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Chris Colcord’s Colcordia showcases sardonic humor, observations, and the Fort Wayne artistic life
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
“It’s going to a little bit of a love letter to the artists I know in (Fort Wayne), who stay and work in the city,” says Chris Colcord, describing one of the pieces he’ll perform as part of his one-man show at the Firefly on July 20: “It’s going to be about being an artist and doing your stuff, even though no one may be listening and no one’s going to care.”
…even though no one is listening and no one is going to care? With love letters like that, who needs hate mail?
But Colcord has, more or less, lived the kind of artistic life he’s talking about. He’s been a figure in Fort Wayne’s artistic community for years, involved in countless plays, performances, and other projects, either as an organizer, a director, a writer, or an actor. He’s been in traditional theater productions (Julius Caesar at the First Presbyterian Theater), and others which have been a little more off the beaten path (both Popfilter events in 2004). He’s written and acted in performances by the 24 Hour Playhouse (which was founded by his sister Orene), and just a few years ago, he helped stage an adaptation Barbara Ehrenreich’s best seller Nickel & Dimed where Ehrenreich herself was present (she loved it).
So, when he says “no one is listening,” he’s describing a cause he’s been championing in Fort Wayne for a long time: the ideal of the artist doing his or her own thing without loads of validation or support, working on their craft because they have to.
Now, Colcord has put together a one-man show that he calls — with tongue firmly in cheek — Colcordia, featuring three self-contained monologues bristling with Colcord’s sardonic humor and observations. Colcord says he considers himself a writer first and a performer second; he crafts his material to give it an improvisational, immediate feel, even though it’s tightly scripted. The result is something like a stand-up comedy routine. He sites comedians Bill Hicks and Dennis Leary, and spoken-word artist/punk icon Henry Rollins as inspirations. “It’s funny, though it’s not a comedy routine,” he says, adding that he is frequently the target of his jokes. “I’m hoping to audience will recognize what I’m talking about and be on my side.”
The first monologue is called “Fort Wayne: City of Wonder.” The title is not ironic. “I’m teeing off on everybody that I run into that bad mouths their hometown,” Colcord says. “Whenever somebody says they hate Fort Wayne, it says everything about them and nothing about the city. I just think it’s one of those things you should never do. You should never cut down your hometown, especially if you’re still here.”
Colcord describes “Factory of Facts,” the second piece, as being about “marriage, relationships, and obliviousness.” It was inspired by a 1980 poll where participants were asked to use one word to best describe their relationship with their spouse. 40% said “excellent,” 47% said “good”… but what really struck Colcord was that 1% had no opinion. “I found that mind-numbingly sad,” he says. “20 years later, they did the poll again and the only number that had increased significantly were the people who had no opinion about whether their marriage was good or not. What a weird statement. That’s got to be about something, and I’m going to try to find out what it is in this piece.”
Finally, “I Turned Out A Punk” is about Colcord falling in love with the music and culture of punk when it first came around in the late 70s, only to find himself ostracized for not conforming to the nonconformists. “I don’t look like a punk — I have no tattoos or earrings and don’t wear black all the time — and I’m struck by the fact that sometimes I go into a punk setting and it’s as restrictive and conservative as a Baptist church or country club.”
The focus of the performance is on the monologues, but they’ll be a few short musical interludes, with Matt Sturm accompanying Colcord (that’s the plan for now, anyway). There might also be a few surprises… “I wrote the mayor a letter, saying he should give me the keys to the city,” Colcord laughs. “I invited him to the show. I don’t know if he’ll come. If not, maybe I’ll just read the letter…”
Thursday, July 20th
3523 North Anthony
Free, or $2 donation