The Buffalo Infringement Festival, the city’s annual compendium of underground arts activity, kicked off a week ago and is entering its final days.
The festival’s last weekend is shaping up to be perhaps the biggest in its eight-year history, with a full slate of theater productions, live music performances, public fire dancing, film screenings and impromptu parades through Allentown. Here’s a look at some of the possible highlights, selected from the full schedule posted at www.infringebuffalo.org:
Today at 6 p.m. in Rust Belt Books (202 Allen St.) and again at 8 p.m. in El Museo (91 Allen St.), gifted local playwright and actress Annette Daniels-Taylor will present her latest project, “Write Out of Here: Voices from East Ferry.” The piece is described as a “gritty theatrical report” from forgotten Western New York teens that Daniels-Taylor works with as a teaching artist with the Erie County Youth Detention Center on East Ferry Street. It attempts to capture the voices and aspirations of the kids Daniels-Taylor has met in her difficult but rewarding work.
The final days of the Buffalo Infringement Festival are upon us. For the eighth day of the fest, here are a few suggestions:
• The Left Hand of Darkness, a band familiar to many Infringement veterans, will play from 7 to 7:45 p.m. in Casa de Arte. The outfit features Ted Reinhard on drums and Charles Quagliana on a unique "Krappy Touchstyle 10 and 12 string guitar/bass."
• The description for this event should be enough to entice any curious Infringementgoer: "Tree of Liminality" is an interactive performance where participants can engage in existential conversation with a visionary being who lives amongst the trees enchanted branches. All thats required is to come as an alternate version of yourself: who you were, or might have been, or could be." It gets started at 6 p.m. in Days Park and repeats at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
• Local actor and playwright Anette Daniels-Taylor will present her piece "Write Out of Here: Voices from East Ferry," at 6 p.m. in Rust Belt Books and again at 8 p.m. in El Museo. The play is inspired by Daniels-Taylor's work with the young residents of Erie County Youth Detention Center.
• There's been some buzz about Noise Night at Night House, and especially about performer Fe Vajen. That gets going at 7 p.m.
If you're looking for a few suggestions for getting your Infringement on during the seventh day of the festival, I've got some:
• At 6 p.m. in Nietzsche's the Waiting Room, the "Wham Bam Thank You Slam III" gets started. It's an insane evening of slam poetry, burlesque and music. And judging from the last two versions of it at Infringement Festivals past, it seems like a pretty sure bet.
• At 7 p.m. the new Allentown space The Loop hosts a "queer-centric" poetry reading featuring work by Amy Upham, Gary Andrews, Lovely and Marek Parker. As good an opportunity as any to check out the new digs for Michael Rizzo's ambitious new venture.
Black, who recently moved to Buffalo from New York City and who I suspect we'll be seeing a great deal more of, is one of at least two mentalists participating in the festival this year.
His show is all about audience participation and psychic tricks, two things I don't ordinarily go in for. But his presence stage presence, and the fact that he was dead-on in his predictions (including guessing the name of my boyfriend and Marilyn Monroe, which I had scribbled on a card and inserted into an envelope that was as far as I could tell opaque) made the show engaging from start to finish.
I caught up with Black after the performance for a short conversation about his talent, his plans for Buffalo and, perhaps most importantly, his philosophy for dealing with skeptics like myself:
Michele Costa performs a preview of her show "Elle" in Merge restaurant. Photo by Mark Mulville / The Buffalo News.
Michele Costa, the gifted local puppeteer and playwright, has long been a pillar of the Buffalo Infringement Festival. Every year, Costa debuts a new production, for which she crafts her own collection of of puppets or masks and, typically, a long and meticulously painted scroll that she uses to tell her magical, melancholy and often haunting stories.
Her short pieces, which have considered everything from deep human lonliness to the pulsing streetscape of this Rust Belt city, have the look and feel of something from a distant age. That sense of beautiful anachronism is only amplified by her muscial selections, which always deepen the air of mystery she establishes with her singular combination of puppetry, painting and stylized movement.
This year, Costa is performing a short piece called "Elle," a tale about a half-girl, half-elephant who came into the world simply because she was wished into existence.
After a very busy Infringement weekend, full of well-received street parties, 8-bit art shows and other unclassifiable acts of beauty and strangeness, today's lineup seems tame. But only by comparison. Here are five events to check out:
• Noah Gokey and the Skulls play in People's Park at 5 p.m., and provide a good opportunity to check out this most excellent new Infringement venue on Main Street near Jewett Parkway. Also, outside of Picasso Moon at 6 p.m., Brooklyn-based musician David Cloyd plays a set that could include anything from "sparse acoustic-driven ballads and symphonic-scale arrangements."
• There are a few mainstays without which Infringement would just not be Infringement. One of them is Michele Costa, who presents her can't-miss puppet show -- always, always, always worth seeing and completely different from one year to the next -- at 7 p.m. in the Crane Library.
• Infringers in need of a poetry fix could do worse than tonight's reading from the Living Poets Society, members of which will bare their souls to the public from 7:30 to 9:30 outside of Picasso Moon.
• Every festival needs an award-winning mentalist, and Infringement's is Lucas Simmons, who presents his penetrating magic show, "A Mind in the Gutter," at 9 p.m. in the Manny Fried Playhouse.
After catching two plays at the Chautqua Institution yesterday ("Clybourne Park" and "The Romeo and Juliet Project," both excellent) on Saturday and typing up the review to one this morning, I was a little low on energy today. But I did make it out to a few Infringey places, which I'll recount here via Instagram, everyone's favorite tool for producing and over-sharing pieces of instant nostalgia.
First, I headed to People's Park, a pocket park on Main Street near Jewett Avenue. When I arrived, the planned (and promoted!) hip hop "blowout" was nowhere to be found or heard, but the setting was a revelation. The park is a strange urban oasis, full of beautiful gardens, a mini-playground, performance space and a cool mini-library. I drive by all the time, but never even noticed it was there.
• Adam Giancarlo, a singer-songwriter in the Cat Stevens mode whose work often deals with social and political struggles, is the sort of musician the Infringement Festival was built for. He'll be performing a set in El Buen Amigo at noon today. Here's how he describes his work: "My music has innumerable influences, and has been compared to the likes of Cat Stevens and Jack Johnson. The style is folk rock for the most part with some blues and ballads. The content of the lyrics ranges from personal struggles and conflicts to social and political commentary to love and desire."
Squeaky Wheel's 10th annual Outdoor Animation Festival comes to Days Park tonight at 8:30 p.m.
The amount of activity happening during this, the third day of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, absolutely boggles the mind. Just straight-up boggles it, for real.
You might have as much fun throwing any kind of predetermined plan out the window in favor of wandering aimlessly around Allentown and following the omnipresent Infringement vibe wherever it may lead you. But if you're the think-ahead type, here are five of many dozens of activities that will likely be worth your while today: