Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

The Fringe Dwellers Is an Exhilarating Combination of Movement, Aerial Artistry, Hula Hoops, and More

Jeff Brochuk and Carlie Huberman star in The Fringe Dwellers

Jeff Brochuk and Carlie Huberman star in The Fringe Dwellers

The program for Burning Coal Theatre Company and Cirque De Vol Studios’ joint production of The Fringe Dwellers: Time as a Symptom cites the Urban Dictionary in informing the audience: “Often it is said that Fringe Dwellers are higher spirits waiting for humanity to grow with them into something bigger.” Brian Cooper exemplifies this concept by greeting the audience in the lobby and offering an Age of Aquarius experience, with a Tarot reading.

The program also asks that the audience bring silence and stillness into the theater, relax into a seat, and become one with the atmosphere of the auditorium, which is already darkened, caressed with mood music, and pierced with kaleidoscopic projections of random designs. Five human figures move in irregular patterns around and across the floor, passing over three lighted circles. The audience is invited to “focus on the simple experience of sensation — without thinking, without judging, without thought,” a sort of collective meditation.

Sara Phoenix, founder of Cirque de Vol Studios, brings movement, aerial artistry via trapeze and silks, hoop dance, yoga, meditation, contact improvisation, and laughter wellness to her troupe of exhilarating performers. (I think we saw some break dancing as well.)

Cirque de Vol Studios' The Fringe Dwellers: Time as a Symptom stars Toni Craige

Cirque de Vol Studios’ The Fringe Dwellers: Time as a Symptom stars Toni Craige

All the movement, dancing, physical story-telling, or mood abstractions are supported with experimental sound by Brian Shaw and Tim Lemuel (who also managed the lighting projections), and aerial rigging and belay by Todd Spiering.

Reading the program and talking with Sara Phoenix leads us to understand that choreography was created on a collaborative basis among the several artists, although the overall concept is hers. Also, individual moments were open to spontaneous improvisation during the performances, expressing the freedom which grows out of discipline.

Adam Dipert’s showmanship is amply displayed when he works two wheels on a string, a fascinating feat of dexterity and timing in which the wheel often leaves the string that it swings from and is caught elsewhere almost magically. He also is the leader of an interactive lesson in communication-by-example, which separated the audience into three sections and then brought us all together to guide him and Toni Craige as they crawled their ways through each other in a blindfolded dance that was both exotic and sensuous but never erotic or sensual. Dipert also adds a luxuriant humor riding the teeniest bike you ever saw!

Nina Spiering and Mari Kearns, two youths, do trapeze work of trust, contact, communication and grace.

Stars include (from top) Paige LaWall, Meka La Creme, and Timothy Lemuel

Stars include (from top) Paige LaWall, Meka La Creme, and Timothy Lemuel

Brian Cooper acts as the narrator for several of the pieces, for some perhaps unnecessarily, but certainly an integral part of the Inuit lore story of Ooruk and the white seal, in which the world of reality and the world of fantasy are mingled and then put at odds with each other.

Paige Lawall restores the 1950s hula hoop craze to grand and bewitching heights with a hoop generations beyond the period of its birth. And Lee-Hye and Sundra Coleman add the depth of age to the program, doing two sweet ballroom style dances that hearken of prior and romantic eras.

This thrilling troupe evokes the community established among audience and players and creates the atmosphere in which togetherness becomes palpable, and the continued amazement at life radiates around the hall.

Cirque de Vol Studios' The Fringe Dwellers: Time as a Symptom also stars Anna Renee Ohe

Cirque de Vol Studios’ The Fringe Dwellers: Time as a Symptom also stars Anna Renee Ohe

SECOND OPINION: June 8th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the June 18th Triangle Review review by Dustin K. Britt, click

Burning Coal Theatre Company and Cirque de Vol Studios present THE FRINGE DWELLERS: TIME AS A SYMPTOM at7:30 p.m. June 23 and 2 p.m. June 25 in Murphey School Auditorium, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604, near the Historic Oakwood Section, presented as part of Burning Coal’s “Wait Til You See This” second-stage series.


BOX OFFICE: 919-834-4001 or

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Sara Phoenix (Raleigh, NC director and movement artist/owner/director at Cirque De Vol Studios): (Facebook page).


Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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