ORLANDO – The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and this year the nearly three-week long festival will feature the largest line-up of shows in its history.
The festival’s more than 120 shows will include comedies, musicals, magic shows, dance …. and science fiction.
Wait, what was that last one?
Ray Bradbury remains one of the most celebrated writers in the science fiction genre, and his work will be reintroduced to audiences at Fringe courtesy of actor David Lee, who will dramatize two short stories by the author, “Rocket Man” and “Kaleidoscope,” both from Bradbury’s seminal work “The Illustrated Man.”
The show is being produced by Margaret Nolan’s Kangagirl Productions. Freeline Media reached out to Margaret to learn more about this show.
FM: Ray Bradbury is a classic and loved science fiction writer. Tell us about how two of his short stories became a Fringe show.
Margaret: Both David and I have always loved Ray Bradbury’s work. David had a special affinity for the collection of short stories in the “The Illustrated Man” and felt that “The Rocket Man” and “Kaleidoscope” stories go so well together and seem perfect for a theatrical interpretation. One is set on Earth and the other is set in Space. And both deal with some basic human challenges and emotions, including regret, passion, curiosity, remorse, longing, loss, and redemption.
FM: Science fiction often lends itself well to movies and special effects, but can be more challenging on stage. How did you deal with that challenge?
Margaret: We kept our piece sort of simple so that the stories and Bradbury’s words are the star, but we have an amazing design team with Sarah Yates and Tara Kromer and Vandy Wood who are creating a soundscape and visual elements with projection that would make Mr. Bradbury very happy, we think!
FM: Science fiction deals with fantasy, but often can be symbolic or metaphoric for issues of our time. Is that the case here?
Margaret: So many people we know have been dealing with personal loss of a parent or close friend and the struggle to persevere and to go on and live life to the fullest. Both of these stories explore loss and survival against a creative backdrop and seem to tap into our current obsession with exploration and colonization of other worlds.
Space exploration has reached many incredible milestones and has always captured the imagination of generations. NASA’s current missions to more fully explore Mars coupled with advances in technologies for capturing images and scientific data have enhanced our knowledge and sparked even more interest in space exploration. And SpaceX has been quite successful with their rocket launches and recoveries. The future possibilities are exciting and give new context to Ray Bradbury’s stories.
Ray Bradbury, though a scfi and fantasy Pulitzer Prize-winning author, “predicted” so many things that have come true, both technologically and socially!
FM: What was it like working with such a talented actor as David Lee?
Margaret: David and I have been collaborating directly or tangentially on projects for about 25 years. At the now defunct Tropical Theatre, Theatre Downtown, Big Bang — as part of his Per4mants — Orlando Fringe (“The Three Pussy Riot Sisters”, “Pie Face- The Adventures of Anita Bryant”, “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll”, Fringe NYC (“Pie Face- The Adventures of Anita Bryant”), and at the Footlight Theatre (“The Little Dog Laughed”, “The New Century”, “Dog Sees God”, “Sex, Drugs,Rock & Roll”). I enjoy the way we work together and have immense respect for his talents.
One of my favorite things we did together was in 2002. It was a free performance of “The Guys” by Anne Nelson, starring Rebecca Fisher and Chris Jorie, a play she wrote after 9/11 about a Fire Chief eulogizing his fallen fire fighters. We invited all of the local police, firefighters, first responders and their families. It was so emotional and heartfelt.
I feel we share some artistic sensibilities and topics and enjoy exploring whatever zeitgeist at the time as well as layered topics. David knows that I will go on whatever creative trip he wants to take! It’s always a magic carpet ride!
FM: After Fringe, where does “Rocket Man” go from here?
Margaret: David says …. hopefully all over the world to other festivals and then….The First Annual Martian Fringe Festival!
“Rocket Man” is being performed on:
* Thursday May 19 at 10 p.m.
* Saturday May 21 at 7:45 p.m.
* Sunday May 22 at 12:15 p.m.
* Tuesday May 24 at 8:15 p.m.
* Thursday May 26 at 9:15 p.m.
* Friday May 27 at 6:15 p.m.
* Sunday May 29 at 3:30 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..