General 8-10-2005

Fringe Shorts: “Dead Wait” and “I Voted for Gummi Bears”

Jaime Kleiman reviews "Dead Wait" and "I Voted for Gummi Bears"--one complex and a little hermetic; the other open and a little polemic. Both, she notes, worth your while. See link below for ticketing.

Dead Wait
Gummi Bears

“Dead Wait” by Carson Kreitzer, produced by Emigrant Theater, can be seen at the Jungle Theater, Wed. Aug. 10 at 5:30 p.m., Fri. Aug. 12 at 8:30 p.m., Sun. Aug. 14 at 2:30 p.m. 612-604-4466 or visit

Where do we go when we die? What is heaven and what is hell? At what point do we get to stop doing our sidework and sit at a table instead of waiting on one?
Minneapolis playwright Carson Kreitzer’s Dead Wait, produced by newly formed theatre company Emigrant Theater, is interested in examining peripheries – the people who were on the cusp on something great and then, for example, got stabbed outside a restaurant or died from accidental decapitation. Part Waiting For Godot and part No Exit, Dead Wait is a darkly comic exploration of memory, and of how memories influence not just daily activities, but also eternal obsessions. Hell isn’t other people: hell is hanging onto ideas that are no longer ours to hold on to.

Directed with a thorough understanding of Kreitzer’s use of language by Jason Brown, the production is a bit heady and unfocused to ultimately yield much meaning. Catherine E. Johnson’s hilarious interpretation of a zombiefied Jayne Mansfield (and heaving bosom) is a good enough reason to see the show, and Wade A. Vaugh’s eerily calm napkin-folder will haunt your dreams for at least a night. Ryan Lindberg, unfortunately, struggles with the complicated text and only sometimes fully latches on to the nuance his character requires.

Overall, Emigrant Theater’s first foray into the Fringe is a promising one. There are few Fringe shows out there with the fine writing, attention to detail and production values that this one has, and that alone makes it worthy of your time.

“I Voted for Gummi Bears” by Ochen Kaylan can be seen at the Loring Playhouse. Friday Aug. 12, 2:30 p.m. (651) 209-6799 or

Part documentary and part history lecture, Ochen Kaylan’s “I Voted for Gummi Bears” is a poignant exploration of our country’s racist past, present, and future. Ochen’s childhood friend, Brian Calderone, is a black man who claims that “voting doesn’t affect him.” When questioned more closely, we learn that Brian is disenfranchised because, decades ago, he was arrested for carrying a dime bag of weed. Brian and Ochen go on to explain (via video projection) the difference between getting arrested and being convicted, parole and probation, and the other nuances of law that keep certain people below the political radar.

Ochen’s conclusion – that the laws that effectively prevent black convicts from voting are leftovers from the Jim Crow era – is eye opening, relevant, and surprisingly multi-faceted. It would be easy to turn this into a Republican-bashing sermon, but Kaylan never takes that turn.

For some, Gummi Bears may be preaching to the choir, but Kaylan’s easy stage presence and love of the material transcend the red/blue divide.