Finally a Fringe figure

The wait hasn’t been without its frustrations, but it is now over. The Uncommon Loons have officially been invited to be a producer in the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival!

Uncommon Loons logo

This isn’t the first time that we’ll have taken a show on the road to Minneapolis. Back in 2014, we joined the Twin Cities 24 Theater Festival at the Southern Theater, mixing with about a half dozen other theater groups largely from the metro area (I think we won the dubious honor of being the troupe that traveled the furthest to be there). This was a 24-hour festival though, which meant that we had the span of a day to write and produce a short one-act play; a considerably different task from what we’re looking to do this summer. But if we can pull off a 15-minute play in 24 hours, I think we can do a 60-minute play in the next four months.

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The Uncommon Loons cast at Twin Cities 24. From left; Steph Schroeder, Josh Cagle, John Schroeder, Nathan Bergstedt, and Katie Benes.

As a matter of fact, we’ve already begun writing it! Though I’ve taken the front seat at the computer so far, the script is ultimately going to be co-written by my theater comrade and fellow Uncommon Loons founder, John. As I said I would in the previous post entitled “On the fringe of the Fringe,” I’ll share with you a brief synopsis of the play.

To begin with, it should be noted that while I’m an atheist, John is a very devout Christian. Despite that difference, or the difference notwithstanding, we find that we work together quite well on creative projects and we’ve become close friends. Aesthetically, we both very much enjoy comedy, but we also have an affinity for heady and philosophical works as well. So after John suggested we do something á la “Waiting for Godot” meets “Abbot & Costello,” I couldn’t help but think that we should do something on religion, specifically focusing on the dichotomy between us. The primary brainstorm process was incredibly quick because we were both on the same page right from the beginning.

The sympatico effort between us is likely not going to last given what the topic is. As a matter of fact, for the sake of the script, we’d better start butting heads really fast! The characters in this play aren’t going to be interesting for very long if it’s just a long parade of agreements between them.

The setting of the play involves two brothers who haven’t seen each other for years. One of them organizes a family reunion to get everyone back together again, though the other is hesitant about going because he renounced his faith and is suspect about how his extremely devout family will take the news – either that or how awkward it will be to keep this secret from all of them during his time back home. The cat, as they say, is let out of the bag, and the brothers have to figure out how, or if, they can reconcile this situation.

While we’re working on this project in concert, bringing our own ideas and theological thoughts to the table, the specific conflict in the play is much more my autobiography than John’s. Leaving one’s family church is my experience, and it has certainly caused a rift in the relationship that I had with my parents and siblings. I wasn’t disowned like I feared I might, but it’s safe to say that there’s an awkwardness between us all due to our new inability to talk about what’s happened (by my perspective, at least. They may say something else is the main problem, like the fact that I don’t believe in god anymore). So naturally, I’ve been wanting to use this general theme for a play or some work of fiction for quite awhile now, and this collaboration with John seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The story is still fictional, by the way. I didn’t actually move to Oregon and get called back for a family reunion by my brother or anything like that. I confessed my apostasy to the family in a different, less entertaining, way.

I’m sure there will be other updates here on our Fringe journey. If nothing else, I may just want to vent my frustrations about advertising a show in a city a couple hundred miles away from home, in a market I don’t really understand (consider this a cry for help to anyone in Minneapolis who wants to help us!).

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