with that mask, as some of the shows this year are quite moving.
Femine power soars in #ME TOO Monologues from a Movement. In this production Amanda Caraway and Cami Rozanas have brought together true stories from women all over Utah. Stories that are typically shrouded in shame, self blame and darkness. They have rightfully amplified the voices of these women, given them an avenue to tell their stories, and a stage spotlight to disperse the darkness. Stories are shared from grade school to corporate offices, and every venue in between. As an audience member you are guaranteed to empathize, sympathize, laugh, cry, and walk away with the much needed reminder that everyone you encounter carries with them scars you know nothing about. This 60 minute production is a taste of a longer show that is to be produced in March of 2023.
If that sounds a little too realistic for your tastes but you are interested in something informed by Utah’s reality I have just the show in mind. Veteran actor, first time playwright, Laura Elise Chapman brings a modern Mormon twist to Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House in her version- @ll Times, All Things, All Places. In the original, Nora, a housewife in the late 1800s is blackmailed for getting a loan in a time when women were not permitted to do so without their husbands. In Chapman’s version, Nora, a young mormon housewife, finds herself blackmailed for something Ibsen wouldn’t have been able to dream up.
Without giving too much away, let’s just say at the heart of the play is a relatable struggle. What is the price to pay to make your loved ones, and community happy? Is that price your own selfhood? Chapman and the rest of the cast do a brilliant job of bringing these characters to life before your eyes and answering these questions in a raw manner.
When asked what her goal for the play is Chapman replied, “I want it to reach the people who need it. The ones who know the pain it shows and have minimized it, hidden it, or feel alone in it. We all need to have our pain held, seen, and acknowledged wholly, not in carefully presented, tidy, digestible fragments. We need our giant ugly pain held up to the light as is. This play is my way of shining a spotlight on this pain and holding my people, my community, making sure they know their pain is a big deal and that they’re not alone, and that we can leave this rusty-musty-ass darkness behind and bust right through to the sunshine.”
The pain she is referring to is growing up within the confines of religious perfectionism without the option to openly question its teachings.
These two moving shows are just a fragment of the talent being offered at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. Join me this weekend in supporting your local art community, and don’t forget the masks and tissues!