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Rochester Fringe Festival, Day 4: "Before Dawn" and "The Light Collector," "The Solitude of Self: The Journey of Elizabeth Cady Stanton" reviews 

Plus, what happened with "Dragon's Lair"?

My first stop on Saturday was RIT's Collaborative Films in Astronomy screenings at the packed full Little Theatre 1, which included four short collaborative films between astrophysics and animation students, divided up between screenings of imagery with voiceovers by two PhD students in RIT's Astrophysics program.

I found the animated shorts to be lovely, ethereal, and encouraging of the wonder that many of us feel when contemplating the universe and our mysterious (though less than before) existence here. Particularly good were the stop-motion piece "The Light Collector," by animator Jim Downer and astrophysics student Billy Vasquez, and "Before Dawn," by animator Haoran Li with music by Xiaoyo Liu. The voiceover bits, however, while informative, often went on a bit too long, grew a bit dull and meandering, and had the tendency to resemble two siblings feuding for attention.

The performance of "The Solitude of Self: The Journey of Elizabeth Cady Stanton" held at Blackfriars Theatre Saturday night was a fitting tribute to the woman who is often overshadowed (at least in Rochester) by her BFF, Susan B. Anthony. Written and acted beautifully by Patricia Lewis, and directed by Terry W. Browne, the play gave the audience an intimate moment with Stanton as she describes her life in terms of her early streak of childhood rebellion, to her first serious inklings of legal and social inequality between the races and sexes, to her happy marriage and mothering of seven children, to her friendships with Abolitionists, activists, and her long career in activism.

Lewis is a commendable shade of the original, delivering anecdotes with as much warm, charismatic, sharp wit as Stanton was purported to in life. The audience fell in love, even as the heroic soul described falling out of favor, even as Stanton spoke of the increasing ridicule that her increasingly radical ideas and methods received.

The play begins with the question, "Who is Elizabeth in her own right?" and finishes with Stanton's thoughts on the solitude of the individual soul. Specifically, that "in the supreme moments" of one's life, no one can bear the burdens of another. The brief, hour-long performance was entirely engaging and enlightening throughout, and profoundly moving at the end.

I wish I could give a report of the "Dragon's Lair" animated projections by RIT faculty and students, which were supposed to be projected on Christ Church last night. I was looking forward to the show, as were around 100 people lingering on the East Avenue-facing lawn when I arrived. But within a few minutes of the 9 p.m. start time, a solitary older woman was sent around to dismiss us individually, stating that the organizers had decided that due to the rain, the ground would be too wet to sit upon and watch. This was disappointing, but also confusing to many of us, as the ready and excited crowd had already gathered and didn't seem to care about the light sprinkling that had ended already, but no formal announcement was made and no show was to take place. I inquired, but was told that because it was the last evening of the festival, the event would not be rescheduled.

On Sunday I'll hopefully catch "Bee Eye" at Gallery r (100 College Ave., hours are 1-5, but call to be sure someone is present: 256-3312), and "The Dust" at RAPA (727 E. Main St.) at 5 p.m.

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