21st Annual Fall Fringe Festival
BU Opera Institute and School of Theatre bring powerful themes and engaging dialogue to Studio ONE – October 6-29
September 29, 2017
Boston, MA – Boston University College of Fine Arts is pleased to celebrate the 21st year of its groundbreaking Fringe Festival, a collaboration between the School of Music: Opera Institute and School of Theatre, whose mission is to produce new or rarely performed significant works in the opera and theatre repertoire, bringing performers and audiences together in unique theatrical settings.
Performed over the course of four weekends in October, the two plays and two operas chosen for the 2017 Fringe Festival will be performed in the newly renovated Studio ONE (formerly the TheatreLab@855). Studio ONE, located at 855 Commonwealth Avenue, will be reconfigured by each show’s artistic team. Jim Petosa, Director of the School of Theatre, is ready to reach for the unknown in the new performance space and embrace the themes of this year’s repertoire.
“The BU School of Theatre is happy to celebrate its ongoing relationship with the School of Music’s Opera Institute,” said Petosa. “This year we inaugurate a new home in the College of Fine Arts building and its new venue Studio ONE. The space promises to be a place of discovery and imagination as we bring the spirit of the Fringe Festival home to Commonwealth Avenue. Experiments in opera, new plays, and new interpretations of existing plays and chamber operas is exciting material for us to explore.”
Central to the mission of Fringe Festival is uniting performers and audiences in unique theatrical settings and provoking conversations. William Lumpkin, Director of the Opera Institute, is hopeful that the new space will carry on the tradition of intimacy fostered on the small stage. Fringe, he says, brings works of contemporary literary composers and librettists to the forefront. “It’s important to see these stories told in a formal setting, in opera, and in a language the audience understands.” Managing Director of Opera Institute and Opera Programs Oshin Gregorian explains that the Opera program at BU is on the cutting edge of material. “So many people think opera is relegated to old stories, but we pride ourselves on going for the full range of experience with the pieces we pick. We’ve tended to gravitate towards the more edgy and progressive material.”
The repertoire for this year’s Fringe Festival—operas Sweets by Kate and The War Reporter, and plays Downtown (a BU New Play Initiative production) and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children—each evoke relevant cultural conversations in addition to opening a dialogue between the actors, directors, and librettists.
Sweets by Kate, a dark comedic opera in two acts composed by Griffin Candey on a libretto and original story by Thom K. Miller, and Downtown, a BU New Play Initiative production conceived by current student Kyle Chua (CFA’19), stir themes of memory, history, acceptance, and queer identity. In the second half of Fringe Festival 2017, The War Reporter, a stirring opera by Jonathan Berger on a libretto by Dan O’Brien, chronicles the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning combat journalist Paul Watson wrestling with the haunting voice of an American soldier whose corpse he photographed in the streets of Mogadishu. A parallel commentary on the damaging effects of war, Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, as translated by David Hare, is regarded as one of the most powerful anti-war plays ever written, and comes to Studio ONE as the final installment of Fringe Festival.
Sweets by Kate
Friday, Oct 6, 7:30pm | Saturday, Oct 7, 2pm & 7:30pm | Sunday, Oct 8, 2pm
Music Direction by Allison Voth
Stage Direction by Emily Ranii
Composed by Griffin Candey on a libretto and original story by Thom K. Miller
Chosen as part of Fort Worth Opera’s 2017 Frontiers program
Commissioned and premiered by the Midwest Institute of Opera, premiered July 2015
A dark comedy in two short acts. When Elizabeth Brigmann’s father dies suddenly, she decides to return to the small town that shunned her twelve years earlier. Amid the outwardly-cheery glow of 1950s rural America, Elizabeth and her partner, Kate, must square with the lurking disapproval of the town, the teetering success of the family business, and her family’s (quite literal) deals with the Devil.
BU New Play Initiative: Downtown
Friday, Oct 13, 7:30pm (Talk-Back) ● Saturday, Oct 14, 2pm and 7:30pm ● Sunday, Oct 15, 2pm
By Kyle Chua (CFA’19)
Directed by Michael Hammond
Al’s debut novel, about his unrequited affections for a man named Ben, was shaped to provoke and sell. Almost instantly, it becomes a critically-acclaimed bestseller. But when Ben turns up at one of Al’s literary events bearing threats of a lawsuit, both men are forced to examine the reasons that brought them together, and the circumstances that pulled them apart. Alternating between past and present, Downtown is a puzzle of fact and fiction, an exploration of the intersections of race, nationality, and queerness. A BU New Play Initiative production. Approximate running time: 90 minutes
The War Reporter
Friday, Oct 20, 7:30pm | Saturday, Oct 21, 2pm & 7:30pm | Sunday, Oct 22, 2pm
Music Direction by William Lumpkin
Stage Direction by Jim Petosa
Composed by Jonathan Berger on a libretto by Dan O’Brien
Premiered as part of the 2013 “Prototype Festival” (Beth Morrison Productions)
The true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning combat journalist Paul Watson as he seeks to stifle the haunting voice of an American soldier whose corpse he photographed in the streets of Mogadishu.
Mother Courage and Her Children
Friday, Oct 27, 7:30pm (CFA Visitor’s Day and Talk-Back) ● Saturday, Oct 28, 2pm and 7:30pm ● Sunday, Oct 29, 2pm
By Bertolt Brecht
Translated by David Hare
Directed by Jeremy Ohringer
Mother Courage and Her Children is widely regarded as Brecht’s best work, a theatrical landmark and one of the most powerful anti-war plays in history. In this play, a chronicle of the Thirty Years War, Mother Courage follows the armies back and forth across Europe, selling provisions and liquor from her canteen wagon. One by one she loses her children to the war but will not part with her livelihood—the wagon. Approximate running time: 2 hours
ABOUT THE FRINGE FESTIVAL
For over two decades, the Boston University School of Music: Opera Institute and School of Theatre have brought unique theatrical performances to the University’s stages. The Schools have worked together to create over two dozen diverse and extraordinary productions that combine a masterful blending of drama and music compiled into three main events every October. Find more at bu.edu/cfa/fringe.
College of Fine Arts, Studio ONE
855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
$7 General Admission | $3.50 with CFA Membership | Free with BU ID, at the door, day of performance, subject to availability | bu.edu/cfa/fringe