NOTE: PortFringe will be profiling PF14 Artists and their shows on this blog in the weeks leading up to the festival (June 24-29, 2014). The next snapshot is of Mystery Jig Productions, appearing at PortFringe with an original show about a very original Maine man. Learn more about Fishbones from our extended conversation with Mystery Jig members Troy Bennett and Eric Darrow Worthley.
Artist: Mystery Jig Productions
Show: Fishbones: Crummies, Deadheads and Knights of the Road
Description: True-enough tales and songs of a skinny kid from Maine who leaves home to ride the rails and “see America first” in the teeth of the Great Depression.
PF: Can you tell us a little big about your company, Mystery Jig Productions?
Troy:Well, I have my fingers in several pies — two cherries and a pumpkin to be exact. But seriously, Mystery Jig is the performing and visual arts umbrella for my 19th century photography and old-timey music endeavors. I’m glad to have Eric as a partner for this project.
Eric: Awww. That’s sweet. You’re pretty OK, too.
PF: I have to admit, I did not know who Irving L. Stevens was until I saw your promo video on Facebook and did a little research – how fascinating! How and why did you first become interested in Maine’s “Hobo King”?
Troy: Fishbones was my wife’s grandfather. When I was dating her, I tried to impress her mother, Fishbones’ daughter, by writing a song about him. Looking back, it was probably the most presumptuous thing I’ve ever done. He’d only died the year before. And I’d never met him — or her mother!
PF: Thanks in advance for clearing this one up: What’s a Crummy? And I have a feeling that a "deadhead” has nothing to do with a certain band…?
Eric: You’ll have to come see the show to find out. They’re both hobo slang for parts of a train.
PF: There’s a banjo in your video – exciting! What can you tell us about the role live music might play in this show?
Troy: This is the first time anyone’s ever referred to my banjo as exciting. Thank you. The show is based around the aforementioned song, as well as Fishbone’s own writings and music.
PF: Have you ever hitchhiked? Have you ever picked up a hitchhiker?
Troy: I spent the first ten years of my 20s hitchhiking in Europe.
PF: What are you most looking forward to about PortFringe?
Eric: The Fringe is a wonderful way for Portland’s pockets of great theatre to build bridges to other pockets where they can all get together and mix their metaphors.
PF: Lobster or Steak? Discuss.
Eric: Steak. Bottom-feeding, ocean bugs are for tourists.
Troy: Lobster. Because I’m worth it.
PF: Indulge us as we get a bit philosophical: What does the term “Fringe Theater” mean to you?
Troy: the dried cowhide strips of creativity, performing a freely-dangling dance of imagination through the winds of performance on the biker of love’s leather jacket.
PF: And as we get even more existential: Why is theater important?
Eric: Theatre is storytelling and storytelling is a universal unifier of the universe — whether you’re a bee, wiggling your butt to let the hive know where the flowers are, or a skald reciting Beowulf for 13 hours or a Port Fringer telling a brand-new tale. It’s all the same and that’s cool.
PF: Is there a modern more recent version of of Irving L. Stevens walking among us today?
Troy: Oh yeah. Every migrant worker out there, looking for a better life for themselves and their family. It’s a never-ending tale.
PF: Is there a best survival, camping or other tip that you’ve learned from ol’ Fishbones that you could share with us?
Troy: Yes. Stay away from booze and hard work.
PF: With a hat tip to Henry David Thoreau, finish this sentence: “I go to the woods to ……”
Troy: To do what the bear does.
Eric: As long as you’re putting YOUR name on that answer.
SEE MYSTERY JIG PRODUCTIONS’ “FISHBONES: CRUMMIES, DEADHEADS AND KNIGHTS OF THE ROAD” AT PORTFRINGE 2014!
Wednesday, June 25 at 6:00pm – PSC Storefront Theater
Thursday, June 26 at 9:00PM – Geno’s Rock Club (21+)
Saturday, June 28 at 12:00pm – PSC Storefront Theater
for more information about PortFringe, visit www.portfringe.com