"I love being a New Yorker," says actress Reiko Aylesworth. "And doing something in the Fringe feels very New York." Indeed, the New York International Fringe Festival, now in its 14th year, has become a New York summertime institution, drawing in writers, directors, actors, and other creatives to downtown Manhattan for a whirlwind two weeks. This year's festival runs August 13-29, and features nearly 200 shows, performing in 20 venues.
Aylesworth -- best known for her television roles as Michelle Dessler on 24 and Rachel Tobin on Damages -- is one of the featured performers in writer/actor John Pollono's Lost and Found. The play revolves around a blue collar family of cops in Boston, and a mysterious stranger who enters their lives. Aylesworth portrays a neighbor named Betty. "In the beginning, I'm sort of the outside eye -- the person that comes in and is thrown by how crazy this family is," says Aylesworth. But as the play progresses, Betty's own intimate connection to the family is revealed.
"My character is dealing with secrets and infidelity and shame," says the actress. "Those are major themes throughout the play." As for the show's title, Aylesworth states: "I think all the characters are lost at some point and when they find something -- and it may not be happiness -- they achieve some kind of resolution."
Five-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel turns his creative eye to the stage as the director of Burning in China, a solo play written by Gary Moore, and performed by Jeff LeBeau. The project marks Deschanel's first theater venture since high school. "It's kind of odd that I'm doing it," he says. "But I'm really having fun." The show chronicles Moore's 1988 trip to Shanghai, where he taught at a Chinese University. "It was the year leading up to Tiananmen Square," says Deschanel. "While the play's not about that, there were probably 100 cities that had similar kinds of uprisings and that certainly plays into the piece, as students were leaving class and getting involved in marches."
Featured in the production is footage that Deschanel shot that same year while he was also in China. He and Moore have been longtime friends since their days as students at Johns Hopkins University. "I would go up and visit Gary in Shanghai, and I took some video there for a couple days," says Deschanel. "We rode bicycles, and I just documented people doing Tai Chi in the streets and the insane compactness of the city. We use that to basically take you back in time to what China was like back then."
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