Capital Fringe, D.C.â€™s ever-growing experimental theater festival, is a chance to learn. Sometimes you learn, â€śOh, THATâ€™s what Chekhov is like spoken entirely backward!â€ť or â€śOh, THATâ€™s what happens when you put an audience of 30 people inside a 106-degree tent to watch a musical for 80 minutes!â€ť And sometimes you pick up knowledge that will impress people at cocktail parties. For Fringeâ€™s opening weekend, weâ€™re highlighting particularly educational shows: Browse through the subjects below to decide which one you want to see. Or see them all and be extra-smart.
The lines between theater and game night are blurred in â€śA Killing Game,â€ť (Woolly Mammoth Melton rehearsal hall, 641 D St. NW), a hit when it ran in D.C. last year. Viewers participate throughout this play about a deadly plague, from the opening, where theyâ€™re expected to contribute death scenes, to a survivalist game show where theyâ€™re pitted against one another.
What Youâ€™ll Learn: Which supplies are most useful in a post-plague economy.
The creator of 2012 Fringe show â€śIn This Economy,â€ť John Krizel is one of the many showrunners this year who funded his project with a Kickstarter campaign. â€śSocial Media Expertâ€ť (Gearbox, 1021 Seventh St. NW, third floor) follows a young man who handles social media for a fast food company embroiled in a scandal involving horse meat.
What Youâ€™ll Learn: What a job in social media entails.
Last yearâ€™s Fringe had a rock musical called â€śPresident Harding Is a Rock Star,â€ť making â€ś1814! The War of 1812 Rock Operaâ€ť (Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar, 607 New York Ave. NW) sound like not so much of a stretch. â€ś1814!â€ť covers such topics as the burning of the White House with songs like â€śBurning Down the White House.â€ť
What Youâ€™ll Learn: All sorts of facts about Dolley Madison.
Faction of Foolsâ€™ hourlong â€śA Commedia Romeo and Julietâ€ť adapts the timeworn Shakespearean story to focus a little bit less on the lovers and a little bit more on the clownish servants. This production (The Shop, 607 New York Ave. NW) has been in the companyâ€™s repertoire for a while, touring local schools and theaters; the Fringe version will likely be more rambunctious.
What Youâ€™ll Learn: The difference between clowning and commedia.
Audience participation isnâ€™t usually encouraged in modern burlesque. When youâ€™re dealing with half-naked dancers, you want strict boundaries. Not so for â€śWhatâ€™s In the BOX?!,â€ť an adults-only Burlesque and Belly Laughs production (The Source, 1835 14th St. NW). The show is based on the seven deadly sins, and the audience chooses the sin. TEAM VANITY!
What Youâ€™ll Learn: That â€śslothâ€ť is a deadly sin.