Cover Story – Fringe Theater for City Arts Magazine

I’m heading out to Phoenix on assignment for a couple days, but I wanted to keep the updates coming with another cover/cover story for the current issue of City Arts magazine on Seattle’s thriving fringe theater scene.

The article’s a pretty good read and reminded me of a visit my wife and I took to the Balagan’s basement theater some years back to see their production of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

I’m not too big a fan of large theater productions. For some reason, it’s harder for me to suspend my disbelief because 1) I’m usually sixty feet away from the stage, and I’m looking at all the other people in front of me. And 2) those plays feel like a kid’s movie in three dimensions — all sparkly and with pretty, iridescent colors happening just so in that perfectly contained proscenium stage.

What I like about “fringe” theater is that there’s usually a closer proximity between performer and audience member. The stage isn’t separate from the audience member’s immediate personal space at times and there’s something rather uncomfortable and more compelling about that. It’s living art or rather a disruption in what I call the “virgule” between art and life.

It was quite a treat to photograph these young performers and to experience their transformation as they acted out certain scenes from their play Spring Awakening.

Since the whole Mike Daisey debacle, I’ve been thinking a lot about art and life. The subject used to consume me and — in my younger days — was quite a large theme in the non-objective artwork and performative pieces I created (that’s me below at the University of Iowa during my graduate studies in Intermedia workshopping a piece called Confrontation).

I didn’t really get swept up in Mike Daisey fever since I always had this sinking suspicion that he was a satirist. Anyone that attends a theater production featuring a monologist being dramatically top-lit would have to admit that they’re entering into an implicit contract with the performer that dictates one hold on for a second while making any judgments as to the soundness of his assertions.

I won’t argue the ethics of what Daisey did. Rather, I’ll note that the debate that’s come out of all this is pretty thought provoking. What is journalistic integrity: its limits and gray areas? Is what he did “wrong?” If anything, the fallout has spurred a renewal in what we hold to be beautfiful, valuable and worth preserving.

It’s like burning the thatch off a lawn so that the grass comes back fuller and greener next time around.

Many thanks to editor Leah Baltus and art director Dan Paulus for this assignment. It got me thinking in more ways than one.

More always,



See full post here: The Office of Michael Clinard, General Photography BLOG2012-04-11.