The Woodstock Fringe Festival is back this month, marking its 20th anniversary and performing live for the first time since January 2020. Four performances each of three solo shows at the Byrdcliffe Theater will spotlight actor/director/playwright stalwarts Wallace Norman, who founded Woodstock Fringe in 2002, and husband and wife Ric Siler and Bette Carlson Siler, who came aboard the Woodstock Fringe Playwrights’ Unit in 2008 and 2011 respectively.
As if the return of in-person performances after two years of Voices from the Fringe Zoom readings weren’t cool enough, this year Woodstock Fringe will be going to the Holy Grail of all such showcases of the edgy and avant-garde internationally: the Edinburgh Fringe Festival itself. Quite the coup.
Woodstock Fringe’s appearance at the Space on the Mile in Edinburgh is scheduled from August 5 through 27. Norman and the Silers will be revisiting the same three one-person shows there that they’re performing the next couple of weekends at the Byrdcliffe. So, grab your tickets now, and save yourself the airfare to Scotland.
Showtimes for this year’s Woodstock Fringe Festival are 7 p.m. on two Saturdays, July 9 and 15, and 2 p.m. Sunday matinées on July 10 and 17. Each program will include all three of the new plays being featured. Tickets cost $30 each and can be ordered at https://woodstockfringe.org/tickets.html.
Here’s the lineup: Brother’s Keeper, written and performed by Wallace Norman, was previously performed as part of the Dramatist Guild Footlight Series in 2020, just before the pandemic shut everything down. It was also featured at the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival in May. The play tracks the journey of an LGBTQ youth, William, from ten years old to middle age. Unable to hide his uniqueness, William suffers brutal abuse in school. Brother James, his priest, takes a “special” interest in the boy. In middle age, William finds the courage to confront his abuser — a catharsis that leads him on a path of healing. Brother’s Keeper is not appropriate for viewers under 16 years of age. You can see a trailer at https://vimeo.com/717333484.
Bette Carlson Siler’s entry, by contrast, is described as a comedy/drama “not suitable for people under 16 unless they are drunk.” Doris Does the Edinboiger Fridge is a much more lighthearted piece — not to say downright zany. Doris is not your average little old lady. Yes, she’s little (at least vertically). She’s old (70 and counting). However, she is adept at several things not associated with the elderly set: For one, she’s a self-proclaimed wizard at anal bleaching and an authority on Brazilian shaves. But Doris is still searching for her place in the world and connections with other people. Check out the trailer at https://vimeo.com/717334872.
Ric Siler contributes Like a Sack of Potatoes, his “gently funny” hillbilly Gothic tale of an Appalachian tobacco farmer’s love for his family and the extremes to which he will go to protect them. The threat of a stinging blast of rock salt from his shotgun is enough to guarantee that the boys get his daughters home on time. But when he learns his eldest daughter is beaten by her husband, more drastic measures are needed to protect her. The trailer can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/698232568.
Woodstock Fringe’s return may not yet be at the scale that it enjoyed during its first decade at the Byrdcliffe, when the Festival grew to six weeks in length, with as many as 40 performances each summer. But we’re delighted it’s back, nonetheless. To find out more about Voices from Woodstock Fringe: Three New Plays, visit https://woodstockfringe.org.