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.
And one show, courtesy of Australia, tries to be truly Frank.
“Frank: To Be Frank” was created and will be performed by Emily June Newton, and was co-written and directed by Deanna Fleysher.
Australian Emily is theatre artist with a focus on comedy and character creation, while Deanna is a teacher, director and international touring artist and director of Naked Comedy Lab. Together, they’re “drawn to the ridiculous and the heartfelt, the intimate and the outrageous,” they noted in a news release about their show. “Expect audience inclusion and comedy art at its finest.”
Freeline Media reached out to Emily and learn more about how they plan to be truly “Frank” about the Fringe.
FM: Tell us about how this show was created.
Emily: Initially I had developed this character, Frank, as part of my thesis during the MFA program at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in California. After I graduated, I really wanted to continue working with this character but wasn’t sure ‘how.’ I met Deanna Fleysher — aka Butt Kapinski — a few months after graduating and we started working together on small ‘bits’ — for example we explored how Frank would lead the audience in a dance. I started performing these bits around Portland, Oregon. A narrative emerged and we kept building the show until it reached it’s final incarnation. It has been 18 months of developing and performing — it has gone from a 4 minute dance to a 55 minute interactive show.
FM: Is there a story behind the music that the audience will follow?
Emily: Frank uses songs as a way of expressing a feeling of a point of view to the audience — it aids in telling the story of his life. The audience will find it easy to follow along. Frank may even encourage a sing-a-long, or four …
FM: Is this the first time you’ve brought this Australian show to U.S. audiences?
Emily: This show was actually developed in America! For U.S. audiences! But I am looking forward to taking it to Australia soon. I will, however, be out and about on some days as my Australian character Pat McKensie — she can’t be missed, she wears a purple pants-suit and wears a lot of ‘Australiana — things with Australian-themed images on it, ie. the Australian flag. Feel free to come and say hi and have a ‘yarn (a chat)’ with her!
FM: How do you like being in Orlando? How has the city been treating you?
Emily: I am still in Portland, Oregon for the moment but arrive in Orlando shortly. I am looking forward to the sun and the good weather. I hope to be a tourist when I arrive, aside from working the Fringe and performing of course!. I hear there is lots to see!
FM: After Fringe, where does the show go from here?
Emily: After Fringe, I head back to Portland, Oregon. I will be doing ‘Summerfest’, a curated festival at the Coho Theatre, then I will head up to Vancouver, B.C. for the fringe in September.
“Frank: To Be Frank” will be performed in the Purple Venue at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. The dates and times are:
* Friday, May 20 at 9 p.m.
* Sunday, May 22 at 1:30 p.m.
* Tuesday, May 24 at 10:30 p.m.
* Friday, May 27 at 10 p.m.
* Saturday, May 28 at 7 p.m.
* Sunday, May 29 at 12:30 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..