The Weird, the Poetic, the Passionate: FringeArts Presents The Brownings

The Weird, the Poetic, the Passionate: FringeArts Presents The Brownings

The Weird, the Poetic, the Passionate: FringeArts Presents The Brownings

Two of history’s greatest poets struggle to survive each other


FringeArts and Orbiter 3 present The Brownings, an immoderate re-­telling of the great

love of the 19th century. Ostensibly set in Florence during the 1840s, where Robert and

Elizabeth Barrett Browning eloped after their secret courtship and marriage, the pair write,

love, hate, slam dope, and have weird sex all while bickering over who the better poet is. “I

imagined their years in Italy as one long writer’s retreat, with all the horror that notion

implies,” playwright Sam Henderson told FringeArts in an interview back in August.


Despite the show’s historical grounding, Henderson has taken certain liberties with the

particulars of the couple’s story to spin a more nuanced story that eschews biographical

nitpicking in favor of something far more accessible. “As I wrote, I noticed I didn’t really care

about the historical Brownings at all. I much preferred these other two characters: two great

artists, inextricable from each other and in permanent conflict, yearning for a reconciliation

that’ll never come.”


It’s the characters’ inextricable connection—in life and in the cultural mind—that fuels this

conflict, something that’s well reflected in Henderson’s interpretation of the setting: “For me,

the setting of this play is the inside of a head, and we’re watching a divided mind, viciously

at war with itself.”


The Brownings is the latest show from the highly acclaimed, self-­sustaining producing

playwright’s collective Orbiter 3. Focused on sustainability and empowering the playwright as

lead artist, this radical experiment in new play theater embraces administrative and fiscal

responsibility in the pursuit of the artistic growth of its members. Past productions include

Peaceable Kingdom (2017), I Am Not My Motherland (2016), and Moon Man Walk (2015).

This production marks FringeArts’ first partnership with Orbiter 3, and as another organization

dedicated to aiding emerging artists in the realization of their vision, the pairing could not be

a better fit.


This bawdy, rudely comic exploration of the purpose of art and the nature of love runs from

November 29 -­ December 9 at FringeArts’ waterfront headquarters, 140 N Columbus Blvd.