The Aspen Fringe Festival has grown incredibly during the pandemic, adding fall events on top of its traditional June festival while adding new elements like film and live music in addition to theater and dance. trendsetters that have defined Fringe over the past 14 years.
The 2022 edition, to be held at the Wheeler Opera House on June 11-12, will feature a performance of Tony Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens’ “Heisenberg” and excerpts from other Stephens works with a cast of local actors who will include Tony nominee and The Villager of Snowmass, Beth Malone, of “Fun Home” fame.
Stephens will be in residence for the festival, completing a long-delayed engagement delayed since summer 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are celebrating his artistry and his pieces for two nights,” Fringe co-founder David Ledingham said in a video announcement.
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Stephens, a longtime playwright who won the 2015 Tony for best play for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” directed “Heisenberg” the following year on Broadway with Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt in starring roles. The Fringe production will feature Aspen theater stalwarts Nikki Boxer and Mike Monroney, with Ledingham directing.
“It’s an amazing game,” Ledingham said of “Heisenberg.”
The production reunites the trio behind the memorable 2014 and 2015 Fringe production of “Venus in Fur,” which featured the boxer and Ledingham under Monroney’s direction.
Excerpted works presented in the second night of the festival will include film, dance, music and theater works by Simons and local collaborators, including scenes from “The Curious Incident”, as well as the short film “Sea Wall”. which includes a filmed performance. by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet alum paired with Simons himself reading live from an accompanying text he wrote.
And, as has long been Fringe tradition, the festival will include a workshop performance of new work from the playwright-in-residence, in this case a scene from Stephens’ new Off-Broadway play “Morning Sun.”
Simons has contributed to Fringe Fest programs for the past two years producing performances under the public health constraints of the pandemic.
In late September 2020, during the performing arts pandemic doldrums, Fringe’s creative team held their first “Fall Fest” at the Aspen District Theater, with a remote audience of around 50 people. Among the few live indoor events held here in those pre-vaccine days, the two-night event featured a short new play by Stephens as well as contributions from former Fringe resident playwrights John Kolvenbach and Sharr White.
Simons contributed again last June, when Fringe reopened the Wheeler Opera House after its 15-month closure, with an original experimental work titled “I Want to Wake Up” and the short film “She Left Home For a While.”