Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How Do you Fringe? Chicago Fringe starts this weekend!

The Chicago Fringe starts its 8th annual festival this weekend!

If you don't know about the Fringe movement, you should!  Fringe is an international movement that started close to 50 years ago in Edinburgh, and has since spread across Canada and the United States.

Fringe festivals are great ways for independent artists to tour their shows across the world.  The festival takes care of all the pesky details (having a tech person, renting a theatre, etc) and the artists typically get 100% of the door (artists pay a producing fee up front)  In Chicago, audiences also pay for  a one time $5 membership button that helps support the festival, and then all box office revenues go to the artists.

During the 10 days of its operation, the festival will present over 50 artists from around the country (and right here in Chicago also!) in over 200 performances using 5 venues in the Jefferson Park area.  That's a lot of shows!

The shows in Chicago are chosen by lottery, so it's a little bit of mixed bag of what will be performing.  With 50 shows though, there's usually something for everyone, and this year is no different.

Tickets are $8-10 each, depending on if you buy a multipack.  You can also buy an all access pass for $175.  Please remember you also need to purchase a membership button for $5 to gain admission to all the shows.  You buy the membership button once, and it's good for the entire festival.

The best way to Fringe 

  • Devote a couple of days to the festival.  Buy a multi-pack of shows, which will bring your price down.  
  • Go with friends or family.  It's great to experience 4 or 5 shows together.  It will give you a shared vocabulary like nothing else.  
  • Go to as many different shows as you can.  Some will be great, some will be less than great.  All of them will be supporting individual artists doing their work, and that's a good thing. 
  • Don't be discouraged.  Some of the shows will be (to be polite) not your cup of tea. Do your best to select stuff you will like, but be adventurous.  That's where the reward lies.
  • Hang out at Fringe Central.  My best memories of Fringe festivals have been meeting potential audience members, other artists, and having a drink or a meal with a bunch of strangers brought together by their love of theatre.

I'm profiling a few shows from this year's festival that strike me as great for families and kids, and I'll also preview a couple of shows that are more for adults.  I haven't seen these shows (yet) but I've performed in a number of Fringe festivals, and seen hundreds of Fringe shows, so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect.  But I also like to be surprised!


The Chicago Fringe is for all ages, but is doing a pretty good job of trying to aim for the family set as well.  For kids under 12, they are producing a series of Kid Fringes, with workshops, arts and crafts, games and small performances.  Expect a lot of storytelling and some fun workshops for kids.
There are 5 different afternoons of activities:
Click here to find out more and purchase tickets.
Is an original superhero ballet with live music.  Presented by Tiffany Lawson Dance (from right here in Chicago), the show features a superhero who fights crime through the sound waves of her dancing  shoes. But watch out when her evil twin enters the arena and threatens a family reunion.

Click here to find out more and purchase tickets

Five friends in a support group gather together to talk about their quirks, and use circus, puppetry, dance, and physical theatre to work and bond together.  Produced by Semi-Circus, a Chicago company of interdisciplinary circus artists.

Click here to find out more and purchase tickets
This Scandinavian folk tale uses layered vocals to weave story, song, and poetry to bathe the audience in the winds and magic of ancient Norway.  Produced by the Hnossa Project of Brooklyn NY, it has had sold out runs and great reviews in New York City and Rochester NY.

Click here to find out more and purchase tickets

Edna The Stomper is an all ages musical about a  7 year old kid who stomps everywhere she goes and drives her family crazy! Features songs, stomps, and some puny monster puppets.  This is the world premiere, written by Chicago local Laura Toffenetti and directed and produced by Sarah Sutliff of New York's Rebel Playhouse.

Click here to find out more and purchase tickets


DANDY DARKLY MYTH MOUTH I'm friends with Dandy Darkly on facebook, and he's a legend in New York City as kind of an alt-cabaret R-Rated clown/storyteller. This will be his first show at the Chicago fringe, and it will explore religion, addiction and social media obsession via satiric tales concerning a heroin-chic Persephone, Cosmopup Laika, virtual reality revelations and humanity’s premiere popinjay, Cha-Cha the Caveman, all set to an original musical score. Don't miss this (and don't bring the kids!)
Click here to find out more and purchase tickets
This show from New York won the 2016 Best Physical Theater Show at the United Solo Theater Festival and the Encore Producer's Award 2017 at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Based on stories of the Bible re-told by Nobel Prize winning clown Dario Fo, this looks like another definite don't miss!  It says it is good for all ages, but the ideas in the show are pretty radical, if they are staying true to Dario Fo.
Click here to find out more and purchase tickets

There are many other shows, that I'd like to feature, including Mark Toland's mind-reading show (back for the third time to the Fringe!), Underneath the Lintel by television actor Pat O'Brien, and With the Weight of the World on her Shoulders, a mythological play by the Chicago Iowa Theatre Collective.  

But I've run out of space and time.  Go check out the Fringe site for yourself, and Fringe Fringe Fringe!

1 comment:

Paula Kiger said...

This sounds like SO much fun!