A Show About The Real Stages Of Grief: Sleep, Research, Baking, And Cardio to Premiere at Hollywood Fringe

Christopher Piehler was visiting Australia with his wife last Thanksgiving when he got the word that his father had died. On top of feeling guilty for not being there for his father and his family, Piehler nearly drowned while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. Those back-to-back experiences and a feeling of helplessness led Piehler on a quest to finally learn how to swim at age 45. They also led the accomplished storyteller and Fringe veteran to a sweet, sentimental (and slightly ridiculous) new solo show.

Sink or Swim makes its world premiere debut at Studio C this June as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

After the sudden death of his father, a lost and loving man flounders through his personal four stages of grief: Sleep, Research, Baking, and Cardio. After sleeping through most of a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, learning way too much about the process of cremation, and learning to bake the world's most difficult cookie, he finally faces his ultimate fear: learning how to swim. Sink or Swim, the newest show from the Encore Award-winning writer/performer, is not only a sentimental tribute to the artist's father, but an inspiring look at overcoming your fears...with just a twist of the absurd.

"My father's death inspired me to tell my favorite stories about him," Piehler said. "This show is a fun mix of mostly fond remembrance and my ongoing quest to master the water. Death is terrifying to me, so this show is my attempt at comforting myself and others in the face of it."

Sink or Swim marks Piehler's third Hollywood Fringe show, including the Encore award-winning A Horse with a View in 2016 and Reserve Champion in 2015. The playwright, storyteller, and stand-up comedian has performed regularly in both L.A. and New York. He's the writer of the published historical drama The Triangle Factory Fire Project, and two of his stories about his father have appeared on KCRW's UnFictional.

For his current show, Piehler is working with acclaimed theatre director John McCrite, who is making his Hollywood Fringe debut. Sink or Swim features some unique devices, including cleverly simulated swimming using only a rotating stool and some goofy props and slides to offset some of the drama in the piece.

Plus, as always, Piehler's company Dessert Theater Inc. will offer free baked goods to patrons, a staple of his shows. But more than anything, Sink or Swim focuses on the very personal journeys of both connecting with those you love and overcoming grief in your own way.

"I also hope to inspire some old-fashioned carpe diem," Piehler said. "I'm doing this show because there's nothing I'd rather do, and I hope everyone who sees it will remember that, on one hand, time is short, and on the other hand, it's never too late to try something new."

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