ORLANDO – The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival kicked off on Wednesday at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and this year the nearly three-week long festival is featuring the largest line-up of shows in its history.
In one of the shows, PIE and therapy become all the rage, courtesy of artist Viet Nguyen, the creator of the Fringe hit “Reincarnation Soup.” This year Nguyen is back with a new play “based on stories from the trenches of social work,” Viet noted in a news release about the show, which follows two young, gay graduate students “learn how to help others — and themselves — grieve, grow, die, survive, and hug.” Written by Viet and directed by Jeremy Seghers, the play features Mar’Keyth Powell and Viet in the cast.
Freeline Media caught up with Viet to learn more about the show.
FM: “First person becomes third person and PIE as evidenced by the therapeutic alliance.” Heavy for us non-STEM folks. Serious drama, or something else?
Viet: It’s a drama with comedy. This part of the blurb refers to some main themes of social work.
FM: How did “Bio Psycho Social” get conceived and developed?
Viet: The play was shaped by my background in social work. I’ve worked in different settings in the field — in schools, hospice, private practice. I’ve worked with a wide range of ages, from toddlers to centenarians. Some of their stories are in the play. I’ve been away from the field for a few years, and wanted to reflect and reconnect with it in some way.
FM: What are you hoping audiences get from this production?
Viet: I hope they laugh with the characters and connect with their experiences. I hope they get a glimpse into this rewarding, frustrating, underpaid, odd profession and the lives of these two characters that are venturing into it.
FM: Do you feel like this piece is, well, Fringie?
Viet: I feel that it’s sufficiently Fringie. Some parts are realistic; some parts are abstract. And it’s gay. (That’s Fringie, right?)
FM: Once Fringe is over, where does “Bio Psycho Social” go from here?
Viet: I’m not sure, but I’m open to extending it elsewhere if the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, I’ll just incubate it for a while and start writing for next year! Fringe-addiction is a real thing …
“Bio Psycho Social” is being performed in the Green Venue, and opens tonight at 6 p.m. Additional dates include:
* Saturday May 21 at 7:45 p.m.
* Monday May 23 at 6:30 p.m.
* Wednesday May 25 at 9:15 p.m.
* Friday May 27 at 6 p.m.
* Saturday May 28 at 4:45 p.m.
* Sunday May 29 at 4:45 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..