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Fringe Festival: Glimpses At Four Performers And Shows Far From The Beaten Path

Grace Engel

If you’re a proud multitasker, you might want to make plans for the night of Jan. 22 to go to LT Laundry in West Asheville.

“We’ll be doing laundry. People can bring their laundry if they like,” said A. Eithne Hamilton, an Asheville dance and film artist behind an immersive performance called “Solidago.”


“Solidago” is among nearly three dozen shows wrapped into the Asheville Fringe Festival, home to this region’s most inventive, experimental and hard-to-define performers. Performances run Jan. 23-26.

“It is the botanical name for the goldenrod plant,” Hamilton said of “Solidago,” which she describes as an installation involving art, movement, music and film.

“In Latin, it means to mend or to make whole, like healing. It’s sort of what I’m getting at for this performance,” she said. “It’s kind of like I’m creating a collective ritual environment, where people can bring something in or utilize things in the space and wash them. “

Another dancer expanding her universe is Alexis Miller. She’s one of five women in a movement collective called The Accidentals. That’s an acronym, by the way, standing for Asheville’s Creative Collective of Improvisational Dancers Exploring Noise Time Audience Levels and Space.

“I love working with a choreographer and the choreographer telling me exactly what to do, but this was really the opposite,” Miller said. “This is all five of us collaborating, and we’re more interested in what happens when you get inspired by the space you’re performing in.”

Credit courtesy of the artist
The Accidentals in a previous production at Sky Lanes Bowling Center in Asheville.

  For the closing-night festival party, the Accidentals are performing a wedding ceremony for the ages.

“We thought ‘What is the worst thing that could happen in a wedding?’ and we really took that theme to an extreme,” Miller said. “We tend to do really ridiculous, sorta silly things. That wasn’t intended. It just sorta happened, and it keeps happening sometimes that way.”

Christian Prins Coen is taking a decidedly different turn—away from the standup comedy he’s known for and producing his first serious work. “Abomination: A Memoir of Ambiguity” is a storytelling show grounded in Jungian shadow work.

“My comedy was so aggressive that people didn’t actually see me,” Coen said. “With ‘Abomination,” I actually get to present my case in a way that is more vulnerable.”

Credit courtesy of the artist
Christian Prins Coen

Coen’s story probes his encounters with racism and homophobia and the identity he said he’s developed as a shield. 

“There’s heartbreak, there’s death, there’s grief, there’s pulling yourself up out of the ashes,” Coen said. “People are either going to really connect with it or be shocked and go ‘Oh my God.’”

Performances of “Abomination” are Jan. 24-26 at the Sly Grog.

Credit courtesy of the artist
Keith Schubert performs as Toybox Theatre.

Keith Schubert is largely known for what he calls adult puppetry, and he’s created a new show for every Fringe Festival since he arrived in Asheville a decade ago. His new show, for people of all ages, is titled “The Miraculously Inventive Machine of Charlie Mean.” Performances are Jan 25-26 at the Wortham Center.

“I like to take this approach that each piece sort of dictates what style of puppetry that I do,” Schubert said. “I can have sort of slapstick visual humor, I can use wit, I can use storytelling. My character is also based on traditional clowning and I can draw emotive responses from the audience just with my face.”


Matt Peiken, BPR’s first full-time arts journalist, has spent his entire career covering arts and culture.
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