So the Minnesota Fringe is rolling around again -- and for those of you who aren't in the know, it's the largest non-juried theatre Festival in the country. That means there's an even keel -- there's 163 shows selected by lottery, who are then left to sink or float on their own devices. How's that for a free market system?
In any case, it's Christmas for theatre junkies, and I'm one of the Festival's in-house bloggers -- I preview dozens of plays to help the audience sift through what they're interested in seeing. As, apparently, the Twin Cities' sole anti-state theatre critic, I thought the readers of this blog might be interested in shows with a libertarian bent.
Bad Dad: A Comedy of Errers
I was lucky enough to catch a production of this while I was touring in Iowa, and it's one of the most explicitly anti-state plays I've ever seen, period. If you're looking to catch one show this time around, it's this one.
Bleak, bitter, and funny as hell, this show works precisely because it recognizes that there's *nothing* funny about the ideas it's ridiculing. It tells the story of a man trapped between banks, law firms, the IRS, the Supreme Court, and the weight of the US government -- and his frenzied attempts to beat the legal system at its own game, to win back his liberty and his family. It doesn't shy away from just how totally, unapologetically *fucked* all of us are, and that it's *not* just a minor inconvenience, it's *not* just some silly, bureaucratic hassle -- that we're all trapped as part of a system that ruthlessly destroys people's lives.
I want people to see this show, not just because I'm in passionate agreement with its message -- although, of course, I am -- but because it's *good satire*, dark, mean, smart, and hilarious. It's wrestling with ideas that almost *nobody* else is onstage right now, so please, please, please make an effort to this show.
That's really the only explicitly libertarian show I'm aware of in the Festival this year. There are, however, several libertarian *artists* who are producing work, if you're interested in supporting them:
Descendant of Dragons
This is my show. In the past four years, I've been to Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, doing research on my Chinese ancestry -- so if you're interested in going to all of those places in an hour, this is the show for you. Not explicitly political, but one of the major themes of the show is individualism versus collectivism, and my politics become a significant plot point once I actually enter red China towards the end.
Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati
Robert Anton Wilson may have chosen to call himself a "decentralist grassroots Jeffersonian", but his tongue-in-cheek approach to conspiracy theory made him something of a cult favorite to libertarians everywhere. The writer/producer, Tim Uren, blew me away last year with a slavishly faithful one-man retelling of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls," so this seems like one hell of a team-up to me.
Bouffon Glass Menajoree
A parody of the Tennessee Williams play. Bouffon clowning is hard to describe -- it's a form of French clowning that's sick, violent, hedonistic, and grotesque, pretty much the embodiment of contempt for authority. And by contempt, I don't mean a "ha-ha-let's-make-fun-of-Bush" contempt, I mean scary, cruel, raping-an-open-chest-wound kind of contempt. If you think that snuff films could use some wacky ragtime music in the background to lighten the mood, this is probably the show for you.
Tom Thumb, or The Tragedy of Tragedies
This is a collaboration between two of the Fringe's most talented entertainers, and it looks like all kind of whacked-out, trippy fun. The actor cornered me the other night, confiding in me (with all the glee of arrested adolescence) that they've made a real effort to cram in all the cock-and-ball jokes they could possibly think of, so that should tell you pretty clearly whether or not you're in the audience for this.
But I'm Not Bitter: Confessions of a Middle-Aged Lounge Lizard
To be honest, this show's kind of a crap shoot -- I've seen a few previews, and it could really be either brilliant or embarrassingly bad. The *script* is funny, smart, poetic at times, shifting between highbrow musings about Dante and Yeats to cheesy, Borscht-belt stand-up.
If you're interested in more of my thoughts, check out my Fringe blog Womb with a View. Remember, there's a lot of smart, edgy stuff happening out there -- and you can see more than one play a year.