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Fringe Day 11: Stargazing attempts, beautiful brokenness, and first impressions


A pause for ‘Concert for Katy’
Tickets | Sept. 23 | All ages

This is not a part of Rochester Fringe, but Saturday’s “Concert for Katy” will be right in the midst of the final day, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

It’s an important benefit show for Katy Eberts, a member of the Rochester Fleetwood Mac tribute band The Seven Wonders. While the band was on its way to a show in Syracuse on July 20, the van pulling its trailer full of gear veered off the road and flipped many times, trapping Eberts inside.

Several of the band members were injured, Eberts the most seriously. She has spinal damage and faces a long, expensive recovery.

The music starts at 2:15 p.m. with an acoustic performance by two of Eberts’s Seven Wonders bandmates, Teagan Ward and Jon Sheffer. Also scheduled are Jumbo Shrimp (3 p.m.); M80’s (4 p.m.); Tommy Brunett Band (5 p.m.); Hall Pass (6 p.m.); BB Dang (7 p.m.); Junkyard Field Trip (8 p.m.); and Appetite For Voltage (9 p.m.).

It’s a $40 donation, with kids 12 and under free. —JEFF SPEVAK

A night out with the stars
"AstroFringe" | Final night due to weather

Nerd alert! Friday at Rochester Fringe was date night with the Rochester Museum and Science Center, the RMSC Community Eclipse Ambassadors, and the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science. Local stargazers in search of cosmic connections.

“Saturn is somewhere behind these buildings,” said Tim Collins, who, when he’s not among the stars, lives in Webster.

Yet with about 30 telescopes scattered around Rochester’s downtown grassy knoll of Parcel 5, what was otherwise a beautiful evening was not meant for stargazing. At around 9 p.m., an unseen haze obscured all celestial objects with the exception of Earth’s moon, which didn’t look like its usual crisp self.

Collins and Valerie Prindle — a Rochesterian also peering into the universe — were sharing one of the telescopes on loan from the RMSC. Directly above was the star Vega, Collins pointed out helpfully, 25 light years away.

Holding out hope for the night sky to clear over the next hour, Collins voted for Jupiter as his favorite celestial object. “The red lines, bacon strips, if you will,” he said, connecting the gas giant to breakfast.

“I always get excited when I see shooting stars,” Prindle said.

Nearby was David Bishop, earthly residence: Hilton. He was allowing people to catch a glimpse of the moon through a large telescope. “I’m an engineer, I build stuff like this,” he said. This one was fashioned out of a set of lenses, a blue-painted body made from a tubular concrete form, and some PVC pipe.

Bishop’s dedication to stargazing has been noted by a friend of his, who successfully applied through the Minor Planet Center to have an asteroid named after Bishop. In a four-year orbit a little farther out from the sun than Mars, a rock of somewhere between two- to four-kilometers in diameter is named Davidbishop 70401.

Yet, with the planets and stars uncooperative on this evening, might there be a temptation to turn the telescopes on the windows of the apartment buildings looming over Parcel 5?

“Officially,” Collins said, “no.”

Saturday’s second night of telescopes on Parcel 5, the final day of the Rochester Fringe Festival, has been cancelled after forecasts of inclement weather brought on by the approach of Tropical Storm Ophelia.

The validation of JPosh
"Deaf, Queer, and Fabulous!" | One night only

The usual pre-show chatter at The Little Theatre seemed unusually animated Friday evening. A great deal of the audience was communicating through ASL, or American Sign Language.

"Deaf, Queer, and Fabulous!" is a diverse multimedia show linked to pieces of JPosh’s own story. Matthew “JPosh” Schwartz is indeed deaf, queer, and has a fabulous and daring fashion sense, considering his cape and very short shorts.

“This show is about being torn,” he said. It is about self love, queer identities and souls that are “broken and beautiful.”

Born in The Bronx, JPosh attended Rochester Institute of Technology and now lives here. By some estimates, Rochester has one of the largest deaf populations in the country, per capita. (And next week is the nationwide “Deaf Awareness Week,” so it all falls into place.)

“It is quite vulnerable to be honest, but I feel I am ready to share that with an audience,” JPosh said through the show’s interpreter.

He began losing his hearing in high school, and went completely deaf during his college years. "Deaf, Queer, and Fabulous!" covers JPosh’s years from '17 to ’23, a story he tells through spoken word and signing, along with videos and music by Beyoncé and others.

JPosh calls his art “DEAFersity.”

“What I didn’t expect was the discrimination I experienced,” JPosh said of those college years. “They looked at me and saw 'gay.'"

What we see is video of JPosh as a figure skater. Performing at Lovin’ Cup, signing along to music. His animated signing is almost dancing. He creates ASL events such as Roc That!, encouraging deaf artistic expression with local talent. He’s done other shows at Rochester Fringe and Montreal’s Fringe. He was featured on the WXXI-TV documentary series "Arts in Focus."

JPosh described himself as a voice that wants to be heard. Audience hands waved in silent applause.

“Everyone wants to be validated,” he said. “If you can’t feel that in a workplace, get out of there.” —JEFF SPEVAK

Choose your comedy
1st Impressions” | Sept. 23 | 13+

One part sketch comedy, one part choose-your-own-adventure, this two-woman show in three parts is presented by comedy theater group Nickel Flour. It includes three separate scenarios of first meetings, with opportunities for the audience to weigh in at key moments about how things should proceed.

The show opens with one woman frantically tidying her home in preparation for a visit from a pet adoption representative, who, of course, immediately comments on how unclean the place is. No matter how earnest and flexible she tries to be, she just can’t move the judgey rep. That’s followed by two women meeting for the first time in the room they’ll share on a reality TV show, squabbling at length over who gets the bed on the left, and engaging in a scheming session with flirtatious overtones. Finally, the classic meet-cute: strangers on a train. Except one is drunkenly irritating the other, who just really doesn’t wanna chat. Especially about murder.

The 40-minute show moved along at a rapid clip, and was filled with clever asides from the two actors. I couldn’t help but wish the audience engagement bits had more of an impact on the stories’ trajectories, but it was still a fun romp, with many moments that had the audience rolling.

You can catch Nickel Flour in the upcoming production of “And the Four Last Things,” which runs Oct. 26 - Nov. 4 at MuCCC.  —REBECCA RAFFERTY

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