Capital Fringe Festival: A People’s History — Ursa Waz
“There’s a lot of political stuff this year,” says Julianne Brienza, the founding director of Capital Fringe. “Not super heavy-handed, but more than I’ve seen in the past.”
The uptick in politically themed shows at the festival, which is principally programmed through an open-invitation, first-come, first-staged basis, hardly came as a surprise to Brienza. “Do you live in the United States of America? What do you think we’re all doing right now? And that is what the festival is for. It’s for the telling of stories in a raw, fast-paced manner [that helps] people work out ideas.”
The political offerings at this year’s 14th annual festival includes Kirsten Grady’s timely comedy The Little Senator That Could, about a Republican senator increasingly demoralized by presidential actions and controversies, and CRAPSHOOT!, Todd Blakesley’s satire about a political naïf who struggles mightily to justify his decision to vote for Trump.
Another popular theme in the lineup of nearly 90 shows this year are those offering riffs on the works of William Shakespeare. The roster includes the Fringe Curated production written by Mike Reiss, a veteran writer for TV’s The Simpsons, and local actor and educator Nick Newlin, a college friend of Reiss’s. The play, Shakespeare’s Worst, explores, as Brienza puts it, “what is horrible about Shakespeare, kind of poking fun at it.” Meanwhile, playwright Rachel Garnet offers a same-sex spin on Romeo & Juliet further twisted with a new romantic tryst between two different classic characters. The play, Starcrossed: The Tragedy of Tybalt and Mercutio, is also one of several shows with an LGBTQ theme.
After last year’s successful debut of shows concentrated in Southwest’s Waterfront — and while Capital Fringe’s own complex in Northeast D.C.’s Trinidad neighborhood remains closed for renovations — the festival returns to area venues including Arena Stage and several nearby churches. New for 2019 is a non-theatrical production from visual artist and projectionist Robin Bell, best known for politically barbed projections on the Trump International Hotel. Called the Arcade, the installation offers roughly 20 video and interactive games that patrons play in teams to win ticket giveaways and other prizes.
It’s the homegrown nature of Capital Fringe that most pleases Brienza. “At this year’s festival, 70 percent of the [production] participants live in the D.C. area,” she says. “When I think about all the entertainment stuff that goes on in D.C., to have that many local folks creating theater pieces is phenomenal.
Capital Fringe runs through July 28 at various venues in the Waterfront. Tickets are $20 per show, with multi-show passes ranging from $72 to $500. Call 866-811-4111 or visit www.capitalfringe.org.
A full list of productions follows. Show descriptions adapted from those submitted by productions. Fuller descriptions, along with showtimes, can be found at www.capitalfringe.org. Productions containing LGBTQ content are denoted by a rainbow flag.
33 1/3 Chorus Girls
Sketch comedy about show business. Arena Stage.
7/14, 7/18, 7/23, 7/27
Original music and choreography as well as text for a funny, hopeful, and emotional look at coping with trauma. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/13, 7/20, 7/24, 7/27
A Gentleman & a Liar
A comedy devised by and featuring The Magic Duel’s Brian Curry and Mark Phillips. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
7/12, 7/14, 7/26, 7/27
A History of Laughter
Tour guide and comedian Matt Dundas leads a stroll up Pennsylvania Avenue complete with alternative facts about history, politics, and himself. Winfield Scott Hancock Statue, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
7/11, 7/12, 7/13, 7/14, 7/16, 7/17
A People’s History
Mike Daisey performs 18 different full-length monologues weaving together historical details and discrepancies about U.S. history. Arena Stage.
A Short History of Unfortunate Animals
A world-premiere solo dance piece from Lorien House. Arena Stage.
7/13, 7/16, 7/19, 7/26
Erick Acuña reveals the best and worst aspects of life as a Peruvian man living in the U.S. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/13, 7/16, 7/20, 7/27, 7/28
Air Mail/Par Avion
A devised musical about a summer fling between two musicians during a jazz festival in Belgium. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/12, 7/13, 7/20, 7/21, 7/23, 7/27, 7/28
All for the Union
A drama based on the true story of the Civil War-era Steer sisters, Virginia’s first female journalists. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/14, 7/16, 7/20, 7/25, 7/26
Explores the life and disappearance of the famed female aviator. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/13, 7/14, 7/20, 7/21, 7/26, 7/27
Maria completes her health project with help from her chronically dieting mother, gym friends, and a human liver’s rhythmic visit. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/11, 7/14, 7/18, 7/21, 7/27, 7/28
Daniel Damiano portrays a Southern retiree, a Middle Eastern poet/percussionist, a talk radio host, and a Brooklyn existentialist in a solo comedy. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/13, 7/14, 7/19, 7/21
An Evening with Lola Montez
A 19th-century Irish woman reinvents herself as an international celebrity. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/13, 7/17, 7/21, 7/26, 7/27
An Eye for an Eye
The Bacchae, Euripedes’s ancient Greek tragedy about family honor, religion, and revenge, gets a classical adaptation. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/13, 7/18, 7/21, 7/27
Robin Bell’s interactive projection and video installation allows patrons to play games as a team-building exercise and to win a Southwest D.C. entertainment and dining package. The Wharf.
Before the Fall
Three characters are each plunged into an existential crisis as their world explodes in chaos. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/13, 7/17, 7/20, 7/26, 7/27
Beyond These Walls
Nine strangers are forced to confront their biggest fears in order to survive. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/12, 7/19, 7/21, 7/23, 7/27
True, personal stories about the relationships we have to the narratives of our bodies through monologues, poetry, and movement. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/13, 7/19, 7/21, 7/27
A drama about the United States Caribbean Command, as the military officers assigned there learn their country is going to war. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/14, 7/21, 7/24, 7/27
A world-premiere dramedy about 20-something besties struggling to figure out who they are. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/11, 7/16, 7/21, 7/25, 7/27
A personal story about grief after a father’s death. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/11, 7/13, 7/18, 7/21, 7/26
A character abstains from voting — until his Trump-supporting coworkers cajole him to follow suit. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/13, 7/18, 7/20, 7/21, 7/23
The unexpected and unconventional language of movement is explored in modern dance works. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/16, 7/19, 7/26, 7/27
A drama about an actor whose return after an accident to the stage is complicated by memories of his past. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/12, 7/14, 7/17, 7/21, 7/23, 7/27
Lesbian astronauts Anne and Cass have to decide whether to tell everyone about their impending death as a result of a solar flare headed toward earth. Riverside Baptist Church
7/14, 7/19, 7/26, 7/27
Emil Amok! All Pucked Up: Harvard, NPR and more 🏳️🌈
Emil Amok Guillermo channels his father, a colonized Filipino from nearly a century ago, to show how history repeats itself. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/20, 7/23, 7/26, 7/27, 7/28
Energie: A Rock Musical
Music inspires a theoretical physicist to discover a new form of energy that is safe and free. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/11, 7/14, 7/17, 7/24, 7/27
Wrestling with change in a multimedia work featuring audio, video, and movement. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/13, 7/18, 7/21, 7/28
The Face Zone
Original spoken-word vignettes in a whimsical, humorous, piano-accompanied exploration of everything from scrapple to the meaning of life. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/13, 7/17, 7/26, 7/27
Flirting Like An American
First-generation immigrant Sufian Zhemukhov explores the American style of flirting, writing, and eating in humorous stories that won the Moth Story Slam. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/11, 7/14, 7/20, 7/25, 7/27
From Divorce to Restoration
An innovative tale about divorce and healing, told through poetry, hip-hop, and drama, intended to “represent the voice of every woman.” Christ United Methodist Church.
7/23, 7/26, 7/27, 7/28
Good & Kissed
A liberal New Yorker rediscovers herself while on a “summer of yes” trip to a Southern island, prompted by learning about the shockingly secret life of her longtime boyfriend. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/12, 7/13, 7/18, 7/20
H.P. Lovecraft’s: The Call of Cthulhu
An immersive production of Robert Cousins’s dramatic adaptation of Lovecraft’s horrific tale about a priest on a remote island in the Pacific. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/11, 7/14, 7/20, 7/25, 7/28
How much better do women have it today than the five Chicago women who defended themselves a century ago using their hat pins? Arena Stage.
7/12, 7/13, 7/14, 7/18, 7/20
Heartbeats & Algorithms
A heartachingly funny look at the seductive, inescapable world of information use and abuse that was a sold-out sensation in a run on London’s West End. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/14, 7/18, 7/20, 7/21, 7/27
Joe Randazzo’s dramatic improvised show focuses on a bank robbery gone wrong with hostages in peril and the outcome shaped by audiences, making every show different. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/13, 7/19, 7/23, 7/27
Hexagon 2019: E Pluribus Screw ‘Em
A fresh take on politics and culture. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/13, 7/14, 7/20, 7/21, 7/27
Hold The Tomato
A comedy variety show with the aim of “proving that there’s a home for bad jokes and weird, low-budget art.” Arena Stage.
7/11, 7/14, 7/20, 7/24, 7/27
Home, Sweet, _____
A heartfelt comedy exploring feelings of homesickness and nostalgia and a yearning to go back to one’s roots. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/16, 7/20, 7/21, 7/25, 7/27
A solo, one-act play adapted from the classic, short horror story by H.P. Lovecraft. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/12, 7/14, 7/16, 7/17, 7/21, 7/25
How’s That Workin’ Out for Ya? 2.0
A deliciously funny buffet of comedy: a cheeky look at women, power, and justice in the age of #metoo. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/11, 7/13, 7/16, 7/20,7/26, 7/27, 7/28
I Favor My Daddy 🏳️🌈
Moth champion Jamie Brickhouse explores concepts of inherited traits and individual identity through a look at a man who “adored bikinis and martinis as much as his homosexual alcoholic son.” Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/13, 7/14, 7/18, 7/21
I Know It Was the Blood: The Totally True Adventures of a Newfangled Black Woman 🏳️🌈
A sojourn embracing Southern roots, gospel rhythms, and queer identity, where one family’s love conquers all. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/11, 7/12, 7/13, 7/17, 7/23
If These Balls Could Talk
Carolann Valentino’s solo musical relates her experience managing an infamous, male-dominanted New York City steakhouse. Arena Stage.
7/16, 7/19, 7/20, 7/21, 7/24
Inferno the Musical
A dark, comedic spectacle about the bored Guardians of Hell’s Gates that explores love and destiny through brothels, sex, and gunplay.
Westminster Presbyterian Church
7/18, 7/20, 7/23, 7/25, 7/27, 7/28
As a server at an exclusive pop-up dinner in D.C., Lauren French will guide theatergoers through a difficult working shift that erupts into chaos. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/13, 7/18, 7/24, 7/26
Iphigenia in Splott
A one-woman epic that reimagines the mythic figure of Iphigenia and challenges audiences to consider who bears the true cost of austerity. Arena Stage.
7/12, 7/13, 7/20, 7/21
Journey to Long Nose
Rachel Pollock shares quirky, original, and humorous stories. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/13, 7/17, 7/19, 7/21
Judge Me Not
An assemblage of monologues around a common theme about passing judgement. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/14, 7/17, 7/21, 7/25
Kafka’s Metamorphosis: The Musical!
Kafka’s mesmerizing novella comes to hilarious and haunting life. Christ United Methodist Church.
The Knights of Salisbury
An original musical about a teenage rock band in 1960s Massachusetts. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/13, 7/14, 7/16, 7/20, 7/21
Let’s Fight and Say We Didn’t
Constant quarreling leads one family to a breaking point. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/12, 7/14, 7/19, 7/24, 7/28
Little White Lies
A choreographed work exploring truth and lies as manifested in the “self.” St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/11, 7/14, 7/20, 7/23, 7/27
Love in the Time of Climate Change
One young woman’s struggle to find community and develop relationships with everyone from a climate refugee to a climate denier. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/14, 7/19, 7/25, 7/27
Mamita: Eulogies to the Living
A love letter to a mother, drawing on multiple voices.
Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/13, 7/14, 7/20, 7/21, 7/27
Mayhem and Other Delights
Self-driving cars, natural disasters, opiate addiction, IVF and sexuality, and meditation are examined in a raucous variety show. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/18, 7/20, 7/21, 7/26, 7/28
meg jo beth amy & louisa 🏳️🌈
Things get weird when Louisa May Alcott writes a little girl’s book using figures and stories from her own life. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/16, 7/19, 7/20, 7/21, 7/24
Involuntarily institutionalized 30 years after his return from Neverland, a man is forced to confront the truth about his past. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/14, 7/20, 7/23, 7/27
An intimate, raw comedy about divorce complete with audience interaction. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/12, 7/16, 7/20, 7/25, 7/27
Office of the Speaker 🏳️🌈
A young teacher’s progressive values are threatened through her secret side gig working for a conservative Speaker of the House. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/11, 7/14, 7/18, 7/21, 7/25
Oizys in the Waiting Room
A world premiere dance piece that confronts modern anxiety, as well as “asking what it takes to redirect its power and invoke change.” St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/16, 7/20, 7/25, 7/27
Our Town Plus Zombies
Thornton Wilder’s classic play is paid homage in a comedy where industrial waste awakens the dead. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/13, 7/18, 7/20, 7/25
A play about three generations of women affected by the Holocaust. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/11, 7/13, 7/16, 7/20, 7/24
Pride of Doves
Nightmarish hijinks ensue after an apocalyptic trio tries to find meaning in a dead, mangled bird. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/12, 7/17, 7/20, 7/23, 7/27
A drama that works to re-open the biblical garden to women from myth, verse, and legend with their own stories to tell. Riverside Baptist Church.
7/11, 7/13, 7/16, 7/20, 7/25
Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens 🏳️🌈
A new musical set at a bar where cabaret acts are being killed off one by one. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/12, 7/18, 7/20, 7/28
Everything that could go wrong does when a community theater troupe attempts to stage Two Gentlemen of Verona. Arena Stage.
7/11, 7/13, 7/18, 7/19, 7/21
She Sings Light
Through poetry, sound, movement, and light, a solo gatherer in a post-apocalyptic world is shown leading efforts to rebuild the forgotten planet. Arena Stage.
7/11, 7/13, 7/14, 7/19, 7/20
Six Months of Winter 🏳️🌈
Day and Night struggle to cohabit together for six months. Arena Stage.
7/12, 7/14, 7/21, 7/25, 7/28
A musical about aging soul superstar Buddy King’s improbable attempt at a comeback as a disco artist. Westminster Presbyterian Church.
7/14, 7/20, 7/21, 7/25, 7/27
SPEAK*Girls Presents 🏳️🌈
A new devised piece featuring movement, writing, and music by and about the teenagers in the Speak*Girls Ensemble. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/18, 7/20, 7/21
Starcrossed: The Tragedy of Tybalt and Mercutio 🏳️🌈
A re-imagining of Romeo & Juliet with a same-sex spin.
St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
7/20, 7/23, 7/25, 7/27, 7/28
A crafty teenage girl invites her bad boy crush over while mom is away. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
7/11, 7/13, 7/21, 7/24, 7/27
A refugee hiding underground, a kidnapped girl, and a son facing a blood revenge [and their] struggle for sanity. How do their minds deal with the mental toll? St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/13, 7/16, 7/18, 7/23, 7/28
Thanksgiving at Macbeth’s 🏳️🌈
A dark family comic-tragedy revealing what happens when people stop being polite and start getting unreal. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/12, 7/13, 7/20, 7/21, 7/24, 7/27
That’s Not How It Happened
A show featuring unsupervised toddlers, creepy clowns, showtunes, unreliable narrators, questionable boyfriends, and just maybe a bit of truth. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/13, 7/16, 7/20, 7/21
A despondent man is so heartbroken about the end of a relationship, he can’t sleep, he can’t eat, he can’t clip his toenails. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/14, 7/17, 7/20, 7/26, 7/27
The Little Senator That Could
One of the last sane Republican senators can’t stop obsessing over his Reagan-era glory days. Christ United Methodist Church.
7/12, 7/13, 7/21, 7/26, 7/27
This Place of Ours
An evocatively gritty dance piece showcasing how perceived differences can be used to bring people closer together. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/11, 7/13, 7/14, 7/17
A one-woman musical comedy about wrong notes, hard knocks and the keys to success for a classical pianist.
Christ United Methodist Church
7/11, 7/13, 7/14, 7/16
Veneer of Beauty 🏳️🌈
A young gay man struggles to overcome a troubled childhood and adapt to adult life in the 1990s. Arena Stage.
7/12, 7/14, 7/16, 7/20
We’re All Going to Fucking Die! 🏳️🌈
Sex educator Twanna A. Hines shares stories about overcoming anxiety, taking back joy, and having the best sex ever. Arena Stage.
7/14, 7/18, 7/25, 7/28
What I’ve all been waiting for
An unexpected diagnosis compels a thoroughly confused man to action. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/12, 7/16, 7/20, 7/26, 7/27
A story of trauma inflicted on a family of four. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
7/12, 7/14, 7/20, 7/23
Would You Rather…
Speed dating meets choose-your-own-adventure tale. Arena Stage.
7/13, 7/20, 7/23, 7/27
You Don’t Have a Copyright on Your Mom’s Legacy (and Other Dumb Things People Say When You’re Mourning)
A solo show that highlights the grieving process. St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
7/12, 7/13, 7/14, 7/20, 7/24
All venues in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood of Washington, D.C, within walking distance of the Waterfront Station on Metro’s Green Line.
997 Maine Ave. SW
1101 6th St. SW
Christ United Methodist Church
900 4th St. SW
Riverside Baptist Church
699 Maine Ave. SW
St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
555 Water St. SW
St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church
222 M St. SW
Westminster Presbyterian Church
400 I St. SW