the approaching Memorial Day weekend signals to me, one, ahh a long weekend; and two, the start of Fringe Festival. we fringed for the first time last year, and it was so much fun, we can’t wait to fringe again. love4cincinnati guest posts about the Fringe here:
A Wet Spring for a Hot Fringe
As we deal with this current unpredictable spring weather, my mind looks toward what has become a rite of summer for many in Cincinnati. A yearly event that embraces the irreverent, uncommon, non-commercial, and anti-establishment. An influx of artists from places like Los Angeles, New York, and Canada. Moments of raucous laughter, shock and surprising enlightenment. For its seventh year, the Cincinnati Fringe Festival opens on June 1, further energizing the increasingly vibrant Over-The-Rhine.
You may be asking, what’s the Cincinnati Fringe Festival? It is 12 days of original art, theatre, dance, film and anything in between, featuring artists that have a bone to pick, a concept to share, a campaign to mount. My past Fringe experiences include a scavenger hunt, performances with cars, puppets, a few with nudity, and some with stylish profanity. I’ve left shows in states of hilarious euphoria or, even better, with great satisfaction that my convictions were affirmed. Performances have moved me via the sheer level of talent or the creative (and low-cost) production elements. In about an hour, a show can take you on a journey that you never expected, forcing you to think differently, giving you a new insight on life or love or family. It’s not just entertainment, it’s an experience, and sometimes it can blow your mind.
The Fringe headquarters is at Know Theatre of Cincinnati, with performances in about 10 locations, mainly in Over-The-Rhine. With multiple performances at various locations, audience members go from one show to another, quickening the pulse of the area. Some Fringe venues are non-conventional performance spaces; in previous years, shows took place on a bus, in a gymnasium, on the street and in vacant buildings. This is what makes Fringe even more of an adventure, seeing a totally new show in some random place. It almost has the feel of going to an Off-Broadway show in New York. In addition to live performances, the Fringe also includes art exhibits and film showings.
Many Fringe artists tour their shows on the Fringe circuit around the country, perhaps even in Canada and Europe. Calculus: the Musical, after successful appearances at the Minnesota, Orlando and Cincinnati fringe festivals, found a permanent home at Know Theatre, which continues to tour the show locally and nationally. World premieres at Cincinnati Fringe Festival with sold-out performances and stellar reviews resulted in opportunities for bigger (with more $!) productions at larger theatres, namely Don’t Make Me Pull This Show Over: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Parenting presented by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity produced at the Tony Award-winning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Kind of like how successful Off-Broadway shows move to a Broadway theatre. Fringe is not just a bunch of attention-starved artists, there is raw, as well as experienced, talent that creates and performs new, exciting work that can have a life outside of Fringe.
Speaking of artists, they are the life-blood of the Fringe. Local artists always participate, but a good amount of out-of-towners come to here to share their work with us, some having returned to Cincinnati several times already. Most artists from out of town stay for a good portion of the festival, leaving them with ample time during the day or when they have no performances scheduled. So you may see them doing box office duty, bartending, selling T-shirts or any other needed task. Every night of the Fringe, when all performances are over, artists and audience mingle at the Underground at Know Theatre. These nightly occurrences with group competitions, karaoke, alcohol and late night pizza are wacky bonding sessions, creating an extra-special sense of family. Truly, I’ve never felt more at home in a room full of people I don’t really know.
And that’s Fringe: shock and/or awe performances, with artists and audience communing for the sake of art in all its forms and functions. Aside from that, another great benefit of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival is its price point: $12 per ticket, even less if you purchase a multi-show pass. This pricing was not in response to the recession; Fringe tickets have always been affordable.
So if you’re looking for something different to do around June 1-12, be adventurous and give the Cincinnati Fringe Festival a try. Step out of your comfort zone, open your mind, experience something new, and maybe discover something about yourself. Make some new friends. Or just laugh until your abs burn. What better way to bid farewell to a rainy spring and usher in the summer season?
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Is an occasional a former theatre person who now plays the role of mommy to a budding violinist/artist and a potential drama queen. She is thrilled that Cincinnati is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, due mainly to the local art scene that has driven further development and life to the downtown core. She is proud of and impressed by Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s growth, and is glad the local community has finally embraced it in recent years.