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Sugar House Journal

Annual Fringe Festival has a show for everyone

Aug 31, 2017 17h22 ● By Jana Klopsch

The Fringe Factory. (Fringe Festival/Management) 

By Kayla Lien | [email protected]

The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, which ran was from July 28 to August 6th. The Festival is a bunch of shows put on by different theater groups, sponsored by Fringe and held at Westminster College and at the Fringe Factory. It’s uncensored and unapologetic. Artists have the power, and they can create what matters to them. The Fringe started when two Westminster College professors, Nina and Michael Vought, found the New Orleans Fringe, and were enthralled with all the things they saw there.

On Aug. 5, “Former Boyfriends of Maddie” was put on by three members of the Aztec Pyramid Scheme, a Las Vegas -based improv comedy troupe, at the Fringe Factory. “‘Former Boyfriends” follows Detective Stilton, played by Robert Quam, investigating a murder of a girl named Maddie. Stilton’s plans keep getting delayed by going through rewrite after rewrite, eventually ending up in the “writer’s mind,” where he learns that unless he becomes useful, he’ll be made into a secondary character, or even written out of the story. 

Devin Beckwith constantly changes character, being a “sheet-elf” one scene, multiple extras, a quest- giver in a video game, the writer himself and more. Louis Hillegass comes into one scene, playing a character on a phone call with his mom. 

Beckwith said, “The story of why this show is about all these rewrites, is ‘cause this show went through tons of rewrites. We did a show with the exact same title in the Vegas Fringe, completely different...” 

“...about an actual support group, through the whole thing,” Quam added. 

Beckwith continued, “We kept trying to rewrite and couldn’t really find anything that worked, so then we were like, can we just make it about this character that keeps on getting rewritten, and that’s how we settled on this.” 

Through those rewrites, Robert Quam said, “Stilton was the only character that we’ve carried over from the very beginning.” 

On the other end of the theater spectrum came “Dissonant Relative,” a play that poked fun at many controversial subjects in society through dark humor. Put on by the Survivors Theater Company, it follows Jenny (played by Sam Kleyh), Ricky (Garrith McCoy), Sally, Bobby, Greg (Ryan Hopkins) and Teacher (Kris Karns) on a day in the classroom (Sally and Bobby happen to be sock puppets on Jenny and Ricky’s hands).

From the start, we learn of the relationship between Teacher and Eraser, an eraser with a smiley face drawn on one end and a frowny face drawn on the other. Immediately, we find that Teacher could be psychotic, not letting the students sit down at first, talking to inanimate objects and trying to medically operate on one of the students. “Dissonant Relative” showcases a sexual relationship between Greg and Teacher, as well as the idea that religion is just made-up nonsense, cults, drugs and much more. 

Josh Hopkin, the writer and director of the play, said, “I took an avant-garde playwriting class, and got challenged to write on stage with stage directions. I wrote it a year and a half ago, and then this last semester I workshopped it at UVU and now we’re at Fringe.” 

He chalked up all the stabs at society to, “I got very fed up with the just stupidity of people, and that’s my way of fighting back, like, illogical nonsense,” he said. “I did kind of try to focus it into education and religion to try to hone it into two institutions. In the workshop process it was definitely a lot more messy. I kinda cleaned it up and honed it into specifically religion and the education of it.”