Gemma Wilcox and Band of Toughs Debut Shows at Boulder Fringe Fest

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The Boulder Fringe Festival is under way, with performances in unexpected places around the town. In fact, tonight you can see the redoubtable Band of Toughs present its adaptation of As You Like It, which is set in the Forest of Arden, as a kind of primitive rager outside the Highland City Club, at 885 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder.

"You can romp around, bring blankets and folding chairs," says Colleen Mylott, the production's director. "It should be an immersive, accessible event. If feels like you're sitting around the campfire with these expatriates."

And not sitting around as long as you might expect for a Shakespeare play: The troupe has slashed the play to ninety minutes and added original contributes. “We really operate like a band more than a theater company,” explains Mylott. “It’s about 50 percent the Bard and 50 percent the company."

Another Fringe production that debuts at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Wesley Chapel Theater, 1290 Folsom Street, is all about one person: performance artist Gemma Wilcox, who's presenting The Wallaby Way.
The longtime Fest favorite recently had her first artist residency on a small island off the coast of Tasmania. Wilcox was dealing with the loss of her mother, among other issues, and unleashed a torrent of writing — more than a hundred pages of ideas and dreams that inspired her to push past her familiar multi-character style into new forms of expression. “I had a really strong feeling that I had to get out of the constant distraction of being on the grid,” she says. “It’s raw and rugged and simple there. A big theme of the show is following threads wherever they lead. I’m trying different ways of creating, too; this show is pretty personal.

"Usually I don’t consider some things that I might want to explore because of the challenges of staging on a Fringe scale," she continues, "but this time I thought, ‘We’ll get to the technical aspects when we get to them.’” The result, crafted in collaboration with Elizabeth Barron, involves projections, masks, puppets, lots of red thread — and even a few wallaby skulls.

Both shows will repeat during the festival — and there's more, much more around Boulder tonight through August 28. For the complete Boulder Fringe Festival schedule, go to boulderfringe.com.

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