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 Fringe has the benefit of using space in Loch Haven Park, including at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, the Orlando Repertory Theater, and the Orlando Museum of Art — all terrific stages for theater and performance venues. This year, Fringe is also venturing off Loch Haven Park to other locations, including The Venue on Virginia Drive, and the Footlight Theatre at the Parliament House Resort on Orange Blossom Trail.
But that’s not all. How’s this idea: theater in a … living room?
“What is Living Room Theater?” notes a release by the theater group pioneering this concept. “Paths of absurdity, raw truth and love intersect as Bear, Otter and Dog invite you into a living room to share vignettes reflecting upon our humanity. Through pensive to comical conversations, experimental performance pieces and live instrumentals, a story emerges. No two shows alike.”
What the productioncompany known as Living Room Theater is offering, then, are performances in a real, live living room … in this case, Al and Gale Pergande’s home at 1314 Chichester St. in Orlando, just a short drive from Loch Haven Park.
There is free street parking available there, and seating for up to 20 people.
Sufficiently intrigued, Freeline Media contacted one of the trio — which constitutes Tisse Mallon as Bear,
Jack Graham as Dog and Banks Helfrich as Otter — to learn more. Banks was only too happy to tell us.
FM: “No two shows alike” — intriguing. Sounds like it saves money on a script writer.
Banks: All three of us are writers. The vignettes are all original.
FM: Doing performance art in a living room also sounds clever and creative. Have you done this before and what are the advantages to this kind of theatrical setting?
Banks: We have found that performing in living rooms provides a sense of intimacy, connection and familiarity. We are immersive theater and not participatory.
FM: Tell us about Living Room Theater — who is it, how long have you been around, and what do you do.
Banks: We have performed at over 55 living rooms in the past five months in the Central Florida area.
FM: Expand on the concept of the performers sharing vignettes on humanity.
Banks: We explore ordinary, every day life in a way that is authentic and brings out what is special and extraordinary about it.
Our vignettes provoke a questioning of what we value and believe.
FM: Do you plan to continue creating shows, and finding alternative spaces for performances?
Banks: Living Room Theater is an ongoing project which we seek to take on tour to living rooms across the globe.
Living Room Theater will be performing at the Pergande house on the following dates:
* Thursday May 19 at 7:30 p.m.
* Friday May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
* Saturday May 21 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
* Sunday May 22 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
* Thursday May 26 at 7:30 p.m.
* Friday May 27 at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
* Saturday May 28 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
* Sunday, May 29 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..