Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival
The idea of a fringe theater festival is based on a scrappy DIY spirit—putting together short, low-tech creative works that might push the envelope a bit. While no performer wants to be working exclusively online, maybe the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival (greatsaltlakefringe.org, July 30-Aug. 9) is the ideal kind of artistic format to adapt to the realities of virtual presentation.
According to festival co-directors Shianne Gray and Jay Perry, the decision was made early on in the pandemic to move Great Salt Lake Fringe to an exclusively virtual presentation, both for logistical planning reasons and for the safety of artists and audience members. But once they began looking at how artists were adapting to the "new normal," and what other regional fringe festivals were doing, they realized how much was still possible. "I was surprised and thrilled, when we put out this call for ideas and submissions, how many people had something that could be adapted to this format," Gray says. "After the months of pent-up creative energy, artists were just looking for some sort of outlet."
The results—available free online, with tips and other donations to artists encouraged—represent a wide range of ideas playing with both this pandemic moment, and the unique opportunities of the format. The production #txtshow (pictured), for example, invites interactivity by having audience members create the script that will be performed on the fly, while Frailty, Thy Name recasts Hamlet as a tale of quarantine isolation. "We're in kind of uncharted waters," Perry says, "but that can be a really exciting time for artists." (Scott Renshaw)
- Shalee Cooper
Modern West Fine Art: Right Here Right Now
In the middle of a variety of social movements currently ongoing for necessary change, it's still worth remembering some milestones of social progress. The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of women's suffrage in the state of Utah, as well as the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting suffrage to women. To commemorate those milestones, Modern West Fine Art (412 S. 700 West, modernwestfineart.com) presents Right Here Right Now, a group exhibition celebrating both the achievements of women of the past, and the artists chronicling the experience of women at this moment, showing now through Sept. 10.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the "Work in Progress Mural" project, organized by artist Jann Haworth and collaged by Liberty Blake. The work currently includes more than 300 stencil portraits of historical and modern women—all of them chosen for their contributions to the arts, sciences and social action—by more than 250 local and national contributors, created over the past four years. The 60-foot-long mural is the product of workshops around the country, and has traveled from coast to coast and as far as England and Australia.
Additionally, Right Here Right Now features works by more than 20 contemporary women artists of Utah, exploring the experience of what it means to be a woman at this point in history. Contributors include Trent Alvey, Sandy Brunvand, Rebecca Campbell (her "Diamond Valley" is pictured), Stefanie Dykes, Lenka Konopasek, Jiyoun Lee-Lodge and Wren Ross. Visit the gallery website for regular summer hours, or schedule an appointment for additional socially-distanced viewing opportunities. (SR)
The expression "dad joke" has become shorthand for corny, vintage setup/punchline gags that are more likely to inspire a groan than a laugh. But Idaho native and current Las Vegas resident Heath Harmison takes the idea in a different direction for his standup comedy, as he focuses much of his family-friendly humor on his role as a hudband and father, and all of the crazy-making stuff involved in it.
That sensibility is on display in his recent Dry Bar Comedy special and in his new comedy CD Raising Insanity. He talks about his young daughter's bedtime pleading for candy turning her into Gollumm from The Lord of the Rings. He addresses the advantages of the "dad bod," from a standpoint both of psychology ("It says 'stability.' 'Commitment.') and comfort ("Sure, rock-hard abs look nice, ladies. But at the end of the day, what do you want? A TemperPedic that forms to your head."). And he notes the way that the youth sports his son plays have changed since he was a kid ("We did crazy things in the '80s: We kept score.").
Harmison brings his high-energy delivery and good-natured commentary to the Jordan Landing Wiseguys location (3763 W. Center Park Dr., West Jordan, July 31-Aug. 1, 8 p.m., $15), which re-opens this weekend for the first time since the pandemic closure. Like all Wiseguys locations, seating will be limited to allow for socially-distanced patron seating, and additional heightened safety measures have been enacted. Visit wiseguyscomedy.com for complete information about policies and procedures. (SR)
- Heber Valley Railroad
Harry Potter Birthday Weekend
Author J.K. Rowling has been in the news this summer—unfortunately, not for good reasons. But while her anti-trans statements and participation in high-profile fussing over "cancel culture" have made her a target for criticism, her most famous literary creation remains enormously popular in Utah—so it's no surprise to find a variety of events that recognize Harry Potter's birthday on July 31. And, according to canon, The Boy Who Lived would be hitting the big 4-0 in 2020.
The Heber Valley Railroad (450 S. 600 West, Heber City, hebervalleyrr.org) offers up one of its traditional, trademark-cautious variations on the Hogwarts Express with the Wizard's Train on Friday, July 31 at 7 p.m., $25 general admission Come aboard for an evening of Potter-themed adventures led by a costumed staff, beginning with a socially-distanced Sorting Hat ceremony and chocolate frog treat (plus a sampling of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans for the brave). Enjoy Harry Potter trivia, games and other family-friendly activities, plus photo opportunities on your two-hour round-trip journey. Upgrade to the luxury lounge car (very limited seating available, $45) for a souvenir gift, theme drinks and more special surprises.
In Utah County, University Place Orem (575 E. University Parkway) hosts a Harry Potter Birthday Party including a jukebox concert of songs with magical themes performed by a quartet of "wizarding students." Grab a Butter3eer themed drink from the on-site truck, and please plan to maintain social distancing between household groups; the event (facebook.com/events/976320492821761/) is subject to change based on public health conditions. (SR)