Hot Fringe in the Summertime in Grass Valley |

Hot Fringe in the Summertime in Grass Valley

Shakespeare meets 1950s sci-fi in “The Midsummer Nightmare,” a featured performance of the Nugget Mini-Fringe Theater Festival in Grass Valley July 21-13. From left to right, the guys are Aaron Miller, Jaye Lee Vocque (writer-director), Shawn Carrington, Tony Yaghi, and the gals are Amber Blount and Vanessa Vargas.
Submitted by Karen Vocque |


WHO: Quest Theaterworks presents

WHAT: Nugget Mini Fringe Theater Festival

WHERE: The Holbrooke Hotel, 212 W. Main St., Grass Valley

WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday, July 21 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23

ADMISSION: Each show is $10. Opening and closing parties are free.

TICKETS: Only at the Holbrooke, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, July 21 and 10 minutes before each show.


Cool off at the Holbrooke Hotel with the “itty bitty, teensy weensy, down and dirty” Summer Nugget Mini Fringe Theater Festival this weekend, July 21-23.

For the uninitiated, a Fringe Festival is an over-the-top, under-the-radar and/or off-the-wall celebration of short-form unconventional theater. Fringe Theater Festivals originated in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1947 and have spread worldwide.

Unlike the complex, two-week, third annual Nugget Fringe Theater Festival staged in Grass Valley in January, the Nugget Mini Fringe is a study in simplicity.

There will be 10 one-time only shows and two parties in the space of 48 hours, all at the Holbrooke Hotel, 212 W Main St., Grass Valley.

Each show is $10. With limited seating and only one performance, there will be sellouts.

The festival kicks off at 7:30 p.m., Friday with “The Dreams of Lemuel Cook” starring Lindsay Dunckel, Randy McKean and “a cadre of unruly musicians” who embark on a fantastical romp through the 1960s Paris jazz scene.


The Nugget Mini Fringe features two multiple Best of Fringe winners, Jaye Lee Vocque and Douglass Truth, in back-to-back, new shows Saturday night.

Stockton-based Vocque took home a Best of Fringe and a People’s Choice award for his one-man show “Based on Actual Events” last January.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Vocque’s bringing about a dozen of his funniest friends to town for a Shakespeare-influenced sci-fi show called “The Midsummer Nightmare,” aka “Plan XIV From Out of Space” — in 4-D. (Apparently, smell is the fourth dimension in their parallel universe.)

Following at 7:30 p.m., Truth brings his imaginary sister Dorothy Truth to life for the world premiere of “Death Herself, The Sequel.”

Truth’s remarkably original show “An Intimate Evening with Death Herself” has sold out from here to New York City — and played many nursing homes along the way.


From the humor and heartbreak of Ojai-based Cynthia Waring’s “Bodies Unbound” (1:30 p.m., Saturday) to the improvisational silliness of Kate Haight’s “Sketchy Ladies” (3 p.m., Saturday), the Mini Fringe gives equal rights to women fly or flop with five strictly female shows.

Originally scheduled for the Nugget Fringe Festival in January, Waring’s acclaimed show about how she left a convent to become a massage therapist reveals “the sacredness of ordinary experience and the wisdom of the flesh.” A trailer for her tour de force performance is online at

Information on the “Sketchy Ladies” is … sketchy. Haight is in charge of an unnamed, intergenerational troupe of local comedians, writers, actors and performers.

In her stand-up show “Sorry, Jori” (9 p.m., Friday), Jori Phillips has fun with small towns and the people who live in them. Lindsay Dunckel opens for Phillips with her take on mid-life challenges.

Sunday at 1:30 p.m., Eleanor Scott calls “Time Out, Don’t Bring Up Gender, Okay?” In a show about how she lost her favorite job because of a sadhu, a “special” doctor, “men who explain things to women,” and several other twists of fate.

And yes, there are “Trolls in Yoga Pants” (9 p.m., Saturday), according to Lisa Rothman’s one-woman show about a dragon on the loose, a feisty Fairy Godmother and her daddy’s issues with her living in Oakland.


Finishing off the Mini Fringe are a game show and a drag show.

The “Fringe Factor: Nugget Edition” (3 p.m., Sunday) pits hometown Fringer’s against out-of-town challengers.

It’s an improv battle of wits and witless physical comedy. Brains and bruises.

The “Kentucky Fried Chicks” (4:30 p.m., Sunday) close the theater festival with their outlandish show.

Unlike the stylishly androgynous Dorothy Truth, the Kentucky Fried Chicks are two unidentified guys from Placerville in drag. At great personal risk, they make fun of “the absurd lives of country women on the edge.”

A party follows.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. Contact him at or

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