Best of the Fest, Bill B

Heather Huggins and Sarah Collins in at work/in 
Heather Huggins and Sarah Collins in "at work/in progress"

FronteraFest: Best of the Fest, Bill B

Hyde Park Theatre, Feb. 12

The final night of Best of the Fest at the FronteraFest 2005 Short Fringe was typically eclectic, with pieces ranging from expressive abstractions to spoken word. Spare Change gave us "Tupperwhere?" with a set comprised of enormous, pastel-painted, two-dimensional bowls and plates. Two sisters in chiffon dresses sang gaily about the aesthetic and functional pleasures of plastic kitchenware. A bohemian artist curiously received an invitation to the party sent by their apparently deranged mother, who was decorated in excessively sloppy make-up. Throughout, a cellist played haunting melodies that slipped between horror and melodrama. The sisters humiliated the young artist by throwing around her voice captured in a small Tupperware jar, resulting in a struggle between order and passion, cleanliness and chaos, art and superficiality, in this Dada-styled musical.

"Dossier of Pearls," Cris Edwards' grave reaction to a friend's rape trauma, articulated an unfair legal system that leaves perpetrators unpunished. Patti Neff pulled cloths and objects out of a pink box while overhead a voice recounted thoughts and feelings surrounding the ordeal of anger and healing. "This is not an end, this is a beginning," she said several times in desperate affirmation. The box shut, objects destroyed or buried, she ended the violence of memory.

Sarah Collins, Heather Huggins, and Kirk German brought "at work/in progress," stories of day jobs, portraying flying monkeys on stage, exhilaration while floating above it, and friendships based on mirrored experiences of trying to live out dreams in a performer-hostile environment.

Gypsy Baby Productions' long-winded "The Movement in the Bed on the Brink of Awake and Asleep and How It Is All Worked Out With the Thread Count" transformed the stage into billowing soft quilts and a cozy space with Lindsay Kayser making couture of a satin red comforter. Seated below a towering wall of blanket, she spoke about eccentricities in love and dating with a quick tongue and a barrage of images while the bedspread behind her answered in an electric thunder voice, occasionally swaying to the sound.

In finale, Austin poet Zell Miller III showed us a glimpse of fatherhood and raising a "brown baby boy" who someday must transition into a "black man living in America." Through fierce love, treacherous politics, and legacies beyond his control, Miller intensely defined truth through the power of words and performance.

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