‘Ascent’ — Fuses Dance and Taiko at Fringe 2017

And so it starts….Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017 image

“I go in the room;—

I bang my fists on the wall…”

Ascent features the talents of dancer Adam Kerbel and Taiko drummer Shih-Wei Willie Wu in a fusion piece that displays more ambition than articulation.  Its intention is to illuminate “the threats that aggressive masculinity plays on the psyche”; a noble goal that it falls short of doing.  Kerbel’s presence is wildly kinetic but without clarity, Wu’s drumming is impressive, but without integration.

Both performers attempt to interject biographical elements into the evening but their stories lack cohesion.  We do not see how they relate to each other, nor to the theme.

And there is the overall problem with the offering; the individual elements are left dangling.

Ascent-Hollywood Fringe 2017Kerbel has a good opening, Wu sits in the audience and chats about loneliness, Kerbel has an emotional moment about “beating” walls, Wu displays his Taiko skills (the high-point of the evening), Kerbel interprets a soldier in combat, and there is a nicely worked homoerotic interlude.

What is lacking is the connection between those segments and the stated theme, or the “language” to communicate the artist’s objective to the audience.

Also, bit of advice, even if it is the preview show, do not have a production photographer sitting in the house busily snapping shot after shot.  It is very distracting for an audience and very rude to an audience.

For this a BRONZE MEDALbronze ribbon - Fringe Festival

Ascent is performed by

Adam Kebel and Shih-Wil Willie Wu

Collaborator / Designer is Brandon Baruch


Studio / Stage
520 N. Western Ave.

For Tickets and Additional Information:



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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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