Noah J Nelson on Monday, Jun. 15th
Continuing our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival.
When I head that Lauren Ludwig and Monica Miklas, two of the producers of the perennial Fringe favorite Lost Moon Radio were taking a year off from that show to produce something else I was intrigued. When I found out that it was a series of pop-up performances based on Hamlet centered around a van?
I was ecstatic.
If you’re reading this you might know that I have a thing for immersive/interactive theatre. That thing is called No Proscenium and I’ve been giddily tracking the growth of this strange continuum of performance for the past couple of years.
Ludwig and Miklas, under the banner Capital W, have put together a series of intimate performances and street theatre events that draw from the text of Shakespeare’s play. So far I’ve on;y had the opportunity to catch two of the eight tiny shows: “The Gravedigger Hot Boxes The Van” and “Family Feud.”
Each of these was radically different from the other. “Feud” is the scene from the opening of the play where we first meet Hamlet the younger, played out on a sidewalk with the titular Hamlet-Mobile acting as a wagon for the players to enter and exit from. The audience of curious seekers and passer-by got an eyeful with a kinetic performance from the troop.
It made for a pretty good advertisement for the ingenuity of the staging and the acting chops of the troop.
“Gravedigger” was a different beast entirely: a performance meant for one that played on the philosophical ideas of the graveyard scene. This too was played outside the van—I haven’t gotten a chance to get inside the bloody thing yet—but here the van itself acts as a character of sorts.
To say much more would be to spoil an experience that is as much an individual encounter with a character and some pretty heady ideas.
The only real downside to Hamlet-Mobile is the scarcity: unlike most Fringe shows it is around for a couple of hours at a time. However most of the performances are meant for just one or two people, so not nearly as many folks are going to be able to see the mini-plays as the work deserves.
Capital W’s work should have a greater effect than just pleasing those who are lucky enough to see it. In a just world these pop-up performances will inspire Fringe artists to start experimenting with the form more. The beauty of a Fringe Festival is that anything goes, so it can be disappointing sometimes to see so much being made that fits into the neat confines of what we think of as “theatre.”
Hamlet-Mobile performances are announced via the show’s Twitter feed @HamletMobile. Look for the van popping up Weds-Sundays though the end of Fringe on June 28th. Hopefully I’ll have a bigger write-up of the shorts by the end of the Festival.