By Cramer Lewis
This weekend, Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday Nov. 19, downtown Boone will host the inaugural installation of BOLO fest, a solo performance “fringe” theater festival presented by the in/Visible Theater Company of Boone. The festival will feature the work of 9 local and national artists performing their own material.
The festival, which lasts a 4 day span, also sprawls across several different venues around the town and the campus of Appalachian State. Performances will be held at Bald Guy Brew on West King Street, IG Greer Studio Theater on the university campus, 3rd Place on Appalachian Street and in the Community Room of the Watauga County Public Library on Queen Street.
The BOLO festival derives its name from a combination of the words Boone and solo. The inaugural festival will be free to the public.
“We were interested in doing a solo performance festival because of the pioneer spirit here in the mountains. One of the things we admire about the culture is that people are really independent,” says Karen Sabo, artistic director of in/Visible Theatre.”The cool thing about fringe festivals, like the BOLO festival, is that the material in them varies greatly.”
Folks interested in the variety of artists and the work featured at the festival or in the in/Visible company and their events are encouraged to visit the group’s website.
Attendees of the festival this weekend should be sure to visit the information hub, where they can find information about the performers and their shows. The hub will be located at the Local on Howard Street, and it will be open from 5-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2-8 p.m. on Saturday. The performances will also be taking place during those times: Thursday and Saturday night as well as Saturday starting as 4 p.m.
BOLO fest features an eclectic mixture of perspectives and subject matter, as well as local and national performers.
“Two of the young women performing are recent grads of App, having studied writing. They’re both trying out short pieces,” says Sabo. “We are really excited that Ray Christian who is a local guy and who has been winning story telling slams internationally is going to be doing a piece for us. We also have an artist coming in all the way from New York city.”
Below is a quick guide of the performers and their works:
Written and acted by John Hardy
Directed by Katy Brown
“Rattlesnake is a remarkable work… beautifully written and beautifully acted…it rises to the kind of ritualistic intensity one does not often see, but always longs for, in contemporary theatre. Visionary, mystical and virtuosic in the execution”
– John Crutchfield, Theatre Critic, Asheville Mountain Express
“The entire piece is one immense poem with passages of lyric beauty given in plain everyday speech. It’s a marvelous use of language, a lot of wit, much rich characterization – and all with very deep feeling. The whole thing is immense.”
– Sean O’Sullivan, Theatre Columnist, A! Magazine For the Arts
Written and performed by Eugene Wolf.
It was clear from the start that music would provide the path in Eugene Wolf’s life. A road where
Connie Francis meets Loretta Lynn and the Beatles battle it out with Petula Clark. With songs and stories Eugene will perform a one-man show about growing up in Greeneville, Tennessee with his grandmother, Avon saleslady Bernice Rader, and how music fit into their plan to make him a romantic, leading music man…or at least sell a couple of bottles of Skin So Soft.
Eugene Wolf is an actor/singer/storyteller from Abingdon, Virginia. He’s been performing since he was two years old. Since then he’s been a 16-year member of the Road Company, an acting ensemble based in East Tennessee and a 19-year member of Barter Theatre of Abingdon. His signature role is A. P. Carter in Barter’s Keep on the Sunny Side: The Songs and Stories of the Original Carter Family and has appeared as A. P. on television in the PBS special Will The Circle Be Unbroken and the BBC’s Lost Highway. He believes that live stories and songs are the fuel keep us human and the water that washes away the blue.
Performed by Suzanne Gray
Written and directed by Adrian Scheer Rieder.
In this selection from the play, The Ashen, a young woman reflects on her first encounter with the town’s most mysterious figure — a school bus driver turned martyr.
Suzanne Gray (Skylar) was most recently seen as Johnna in August: Osage County with Company of Fools in Sun Valley, Idaho. Other roles include Molly Aster in Peter and the Starcatcher, Lady Caroline in Enchanted April, Bruno and Yamba in Shipwrecked! (all with Company of Fools), and Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird at Virginia Repertory Theatre. She has appeared in numerous TV series including The Mysteries of Laura, Vinyl, Love, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and trained at HB Studio in New York.
Written and performed by Mark H. Suggs
For writer/actor Mark Suggs, an online search for an elusive connection to his past leads to discovering the final destiny of his childhood best friend who was on a search of his own across the cosmos. (This performance includes adult language.)
Mark H. Suggs is a Technology Trainer at ASU who has been seen on several stages throughout the High Country, most recently with Ashe County Little Theatre in To Kill a Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Other companies include ASU Theatre & Dance, Blowing Rock Stage Company, Blue Ridge Community Theater, and In/Visible Theater. He shares his love of theater with his talented daughter, Abby.
Written and performed by Katelyn Sabet
Description: Ghosts is a raw, personal, and sometimes funny reflection on how old wounds can linger, shaping and molding a family, generation after generation.
Katelyn Sabet is a recent Appalachian State University graduate with a BA in Theatre Arts and a minor in English.
The English Whore
Written and performed by Dennis Bohr
Directed by Mary Anner Maier
We are taught to hate work, to relish weekends when real life happens. The English Whore is a satire exploring work and play and how our identities are collages of many roles: weatherman, utility infielder, insurance salesman, televangelist, radio deejay, and teacher. Dennis Bohr is a producer, actor, writer, and director of Black Sheep Theatre, which he co-founded in 1995 with Georgia Rhoades and Mary Anne Maier to produce original political theatre. Bohr’s plays, which Black Sheep has produced in the US and overseas, include Pope Joan: The Hiss of the Snake; Macbeth: The Play That Dare Not Speak Its Name; and Dark All Day. Bohr’s two most recent plays, BROWN: Jesus from Another Planet and The Disposable Man, were awarded Sustainability Arts Grants. Bohr has received a Hubbard Center Grant from Appalachian State University and was a co-recipient of an Alternate ROOTS Grant for Pope Joan in 1995. He teaches composition at Appalachian State and works as a Consultant in the University Writing Center and the Writing Across the Curriculum Program.
Performed by Leya Topodas
Directed by Alexandra Scordato
Performer Leya Topodas recounts her journey from misguided youth to spirited actress, in this hilarious and heartwarming piece. From navigating through the language barriers of foreign countries to the communication breakdowns among family members, Leya weaves an emotional story that reminds us all to keep reaching for our dreams.
Leya Topodas is a New York City based actress who holds a BFA in acting from Brooklyn College. She most recently appeared on stage in the playAscent at the John DeSotelle theatre in Times Square. As a member of Mercury Glass Theatre Company, she starred in their production of Edward II as Queen Isabella. Other stage credits include: Comedy of Errors, Fresh Cut, The Lover. Film and Television:Apostles of Park Slope, Dates from Hell, The Knick.
The Circle of Life
Written and performed by Ray Christian
Contemporary storytelling has three rules. The story must by yours, true, and told without notes. This is a journey through Ray’s life from a kid in inner-city Richmond, Virginia to military retiree and budding homesteader in the mountains of North Carolina.
Ray Christian is an award winning, international storyteller and retired Army paratrooper who escaped inner city poverty and found himself moving from ghetto kid, to career soldier, to university professor. He currently hides away in the rural mountains of NC with his family and farm animals, which is the perfect solitude for reflection and crafting of stories.
Brie Like the Cheese
Performed by Jenna Calamai
Written by Liz Flamming
“Foul-mouthed and food-throwing Brie hopes to make it big in New York City, but it’s not as easy as she thought. With nothing left but her Anthropology degree, her job as a taxi driver, and a police baton named Susan, Brie must come to terms with her increasingly dire situation.”