SPOON RIVER Set for 2014 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival

SPOON RIVER Set for 2014 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival

There will be unique and creative performances aplenty at the 2014 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival this September 18 - 27, including Canada's spectacular CIRCUS ORANGE. But among this fast-growing, multi-arts festival's more than 380 shows and events at 25+ venues will be one stand-out performance art project: Spoon River Rochester.

Created by Rochester theatre group, METHOD MACHINE, Spoon River Rochester (SRR) is based on the complete text of Edgar Lee Masters' classic Spoon River Anthology, a haunting collection of 244 free-form poems/epitaphs of the deceased citizens of a fictional small town called 'Spoon River.' SRR will feature almost 300 Rochesterians from all walks of life, all costumed in white and gray, performing the poems simultaneously along downtown's Gibbs Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic. Audience members will walk amongst this "living gallery," creating unique, interactive experiences for each participant.

"Think flash mob meets zombie walk - the audience will roam the outdoor performance as if wandering through a graveyard," explains the project's creator and METHOD MACHINE Founder and Artistic Director David Henderson*.

Other recent productions of Spoon River Anthology have taken place in actual graveyards (The Spoon River Project at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, 2013), and another New York City production in 2012 featured 100 actors. Rochester's version is not only the largest-known production, but in an attempt to involve as diverse a range of community members as possible, no previous acting experience was required. In fact, no auditions were held (although performers had to register by July 16), and there will be only one mandatory rehearsal. In addition, performer creativity is encouraged-especially in personalizing the role by bringing in other art forms, translating the text into different languages, etc.-and costuming and other tips are online at spoonriverrochester.com.

One of the cast's most famous performers is Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who will play the role of Anne Rutledge.

"Rochester is a City of the Arts and I am excited that this unique production of Spoon River gives me an opportunity to personally get involved in the arts," says Mayor Warren.

Spoon River Rochester will take place Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, from 6:30-7 p.m. on Gibbs Street between East Avenue and Main Street, spilling into One Fringe Place (the Fringe "hub" across from Eastman Theatre). The performances are free, and part of the final weekend of Fringe. Find out more at rochesterfringe.com.

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