Now in its third year, the San Diego Fringe Festival, coming July 23-August 2, bills itself as bringing “the beautiful, the bizarre, and the unexpected to America’s Finest City.” Most shows run under an hour, cost $10 or less, and represent a potpourri of performance types in various venues.
Included this year are two plays presented by Dori Salois and Robert Salerno, a La Jolla couple who have been producing offbeat, pop-up performances under their nonprofit Vantage Theatre for over 20 years.
“We’re bringing back ‘Be Here Now, The Journey Of Ram Dass,’ which was a big hit last year at the Ocean Beach Playhouse,” Salois said. “But, also last year, we saw this funny, smart, passionate piece in Santa Barbara that we thought would be perfect for the Fringe Festival. It’s called ‘So Small A Thing,’ and it happens to be written by our daughter, Dominique Salerno.”
Born and raised in La Jolla, Dominique got her start at The Bishop’s School, where she was one of drama teacher Courtney Flanagan’s corps of ardent performa-philes known as “Flan’s kids”.
“In 2006, when Dom went to Princeton, there were nine of Flan’s kids there,” Salois said. “Over the next two years, there were 15 more. It was like theirown little theater department! One of the faculty referred to Bishop’s as ‘that performing arts school in La Jolla!’”
Dominique, who has been racking up credits as actor, director and playwright, just received her MFA from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She might have performed in her play “So Small A Thing’ here, but instead she’ll be opening in “Love and Information,” the inaugural production at A.C.T.’s new Strand Theater, by British playwright Caryl Churchill. (Small-world footnote: Set design is by Robert Brill, longtime scenic designer for La Jolla Playhouse, and LJP’s Artist in Residence in 2013.)
Dominique’s parents have amassed their own credits, though her proud father says: “It’s Dom who’s the local legend. For years, I was known only as Dominique’s Dad. And she still has fans here who follow her on Facebook.”
Dominique’s Dad, Vantage Theatre’s artistic director, is a retired surgeon who has done quite a bit of writing and directing, including “Cadenza: Mozart’s Last Year,” presented at Balboa Park’s Timken Museum, and “Tschaikovsky: Child of Glass,” for the Tijuana art center, CECUT. Dom’s Mom, Vantage Theatre founder/executive director, also finds time for acting, most recently in “Calendar Girls” at Swedenborg Hall.
The two are thrilled with their cast of two for “So Small a Thing”: Jennie Olson Six, an accomplished UCSD Theater Department grad, and John Anderson, an actor who is also production manager for San Diego REP.
“They love the play as much as we do, and I’m enjoying rehearsals as if I were an audience member,” Salois exulted.
What is the play about?
“It’s a new spin on the ancient story of Jason and Medea,” Salois said. “They’re trapped in a stuck elevator in the afterlife, grappling with issues of love and loyalty that still resonate in today’s world.”
So Small A Thing
Nine performances, July 23-Aug. 2, Swedenborg Hall, 1531 Tyler St., San Diego 92103. Tickets at https://sdfringe.ticketleap.com/so-small-a-thing/details or (858) 859-2281. *For a Vantage double feature, see Be Here Now on the same dates:vantagetheatre.com
Other Fringe Festival Highlights
Falling Man, dance performance by Maryland choreographer Leonard Cruz’s Tanztheater inspired by the work of German Expressionist Max Beckmann (1884-1950) and the famous photograph of a man falling from the burning World Trade Center. Four performances at Tenth Ave. Art Center, 930 10th Ave, SD 92101 https://sdfringe.ticketleap.com/falling-man/
The Hustle, four performances of “mystery, wonder and humor” with Las Vegas magician Lion Fludd at Tenth Ave. Art Center.