Sunday, May 22, 2016

Living room Theater takes the Fringe Festival by storm.

Living room Theater has 13 performances at this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival. As the title suggests, they happen in a living room at 1314 Chichester St, Orlando, FL, a few blocks north of all the main action at Lock Haven Park. When I arrived, there were a few people waiting on the porch. Matt Palm who writes for the Orlando Sentinel pointed out that the paper's obit section is usually a couple of columns long, but for the past few weeks it has run on for several pages. He guessed that perhaps people just couldn't face another hot Orlando summer. Another person joked that perhaps they just couldn't face yet another Fringe festival.

The living room is large and spacious. It had once been used as a ballroom in the homes early days. Banks Helfrich walked back to the green room with a cup of water. His wife wondered why they weren't out socializing with people like they usually do. Perhaps since this was Fringe, they wanted to maintain the theatrical fourth wall. I have sketched several Living room theater performances in people's homes and every performance has always been different. Tisse Mallon, Banks Helfrich and Jack Graham have created an immersive theater experience that fosters community while focusing on fun, connection and authenticity. The show consists of a series of short vignettes that are both serious and absurd.

Banks came out holding an orange checkered shirt and he handed it to a woman seated in the front row. Matt Palm tapped me on my shoulder and whispered to me, that's my shirt. Sure enough, he was wearing the exact same shirt. Was this theatrical magic, or just coincidence? Jack performed a solo on his acoustic guitar. After his performance, birds chirped to mark the transition to the next scene. This chirping gave the scenes a sense of being part of a timeless ongoing tapestry of human interaction. The next scene had Banks and Tisse both texting on their phones. They sat down beside each other, both focused on their phones and it gradually became apparent that they were texting each other. Tisse leaned against Banks and they intertwined while the text conversation grew tense. Tisse finally just decided to call, But, Banks couldn't bring himself to pick up. This hilarious scene pointed out how we grow further apart as we embrace technology rather than each other. Since every performance is different, you r experience will be unique. I can say that you can expect surprise, wonder and honesty of emotions as the cast interests. Each scene is just a sentence written on a sheet of paper.  The scene then unfolds, being mostly improvised.

Tickets are $10
Remaining Living room theater performances:
May 22,  5pm - 6:10pm and 8pm to 9:10pm
May 26,  7:30pm - 8:40pm
May 27,  6:30pm - 7:40pm and 8:30pm - 9:40pm
May 28,  5pm - 6:10pm and 8pm - 9:10pm

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: