Theater preview: FRIGID Festival returns to NYC

Executive Director Erez Ziv recommends catching Yanomi as "Miss Hiccup" in her FRIGID debut — all the way from Tokyo, Japan!  Credit: Rene Ferrer
Executive Director Erez Ziv recommends catching Yanomi as “Miss Hiccup” in her FRIGID debut — all the way from Tokyo, Japan!
Credit: Rene Ferrer

Returning to New York City for the seventh year, FRIGID Festival brings together a collection of exciting, uncensored performance art pieces ranging in theme, tone and structure from stand-up comedy to burlesque, from one-acts to full-length plays. The works take place in multiple downtown venues during the festival’s run from Feb. 20 to March 3, and artists collect 100 percent of the proceeds — along with, of course, invaluable exposure. We spoke with Executive Director Erez Ziv about what FRIGID has in store for 2013.

Congrats on seven years! How did FRIGID originate and how has it progressed?

The idea for FRIGID was first introduced to us by Christina Augello of Exit Theater, who runs the Fringe Festival in San Francisco. She and I met when she came to check out The Red Room for a possible rental, and we started talking and she told me about this festival that gives 100 percent of box office proceeds back to the artists. I thought it sounded great! It fit the mission of Horse Trade like a glove, and within a couple of months I was in Montreal meeting with all the Fringe producers from Canada. … Over the past seven years the festival has grown steadily from year to year, with more attention from press, more audiences and more applicants every year.  Growing capacity steadily has allowed us to distribute close to $30,000 to participants last year, up by more than 50 percent from the first year!

Who is the target audience? Will it appeal to people who are used to big-stage shows?

Our target audience is theater lovers, and really anyone who enjoys live performances. Regular Broadway audiences do come to the festival year after year, so they must have enjoyed what they saw the year before! Our productions are certainly not as big and flashy as the shows uptown, but we have some good shows that anyone who enjoys live theatrical entertainment will enjoy. We also have shows that appeal to people who would not normally go see a show uptown, or who can’t afford the steep Broadway prices.

There seems to be an eclectic mix. What’s the common thread?

The common thread is art! The work is new, fresh, exciting and surprising. Most importantly, it is all created and performed by some of the hardest working people in show business, self-producing indie theater artists.

How do shows qualify for FRIGID? Have they all been previously staged? Do they all join this North American “circuit” together?

The work qualifies simply by virtue of having been created.  All year long we and everyone else in town reads scripts, bios, resumes and reviews, we preview shows and examine past work we ask interns what they think, we confer with committees, we do readings and readings and then we do more readings! This is the one chance a year we get to just let things happen and see what comes out. … We pull shows out of a hat! Literally, a top hat.

What are some of the standouts this year and why?

I am excited about “Traditional Dances of Sri Lanka” — they are coming all the way from Sri Lanka, and their show promises to be well worth the trip. This is writer/performer Una Osato’s fourth year in the festival, and if her previous shows are any indication “exHOTic Other” will be great. We met and fell in love with John Grady at last years festival, so I’m looking forward to his new show, “Little Pussy.” The same goes for “My Pussy is Purrin’ Again” by 78 year old Dyan Forest, who did “I Married a Nun” last year. “A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup” is coming all the way from Tokyo, Japan! … This is her first time in the FRIGID Festival. I’ve been hearing a lot of great buzz about her, so I’m really excited to finally see her perform. But the show I am most excited about is the one I am not expecting, every year there is at least one show that really takes me by surprise and those are the ones I always enjoy the most.

Follow Metro’s theater critic on Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy.


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