For my part, I too do not consider American theater all that adventurous nowadays. It’s a money thing: theaters need to get people into the seats; they know what has put butts in seats in the past; therefore, the entire nation sometimes feels like one big Shakespeare retrospective.
Fringe Festivals are adventurous.
The San Francisco Fringe Festival, one of over 200 such festivals worldwide (and it’s surprisingly hard to get an exact number, but 200 minimum seems about right), dominates the local theater scene every September, and the first event I’ve seen, And She Bakes, Live., based upon the cooking/comedy YouTube series, is also the first I’ve ever seen that begins with a performer asking every member of the audience if he/she has peanut allergies.
Daliya Karnofsky (shown above on the right setting her stage) plays a mildly wacko baking show host who combines actual recipes with gripes about the men in her life and in the lives of her fans. She actually cooked some Gluten Free Peanut Butter Vegan Treats on stage (I ate two; they were very good) and had to check for audience allergies. One audience member claimed to have severe peanut allergies, but since it did not occur to the spectator that perhaps she really needed to ask for a refund, Karnofsky put her in the seat furthest from the stage.
I’ll be the show was a serious adventure for that spectator. Good news, she got out unscathed.
Before the show, Karnofsky did something to me that no actor has ever done before. She told me that I reminded her of a macaroon. Because I’m not fashionable now, but since I’m gluten-free, like the macaroon I’m coming into my own.
“Am I dipped in chocolate?”
“Why yes, how did you know?”
I said, “It’s a mind-melt thing,” but since the Fringe is so noisy, I doubt she caught the pun.
Karnofsky’s one-person show is one of the highlights of the Fringe this year, and a good example of why I like to see the shows of which I know absolutely nothing. If you know what’s going to happen, it’s not an adventure.
Vonn Scott Bair