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Minnesota Fringe Festival

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Hey hey -- I have no idea if anybody is still reading this, but I just wanted to express my gratitude to everybody who took the time to see the show and share their thoughts, whether your experience was positive or negative. For those who enjoyed the show -- thanks much for the kind words; for those who didn't -- I'm sorry I wasn't able to entertain you this time around, and I hope you'll give me another chance in the future.

Here begin the terrors.
Here begin the marvels.

The fifth century meets the twenty-first as Lance-Corporal Pellinore is shipped off to Baghdad. It's Arthur's story...as you've never heard it before.

Set against the backdrop of the first Gulf War, this military drama uses the body of medieval legend surrounding the early days of King Arthur and his knights to explore the nature of idealism in the face of armed conflict. Comparing and contrasting the contemporary and classical language of martial heroism, this wholly unique blend of scholarship and performance art promises to be a controversial and thought-provoking event.

Praise from the Capital Fringe in Washington, DC:

"...Low is a terrific storyteller, using a mellow voice and expressive body language to evoke the characters. The creative melding of ancient myth that has informed our ideas of what loyalty and war are about is thought provoking. A performance to inspire reflection and a playwright and performer to watch for in the future." - audience member

"...Low has a hell of an ear for language. Those are some downright beautiful sentences he's uttering up there, and if they sound too written, and inextricably bound to those pages he's turning so carefully, well, big deal: the guy gives good aural." - Glen Weldon, Washington City Paper

Can't wait? Follow phillip low's journey across the American heartland in the Maximum Verbosity Production Blog!

This show is part of the Rockstar Storytellers Passport Series. See all eight shows, collect the trading cards, and receive a big prize!

The cast

phillip low
Role: writer/performer
"...his ever-expanding skill and bending language to his will and slinging it at you from five different directions at once - that's the primary reason you should see his show. He is damn good at what he does. He is smart. He is funny. He is brilliant. No question." - Matthew Everett, Twin Cities Daily Planet

phillip low is a Chinese-American playwright and slam poet, storyteller and mime, theatre critic and libertarian activist. His performances have won acclaim at such varied venues as the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Spirit in the House, FoolFest, and the Iowa, Kansas City, and Minnesota Fringe Festivals, where his one-man show "Descendant of Dragons" was the bestselling show in its venue and honored with a coveted Encore slot.

He is also the co-founder and Chair of the Rockstar Storytellers, a team of bestselling Minneapolis spoken-word artists.

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Maximum Verbosity

The Rise of General Arthur

Sat., Aug. 1 @ 5:30 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Tue., Aug. 4 @ 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 5 @ 8:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 8 @ 8:30 p.m.

Warning! Violence, Adult language, Loud noises/gunshots

Venue Augsburg Mainstage
For ages 12+
Created by phillip andrew bennett low
Web site http://www.maximumverbosityonline.or...
genres Solo, Spoken word
subjects Political, Historical
features Regional premiere (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Original script/choreography

Overall rating

User reviews

Mesmerizing
by Justin Alexander Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Low draws you inexorably into a world of magical realism drawn with equal parts from the esoteric corners of Arthurian legend; modern headlines; and Low's well-honed storytelling sensibilities.

This is not merely a transplanting of Arthurian legend, it's a transformation. Low's lyrical words and characterizations perhaps put me most in mind of King's Dark Tower -- something both common and epic; strange yet familiar.

I'm writing this review after Low's final performance at the Festival, but the program suggests that Low intends to continue developing this work. It would be well worth seeking out future performances of this material.

Altered Arthur
by Paula Nancarrow Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
"I sometimes wonder if it's me that's being made love to. I feel like I'm being harpooned by some raging monk in the act of receiving God." Emily Jessup, Altered States.

I saw Ken Russell’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky's novel in 1982 with a man who aspired to be Eddie Jessup. I married him anyway. When phillip andrew bennett low gets on the stage, I have flashbacks.

For more of my thoughts on this performance, go to http://ordinarytime.livejournal.com/19262.html.

well turned
by m. freiert Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
lets be frank, if you haven't read Monmoth or epic poetry in general, you're not gonna get enjoy it, muchless enjoy it.

If you familiarity with Arthur extends beyond Camelot, you really want to see this. Well delivered, well crafted epic poetry that's a craftily turned telling of an ancient legend placed in a modern mine field reminding us of the confusion and certainty faced in battle stories since the Iliad.

Really interesting
by David Trudeau Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
but do we need a library card to enjoy it? The distillation and retelling of Arthurian legend in modern times is indeed interesting and makes (again) a great story on which our Western ideas of chivalry, heroism and leadership are based. Nice insight. What is huge here, however, is the telling by Mr, Low which kept my interest. The program details his scholarship.

"Low is a terrific storyteller"
by Chris Friedlieb Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
copied that from the DC fringe review... but it covers it... I was transfixed for the hour... was it really an hour?... I want MORE!

The hero tale, deconstructed
by Sarah Wash Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Simply taken as a piece of performance art/storytelling, this was a marvelous way to spend an hour. I would love to know more about the scholarship portion, which wasn't evident in what I saw on stage, but that fact in no way detracts from the power of the performance, which was raw and intimate, yet went somewhere and left me with a distinct impression. This is the tale of a hero who begins with certainty, falls into doubt, and yet continues onward in the face of doubt because to lose his raison d'etre would be to lose his life. Now I know why we fight. A powerful story, masterfully told, with great compassion and considerable style.

My one gripe, which would make me take off half a kitty if I could, was that I would have liked more modulation of pitch in the telling of the dream sequences, particularly the first one. It sounded a bit too much like slam poetry and was a little out of place in this context. The words in this piece sing--and the voice should too.

Please don't see this show if you're expecting confessional quasi-poetry or bawdy slapstick. Go somewhere else. See this show if you want to be brought to the edge of your seat, and possibly to tears.

Well Done, But Requires Patience
by Ben San Del Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This is a good show and a compelling idea. I'm not big on the Arthur legend, but it still entertained me, especially the dialogue scenes. The monologues get a little long at times, and the delivery is too intense and scripted to be conversational, and that makes it harder for him to connect with the audience. But as long as you don't have ADD, you'll enjoy this show and appreciate the fine writing.

Shocking and Awesome
by Rob Callahan Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
low's epic storytelling style is well-suited to the epic vision he portrays within his audience's hearts and minds. Against a Gulf War backdrop, the Arthurian legend is retold with modern language, themes and characters. Augmented by lighting, sound and costume, the narrator's pace and inflection drive the story ever onward with the force of its own Mythical heroes, reborn as G.I.s, questing across the desert sands.

Surprisingly serious and true to its source. A well-done piece of storytelling.

surprising!
by tin lizzy Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I was completely prepared to not like this show - King Arthur and Gulf War theme combo sounded like a guaranteed snooze fest for me. My main reason for dropping in: I've got an Ultra Pass and was killing time until a 10:00 show I was seeing nearby.

But I came out of this show impressed, pleased, and having damn enjoyed an intriguingly crafted and told story.

Both the initial surreality and my first impression of "oh noes - here we go on the slam-poetry style delivery" left me unimpressed with the first vignette...at first.

Once it moved on to the second vignette and I started to connected the pieces and threads, I was drawn in to the story and appreciated the first vignette much more.

I very much enjoyed Low's delivery/performance style (which thankfully progressed beyond slam-poetry) - though he has a frequent nose-twitch thing that I'd recommend him exorcising as it got distracting. The rest of his mannerisms/movement/physicality seemed genuine and worked for the show. His reading of parts didn't take away from the performance either.

I found this show well-written, engaging, intriguing, and very well performed - it left me pondering even after I left. My 2nd fav show of the fringe so far!

Thank you Mr. Low for a surprisingly engaging show!

Mesmerizing
by Derek Miller Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Phillip Andrew Bennet Low is a master storyteller. In the past, his lyrical approach to medium has been hidden inside a fast, urgent delivery in which a flurry of words almost spill out in a flood. Still, his fantastic writing has always leapt to the fore, even if much of his past performance has been from behind the protection of a script in a music stand in front of him.

In this new production, Low takes the medium of storytelling and kicks it up a few notches. Not only is he in costume for this piece, but he also steps out from behind the music stand and performs in character from memory. It makes a curious hybrid: part classic Phillip Andrew Bennett Low, spitting out mad stories and spinning tight, lyrical turns of phrase; part classic one-man show, in which Low protrays an array of characters, from Pellinore to Merlin to Arthur

Low reimagines portions of the Arthurian tradition into the first Gulf War, turning King Pellinore into a wayward southern soldier chasing his Questing Beast through the sands of Iraq. Some audience members might be disappointed to find that Arthur himself is not the main character of the piece, but they would miss the point. Just as the structure of the play depends upon the continual deliverence of deeply metaphorical dreams and prophecies, the essence of the play is not to aim straight for a target and fly like an arrow. Its method is to find the mysterious path, the winding one frought with ambiguity and danger. While the action of the play focuses on Pellinore, he is merely a lens through which to watch the rise of the General and a surrogate for ourselves, in which we may ponder whether the things we see play out in the story are really what they seem.

Inside all the twisted dreams, mad prophecies and dense images, Low invites us to really do that pondering, to revisit the past and wonder if everything we "know" to be true--about Arthur, about Merlin, about our first military venture in Iraq, about honor, about quests, about anything, really--is really true. If you allow yourself to be open to the mystery of it, it can be deeply unsettling and moving.

"The Rise of General Arthur" is dense, literate, poetic, and dream-like. It comes from a long and ancient tradition of literature and myth, in which Low is intimately immersed. If you have come to hear traditional, "sit-in-a-chair" storytelling, you're out of luck. If you've come to see an actor perform a traditional play, you're out of luck. This is a performance of literature, in its purest sense. In this realm, the words aren't merely a means to achieving a story. The words are the story; they fly above, below, around the story, weaving a picture that is at once more mysterious, beautiful and dangerous than the mere events that they depict. It is the world of magic and images, and it is from that world that Low calls back to us. If you can open your ears and stop trusting your eyes, you might be able to enter it as well.

Music stands don't do it for me
by Billy Guy Follow this reviewer
Rating 0 kitties
Solo performers should be perfectly capable of memorizing their material.

Deserving of a Sequel?
by William Marth Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I came in expecting something different than I got, but I wasn't disappointed. Phillip Low is one heck of a storyteller in this one-man tale, spoken half from memory and half from a written script. Fantastically acted with smooth transition between characters.

The story itself is great. A little heavy on the prophecy aspects, perhaps, which can slow the piece down at times, although Low's characters even seem to recognize this repetition with some irritation. It is also fairly light on Arthur himself, choosing instead to focus on Pellinore, a future member of the Round Table.

I can't help but wonder if he has a follow-up, or a series of them, in mind for next year's Fringe. Pellinore's quest in the Shining City, perhaps? A little more translation of Arthur's origins or the rise of Mordred? It will be interesting to see if anything else develops.

Maximum verbosity, minimal interest
by August Berkshire Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
Decent acting, likable enough delivery, too many words, not enough story and what there was wasn't very interesting. Unfortunately, "clever allusions" can't save this play. A friend had warned me that he was similarly unimpressed. I should have listened to him.

Really???
by Walker Cornuto Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
Words, words, words.
Compare and contrast is fine for your college English essay, but it doesn't establish theater. If you enjoy poetry slams by all means be my guest; you can have my seat.

Don't get the hype
by Bard Husson Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
I mean, this is fine, I guess. But the overhyping turned me off. Certainly not something you should go out of your way to see.

gorgeous and inspiring
by Juanita Garciagodoy Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
"The Rise of Gral Arthur" really blew me away, partly because I wasn't expecting to love a one-person show that was combining gulf war w/ Arthurian material, but Phillip Low is fabulous. He presents rich, poetic writing of very well chosen adventures & characters and gorgeous, riveting delivery: energetic, graceful, varied in tone and speed, in register and characterization. He left me in an altered state of consciousness, feeling transported, and also inspired, tempted to try to become his apprentice.

Mesmerizing…
by Damon Rudman Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Low is a most creative anachronist, adeptly pulling threads from Medieval, 19th century, and contemporary sources, weaving dense and mysterious imagery. He evokes complex characterizations and switches between them effortlessly.

Phillip's Best Work Yet
by Courtney McLean Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Just over the past two years have I become familiar with Mr. Low's storytelling and I've never been unimpressed with his talent and utter commitment to his work. "General Arthur" is absolutely the culmination of his efforts, personal interests, and abilities. Something I will eventually tell phillip to his face (tonight maybe! love you): he's not a *great* actor, but he is a FANTASTIC storyteller. He's also a wonderful narrator (that's when he launches into the Woody Allen thing which is adorable). I think that I will need to see this show like 4 more times to completely wrap my head around it, but his structuring of narration & dialogue and the execution had me enrapt. And ladies, seriously? He's kinda sexy in this show. I'm just sayin.

Wonderful adaptation of the Arthur myth
by Hazen Markoe Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Despite its title, this wonderfully inventive piece of storytelling by phillip low tells the Arthur legend from the viewpoint of King Pellinore, who hunted the Questing Beast in the old story. Here, our intrepid knight is re-imagined as an American soldier sent to fight the first Gulf War. Readers of the classic tale will easily recognize the clever references sprinkled throughout the piece as Pellinore meets various characters throughout his journey, including "General" Arthur and the ever mysterious Merlin. With deft command of the various characters, low displays an excellent command of his tale from beginning to end. If you like the story of King Arthur, or even just to hear a story masterfully told, this is the show for you!!! The highlight of my Fringe so far, and highly recommended.

Powerful
by Eric Netterlund Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I went into this without much knowledge or interest in the Arthurian legends, but the power of Low's words and performance sparked a strong response. I'm going to have to start reading.

Low weaves words with such tenacity and presence that I found it hard to shake the feeling that I had just witnessed the invocation of an ancient and dead prophecy.

Basically, I loved it. It was enthralling.

The Questing Beast
by Ashley Schweitzer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
What a great show! If you're like me - someone with a fondness for clever storytelling, political commentary, snap crackle pop wit - then this is the show for you. Layering the Arthur mythology on top of the (first) Gulf War was a poignant way to explore the idea of war and loyalty to hearth, home & country. Excellent script with a powerful and nuanced delivery - thought provoking!

Brilliant writer and performer
by Cole Sarar Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
He of too-many-names is an amazing amazing writer. A heavy heavy script, dense with description, symbolism, and ten-dollar words. Following the story of a soldier in the middle east, P.A.B.L. gives us beautiful characters, each rich with their own tragic flaws but so true to themselves that the story has no way but to play itself out, and just enough humor to keep the script from becoming too heavy or losing the audience. The Arthurian myth takes on a new life, while haunting and true to the tragedies of the original. P.A.B.L.'s performance is understated but strong, letting the words carry the story. Great show, see it.

Character is destiny...I...see...strings
by Peter Neofotis Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Magic

It was an absolute joy to see another monologuist doing a one man show not about the man on the stage, but a world of characters that are both outside our normal existence - and so relevant to our daily lives. The program says that this is a “theatrical work in progress” but other than Phillip’s reading of a few of the passages - this is a wonderfully realized peace of theater. The story gains momentum in the second act, and by its close you realize that you have just witnessed a wonderful mediation on war that spans medieval to present times. As a whole, the Phillip shows enormous potential as a writer and performer - yet already much is realized.

An amazing blend
by Bill Stiteler Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Low hits the ground running with this retelling of the tale of Pellinore and the Questing Beast, recast into an Apocalypse Now-esque story of a man who goes to a desert war to seek his fortune. His multiple characters are all sharply drawn and the startling imagery will stay with you. Highly recommended.

Sword, pen ... WORD!
by The Change Co-Operative Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The pen is mightier than the sword - but the spoken word moves people, builds coalitions, and ravages nations.

All one has to do is think of "I Have a Dream," "A day that will live in infamy," and "Bring Them On."

Phillip more than understands the power of speech - he oozes it from every pore and offers the audience an awesome chance to imbibe, sharing the vision of his mind and soul.

Magnificent storytelling
by Darit Brown Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I was very impressed by this show! phillip low's performance is outstanding, as he takes on multiple personas, each with its own distinct energy. The writing is a wonderfully accessible interpretation of classic tales of Arthurian legend. It gave me chills. Highly recommended!

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