Fringe Fest Erie – inspired by the original Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland – has brought diverse, new and thought-provoking theatre to Erie for the past three years. This year is no different.

Fringe Fest Erie 2014 kicks off with a two-woman show, “Women Without Skin.” Featuring senior theatre and communication arts major Natalie Pertz and faculty member Paula Barrett, the show explores the relationship between a mother and daughter, and so much more.

“It’s is a coming of age story… The title of the play explains it all in that people in general, not only women, work so hard on a daily basis to only present themselves in a particular light,” says Pertz.

Barrett adds, “It explores a mother/grown daughter relationship, how fluid it is, how it changes or doesn’t change with age and life experience. In the course of the short play, their roles change back and forth, and they find their way to a resolve.”

The play is written by one of Barrett’s best friends, Mary Lee Richey. It first premiered in small art galleries across New York City and is now making its way to Erie. Its success in these venues is no doubt due to its mobility and small cast size, notes Pertz.

A small cast size also allows for a unique intimacy. “Natalie and I work well together; we get along very well and, for the most part, understand each other’s creative impulses,” an understanding that is also in the spirit of Fringe, says Barrett. “We direct each other, come up with ideas together, try things and keep at it until we find something that works for the moment in the scene. It’s been a good process.”

Each actress has their own hopes for what the audience will take away from the show.

Pertz hopes audiences gain, “a further understanding on the complexity of relationships, particularly mother and daughter (relationships). Maintaining healthy relationships is HARD WORK and involves everyone contributing constantly and positively. Just because there is conflict doesn’t mean that you love that person any less.”

Barrett hopes audiences relate to the play, “because it’s about vulnerability and love, strength and change – things we don’t outgrow and things that are constant in our lives in one way or another.”

“Women Without Skin” will be presented Monday, March 10 and Tuesday, March 11 at 8:00 p.m. in the Schuster Theatre/Scottino Hall Green Room. Admission is $5 for all.