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Dancing with Demons: A Comedy of Sorts: At Rogue Festival 2013

IN THE February 13 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment
SECTIONS

by J.L. Forrest

The Rogue Festival hits Fresno again from February 28 – March 9, and you can expect a lot of coverage before & during Rogue from KRL this year–maybe even some videos this time! Here is another article about one of this year’s festival performers. The festival is still working on the website for this year, so keep checking back! Our first article was about The Excursions Rock band performing at Rogue this year, and our second one was for the show Act: 2 Miss Your Ex? Reload and Fire Again.

The stage can give insight into being human. It can entertain, spinning wondrous fairytales. Dancing with Demons: A Comedy of Sorts, a new work by playwright and actress Shana Cordon, accomplishes both feats.

Ms. Cordon’s fractured fairytale takes a hard left into a grown-up fantasy gone awry, an anachronistic romp of sex-bomb meadow sprites, murderous illiterate gremlins, Bee Gees-grooving innocents, and a vengeful heroine with unfulfilled fantasies. This is not your mother’s Mother Goose.

We enjoy the fairytales of Grimm and Andersen because they offer us a structure of moral predictability. In them, we know evil from good, wrong from right, and black from white. Fairytales reaffirm what we already know. Ms. Cordon denies us this, playing off the audience’s presumptions to excellent effect. The structure spins expertly off center from the start.

The conceit of Dancing with Demons begins when the ostensible villain escapes the writer’s plot. An illiterate gremlin at the all-powerful typewriter? Characters robbed of preconceived motivations? Wherever is the action to go?

It goes in marvelous and deeply human directions. For an hour, Cordon challenges us to believe a fairytale where hearts truly break and growth really happens, a world which speaks to our own. We discover as the characters discover, and their uncertainties mirror our own. Dancing with Demons takes us down sometimes-frightening paths, the hero’s journey turned upside down. Who is the hero and who is the villain? We feel for all the characters, for the valiant Bree, the naïve Nate, and even for the diabolical and potty-mouthed Gremlin. But we also feel we’re in good hands.

Ms. Cordon is an accomplished actress, writer, and director. The Denver Post and Boulder Daily Camera called her a “must see” during the 2008 Boulder International Fringe Festival. She directed the award-winning play Shadows in Bloom, starring the fringe circuit’s adept Gemma Wilcox. The Boulder Daily Camera praised Ms. Cordon for her “vulnerability” and “overall sassy charm.”

Claire Patton directs Dancing with Demons. Ms. Patton is the Artistic Director of Quake Theater and a veteran of the Kiklos International School of Theatre Creation in Padua, Italy. Her Woe to the Conquered won the Boulder International Fringe Festival’s 2010 Encore! Award, and she brings the same razor skill for physical theater to Ms. Cordon’s performance.

Amir Khosrowpour penned and performed the score, which reverberates throughout in equal parts light and dark. The Los Angeles Times praised Mr. Khosrowpour for “irresistible verve, unpretentious directness, and fingers of steel.” The New York Concert Review wrote that he “seeks out what is new and vital and delivers it with passion, considerable drama, and poetry.”

Dancing with Demons opened at the Seattle Fringe Festival in September. This one-woman, multi-character show now comes to Fresno’s Rogue Festival. It is at once skillful, entertaining, and provocative. Ms. Cordon embodies her characters with exemplary skill. She has perhaps not so much shown us a hero’s journey turned upside down, but one which looks back at us, a hero’s journey which is our own.

Dancing with Demons
opens on March 1 at the Tower Lounge on 1211 N Wishon Ave. The show includes intense action and adult themes. Visit roguefestival.com or shanacordon.com for more information.

Rogue Festival Showtimes are:

Friday, March 1, 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 3, 4 p.m.
Thursday, March 7, 8 p.m.
Friday, March 8, 10 p.m.
Saturday, March 9, 2:30 p.m.

J.L. Forrest is a fiction writer and essayist. In a former life, he was an architect and professor, and his academic writings cover design, technology, and ethics. He now lives in Boulder, Colorado. He may be found on Twitter @WordForrest or online at jlforrest.com.

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