If you were to go on a search for the heart and soul of the Infringement Festival, chances are you'd find Michele Costa, whose entrancing, expertly written and always surprising puppet shows have long been one of the festival's main attractions. This year, she presents her new piece "Butterfly Sky" no fewer than 14 times throughout the festival. The short performance, like "We Shall Overcome," is a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and will be performed, unlike most of Costa's previous Infringement offerings, in outdoor locations. (For more on Costa, here's a review of last year's performance, "Elle" and of her 2009 show "The Edge of Here."
Not once have I caught this highly anticipated annual Infringement Fest event, which claims to celebrate "the life and work of local anomaly Mike Sentman." But I have heard it discussed, and praised, and otherwise buzzed-about so many times from Infringement regulars that I feel confident in recommending it. That, and I've caught performances before from the hilarious band Blue Lazer, and found them to be equally ear- and side-splitting. The event also features a burlesque performance.
During the Infringement preview at Babeville earlier in July, Vanessa Webb took to the stage in full Queen Elizabeth I regalia to present a short preview of her one-woman show. Everyone took notice. The performance, according to its longwinded but worthwhile description promises "a candid evening with Her Most Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth Regina Gloriana, Queen of England, Ireland, Wales and the Colony of Virginia in the New World. Long studied, lauded and scrutinized, Elizabeth sets the record straight on subjects that have titillated a curious public for centuries. Step into Elizabethan England and be prepared to laugh (maybe even participate), as The Regina Monologues recall the life, loves and "virginity" of this most intriguing of Tudors.
I caught this guy's act last year, and it was 100 percent entertaining. I'm not sure how he does it, but by the time you leave, you'll be convinced he's read your mind. Here's an interview I did with Sebastian, who seems to have changed his stage name, during last year's festival:
One of several buzzed-about theater performances this year, American Repertory Theatre of Western New York's spotlight on local playwriting talent promises to be a festival highlight.
Also, honorable mention-wise, don't miss "The Police" at Subversive Theatre, the Vintage Vaudeville Cabaret in the 9th Ward, Ella Joseph's "The Albatross or Shining Blues" at ScenoArt Studio & Gallery and Don Gervasi and Tod Benzin's long-running Infringement comedy show "BABUSHKA" at 7:30 p.m. in the Andrews Theatre.