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Seven Ways to Calm the F*** DownThe Edinburgh Fringe is inundated with productions. Over 3,000 options confront theatergoers over the course of three weeks. With that, comes frantic pitches from producers, each one clamoring for attention and hoping you’ll see their show.

As I strolled down the Royal Mile (the main stretch through the city)  a promoter caught my attention.  I grabbed a flyer. It was for the play, Seven Ways to Calm the F*** Down. I chuckled to myself and thought it was the ideal title for this high strung New Yorker. I checked my schedule and booked the show.

SEVEN WAYS TO CALM THE F*** DOWN. Photo courtesy of Vivi Bayliss.

What  I was not prepared for was the serious tone that this piece struck. As someone who has struggled with both identifying clinical anxiety and managing it, it hit home.

Danny (James Porter) has stayed up all night. He’s lost sleep, panic struck by the next day’s school assignment. He’s worried that the teacher will call on him for an answer. The teacher never does. His worry was for nothing.  This is simply one of many moments in his life when fear completely consumes him.

With the help of a sassy self-help who talks back, Danny begins to understand and cope with his overwhelming sense of anxiety.

The 7 person cast, comprised of 3BugsFringe Theater from the University of Birmingham weaves a humorous, but deeply affecting tale. For anyone who has ever felt abnormal by sharing their sense of impending doom, this show is for you. For anyone who can’t understand why certain family members and friends can’t just take a deep breath and relax, this show is for you. Kudos to 3BugsFringe for promoting an imperative topic and navigating it with humor and sensitivity. 

For more information on 3BugsFringe, visit here.

Freeman:When people ask me to name the best show I saw at the Fringe, I tell them  “Freeman.” Of the 19 that I saw, it left the biggest impression and is one that I will be thinking about for a long time to come.

Strictly Arts Theatre, along with award-winning writer Camila Whitehall presents this painfully timely work about mental health and systemic racism.

The physically demanding, hour-long show transports us between 1840s New York (Auburn) and the 2000s. In the former, William H. Seward is defending William Freeman, a black man wrongly accused of stealing a horse. He is sentenced to prison and is beaten repeatedly to the point where he suffered brain damage. Upon his release, he murdered an entire innocent white family, believing that “someone must pay” for the injustice he endured. Freeman pled insanity but it was not enough to save him.

FREEMAN.Photo courtesy of Strictly Arts.

Fast forward nearly 200 years where black individuals are still targeted and harassed by law enforcement for minor violations that would be overlooked had they been committed by white folks.

The physical nature of this show is incredibly creative and binds all the elements of great storytelling together. Every so often, victims of police abuse are individually projected onto the screen until all of the names are projected together into a single frame. The number staggering. The device leaves an indelible mark. 

What struck me most about this was my ignorance of Freeman’s story. His is one of thousands which have swept under the rug by a bunch who wield power and wealth over marginalized and minimized communities. Why is no one teaching these history lessons in our public schools?  It’s way past time they did. Freeman convicts us of the fact that our society is better than this. If we continue to fail these tests of humanity, we will spiral into anarchy.

Freeman will continue a fall tour through the United Kingdom. For more information visit Strictly Arts.

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