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.
For years, the British have had a love affair with Central Florida, visiting our sunny beaches and theme parks on a regular basis, relocating here to start businesses, becoming major investors in homes and properties throughout the region, and being pioneers in the field of short-term rental vacation homes. For many Central Floridians, this has been the most enjoyable “British invasion” since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones hit the shores in the 1960s.
That British love of Central Florida extends, happily, to the Orlando Fringe as well, which certainly has attracted more than its fair share of international performers this year.
One of them is the UK-based Haste Theatre, an all-female, international company based in London that “shares a passion for innovative, creative and multidisciplinary storytelling,” the group noted in a news release. “They make physically devised, original work that is light and humorous in nature, yet which remains grounded in questions of humanity. Over the past three years Haste have toured extensively in the U.S and Italy, picking up a number of awards.”
This year, Haste is bringing to Fringe “The Hideout,” the story of Theseus and the Minotaur re-imagined as a 1920’s cabaret. Tossed into the mix is physical story-telling, tap dance, live clarinet, singing and physical comedy.
Intrigued, Freeline Media contacted the show’s co-director, Elly Beaman-Brinklow, to learn more.
FM: How did you come up with the idea of a show built around two Greek Gods?
Elly: When looking for great stories, where better to look than Greek myths, as they are full of love, drama, death, power play and playfulness. We enjoyed the challenge of taking a classic and putting our own spin on it. We have kept the Gods’ fundamental traits, however being set in a 1920’s cabaret bar they will appear very different to your classic story book Gods. Dionysus God of wine, merriment and mischief is the perfect bar owner…and things grew from there.
FM: Despite the unique mythological settings, are you using the idea for subtle commentary on contemporary issues as well? Or just having some fun?
Elly: We use the mythological content as an exploration of story-telling form. The stock characters, well known Gods and our comic clown style give great license to play, and the subversion of classic mythological character traits give the show a chaotic, exciting and anarchic feel that appeals to international audiences.
FM: How well does your average Greek God lend itself to a comedy/musical/zany Fringe show?
Elly: Greek Gods are intrinsically theatrical and use their power to cause mayhem among themselves and the mortals. Add in a tap-dancing Minotaur, some audience interaction and a sprinkling of 1920s and you’ve got yourself a Fringe show!
FM: You’re from London.. Are you bringing “British humor” to American audiences?
Elly: Absolutely — we also use slapstick, improv and European clowning to ensure fun is had by all.
FM: Tell us about the history of Haste Theatre.
Elly: We met whilst doing a Masters in Physical Theatre in 2013, from which we formed a company that specializes in clowning, physical storytelling and multi-disciplinary work. We are an Anglo-Italian company who have made 3 shows together and toured internationally around Europe and the US. Our first devised show, ‘Oyster Boy’, came to Orlando in 2014 and won the Best International Show and the Best Kids Fringe Show awards. We took ‘The Hideout’ to San Diego in 2014 where we won the Outstanding World Premier award, and we recently performed it at the Edinburgh Fringe where it was very well received, with glowing reviews. We also teach physical theatre and clowning workshops throughout the year in schools and colleges in Europe, and are currently working on a new show for the Fall.
“The Hideout” is being performed in the Pink Venue at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, on the following dates:
* Wednesday May 18 at 10:30 p.m.
* Saturday May 21 at 9 p.m.
* Sunday May 22 at 10:30 p.m.
* Tuesday May 24 at 8:30 p.m.
* Thursday May 26 at 7:15 p.m.
* Saturday May 28 at 4:20 p.m.
* Sunday May 29 at 7.30 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..