Magic On The Fringe

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MagicTimes Spotlight News

On The Fringe Of Magic?

Five shows, all with themes of magic or “the allied arts” will be presented as part of the 4th Annual New York Fringe Festival.

The New York Fringe Festival offers emerging performing artists a platform on which to display their work. Dance, Multimedia, puppetry; all are well represented in the plethora of offerings. The barrage of shows representing 180 artists or companies will take place August 16th through August 27th. Performances will be presented in more than 20 different theaters and spaces in downtown New York City. Much of the festivals’ appeal is in the provocative or eccentric nature of many of the festival entries. Amongst the myriad scheduled presentations are five which may be of particular interest to magicians.

Krista Jean Brown, production manager for the Festival, spoke with MagicTimes. “The Festival is produced by The Present Company of which John Clancy is Artistic Director and Elena Holway Producing Director. John and Elena are very enthusiastic about magic. Although all prospective entries go through the same application process, the magic themed submissions were especially well received,” Krista said. “For example, John and Elena have been fans of Todd Robbins for years. Some of the other artist/writer/performers were already familiar to them from Monday Night Magic at The Sullivan Street Playhouse.”

Comic magician Mark Mitton has been involved with the New York Fringe Festival since it’s inception. In his year 2000 entry, The Big Tent Show, directed by Michael Davis, Marks’ improvisational magic presentation is aided by musician Matt Munisteri and his band. Mark met Matt while at Catch A Rising Star. “I can’t describe this show succinctly,” Mark told MagicTimes referring to The Big Tent Show.” It’s more of an experimental show with a lot of spontaneity. We have some “basics” that we start with, but the show is not tightly scripted.”

Jamy Ian Swiss will present The Honest Liar, directed by Mike Wills, at The Kraine Theater. In two parts with an intermission, The Honest Liar is a further exploration of Jamy’s current style of presentation. “The involvement with the Festival is an opportunity to grow; to workshop new ideas and stretch into some new areas.” Jamy said. “The first part of The Honest Liar is with just a deck of cards,” he explains. The second half is a development of the honest liar theme as Jamy uses other magical, gambling, and scamming effects to illustrate his monologue.

Todd Robbins will present his work, Carnival Knowledge, directed by Kirsten Sanderson. Todd’s mastery of diverse exotic carny skills will be employed in each and every performance of Carnival Knowledge. Here is a case where art imitates life, as Todd, obviously in love with his material, is afforded both a most unusual life as well as a work in progress. Dancing on broken glass and eating light bulbs require study, skill and chutzpah.

Prop Comic! is only a partial description of Fred Anderson’s show, written and directed by… Fred Anderson. Juggling, magic, music and audience participation are part of Fred’s variety arts offering.

The Curtain Of Light written and directed by Chris Ajemian is a play themed on the life of Georges Melies. Melies, a prominent French stage conjuror associated at the turn of the twentieth century with the Theater Robert Houdin in Paris was a seminal film maker and “father” of the special effects genre. He bridged the gap between illusions on the stage and those created by the cinema upon a screen.

Krista Jean Brown explained another aspect of magicians on the roster: an added public relations bonus. “Magicians are great people to have participating in an event like this, especially people like Todd Robbins and Jamy Ian Swiss who can interact with reporters. It’s a great way of handling press. Todd Robbins and Mark Mitton will participate in a panel discussion of Vaudeville and perhaps in, The Fringe Club, special late night improvised shows. Magicians pique interest and attract attention.”The versatility of conjuring and its allied arts is reflected by the range of offerings in the Fringe Festival which highlight them. Whether a stylized concept piece or a jumping off point for spontaneity, magic has an appeal of novelty, whimsy and mystery for lovers of the theater and is well represented in the Fourth Annual New York Fringe Festival.

The Big Tent Show – Mark Mitton
Charas/El Bohio – Bimbo Rivas Performance Space (605 East 9th Street Ave. B/Ave. C).
8/16 at 8pm, 8/19 at 12pm, 8/22 at 5:15pm, 8/23 at 7:30pm, 8/24 at 3:15pm and 9pm, and 8/26 at 10:15pm.

The Honest Liar – Jamy Ian Swiss
The Kraine (85 East 4th Street 2nd/3rd Ave.).
8/16 at 5:15pm, 8/18 at 3:30pm, 8/19 at 8:15pm, 8/21 at 9:15pm, 8/25 at 11:45pm, and 8/26 at 4pm.

Carnival Knowledge – Todd Robbins
The Present Company Theatorium (196-198 Stanton Street at Ridge Street).
8/16 at 4:45pm, 8/18 at 7pm, 8/19 at 2:15pm, 8/22 at 9:30pm, 8/23 at 11:30pm, 8/24 at 3:30pm, and 8/25 at 11:30pm.

Prop Comic! – Fred Anderson
The Present Company Theatorium (196-198 Stanton Street at Ridge Street).
8/17 at 7pm, 8/19 at 4:30pm, 8/21 at 5:30pm, 8/23 at 5:15pm, 8/25 at 3pm, and 8/26 at 8:45pm.

The Curtain of Light – Chris Ajemian
Context (28 Avenue A 2nd/3rd Streets).
8/17 at 3:30pm and 11:30pm, 8/20 at 6:30pm, 8/24 at 7pm, 8/26 at 2:45pm and 8/27 at 12pm.All shows are $12 per person and tickets are available at the door. For more information on the New York Fringe Festival or to reserve tickets visit their website at: www.fringenyc.org or phone: 212-420-8888.

–Richard Steven Cohn

Richard Steven Cohn has written for Genii, Magicol, M.U.M., The Yankee Collector, MAGIC, as well as magic themed articles for Brooklyn Bridge Magazine and Stagebill. He is a magical consultant for television and theater and performs both as a single and with his wife Alexandra.

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