Wanted: Originality

De ‘C’ Is For Camping – Les deux de pique at Borderlight Festival in Cleveland.

Connie here, answering as the Rockford Fringe. Hi! Today’s #Bloganuary prompt is, “What is a treasure that’s been lost?”

I think in the theatre industry the “treasure” that’s been lost is originality.

Most Big Theatre produces work that is familiar. If you don’t believe me, here’s a list of Broadway shows.

See what I mean? How many are truly new and unique? For me the only fresh standout is Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt. Notice how inexpensive those tickets are compared to Beetlejuice, a play based on a movie.

If you don’t want to click the link, Leopoldstadt tickets start at $74. Beetlejuice tickets starts at $394.

I’ve been annoyed by this sort of “safety” for decades. Remember when Broadway stars were Broadway stars first, then _ m_a_y_b_e_ got into television or film? Now it’s TV star first then Broadway. And part of the reason people buy tickets is to see the guy from Grey’s Anatomy, not necessarily see. the. play. I’m not saying that this needs to stop. I’m saying the Rockford Fringe doesn’t want any part of it.

The Rockford Fringe wants originality.

Soapbox Testaments at Borderlight Festival in Cleveland.

The Rockford Fringe is drawn to new work. Groundbreaking work. Fresh work. Innovative work. We are the fully human outdoor experience. We embrace tiny budgets, big imaginations and awesome writing. We’re looking for unique people who have something to say. We’re still finding the fringe. If you’re reading this, you’re the fringe. Be proud!

One more thing I want to say is even if Stoppard’s play cost $394 and Beetlejuice cost $74, I would still choose the Stoppard play. Even though the Rockford Fringe is free to attend, we still believe in supporting great theatre, small theatre and everything in between. With that said, here’s a list of shows I saw in 2022:

I’ll start with my own work which includes countless new plays and scenes from Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago and the shows and performances at the Rockford Fringe Festival. Keep reading for work that isn’t mine or work-related.

Di Yiddish Vayb at Borderlight Festival in Cleveland.

Unveiled by Rohinia Malik at South Asia Institute in Chicago

Di Yiddishe Vayb – antifascist folk tales adapted by Bertolt Brecht, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Blanche L. Serwer Bernstein performed by Hannah Pepper based on at Borderlight Festival in Cleveland

Above de ‘C’ as in Camping – Les deux de pique by Tamara Bousquet and Philippe Trépanier at Borderlight Festival in Cleveland

Soapbox Testaments at Borderlight Festival in Cleveland

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza at Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota

Of Pigs and Pianos by Sara Buechner at The Jungle Theatre in Minneapolis

Robbie Ellis’s Metric System Album Release Show at The Annoyance Theatre in Chicago

Red Noses by Peter Barnes at West Side Show Room in Rockford

I myself wrote Natural Life, Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Southwest China, Dora’s Bait Shop and performed my own stand-up storytelling and an acoustic seance through A Host of Golden Daffodils.

If you made it through my list, congratulations! You aren’t afraid of new work that doesn’t immediately make you think, “Oh phew that’s safe and familiar.”

I know I’ve seen more shows than I listed but I can’t remember them right now. I think if there’s anything I want to convey it’s this: I see and write a lot of theatre. Now let’s do some! Thanks for reading and see you at the Rockford Fringe.-Connie

P.S. Let me know if you’d like to be a guest blogger this month!

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