Fringe at 20 Profile: Anna Michael
Name: Anna Michael
Type of Artist: Devisor/Collaborator/Producer
Company: The Hum’n’bards
Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
Dolls of New Albion, 2015 – Actor
Fringe show I’m participating in for 2016:
Pangaea: A Folk Opera – Deviser/Collaborator/Producer/Performer
First Fringe I attended and highlight: So I am not entirely sure, because I was very young, like five years old. Which, I mean, how lovely and fortunate was I that my parents thought that would be a good thing to do. In collecting our memories we recall it being outdoors, and free. In my memory it was an exciting downtown adventure in Old City I think, and the piece we saw was a dance piece, and there were two women in tutus, and they were dancing to Frank Sinatra, or maybe they were singing Sinatra while they were dancing, but again I was five, and at this point the memory might be fused with another, or fictionalized in my head. I remember they had umbrellas, and I was running around outside and getting to experience the piece as myself without being restricted or told to sit down and be quiet. It is a strangely strong memory, and in retrospect, the production, being one of my earliest memorable exposures to theater, probably strongly affected my ideas about theatre, and what an audience’s experience is allowed to be.
First Fringe I participated in: That would be last year as an actor in the Dolls Of New Albion. The production itself was a lot of fun, it is a sort of underground steampunk opera with a bit of a casual cult following. We were out in Manayunk so audiences were not super fruitful, but we did have this group of girls, and 3-7 of them would come to almost every single performance. They would come in costume, sit in the front row, and sing along, and applaud, cry, and laugh generously. We chatted with them after most shows and they told us about how the show saved their lives, and that they had never been able to see a live performance of it up until our production. It was the most unusual performer/audience relationship that I have ever had. They honestly made the show for me.
The Fringiest show, venue, action, or moment I ever experienced: Well I don’t necessarily know what you mean by “Fringiest” but to take a stab at it, I recall a show where I saw one of the presidents, I believe Abe Lincoln, having slow and very serious sex (anal sex? doggy-style maybe?) with possibly his wife but I don’t recall, while staring unblinkingly center into the audience. That was pretty unusual.
A Fringe show that influenced me as an artist and how so: My favorite Fringe shows, every year, has been Found Theatre’s shows. I always go several times, and am pretty bummed that they aren’t doing one this year. Devised musical theatre has been something I have been hungrily interested in, and seeing a group doing that (and doing it so beautifully) was hugely affirming.
The craziest idea for a Fringe show I wish to one day do: I want to tell the story of Peter Pan through flow-art (fire spinning, poi, glove, and hooping), because I think an Electronic Dance Musical would be pretty nuts, and I do not think it has been done often, at least I haven’t seen that kind of collaboration before.