I saw this phrase a lot: “Part of what I love about Fringe…..” and one of the parts is watching how artists develop over the years. I like to follow different creators in between Fringe as well, but many only produce for Fringe.
Jaeger Christian is the biggest winner in this category. I was so excited by the idea of his 2014 piece (a new musical about PTSD) that seeing it was very disappointing. He needed a co-writer, a dramaturg, a director…..but something about his heart, his sincerity in the pre-show speech made me pause. It went beyond someone who believes in his work. It didn’t, however, save the show.
So this year I noticed he has two solo shows, The Board and The Backpack. I only saw that The Board existed because it happened to fit into my schedule one night. He went from a new musical to two monologues, still related to the service. I felt that he got the right feedback last year or instinctively knew to return to basics, especially for a Fringe Festival. Focus on the story. He clearly has a lot to say (without being didactic) on the military and I appreciate how he chose to express it this year.
With The Board, he says if you’re into TV shows like “Law & Order,” “Homeland” and “The Shield,” then you’ll like this play. I only know the first one, but he seems right on the money. Sarah Hollis tells the audience her story, who act as her jury. Clearly she’s in trouble for something, but all the whys and wherefores and intricacies aren’t untangled until near the end. Even then, her fate isn’t revealed.
I personally would have preferred it without the marriage story, but it did play into the plot. Overall, the story was completely compelling and I listened to every single word she said on that stage.
The main point here is that if I hadn’t seen the artist at his pre-show speech for last year’s musical, felt something tug at me through his personality and choice of material, then seen that his latest offering fit into my schedule, I wouldn’t have given him another chance. And all those things couldn’t have happened in another space except a Fringe Festival.
Jaeger Christian is now on my Artists Watch List.