Meet the Host of the Rockford Fringe Festival

Rebecca Ann Carver is a Chicago-born actress, model and comedian. She’s been seen (and worked on) shows for MTV, Netflix and Amazon. She’s modeled for large companies like Staples and Shure to small local and women-run businesses. She performs regularly throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Learn more at www.rebeccaanncarver.com! Then come see Carver host the Rockford Fringe Festival from Noon-6:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at Walker Park.

Thanks for reading and see you at the Fringe! -Connie

Happy Mother’s Day to all the…

Artists! Yes! Happy Mother’s Day to all the artists who are interested in performing at the Rockford Fringe Festival! I freaking love you creative mothers! Keep those submissions coming!

Look: I know it’s Mother’s Day, but I simply don’t care. I can’t think of anything else except the Rockford Fringe Festival. Once I *know* I have a lineup and have the festival organized and safe, I will resume being normal. Until then, I am strictly fringe. I have fringe on the brain. Fringe fever. Frinnnnnnge.

Reminder: It’s easy to submit your script or pitch. Just fill out this jotform. And hurry because there are a limited amount of spots available. The artist lineup will be announced on or before June 15.

Thanks for reading. Happy Mother’s Day! -Connie

P.S. Please like / follow the Rockford Fringe Festival on Facebook.

Omigosh you won’t believe what these kittens JUST DID!

Boy howdy, these kittens sure are adorable! Not only that, they have secret talents. We caught up with Lieutenant Kitten (the kittens’ leader) and asked her what makes the kittens so special.

“We’re artists,” she said, “and we’ll be performing in the Rockford Fringe Festival!”

Awwwww. Doesn’t that make your HEART MELT?

The lieutenant said her crew of kittens is mostly interested in theatre but they also sing, act, dance and recite poetry.

“Each kitten is poised to share their unique talent,” said the lieutenant. “Just like the humans who will be performing at the Rockford Fringe Festival!”

***

Shame on me (Connie) for using kitten click bait to get you to read this story about the Rockford Fringe Festival. But desperate times call for desperate measures!

***

Shame on me again for using emotional, over-the-top language. These aren’t “desperate times” and I’m not interested in pursuing “desperate measures.” Here’s what I’m interested in: producing this fringe festival!

As you know, the performing arts add so much to a community. Likewise, a healthy, unique and robust community adds so much to its performers. It’s a symbiotic relationship and cultivating it takes some effort.

How can you help?

Click “like” on social media posts. Every time you share, follow, comment, retweet, etc., you are building a robust online community – one like at a time.

Volunteer. You don’t have to commit hours of your time! Simply committing 20 minutes of your time helps immensely! Help us cross our ‘t’s’ and dot our ‘i’s’ by signing up to volunteer.

Submit your idea or script. The shorter the better as that will allow more performers to share their unique talents. The lineup will be announced on or before June 15, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

Save the date! Got plans for July 9? Unless those plans involve the Rockford Fringe Festival, cancel them immediately and plan on attending the Fringe instead. Thanks for reading! -Connie

Meow! This kitten can’t wait to perform at the Rockford Fringe Festival!

You asked, we answered (updated)

Listen to the 14-minute info session and meet some of the team and talent. Contains pertinent information for artists, the audience and volunteers.

Q. What is the Rockford Fringe Festival?

A. A one-day outdoor celebration of the performing arts.

Q. When is it?

A. Saturday, July 9, 2022 from noon-6:00 p.m.

Q. The event lasts six hours. Do I have to stay for the whole thing?

A. It’s up to you. Some people will pack a picnic and make a day of the event. Others will come for a specific show or maybe a couple shows. And there will be some people who come and go throughout the day. All we ask is that you’re not disruptive during a performance. Please wait until a break to move around and talk. Most acts will be 10 minutes long but some will run as long as 45 minutes.

Q. How much does it cost to attend?

A. It’s free.

Q. What should I bring?

A. A chair or blanket. Consider wearing a hat and sunscreen. An umbrella.

Q. Will there be food?

A. It’s a pack-it-in-pack-it-out event. It’s also environmentally friendly. Though the event is free, audience should bring their own snacks and water AND a little bag to take away your trash.

Q. I want to perform. How?

A. Fill out this jotform. Hurry because there are a limited amount of spots available.

Q. Before I fill out the jotform, what kind of acts are being considered?

A. Theatre, dance, music, comedy, poetry, performance art. The shorter the better because that will allow more people to perform, but we are considering shows and acts that run up to 45 minutes.

Q. What does the set look like?

A. The OPEN Stage is two feet off the ground. It has two stair units, one that is stage left and the other is stage right. The stage is 12 feet wide and eight feet deep. It is safe for dancers. There is a hidden entrance.

Q. Tell me what kind of tech you have to offer.

A. There is one handheld mic with a mic stand and two lavaliers available that will be shared from performance to performance. There will be four speakers in the audience so up to 300 people will be able to hear. And there will be playback speakers on the stage. Performers are to bring their own music, cued up and ready to plug in. Do not bring CDs, bring music that you can plug in, like from your phone.

Q. When are you announcing the lineup?

A. On or before June 15, 2022.

Q. How much does it cost to submit / perform?

A. It’s free but artists are responsible for producing their own shows on their own time. There will be a brief partial run-through the morning of the event so everyone will be able to get familiar with stage and the order, but there will not be enough time to rehearse everyone’s full acts.

Q. Where do I go to stay up-to-date with the #RockfordFringe?

A. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast via Apple, Spotify, Anchor FM or Google.

Q. You have a podcast? May I be on it?

A. If you are a performer, a member of the artistic team, a volunteer or a Fringe audience member, we want you on the podcast! Each episode sheds insight into the Fringe community and is less than 15 minutes long. Email Connie to set up your Zoom or phone interview.

Q. Who is sponsoring the Rockford Fringe Festival?

A. This is made possible by a grant through the City of Rockford’s Forward for Fun initiative. Several sponsors and community partners are supporting the Rockford Fringe Festival. A complete list is at the bottom and you can see all of the logos at the bottom of the graphic.

Q. Where is the Rockford Fringe Festival taking place?

A. On an outdoor stage at Walker Park in Rockford; 1500 Myott Ave.

Q. Will the streets be blocked off? Where do I park?

A. The streets will not be blocked off and there is plenty of off street parking. Walking, biking and taking a Bird to the #RockfordFringe are other options.

Q. Is there a theme?

A. This year’s theme is ‘Rain or Shine’ and the event will take place rain or shine.

Q. Is this event for any particular demographic?

A. The Rockford Fringe Festival is for everyone.

Q. Why are you doing this?

A. To safely and intelligently share original theatre, music and dance on an outdoor stage with the community.

Q. I’d like to volunteer. How?

A. Fill out this volunteer jotform and we’ll hook you up with a fun task.

Q. Who are the sponsors?

A. There are several tiers.

Rockford Fringe Festival Official Sponsor: Rockford Writers’ Guild.

Community Sponsors: City of Rockford; Community Foundation of Northern Illinois; Hard Rock Casino; Fehr Graham; Hard Rock Casino; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Northwestern Illinois Building Trades Unions; Rockford Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; Rockford Mass Transit District; Rockford Plumbers and Pipefitters.

Community Partners: 89.5 FM WNIJ; Chicago Dramatists; Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago; Rockford Area Arts Council.

Q. Who do I contact if I have any questions?

A. Email Rockford Fringe Festival producer Connie Kuntz at connievkuntz@gmail.com.

Rockford Fringe Festival is a GO!

Rockford Fringe Festival host: Rebecca Ann Carver.

The Rockford Fringe Festival will take place on Saturday, July 9 from noon-6:00 p.m. at Walker Park in the city’s 3rd Ward. This free outdoor event is part of the City of Rockford’s Forward for Fun initiative. If you are interested in performing, fill out this form. Hurry! The official lineup will be announced on or before June 15.

Shorter performances work best, but you can submit a show that lasts up to 40 minutes. You are encouraged to submit plays or performances that explore serious topics but we this is an outdoor event and we will not tolerate profanity or any content containing vulgar, racist, sexist or supremacist language. All plays, performances, and content must be your original work.

The Rockford Fringe will be hosted by comedian, actor and model Rebecca Ann Carver. Comedy songmaker, music director, composer and broadcaster Robbie Ellis will be featured as the opening musical act.

Comedy songmaker Robbie Ellis will kick off the Rockford Fringe Festival with a free all-ages performance.

There is no fee to participate and the festival is free and open to the public.

Thank you to the following sponsors and community partners for their support: Rockford Writers’ Guild (official); City of Rockford; Community Foundation of Northern Illinois; Hard Rock Casino; Fehr Graham; Northwestern Illinois Building Trades Unions; Rockford Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; 89.5 FM WNIJ; Chicago Dramatists; Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago; Rockford Area Arts Council.

If you have any questions, email the Rockford Fringe Festival producer at connievkuntz@gmail.com. Learn more on our Facebook Page at Rockford Fringe Festival.

I’m just going to listen to your heart

I had a doctor appointment today so I wrote a haiku sequence. Also, I don’t have a picture from my appointment so I’m using this 2016 photograph of my husband pretending to be doctor. I believe the character’s name was “Dr. Douche.” Anyway, it’s poem time.

1.
i like the light touch 
of the stethoscope on my
chest and back, each tap

2.
a gentle chill 
going to the doctor can 
be nice if you just...

3.
take a deep breath  
i'm just going to listen 
to your heart and lungs

4.
i overdo it
inhale a good five seconds
longer than i should

5.
and hold it in for
far too long before i dra-
matically exhale!

6.
just breathe in and out
he says, breathe normally now
i've forgotten how

Thank you for reading my blog. Writing it is as easy as breathing in and out. -Connie

Nothing more, nothing less

It’s May 2nd and I think the same thing I have thought every year on this day since I was four or five years old.

“Dad’s birthday.”

I associate beautiful, warm weather with my dad’s birthday even though it’s not always beautiful and warm on May 2nd. In fact today was so dreary and cold that we cranked the heat up to 70. But my dad had a beautiful and warm heart, so that’s why I associate those adjectives with this day. That’s why I love this day.

My dad has been gone for five years and I am grateful, of course, for the memories, but even more so for the rare occasions I still have “dad moments.”

I’ve heard it’s common to associate a cardinal with a deceased loved one, but I don’t know why. What I do know is that while I’ve seen countless cardinals since my dad died, there have been two specific, separate occurrences when I saw a cardinal, stopped everything and thought the same thing.

Dad.

A simple but heavy thought.

Dad.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Another time I had a “dad moment” was on the treadmill. Treadmills aren’t exactly known for being spiritual so I’m as surprised as you are. But the moment was real and is still fresh in my mind.

I was listening to the rough cut of a literary podcast Jesse and I were editing for Rockford Writers’ Guild. It sounded terrific. I’m not bragging. It was legitimately good audio. But that’s not what was strange. The strange “thing” is that when I was on the treadmill listening to the podcast, my arms shot up in victory. But when that happened, my arms didn’t feel like my arms. They felt like my dad’s arms.

Dad.

I knew in that strange moment the podcast was good. And it was. And it led to all sorts of great things. But that’s not why I’m writing.

I’m writing because the place I seem to have most of my “dad moments” is when I’m out in the world running errands and I see moments of beauty and warmth exchanged between a dad and his daughter. The most recent one was when I saw a stranger-dad pick up his daughter from school. I looked up and saw a dad fist-bump his daughter. It was a moment of cuteness and mutual respect. Though I never fist-bumped my dad, I was visited by that old familiar thought.

Dad.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Love and miss you forever.

And to the rest of you: Thank you for reading my (very late night) blog. -Connie

P.S. I don’t have a lot of pictures of my dad, so I used an old photo of Jesse and our oldest daughter sharing a smile. I think it captures a certain universal “dad moment.”

Ding dong!

It’s the first day of May also known as “May Day.” That’s when people “secretly” deliver baskets of fresh flowers to their friends, neighbors and loved ones. I say “secretly” because part of the ritual is to place the “May Day basket” on the doorstep, ring the doorbell and vanish into thin air (or go home).

Wherever you go, you must n-e-v-e-r speak of the basket. You are to act like it never happened. If someone says they saw you, deny it.

So many red flags…

When I was very little, I willingly participated in this vandalism. I wasn’t allowed to use the good flowers, so I’d rip violets, dandelions and clover out of the earth and arrange them in a handmade paper basket. Sometimes the lilacs would be in bloom so I’d snip a small bunch, shake the ants off of it and stick it in the basket.

Making the paper basket was simple and we completed this task at school. You take a piece of construction paper, make a few little cuts, fold up and Scotch tape the four corners into a shallow basket. Then you staple the paper handle to the sides.

Honestly, I don’t know why I don’t do this more often. They’re adorable catchalls for pens and pencils. Rubber bands and whatnot. Note to self: Make baskets.

Anyway, even though I worked quickly, within seconds my flowers wilted. I’d place their droopy, lifeless bodies into what was now a paper casket. Inevitably, there would be at least one ant crawling over the carnage.

I was never proud of my work. Looking back, I should have just thrown the baskets in the trash. But this was before I learned how to “kill my darlings.” I didn’t know what an editor was back then. All I knew was I created something and goddamnit, I was going to force it on someone. But who?

I decided that my very private next door neighbors Miss Collier and Miss Norris would be the victims. I was equal parts giddy and terrified to ring their doorbell. I wasn’t even sure they had a doorbell because I never saw anyone visit them. The thought of leaving them my basket of doom made me dizzy. But I was all in because I thought I was doing my neighbors a great service by sharing my “art” with them.

I have so much shame about how much I’ve shared over the years. But you don’t really see me stopping, do you. Consider this blog a May Day basket from me to you. Not something you really want or need but, ding dong, here it is.

Thanks for reading my blog. I greatly appreciate it. Hope you get some real flowers today! -Connie

Of Mountains and Molehills

A moving truck pulled into our alley. They idled for several minutes.

Jeez dude. Shit or get off the pot. (My favorite saying.)

I went about my business until I heard the sound of the engine shutting off.

What the hell? That’s not what I meant!

As I pondered the different ways “Shit or get off the pot” can be interpreted, I suddenly heard God’s extension ladder vigorously zooming into the sky. It was so loud and angry-sounding my chest rattled. I looked out the window to see what they were delivering to God when I realized it wasn’t God’s extension ladder I heard. It was just the guy pulling the ramp out of the truck. And that’s when I realized I was “trapped.” I immediately texted my daughter.

Hi Sweetheart. There's a moving van parked behind the van. I'm looking at it right now. I can't tell how long they are going to be there. What's worse: I can't get out! LEGITIMATELY TRAPPED. I'm worried that I'll be late picking you up. What kind of shoes are you wearing? You might have to start walking.

Now is as good a time as any to tell you that I, Constance Valerie Kuntz, have been known to make a mountain out of a molehill. Case in point: the moving truck. Another text.

I'm not sure who is moving what. All I know is that I don't feel like I should ask the truck to move just so I can get out because what if they're delivering oxygen tanks or a hospice bed? 

I really didn’t want to know. Major breach of neighborly etiquette. Must text daughter immediately.

I really don't even want to know, you know? Shit. 

I texted a picture of the truck to my daughter.

God. I just can't figure it out.

I headed to the basement to transfer the laundry. I passed the back door on my way down. I thought about opening the door and checking on the progress of the movers, but I resisted. I palmed the door, gave it a little pat and descended the stairs.

A watched pot never boils. (My other favorite saying.)

Then I pondered the different sayings that incorporate the word “pot.”

  • a pot to piss in
  • pot calling the kettle black
  • pot shots
  • gone to pot
  • great American melting pot
  • pot head

When I got to “Potsie from Happy Days,” I heard God’s ladder getting sucked back into the the devil’s throat. This time the sickening sound loosened the molars in my jaw. By the time I reached the top of the stairs and peeked out the back door, the truck was gone. Crisis averted.

I folded the laundry and picked up my daughter with plenty of time to spare. And seeing her emerge from the schoolbus, fresh-faced after a long day of traveling and playing soccer? Well, that’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Hey, thanks for reading my blog. -Fusspot Connie

Day and night

Here’s some haiku poetry about our backyard. I wrote it today because last night I woke to the sounds of screeching raccoons scaling my neighbor’s tree.

Hear my poem.
Day

a choir of tulips
turns to the sun and opens
wide to sing and shine

Dusk

flowers fold their
fingers neatly
into their laps

Night

close your eyes
disappear
into yourself


3:00 a.m.

raccoons hunt for mice
instead come face to
face with a fox

3:01 a.m.

lungs and eyes
screech and scream as they
scale a tree to safety

3:05 a.m.

fox flees and
the family descends the tree
slower going down than up

3:06 a.m.
i close the window and turn
my back to nature
hide under my pillow

Thanks for reading my blog and / or listening to my podcast. -Connie

Editor’s Note: Haiku is not limited to the 5-7-5 syllable structure.

For Nerds Only: Hear raw audio of the raccoons in my yard!