Sunday, July 23, 2017

K L Brisby's "The Yellow Hell of Vincent Van Gogh: a memoir of music and Blood at San Diego International Fringe Festival 2017 post 3

KL Brisby, William B.J. Robinson, Delores Fisher, Paul Arajo

San Diego Fringe Festival 2017 presented another definite hit show with the cast of  K. L. Brisby's historically researched script "The Yellow Hell of Vincent Van Gogh: a memoir of music and blood."

KL Brisby and Gingerlily Lowe are San Diego theater icons. I met them approximately 30 years ago when I was cast as Uncle Remus in a show with Brisby. It was a slightly controversial yet innovative theater story project. As I remember it, lead male actors pulled away from the show due to socio-cultural community "fall out."

Encouraged to try the role, I helped to create a cross generational/gender role. Uncle Remus-a male character based on the Joel Chandler Harris Uncle Remus folktales, is played as an aging slave almost 80 years old. The musical played to a packed house for children and adults every show.

As with my stage work at other theaters and with so many other nationally acclaimed San Diego directors who patiently taught stage acting's subtle shimmerings of character nuances versus broadly painted portrayals, I learned a lot about live theater from Kent and Gingerlily. It was a surprise to run into them at Fringe Festival's "Big Kitchen, Take 2" production.

                               Delores Fisher, Gingerlily Lowe, KL Brisby

Last time I remember talking to Kent was at the CD release for award winning poet Jim Moreno's Reversing the Erased, Exhuming the Expunged: we both composed music for the CD Reversing the erased, exhuming the expunged  (Jim and I still perform live versions of the poem with soundscape at various venues large and small.


Kent, Gingerlily and I talked for several minutes and Kent invited me to see his new show "The Yellow Hell of Vincent Van Gogh" with music by Stu Shames and featuring actors William B.J. Robinson and Paul Araujo at the Fringe San Diego Art Institute. A few days later, I was sitting in the space with a standing room only crowd waiting in anticipation. I got one of the last tickets for the show that evening. It sold out.

The script's premise allows the audience to consider the time when Gauguin and Van Gogh were room mates in a small apartment in Paris, France.  is part 2 of what will become a trilogy, the first play is about Paul Gauguin.  Sorry readers, I tried to get Gingerlily to do a spoiler's alert reveal after the show, but she only confirmed that there would be third play- not the focus of the script.

                                         Gingerlily Lowe and Delores Fisher

Brisby looks for the best actors to play his characters. Sometimes his casting choices seem counter-intuitive until the actor sweeps audience away into Brisby's enticingly multi-layered storytelling.William B.J. Robinson, a trained actor, vocalist, and pianist does just that from the moment he takes stage to final bows as Van Gogh.

                                            William B.J. Robinson as Vincent Van Gogh

Robinson sings and also plays keyboards, bringing Stu Shames songs to life while musically interpreting Van Gogh's feelings when words would clutter. An apt pianist, Robinson  has a gorgeous voice. His actor's timing is inviting, whether soloing with keyboard or doing stage business or interacting with Paul Araujo's diabolically whimsical Paul Gauguin.
Araujo fills the stage as actor and singer creating a roller coaster counterpoint to Robinson's Van Gogh. It is fun, emotionally intense,  ensemble theater. Araujo also has solo songs. His Gauguin rocks out and sometimes croons while aptly accompaying himself on a lime green electric guitar. Araujo's duet work balances well with Robinson on electric piano.

Paul Araujo as Gauguin and William B. J. Robinson as Gauguin

The play's scenes range from the room mates' small apartment to bawdy brothels. Brisby's story line also explores the possibility of both Gauguin's and Van Gogh's tenuous grip on reality. A chilling climax, a scene near the end recounts the night when Van Gogh cut off his ear. Brisby's research presents Van Gogh's and Gauguin's memories of the event from two drastically different realities.

    K.L. Brisby, William B.J. Robinson, and Paul Araujo

Despite distractions (for me) the sweltering heat in the theater, a standing room only crowd, and a small intimate stage (Brisby's choice) "The Yellow Hell of Vincent Van Gogh: a memoir of music and blood" spins a fascinating narrative

When the trilogy is completed, this trio of KL Brisby's plays could easily become a film.

See you at the Fringe!
Delores Fisher

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lacresha Berry's One Woman Show Harriet Tubman San Diego International Fringe Festival 2017 Post #2

Lacresha Berry and Delores Fisher after show conversation

San Diego Fringe Festival is noted for choosing innovative performers with a message. The second dynamic one woman show that I saw at Fringe Festival San Diego was Harriet Tubman portrayed by Lacresha Berry caused a resonance within me as an educator.

Check out the full post. It can be found at

Other educators in attendance agreed including Fanny Garvey, international educator.
                      Fanny Garvey and Lacresha Berry

 Oh yea. . .  music lovers, remember the group Mandrill?

Well, Pasadena talk show host Debra "Smilelady" and Ric Wilson of the group Mandrill was also in the audience. I enjoyed  talking and sharing upcoming projects after the show.

                                 Ric Wilson after the show

Ric Wilson gave me this international scoop:

Mandrill's newest album will be out soon. Look for the "official" announcement to access the group's newest work.

 Harriet Tubman adds to Berry's impressive body of performance works. It will most likely become an in demand touring vehicle. It is another must see show. Again, read the critique 

                                        Lacresha Berry as Harriet Tubman

  Lacresha Berry is a wise educator and an electrifying performer. 

Deeply moved and inspired,
Delores Fisher

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kathleen Denny San Diego International Fringe Festival 2017

                     Kathleen Denny Writer/Performance Artist San Diego 2017

San Diego International Fringe Festival is in its 5th year. It's Kathleen Denny's 1st San Diego Fringe. I hope she comes back. Her show, "Nice Is Not What We Do" directed by Mark Kenward is fascinating.

Kevin Patterson has another hit series this year from local  producer directors like K.L. Brisby and Gingerlily Lowe-(The Yellow Hell"), national performers: Kathleen Denny-"Nice Is Not What We Do", and international writers, performers, producers, directors like bi-national artist Melissa Cisneros-Mexico ("Juego De Las Microacciones") to Giorgia Mazzucato-Italy "(Lifegate").

Kathleen Denny knows how to plug a show. She is a gracious and engaging conversationalist. I was so excited about seeing the "Big Kitchen-A Counter Cultural Cabaret Take 2" that I had arrived a half hour early. Ms Denny and I started talking about theater, performances while waiting for opening night of  the Big Kitchen musical.

Ms Denny and I chatted about life events and family dynamics, especially if raised back East in seasonal weather that is often more than daunting. Snow is a common natural phenomenon that we all share. And, if from a certain generation . . . so is the father who has a relationship that seems to divide siblings into alternate realities.

Mothers who smilingly went along with whatever her husband wanted because, well, that's what women usually did do not escape comedic commentary.It was generally a stand by your man era no matter what-ethnicity,class, religious beliefs, race. Today's generation's version is the ride or die female who are with their man through thick or thin, 24/7 no matter.

Pre-60s feminism, a woman figured that if her man survived the depression, learned how to provide for himself and her plus kids, gentleness and dialogue was a dream world reality for wished for in vain.

Denny gathers and releases essences of this complex dynamic that helped spawn so many reactive movements against an often unbudging patriarchy. Unless . . . .well for daughters who had sparring rights, it was a sometimes yielding, almost gentle, yet tough as nails over-protective duel dance. A favorite line about her caustic daughter/father interaction during a flashback scene captures who they are to each other, "It's what we do. It's back and forth, forth and back."

                                                  Kathleen Denny center stage

As stage lights dim, Ms. Denny opens her show by bursting onto the stage in full dialogue. It immediately feels for me as if we are in mid-conversation. Her considerable storytelling skills pulls an audience into her slightly tilting world. She is preparing to attend her father's funeral.  A family member asks her to "wear something nice." She groans, "Nice? Nice is not what I do." These lines provide a clearer lens into her family dynamics and conflicted memories.

    Kathleen Denny: a poignant scene about her father, aboard ship, and dolphins 

Mood setting musical excerpts and lighting changes lead into scene changes that move the performance smoothly along. Kathleen Denny uses immediately identifiable specific to character facial expressions, voice changes, body postures, gestures that cues her audience into who she is at the time she is speaking.

Her humor is definitely from "back East" as we transplanted East coasters who now live elsewhere say. At times, an audience might have several sections humor touches heart places no matter what region you are from; her show has something for everybody.

Although it's a comedy, her narrative covers spousal abuse, cancer, the fact that in a family of siblings, listen to each recount their childhoods and it seems as if they have all been born to a different family. All the siblings seem to agree that although they each loved him, their dad, a lawyer dedicated to his work and sailing, was one tough and difficult man to love.

                                                    Kathleen Denny
Yet, Denny observes, as generations die off one reality emerges, "The dead are left in the hands of the living. In the end its what we do that has impact of long or short duration."

The show is at Fringe Festival location # 7 Centro Cultural De La Raza right next to Fringe Festival location # 8 The World Beat Center."

We chatted for a few more minutes after the show. One woman shows are hard to do.I saw the original Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg one woman shows.  Kathleen Denny... has created a really good one woman show. It's at the San Diego Fringe for only two more shows---June 29th and July 1st. It's a must see.
                                           Kathleen Denny and Delores Fisher

Oh yea, Fringe . . . .is theater where you may, but don't have to dress up. A busy blogger's wish come true.!!!!

Delores Fisher