Lunatic fringe

Melissa Cooper creates the most ambitious Festival of the Unexpected to date

Cooper clearly has the most ambitious festival to date on her hands, a logistical and scheduling nightmare of spaces and dates and times that no one would wish on his worst enemy. But aside from leaving some room for productions to "shrink or grow," Cooper's job is done. Like the mother that she is (of toddler-thespian Nicholas Hamburger), she can only stand back now and watch the festival she has nurtured stand or fall on its own. Inevitably, it will do both. But with Cooper at the helm, the works that fail will do so with aplomb.

"I don't care if people say, 'What the hell was that?' if they also say, 'I laughed, but I don't know why I was laughing,'" Cooper says. "I'm trying to loosen up the boundaries of what constitutes theater.

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