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Defrost your winter nights with the Frigid Festival

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f you’re looking for a different sort of theater-going experience, featuring a number of hot up-and-coming Brooklyn playwrights and performers, the Frigid Festival is made just for you. With three theaters, 12 days, 30 independent theater companies and over 150 performances, this year’s Frigid Festival in New York will kick off the North American fringe festival season with tremendous energy. The festival, produced by Horse Trade Theater Group, runs now through March 9 at The Red Room, Kraine Theater and Under St. Marks in Manhattan. “Fringe theater,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is alternative, often non-narrative theater. Many performances of the type showcase up-and-coming talent or acts too unconventional for a mainstream audience. Expect a very different experience from what you’re used to seeing on Broadway! Many of the shows in this year's Frigid Festival are written and put on by talents native to Brooklyn. “American Cake” by Jonathan Pereira, a Brooklyn “stand-up performance artist,” is a satirical examination of the American political landscape that mixes insight into the issues which divide our country with personal experience. "A lot of it is taking a look at what it means to love your country,” Pereira said in a recent interview. “We often speak of that in general terms. Does that mean fighting for your country and dying for it? What's the alternative to that? Voting every four years? Paying your taxes?” While the show tackles politics, a near-synonym for divisiveness, Pereira makes an effort not to preach and sees the show as non-partisan. “My main goal is to entertain and to make sure that people have fun,” he said. “Because God knows we don't want to go to the theater to have someone to preach to us about things we have a very strong opinion about.” Pereira also notes the changing tenor of the discussion in the recent election. "This show sort of explores the polarization of 2004 [when it was written] but what I really like – and got nervous about – is it holds up as a timeless piece." In “ExcesSecret Circus: ¿Guess What ‘It’s’ About?” a satire by Brooklyn’s Theatre Reverb, Kristin Arnesen plays Olga, the shows host. Who is Olga? "She's just a ball of desires and drives,” said Arnesen in a recent interview. “She kind of does whatever she wants.” Describing the company, which she helped found in 2006, as a “multidisci­plinary experiment,” Arnesen says the new show takes characters from a previous show “Olga’s Secret Circus,” which launched the company, and mixes it with media satire. "We've brought together different elements like moving images and live performers,” said Arnesen. “We were trying to bring new media together to bring together new spectacles. “If we had more money, we’d have a bigger spectacle.” she laughed. Expect debauchery, hilarity and some scenes you might already know in this pop culture send up. "You’ll recognize a series of things from YouTube and pop culture,” said Arnesen. “We kind of string this general media unconscious together” In “American Badass (or 12 Characters In Search of a National Identity),” local Brooklyn favorite Chris Harcum, an actor cum playwright, will play multiple characters in his satirical examination of the world we live in. Think “Angels in America” as written or performed by David Cross. In “Rebel Without a Niche,” written and performed by Brooklyn’s Kurt Fitzpatrick, you’ll hear about the worst, most soul-rending, self hatred-inspiring, liberals-arts-education-begrudging jobs anyone's ever worked, injected with a high-octane cocktail of drollness. Fitzpatrick roasts service industry denizens for an hour and promises to do something clever with a jelly donut. 2007 was the debut of Frigid and the festival received acclaim from many influential publications including American Theatre Magazine, Backstage, Playbill, Broadwayworld.com, The Village Voice and United Stages. When the 29 theater companies featuring almost 250 theater artists from all over the world played to over 2,555 audience members, United Stages lauded the performances, calling the program “the coolest show on Earth” and Backstage.com praised the concept behind the festival, dubbing it “the first festival of its kind to celebrate independent theater.” The Frigid Festival, produced by Horse Trade Theater Group, runs now through March 9 at The Red Room and Kraine Theater (85 E. 4th Street), and Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place). Prices vary. For more specific information, visit frigidnewyork.info.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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