The New Orleans Fringe Festival closed out its inaugural run last night and with few exceptions, I found it to be an incredibly successful four days of theatre, dance and innovative experimental multimedia. I was blown away with the caliber of performances and by the numbers of attendees who gleefully paid their $7.00 per ticket to attend the shows at six different main venues and seven alternative venues organized by the artists themselves. For the first year, it proved to be a well-run venture that brought in many dollars to participating venues. Although I was only able to see three shows on Sunday in addition to the four on Saturday I had written previously (see "Scurry with the Fringe on Top"), I found the shows to be worthy and with sufficient production values to make the presentations enjoyable. Shows that I saw ran the gamut from dark comedies to experimental theatre. Le Chat Noir's "...in other words, New Orleans," started off the Fringe shows that I saw Sunday. The ten short one act plays focused on New Orleans and its recovery efforts. The cast was composed of ten talented local players, some of whom were writers like Vernel Bagneris ("One 'Mo Time") and Jamie Wax ("Goin' To Jackson"). Following that show I rushed off to see other Fringe projects in the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. "Danny the Diver and Luna" at St. Mark's Community Center was an incredible ballet of light, color and music produced by three overhead projector operators playing to a pre-recorded soundtrack. The three projectors would turn on and off in synchronicity providing brilliantly crafted concordance telling the two stories in seamless fashion on the large screen. I watched in amazement as they told their tales with the two file boxes of prepared transparencies, shifting them ever so carefully or rolling them across the face of the projector in concert with one another. Ponder one aspect of their artistic achievement, which is that everything they do is upside down. So, if a fish has to swim from top to bottom on the screen, it would be moved from the bottom of the face of the projector towards the top. Puppetry was the focus for the final show of the night. "The Tragical Ballet of Black Bonnet" was produced by a local troupe and was based on the true story of a Scottish kitchen maid born with...er...an extra set of plumbing.
Goldman-Sachs top seven executives decided today they would not accept bonuses this year. How benevolent of them. After all, they each make a base salary of $600,000, which would seem pretty high for most executives. Last year's bonuses ran $19 billion and was split between them, so their decision will cost them over $2 billion each. With the current financial crisis and recession (yes, we can say that word) in place, I am glad that somebody out there is admitting that this is probably not the time to accept payment for what might be considered disastrous fiduciary stewardship. Hard times demand sacrifices. Now if we can only get the top hedge fund managers to take a similar posture and give some of their bonuses back to their companies.