July 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm EDT | by Patrick Folliard
Five must-see Capital Fringe Festival shows
Capital Fringe Festival, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Spy in the House of Men’ is in an autobiographical, storytelling piece written and performed by Penny Sterling. (Photo courtesy Sterling)

Through July 30, Capital Fringe Festival 2017 offers a massive selection of Fringe theater, music, art, dance and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art to D.C.

Now in its 12th year, the annual festival features more than 80 shows many of which are of special interest to LGBT audiences;  just a few of those are listed below. No doubt, there’s something for everyone. For a complete list of shows, times and venues, go to Capitalfringe.org.

At Gallaudet University’s Elstad Auditorium, Out-Side the Box Theatre presents “Just Like a Woman” by Larry E. Blossom. The timely drama co-directed by Blossom and Susan Knapik is about a transgender kid who’s pushed by Trump’s nasty campaign rhetoric to make a shocking decision.  The action prompts generations of women to confront their own secrets, fears and addictions, as well as the very meaning of femininity.

The new play (recommended for adults only) features a large cast including Jamie Crowne, Heather Godwin, Konstantine James, Dana Maas, Joseph McCaughtry, Yvonne Paretzky, Celia de la Vega, and Bill Wilburn; and original music by Thomas Ashcom.

The Wandering Theatre Company is presenting “The Laramie Project” at Atlas Performing Arts Center. Written by Moises Kaufman & the Members of the Tectonic Theater Project, the award-winning work examines the brutal hate crime killing of gay college student Matthew Shepherd near Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 6, 1998,  as recounted through interviews of local people and brought to life by a 10-person cast in multiple roles.

Presented at Shopkeepers, “Spy in the House of Men” is a solo performance written and performed by transgender storyteller Penny Sterling and directed by Lynn Sanchez Fries. At turns funny and painful, Sterling’s spoken word piece recounts how she lived the first 54 years of her life as Brian (which included dating women, raising children and being voted the Funniest Man in Rochester, N.Y., in 1992) and how she shed that identity.

Of special interest to film buffs is “Clara Bow: Becoming ‘It’” presented by LiveArtDC at the Logan Fringe Arts Space: Trinidad Theatre. The show invited audiences to journey with Hollywood’s first “it girl” from the slums of New York to unimagined stardom in Hollywood. Penned by Alia Faith Williams and directed by Heather Whitpan, the piece is a rag-to-riches, scandal-laced tale of cinematic sensation Bow as she soars to the heights of silent film fame.

The eight-person cast includes Rebecca Ellis as Bow, Nick DePinto as Bow’s lover Gary Cooper and goodhearted cowboy actor husband Rex Bell. Maggie Robertson plays Bow’s chum Tui Lorriane who was briefly married to the star’s father and Bow’s crooked secretary Daisy Devoe.

With comedy musical “Daggers Mackenzie” (at Atlas Performing Arts Cener), lesbian performance artist Melissa A. Kaplan relays the tale of Emma “Daggers” MacKenzie, an innocent farm girl circa 1894 who is seduced by a cunning carnival madam into the circus and later the life of an outlaw. The hour-long solo show is recommend for adults only.

“As far as me in real life, yes, I’m gay as they come,” Kaplan says. “As far as Daggers the character, I don’t specifically label her sexuality in the show, but the storyline focuses on the power dynamics in same-sex female sexual relationships. I’m not sure she would know what to say if you asked her for a label — she lives in 1894. She’d probably say people think she’s ‘queer.’”

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