Get Cultured — January 29, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Hot and Ready: The Fire This Time Festival 2016


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Woof! That was one hell of a weekend… it’s as if hell froze over and fell on top of us all. It was a mix of wondrous fun and neglecting fear. In the end we were all covered and most of our plans were canceled. So how lucky I am that just right before Jonas started bestowing us with his delayed white Christmas, I got to attend this year’s Fire This Time Festival at the ever-popular Kraine Theater. That is right! 2016 is here, and vacation is over which means we are back on the grind! Theater here I come, and I’m glad to see Theater is right there waiting for me, ready to wow me yet again.

The Fire This Time Festival was created to give up-and-coming playwrights of African and African American descent a stage where their voices could be heard. The festival itself is a big celebration of a culture and a call to awareness of the illness that plague that culture. It’s a passionate project whose core event is a short play presentation of these talents and the exploration of what it is to be black in the theater community, in this society in general! After putting the highly relevant “Paradox Of The Urban Cliché” as my number one production of 2015, you can tell how much I like theatrical productions that put the audience to task. All of the short plays that were part of this event attempted this, but did they succeed?

For the most part yes they did. The night started with a solo show called “clarity” in which a gay man explains his love for another man on the day of their wedding and the doubts that come with them being from different races. The exploration of interracial love, combined with examination of acceptance was the right way to start off the show. I do have to do a sound off here; the festival was started 3 minutes before curtain time, which messed up the whole beginning as people were still coming in. Pair that with the one weakness this night had, the board op, which kept missing cues and making it awkward for the people on stage, and I’m surprised “clarity” affected me as much as it did. This was followed by an inventive look into the unfair double standards the media dabble on “Time At The Penn,” which could have been my favorite if it wasn’t for the closing play “You Mine.” That play encapsulates the whole festival idea in ten minutes of pure honest and angry theater. The plays in between range from extremely bold and effective like “Slavesperience” to interesting but cluttered like “Hard Palate,” but none of them are weak. None of them let you down, even the one I felt was the least successful, “Pr$de” still had my attention. The performers were in it, the directors love every second of that stage and it showed. Only if that board op could keep up with the good work on stage!

I can’t stress enough how important it is for work like this to be out there. Festivals like these keep the minorities interested in being part of the artistic community. It is hard when everyone gives you the cold shoulder; this kind of festival keeps the dream real for many. It helps that the production itself was great and timely. Support it! Please! Go down to the Kraine Theater and check it out. They will be running until February 6, with different events to entertain and educate you. Check the website and make your plans!

Out of 4 stars:


 Twisted Talk: Have you seen any shows yet this year? What’s the last theater festival you attended? Discuss below!

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