Temple well represented at Philly Fringe festival

Overwhelmed by the 194 shows featured at Live Arts Festival + Philly Fringe? Make it easy. Pick Temple.

For the next 11 days, you’ll be bombarded with choices.

You’ll have to decide whether to look at a giant spider, analyze the ills of Adderall, or watch stand-up comedy for 24 hours. These events are all part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe and the decision will be harder to make as the event continues in the coming days.

Among 22 live arts shows and 172 Fringe performances, six events will feature Temple alumni, students and professors. These artists will make the choice easy—when in doubt, go with your family. In these pages, you’ll find our three Temple-affiliated favorites. They’re more entertaining than your sister’s school play. We promise.

Students At War
These days, it’s hard to get the real story on Iraq. Amidst dozens of talking heads, we hear little from soldiers who are actually fighting in the war. In Conflict seeks to change that. Using the diary entries of Iraq veterans, the play tells the tale of actual men and women who’ve served in the war.

In Conflict concerns a hot-button topic — the Iraq War,” executive producer Roberta Sloan said.
“More than that, though, it addresses something we talk so little about: The toll the war takes on the men and women who are actually over there fighting in it. Intelligent theatergoers are interested in these complex, thorny issues, and In Conflict handles them with a great deal of power.”

Since the script consists entirely of diary entries, the performers act out the story in monologues. Known in the field as “verbatim,” the actor’s lines are all things said in real-life events (in this case, the war)—that means no improvising. It’s a unique, hard-hitting way to depict events that have occurred recently.

The play, which originally debuted at the Randall Theater in October 2007, has already traveled far. This August, In Conflict and its 11 cast members hit the stage in Edinburgh, Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play will debut in New York City at the Barrow Street Theater on Sept. 28.

“All of the students are making their professional acting debuts in New York City this September and you’d think they were seasoned pros,” Sloan said.

Though she may be biased, Sloan isn’t necessarily wrong about her actors. In August, In Conflict won a coveted Fringe First Award in Edinburgh.

Did we mention that former Philadelphia Daily News reporter Yvonne Latty penned the book that the play is adapted from? It’s all the more reason to keep it in the family.

Media Addicts group shot
Philly Fringe’s Media Addicts was written by Michael Tomasetti, a recent graduate of Temple who is fascinated by compulsive Internet users (Courtesy Philly Live Arts Festival + Philly Fringe).

Growing Pains
Michael Tomasetti speaks about his current project, Media Addicts, with the excitement of a young boy. At 22, he’s candid about the ups and downs of the theater industry, but he’s also excited to finally be an adult.

“I’m just a kid who just graduated, but this cast and everyone involved in it [trusts] me, which is always encouraging and cool,” Tomasetti said. “I’m so impressed by how willing the actors have been to jump into it.”

Opening on Sept. 11, the play explores the lives of six teenagers with media addictions as they enter a rehab facility tailor-made for their specific disorder. The play satirizes American news media and the black hole of information that the Internet has become.

“I was playing with the idea of addiction and if it’s possible to be addicted to the Internet,” Tomasetti said.

Fresh out of college, Tomasetti has entered the daunting, competitive world of professional theater with optimism, but he is not naive. When faced with financial challenges and a change in location he admits that it wasn’t easy to stay upbeat.

“I think the hardest thing was getting the money,” he said. “People don’t want to trust us and our show. I mean, we’re a group of kids from Temple,” Tomasetti said.

In the end, Tomasetti got the money and wrote a script that proposes a solution for those addicted to the media world. By blending live performance with video projections, the play teaches viewers how to be passionate about activities outside of the computer. It’s something we can all learn from.

Acting like an Animal
As a young actor, life after graduation can be tough. You quickly get used to rejection. You leave the safety blanket of your theater department behind. You probably move back in with your parents.
It’s a process Allyson Frick knows all too well.

After graduation, Frick moved back to her hometown of York, Pa., where she had difficulty landing any jobs. One day, while surfing the Web, she saw a notice for a casting call for Animal Tales. Two aspects of it sparked her interest: The notice said they would rehearse for the play in York and then take the show to Philly Fringe.

That’s when she finally broke her dry spell. She got the job.

Frick is now a member of the cast for Animal Tales, a collection of short plays and monologues that envisions a world where animals can speak. It also reveals how similar animal and human behavior can be. Or, you can see it like Frick does.

“It’s The Vagina Monologues meets The Lion King,” Frick said.

After being in Temple’s productions such as On The Razzle and Company during her sophomore year, and traveling abroad her junior year, Frick is looking forward to her first Philly Fringe.

“I think it’s great that so many of us [Temple students and alumni] are involved,” Frick said. “I think it’s a shame that someone like me never got involved until after graduating.”

Frick is the only cast member in production who isn’t from York College. Although it was difficult to adapt to working with strangers, she now sees it as a great learning experience.

“It was hard. I had gotten so used to the way Temple people do things and their habits,” Frick said. “So working with all these people with different patterns and tools taught me how to adjust to differences.”

Max McCormack can be reached at max.mccormack@temple.edu.

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