INTRODUCING THE FRINGE FESTIVAL: 11 DAYS, 167 SHOWS

Can you tell the Twin Cities loves its theater?

All images courtesy of the Fringe Festival

By Lianna Matt

It is literally impossible to see every show at Minnesota’s Fringe Festival, the theater arts showcase that takes hold of Minneapolis from Aug. 3-13. There are 167 separate theatrical shows accumulating into 800 performances across 17 Minneapolis theaters. The “perfect sweep” is 56 shows—a third of the acts.

If you ever want to see what the Twin Cities theater community looks like, this is it in all of its beautiful, quirky and diverging forms. A “Slaughterhouse Five” musical, ghost whodunit and real stories from Somali immigrants make up a few of the Fringe slots, while an improvised fantasy campaign, funk style hip hop dance and a solo show following a man forced to write down the history of America—while he’s losing his mind—slide in nonchalantly next to them. Fringe is a mix of comedies, drama, musicals, dance and “something different,” so creativity is never in short supply.

The show lineup was chosen randomly out of the 450 plus companies that applied this year, so both professionals and newcomers will be getting on stage. Each show commits to at least five performances in various locations and time slots to give festival goers equal opportunities to see them.

While the number of options can be overwhelming to first timers, here are the two top ways to plan:

Pick a spot on the map.

Dawn Bentley, the Fringe executive director, never planned what she was going to see. She would just pick a spot on the map, walk into the theater and see what was going on that day. “Sometimes there’s some stuff that gives you pause, but sometimes there’s amazing things on stage,” says Bentley. “I was just open to adventure.”

Fringe has pockets in Uptown, Northeast and West Bank. At least three theaters are at each location, and with four shows per theater (seven on the weekends), you have at least 12 shows to pick from throughout the night. We know—you’re impressed by the math, too. The only shows not in these regions are at two Minneapolis parks, but a fire performance and walking tour of an “apocalyptic American wilderness” make the trek well worth it.

Make a personalized schedule.

Yeah, we know this one sounds obvious, but bear with us: As you peruse the different shows on the Fringe website, you can click the heart icon by the description and the site will collect all of your favorites so you can view their dates and venues side by side. Considering the Fringe Festival program used to all be on paper given out at the different theaters, their new interactive website is pretty nifty.

No matter how you decide to go about the Fringe Festival, we hope you find something that you love and something that makes you think a little differently.

“[The Fringe shows are] digestible, 60 minute vignettes with pared down sets because we're getting one entire company off the stage and one on the stage and the house filled in 30 minutes,” says Bentley, “so it's really great storytelling. It has to be. You're not going to be wowed by elevators and flying people, so you have to be wowed by the story, which is the whole point.”

Day and weekend passes can be purchased at the venues 30 minutes prior to the first performance, online or at Grumpy’s Bar & Grill downtown at select times. Limited full festival passes can be purchased in advance online.

 

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All images courtesy of the Fringe Festival

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