Find your nugget at the 4th annual Nugget Fringe Theater Festival in Grass Valley |

Find your nugget at the 4th annual Nugget Fringe Theater Festival in Grass Valley

Submitted to Prospector
Mary and her friends speak out against racism and hate passed down from generation to generation in the adventourous tale, "Mary Bright Eyes."
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHAT: Nugget Fringe Festival

WHEN: Jan. 18-21, and Jan. 26-28. Times for shows vary. Guests are encouraged to check the website at for a complete list of dates and times.

WHERE: Several venues across Grass Valley.

TICKETS: Ticket prices vary. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door of a show.

INFO: For more information about the festival, venues, and ticket pricing visit the website at or call 530-366-5888.

(Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series showcasing 40 shows that will run at the Nugget Fringe Festival, Jan. 18-28. Quest Theaterworks Producing Artistic Director Scott Ewing has compiled submissions from all the performances and what follows are the artist’s description of their work.)

Mary Brave Eyes

I was raised white privileged by a southern racist mother during the 1960s-1970s in northern California, inspiring me to write, “Mary Brave Eyes.” Not to mention hate crimes are on the rise across America.

Most people understand babies are not born racists; but become one, through learned behavior.

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Partly autobiographical and set in 1969 just before the Apollo 11 moon landing, the characters (from my past) say the things I wish my own mother and neighbors had learned to express. Nearly 50 years later, this is my apology to Mary Brown.

Mary and her new friends, bravely attempt to break the cycle of hate passed down — generation after generation, rather than look the other way. Janine Martin is producing a cast of 15 kids, five adults and one dog. Artist Gwyn Stramler created our scenic backdrops, while Alasdair Fraser has provided one of his hopeful tunes.

“Mary Brave Eyes” is an adventurous, magical tale that takes one small step toward healing our nation, one town at a time.

— Karen Leigh Sharp

Implausibly Delicious: The Magic of Tim Mannix

Admittedly, I describe myself as “more of a comedian that does magic, than a magician who does comedy.” My newest stand-up magic show “Implausibly Delicious” is a prime example of my humor and hard work.

My interest in magic began at the age of eight when I received a TV Magic Set for Christmas, and later, I cut my teeth as a demonstrator at a local magic shop. A stint as an onstage assistant to local professional magician, Marlowe, with several cross-country trips appearing at theaters, fairs and festivals proved to be a fantastic training ground for a budding young performer.

Having lived and performed in Los Angeles for over 20 years, I’ve encountered every conceivable scenario — everything from celebrity events, including a party for Angelina Jolie, to kids’ birthday parties, one time, even performing at a local pub, for four-year-olds.

My goal is for “Implausibly Delicious” to be fun, funny and hopefully relatable due to my efforts to connect with my audience through humor and audience interactions.

This show is rated “H” for hilarious.

— Tim Mannix

Keeping Up with the Jorgensons

I’m a San Francisco-based actor, director and writer. I penned “The Thrilling Adventures of Elvis in Space” and “The Thrilling Adventures II: Elvis Rex,” after he had a dream about Elvis living on a secret base on the moon. Both plays were set to the tale of Oedipus, performed in the style of a 1940s serial radio show

My newest award-winning solo show “Keeping Up with the Jorgensons” is based on true events.

The year is 1982 and I take a road trip with this week-end father to Orange County. Forced to repeatedly tickle my father’s feet, sleep in my grandmother’s bed and go to an unknown relative’s wedding — I’ll to do and say anything that will secure a visit to the most magical place on Earth: Disneyland.

This award-winning play will be presented at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Off Center Stage, located at the Center for the Arts, Venue 6th, 315 South Richardson St., Grass Valley, CA. The show is 60 minutes and tickets are $12.

For more information go to

— Jeremy Julian Greco


Eclectigoria is the Nugget’s fantasmical showcase for scenes and monologues. This year’s show includes eight local actors, two of them performing original work.

Melinda Thomas opens the show fighting for love, commitment and the life she wants with an impassioned speech by Neil Simon.

Next, Mary May Vereen and Vicki Cambron explore goals and integrity in a scene that humorously explores the ethics of spinning the truth.

In a speech from “Inherit the Wind,” Mark Lyon touches memory and the heart as he reflects on a defining moment from his childhood. From “Old love, new love,” Adele and Sam Mills come together with love and humor to deal with Alzheimer spouses and unexpected, boundary-crossing realities.

As Shooter from Sam Shepard’s “Action,” Marion Jeffery navigates the quandary of a nonconformist soul seeking both authenticity and inclusion.

We see Michael West return to the stage with selections from an original work about many things, which may include religion, tequila and the Zen of laundry, and Sam Mills performs an original epic poem about an old king who must face and confront the demons of his dark and regrettable past.

This year’s speeches and scenes are playful, poignant and impassioned. They all have to do with belonging, with the tension between solitude and isolation, with the yearning to find connection and meaning. We see hope and loss and the courage of the moment. I hope you will join us.

— Marion Jeffery

Sari, Not Sorry

“Sari, Not Sorry” is the humorous and poignant story of my life growing up as a first generation East Indian female in Northern California. The production focuses on the many cultural norms I was compelled to defy and the unexpected life path I ultimately chose to pursue.

The themes of misfits, gender equity, arranged marriage, cancer, physical beauty, heresy and terrorism are all explored through some heartbreaking and provoking accounts in this rare solo show.

My goal is to share how non-conformity dominated my life and also to help others, especially women in similar situations, to appreciate the wisdom and value of their life experiences.

— Anita Ahuja

The Vagina Odyssey

“The Vagina Odyssey” is my vulnerable, provocative, and hilarious look at living with a vagina in a world that shames all things vagina.

It chronicles my journey from coming of age in a conservative mid-western town, to healing painful sex issues, to finding purpose, pleasure and a source of vulnerable, feminine power.

Along the way I encounter a 400 pound goddess, a gun wielding man, a gang of feral pussy cats, and a talking vagina who has a lot to say (and also loves telling jokes).

Men who have attended my show have said they walk out feeling like they were given access to the secret world of women, which has allowed them to feel closer to their wives and daughters.

Women have said my show touched a deep place inside them and awakened a desire to explore their own relationship with their body and sexuality.

My hope is that everyone walks away feeling moved and inspired.

— Sarah Kennedy

Return to the Scene of the Crime

Last year I went back to Vietnam for the first time in 50 years to visit where my buddies died in a bunker I should have been in and to perform my acclaimed one-man show about the war — “Hey, Hey, LBJ!” — under threat of arrest from the Communist government.

I was up every night at 3 a.m. looking for the first flight home. The feelings were so intense. I really came to Vietnam to do the play, but the past overwhelmed me. And I didn’t come to the country to write a sequel to “LBJ,” but that’s what ended up happening.

My new solo theater work — “Return to the Scene of the Crime” — makes four appearances this month at Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains as part of the Nugget Fringe Festival.

A lot of magical things happened during my trip back to Vietnam. “Did I get to perform ‘LBJ’ in Ho Chi Minh? Did the communists intervene? What happened on my visit to Cu Chi where I was an army combat correspondent and where my three buddies died in a rocket attack (while I was in Bangkok on R&R)? Did I find the house and alley way where I lived for three months in Saigon while editing the 25th infantry division newspaper?”

You’ll have to catch one of the shows to find out.

— David Kleinberg

Accordion Fight Show

I’ve heard it said that Strangely plays accordion like a lost baby kaiju stuck in a suspension bridge.

Adopted by a pair of esoteric mystics and raised without popular entertainments, he now peregrinates about the globe presenting sundry amusements. More often than not this boisterous, hirsute minstrel can be found at the center of all manner of jovial gathers, in kitchens, pubs and basement clubs.

Years ago, over a card game, the deck cooled, the stakes uncanny, Strangely was asked to describe his art.

For a moment across that purple-felted table they locked eyes, our hero and his adversary.

“I seek,” said Strangely, a smile shifting his face like the stirrings of an awakening bear, “to create in you a sense of happily befuddled wonder, to make you sing and dance and carouse and woo.”

This answer seemed to satisfy, and the hands continued, as they do to this very day.

Often the subject of great controversy, (his compositions once caused a violent disturbance in an Irish pub) Strangely seems befuddled by the reactions his amusements provoke. In private, a shy and retiring creature, once placed in front of a crowd of onlookers this troubadour transforms into a transfixing beardish dervish.

Accordion to popular legend behind his copious facial hair lurks a countenance of surpassing beauty, though he has vowed never to walk beardless until he completes his arcane quest.

— Strangely Doesburg

Friendly Rivalries

Hi, my name is Jori Phillips and I’m doing a show. THIS show. It’s going to be a good show. The BEST show. It has everything. Stand-up, stories and rap battles by white people (very white people).

I am working with a man named Jaye. Its pronounced just like a normal Jay, but he adds an “E” for some reason. I have no “E” in my name, I am better than Jaye.

That’s what our show is about, me being better than Jaye. I am Canadian so I am already better. Do you disagree? Come see the show! Prove me wrong, by politely watching, not heckling me, and also having fun.

— Jori Phillips

Name-Tag Blues

“Name-Tag Blues” is a stand-up story telling saga of my ridicules smorgasbord of joe-jobs and side gigs over nearly two decades of paycheck to paycheck existential comedy; with tales of customers offended, interviews gone wrong, resumes embellished and horrible bosses given the finger in cathartic defiant glory.

It’s the unsung existence of the retail worker, the barista, the telemarketer, the furniture mover, the phone psychic and the street busker to name a few. If this show existed in the Star Wars universe, it would be about the storm troopers that polish the floors and their struggle getting by in a dystopian intergalactic empire with a little dignity intact.

This show is also the story of a regular working shmuck who wanted to be an artist and never stop reaching for something … anything better than a cash register or a call center.

It’s the story not of a man who rose to success, nor a has-been or even a never-was, but the story of a life in progress; the ongoing comedy of everyday real life, punching in and checking out with the “Name-Tag Blues.”

— Shane Spears

So, laugh! or, die

I grew up New York so human watching is my thing along with hanging out with random strangers and paying homeless people to keep new York interesting.

Nothing has prepared me for small town living or hearing mountain lions at night imitating a woman in the streets, I almost called the cops. But turns out I like the small town thing! It’s almost like cheers except no one really knows my name, but they know my face, so it’s home for now until my kids give me permission to find us another adventure.

— Shani Harris

Lindsay Dunckel: The Dr. Is In

Something strange happened when I turned 50: I entered the I’ll-try-anything-once mode. Not unexpectedly, this has gotten me into some interesting situations, not the least of which was finding myself on stage this past July in the Nugget Summer Mini Fringe doing stand up comedy. And walking away with a Best Performer award.

Who knew I had it in me? It was terrifying before I got on stage, and then it was fun. I’m back for more of making people laugh just by telling the truth.

“The Dr. Is In” is a 45-minute, one-woman show about being a doctor (no, not that kind of doctor), being a Californian, being female, and aging, gracefully or not. I’m hoping my rueful ruminations will make you laugh as hard as the audience last July, either out of shock or recognition. Or both.

Catch me at one of four performances — you’re guaranteed to hear the best animal noises of the Fringe. Among other surprises.

— Lindsay Dunckel

Trolls in Yoga Pants

A Crystal Cave. Biodynamic wine. Puppeteers who trained in Prague. What do these things have in common? They are all part of the Winter Solstice Carnival that inspired me to write my new one woman show, “Trolls in Yoga Pants.”

Shortly before we went to the carnival, my kids had dodged bullets at our local park. I figured the carnival would be safe and fun. And there would be pagan caroling.

I didn’t realize I’d be dodging judgmental parent volunteers who were all wearing yoga pants. Who knew we were supposed to whisper in the Crystal Cave?

The volunteers shushed us. And then my son chose a crystal, the Crystal Queen said it looked like a wizard’s wand, and in a voice far louder than a Crystal Cave Whisper, my son proclaimed that it looked like a GUN! Not fun.

But the show is. This wild romp includes a Fairy Godmother with an e-book, a PowerPoint deck and a strong desire to best my father in a debate about who knows what’s best for children.

Unfortunately, my dad’s turned into a chicken, a parent volunteer wants to throw us out, and a dragon will eat him if she does. Come find out if things end happily ever after.

— Lisa Rothman

Death Herself & Ask Death

Dorothy — aka Death, Herself — here to tell you some very exciting news: we have two different shows at this year’s Fringe Festival.

First, the original, all-true but literally unbelievable, “An Intimate Evening with Death, Herself”: a slightly-past middle-aged waitress becomes Death Herself. How does that even happen? I don’t know; I can only tell you that it did.

I worked as a server in a high school cafeteria, hair net, name tag, the whole humiliating deal. After a bad day over the steam table with some absolutely vicious meatloaves, I went to a bar. I met Death there.

The guy was there on other business, couldn’t get a drink, looked sad and lonely. I got him a drink and one for me. We spent some quality time together and eventually I took over the position. Crazy, right? Come hear the whole story: you will never be the same.

Second, an even more unprecedented event: “Ask Death.” Never before has the public at large had an opportunity to ask Death a question. Never before has Death put herself into this kind of shockingly open forum.

Have you been dying to ask Death a question? Is there something you simply must know? Here’s your chance!

Each “Ask Death” event happens immediately after “An Intimate Evening with Death Herself.” Separate tickets required. I hope you take this extraordinary opportunity to experience some quality time with me before we meet — inevitably — on business.

— Douglass Truth

Human Error

I was raised in the little gangster town of National City, outside San Diego, near the Mexican border. I remember being instantly hilarious with people not related to me at a very young age.

After a successfully manipulated day in kindergarten, I ran home to tell my mom that I wanted to be a comedian!

My “memory” mom, while rinsing sudsy dishes in dappled light, looked at me with starry eyes, leaned down and said, “Oh, hunny, you have to be funny for that.”

True story — except for the dappled light and her doing the dishes (“that’s why you exist,” she’s stated). After a 30-year delayed reaction, I had what I identify as a “Wait a minute … ” moment and decided to pursue what scraps of dignity I’ve stored away to bring you a stand-up full of insecurities marred by sociopathic grandeur.

If it’s not about me, then it’s about my cat, Maude, and my kind of dog, Una, who are forced to share my loneliness and meal budget. Growing up in this modern world has really proven how comfortable I am with my grossness and how well developed I am in social naivete.

Not old, not young, but almost sterile, I invite you to come out to laugh, snort, and relate!

— Audrey Delgado

sTRUMPpets: Ship of Fools

“sTRUMPpets: Ship of Fools” was written as a response to the marvelous ceramic/fabric puppets of Bay Area artist Peter Suchecki. The original six as well as the ship used as a backdrop were initially made for a demonstration in Berkeley.

Inspired, I got to work on the script and commissioned the remaining figures. As an artist, I needed a way to channel my grave political misgivings in a fashion that might shine some light into the darkening abyss.

Written in the flush of despair and rage witnessing the erosion of civil liberties, environmental protections, electoral integrity, an open internet and I could go on and on, I thought, what better therapy than musical comedy? So, laugh, clown, laugh!

In theatre as in life, it’s not what you do as much as who you do it with. Reuniting with sound engineer Tom Reddock has revived an artistic collaboration that first took place in 1982. Ken Miele played Estragon in the Foothill Theatre production of “Waiting for Godot” I directed in 1985. Some few years past I directed Lois Ewing in “Gideon’s Knot,” a show that eventually played the Edinburgh Fringe Fest in 2014. Reuniting with all these folks is an artistic and personal joy for me.

— John Deaderick

Fight For 52 cents

I started writing “Fight for 52 cents” in 2014 after my fourth year of driving across the country doing Fringe Festivals.

I noticed year after year people seemed to get more despondent and talk about their life getting worse under Obama’s presidency.

It reminded me of a discussion I had in 1965, when I was 20 years old, with Ray Dunne the revolutionary leader of the 1934 Minneapolis truck drivers’ strikes.

Dunne joined the Industrial Workers of the World at 15 and became a Marxist revolutionary at 30. We spent several months talking about his life and especially the strikes. He was very humble and getting information out of him wasn’t always easy as he wanted to talk about current events like the Vietnam War and baseball.

Forty-eight years later I took my notes and started working on a show. The first thing I came across was an article about how workers felt helpless in the ’30s, even after Roosevelt was elected. Then a quote from Ray, “Workers emancipation will not be granted by the generosity of the capitalist class, but by the workers trust in themselves.” That seems to be an idea that many people reject nowadays.

Of course, Ray Dunne had an answer for that too. “Without class struggle we know the course of capitalism will become more brutal and warlike driving its workers into poverty.”

I’ve always admired Ray Dunne and being able to bring him to life on the stage is a pleasure.

— Howard Petrick

A Tribute to Sam Shepard

This is going to be one of the more engaging shows at the Fringe. You’ll start off with a short talk by long-time Shepard fan Paul Micsan. Then you’ll experience one of Shepard’s more obscure plays, “Evanescence,” or “Shakespeare in the Alley.”

It’s more or less a really intense and heartfelt monologue about loss, performed by Ariel Elliott, who lost both her mother and grandmother in 2017.

“Evanescence” is the fading from memory, a particularly poignant phenomena to be delivered at this time by Ariel.

The second piece is the statement given to police by a man who has been told to mind his own business but who, nevertheless, can’t manage to stay on his porch when he sees something going on across the street.

This one is a monologue. It was inspired by the vision of a grizzled man on his porch across from my son’s house in rural Virginia. And, as I would discover sometime after I wrote it, it was inspired by Shepard’s monologue “Killer’s Head,” which is about a man rambling on as he sits in the electric chair.

Together, these pieces are engaging, engrossing, visceral and, I think, a great offering for the Nugget Fringe audience.

— Scott Ewing

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