Fringe Festival kicks off Thursday

Hallie Sutton

NMU’s theatre department will host its first Fringe Festival, which features four separate, short plays, starting Thursday in the Black Box theatre.

The Fringe Festival, which is a smaller take on a larger movement that began in Scotland in 1947, is a way for graduating seniors to showcase their capstone projects for the theatre department, according to the Forest Robert’s Theatre webpage on the NMU

“I’m excited for audience members in the local university community and the Marquette County community to become familiar with what a Fringe Festival is all about,” said Monica Nordeen, a community member who answered an audition call-out on the Forest Robert Theatre’s Facebook page.

The festival will run the weekends of Feb. 11 and Feb. 18, and will include performances of “The International Stud,” “Love Notes,” “The Colored Museum,” and The Soul Truth. The plays will run from 30 to 50 minutes each, and the two plays performed will change each day.

Nordeen will play the character The Soul in The Soul Truth, a play written by Paul Truckey, a professor in the theatre department. Truckey sat in on the first few rehearsals to both give and receive feedback

“It’s a brand new play so we get to do it for the first time. It’s like a world premiere,” Nordeen said. “We could get some input in the process of developing the show.”

Nordeen, who has performed in other NMU productions such as The Tempest and Les Miserables, attended Fringe Festivals in her previous home of New York City.

“It’s just a really fun opportunity,” Nordeen said. “I think it’s going to be a great experience for the audience and they will get to see a lot of different talent.”

Javonte Thompson, a senior in the theatre and entertainment arts major, is directing Love Notes, a play he wrote, for his capstone.

“I wrote Love Notes because I personally see theatre as a life-changing art form,” Thompson said. “It definitely has the potential to have a positive impact on people, and I wanted to have the opportunity to explore that.”

The play centers on two young women who use love as a way to fill a void in their lives, and will touch on topics such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, but will also have smaller nods to numerous other issues, including the rise of STDs and STIs in youth.

“The writing process is great because not only did I have to focus on content and what I wanted to educate on, but now comes the even harder part with actually making sure it’s good and it’s not like people are getting lectured,” Thompson said.

In addition to directing, Thompson will also play the character The Questioner in The Soul Truth and Walter-Lee-Beau-Willie-Jones in The Colored Museum. He has previously acted in productions for Northern in the past, such as Legally Blonde. The difference between large scale productions and smaller productions is the freedom to focus on details, he said.

“You have the opportunity to actually focus more on what matters,” Thompson said. “If you want something a little more personal, if you want to be able to feel something that’s a little more believable, the Fringe Festival gives you that.”

Tickets for the performances can be purchased from any NMU EZ ticket outlet, and are $5 for NMU students.