At this point, I hesitate to call the job “director” anymore. I would be perfectly OK renaming the position of being in charge of a show “coordinator,” because that’s I do. But, according to the program, I am the director of “Oedipus Tex,” a musical based on the classic Greek drama.
Fringe Fest Erie 2015 is well underway, and the shows have had great success. The admirable thing about this project, for many people, is the amount of students involved with the shows: acting, directing and stage managing. Some students are even technical directors, which includes building the set, gathering props, etc. More than anything else, this process has involved coordinating. Trying to find a free spot in everyone’s schedule, trying to get everyone what they need to practice, figuring out what props and/or costume pieces will be needed. It’s a lot to take on at once. And, being truthful, I’m not sure I was ready to direct (read as: coordinate) a show.
The closer we get to opening night, the more I start to panic just a bit. There’s always the concern that someone won’t know their lines or some prop will go missing. It becomes especially difficult with a musical because, on top of all the normal happenings of a stage performance, you have to incorporate, well, music. It becomes quite hectic at times, but that’s why I’m glad that I had a support team at my back: Audrey Stadler taking charge of the orchestra and Matt Jones playing accompaniment.
The show itself, simply put, is weird. It follows the same plotline as the original Greek tragedy, “Oedipus Rex,” only the main character is Rex’s younger brother, Tex, and the show is set in the Old West (So, yes, there will be cowboy hats). The music itself is very operatic, and the show is about half an hour to 45 minutes long.
Looking at the larger picture, being part of the Annual Fringe Fest Erie is a really cool thing. The fact that we have taken the Fringe Fest in Scotland, which hosts over 3000 shows in 300 venues across Scotland, and put our own Erie twist on it, is an amazing concept. This year, we have 8 shows on-campus and 6 associated productions, our largest grouping of shows ever. Associated theaters include Dramashop, All An Act, the Erie Playhouse, PACA and Laugh Riot. Each is an incredible venue and their shows are proving to be very impressive.
I must say, I’m impressed with how well the Erie theater community works together. All of the theaters, including Gannon’s own Schuster Theatre, are close enough to be in constant communication with each other and there is an enormous amount of overlap in talent between them all. Gannon students have been seen in shows at the Playhouse, Dramashop and All An Act and regular actors from all of these venues continuously support each other as well as Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre throughout the season.
So, keep your eyes peeled. You never know when someone familiar will end up at a professional venue, so be on the lookout. As for me, I would love that opportunity. But, assuming I stay sane long enough to make it through “Oedipus Tex,” I will deal with it then.
“Oedipus Tex” is the last of the on-campus shows to perform in Fringe Fest Erie this year. Dates are February 20 at 8 p.m., and February 21 at 2 p.m., both in the Schuster Theater, 6th and Sassafras Streets. I encourage you to not only see my show, but all of the Fringe shows happening this year. A full list of the shows and their times can be found on the Schuster Theatre’s website and Facebook page.